9 Songs To Listen To When Things Are Not OK

Artists and friends share their go-to songs for finding joy.

July 08, 2016
1. Quasimoto, "Low Class Conspiracy"

Elijah Rawk of Phony Ppl: "'Low Class Conspiracy' by Quasimoto touches on the 'hunt' police officers seem to be on with unnecessary traffic stops as a result of profiling, which generally ends up with a disproportionate and inappropriate response, to non-crimes, that get blown out of proportion to justify a police officer's actions. At the end of the song, the subjects of the song are released with no issue because the cops find nothing on them and were inaccurate in their profiling. This is a situation we as a band, and I personally, run into ALL THE TIME, as a driver. I turn this song on every time it happens and it puts a big smile on my face because I know that at least two of us live to fight another day."

2. Kanye West, "Can't Tell Me Nothing"

Tunji Ige: "'Can't Tell Me Nothing' always makes me feel invincible when I hear it. I really need something uplifting like that in such a time of turmoil and angst."

3. Amy Winehouse, "Half Time"

Syd Tha Kid of The Internet: "This helps me to forget about what's going on around me for a moment and appreciate the gift of music."

4. Stereolab, "Pop Quiz"

Steve Lacy of The Internet: "It's an automatic smile on my face, from the moment the beat drops after the bubbly noise fades out. The sound selection, placement of melodies and harmonies, the drum beat — it just brings me so much joy, no matter what I'm going through."

5. Iman Omari, "Energy"

Lakin Starling: "I lived abroad for a year, and struggled daily with finishing what I'd started there. I love this song because, at that time, as I found ways to push forward, it helped me to realize that the vibes I put out into the universe would all come back to me. Iman Omari sings: Good vibes and inner-key/ Is all I feel surrounding/ If it's not on your level/ Then why don't you just let it be.

I think he wrote this about a love interest, but it reminds me that making positive adjustments to my spirit allows me to attract happiness. It's a beautiful thing to feel aligned and at peace all because I chose to invest in the light in my life. When I better my energy, everything around me gets brighter."

6. Kanye West, "I Wonder'

Nyle Daniels: "When I’m feeling down I like to go into Kanye mode and remind myself of my own potential. “I Wonder” is my certified pick-me-up track because it’s ultimately a question, directed towards the listener, about what it means to believe in yourself. The hook of the song features a Labi Siffre sample: And I wonder if you know/ What it means to find your dreams?

'I Wonder' reminds me that it’s okay to not know what the future holds, but also that I do possess the confidence and skills to brace for whatever challenges lie ahead. Not to mention, the 808s are super overpowering and make me feel as if my heart itself beats for this sense of accomplishment."

7. Andrew Ashong and Theo Parrish, "Flowers"

Rawiya Kameir: "I listened to 'Flowers' on loop for weeks before picking up on how bleak the lyrics actually are: Prettiest things could sour, when the seasons change/ Shit don't smell like flowers, sunshine turns to rain, Andrew Ashong repeats over and over. But he doesn't sound even a little bummed; instead, the jazzy house song feels weirdly bright and optimistic. Maybe there's a perverse freedom in the realization that things can go wrong, and probably will. Maybe Andrew Ashong and Theo Parrish are a couple of steps ahead of the rest of us."

8. Fadda Fox, "Ducking"

Anupa Mistry: "This song reminds me of what it feels like to forget every single thing — to drop your jacket, your drink, your ass — and live inside of a moment. My friends and I have danced to this song on the streets of Port-Of-Spain, on dance floors across Toronto, in our living rooms, and on Snapchat. Because it reminds me of some of the people I love most in the world, this song makes me happy."

9. Bob Marley and The Wailers, "Trenchtown Rock"

Yael Malka: "A lot of Marley's songs are about hardships, politics, race, and ignorance. But this song is pure joy, love, community, and the happiness music can bring into your life. When it hits you feel no pain."

Listen to the playlist on Apple Music:

Thumbnail image via Jonathan Mannion for The FADER

9 Songs To Listen To When Things Are Not OK