I often think of creating playlists as my way of keeping a journal. This is because, time and time again, I have proven to myself that I am completely incapable of keeping a written diary. Thinking about that level of commitment makes me sweat; the longest I’ve lasted is maybe three weeks. I log, I rant and I scribble with a fervor one only experiences whilst dancing to Beethoven Virus on DDR. Then, bam: radio silence. While this problem doesn’t keep me up at night, I do wonder if there will come a day when my half-baked notebooks will end up in the hands of a stranger, as my plan to hide a time capsule in a random patch of dirt remains in the works. They’ll open it up, read my ramblings, and suddenly be left hanging, wondering if I did indeed end up liking the new cashew yogurt I bought. I know if it were me, I’d probably assume that the writer died. A morbid thought, I know—but I digress.
The title of this playlist is “mentally i’m here.” And, like many ideas I’ve conjured in my life, this playlist’s name came about thanks to a meme. If you’re a Twitter user like me, then you definitely know which meme I’m talking about. And no, not even living under a rock like the true meme lord Patrick Star himself is an excuse.
The songs are in no particular order, and often I let Spotify shuffle through the list as I do homework or nap on my bedroom floor. As I write this piece, the playlist is opening with “Somewhere” by Surf Mesa and Gus Dapperton. This is a melancholic farewell, with buzzy synth trembling at the edges of Dapperton’s voice. It’s the song that plays in the background as you swipe through texts shared with your soon-to-be ex-situationship—and it’s the kind of song that warns you of an imminent ending you’re not quite sure who to blame for.
Next comes “Dreamland,” a euphoric whirlwind fresh off of Glass Animals’ newest album of the same name. Unsurprisingly, I always find myself wanting to float off into nowhere when I listen to this song; it sounds the way I imagine becoming a ghost might feel. I love that this track envelops your senses like a warm blanket—but while comforting, it’s undoubtedly sullen and leaves you wanting to self-reflect for days on end.
But soon the fog of this dreamland begins to part, and in its wake emerges the lively tune that is Barrie’s “Darjeeling.” This charmer highlights the talents of the up-and-coming Brooklyn band, which definitely knows how to make you feel at peace the same way an actual cup of darjeeling does. And as I hum along to the wispy vocals and warm synths, I kick back just a bit longer. There I sit, flourishing in the achievement that is writing a single word on the page of an assignment that requires 1,000.
While that bliss is short-lived, the music doesn’t fail to keep me going. It’s Charli XCX and Christine and the Queens who come barreling through my speakers next with “Gone,” a pulsing electropop collab whose firm drumbeat evokes the bounce of a rubber ball. The track always puts a smile on my face that stays as Voxtrot rushes in to switch things up with “Fast Asleep.” The (unfortunately) now-defunct band’s shining potential lives on in this spirited track, and the merciless drive of the drums compels you to sprint headfirst into the unknown.
While I won’t reveal the entire lineup of this playlist, I will take a second to share some well-deserved honorable mentions. Other superstars include “Answered By a Prayer” by Ducktails, “Dionne” by The Japanese House and “Fillmore County” by Vansire and FLOORCRY. That being said, all of the songs that are responsible for this one-hour-and-20-minute dream ride are without a doubt near and dear to my heart. And so when I finally take a moment to reflect on this playlist and my reasons for creating it, I’m of course reminded of the exact moment in which I originally threw the ingredients together. Hence, my brief diary anecdote.
Dated Sept. 22, 2020, this particular entry was recorded in the midst of my falling asleep at home, with the daily routine of my experience as a remote student setting in, but not without difficulty. And as I lay there in bed, feeling especially tired and uncertain of every future tomorrow, I still somehow felt this little nudge of hope. And such hope is what allowed me to close my eyes with ease that night, welcoming the kind of sleep that would see me fly away into the clouds of my dreams.