Welcome to The Soundtrack, a column where we plumb the depths of our musical knowledge to bring you the best* (subjective) music to listen to for very specific life situations. This week we encourage you to spend some time looking after yourself and provide you some tuuuunes for doin’ just that.
It’s been a long year. The environment is a mess. World and national politics would be laughable if they weren’t so scary. David Bowie is dead. I wouldn’t want to assume, but I’d be willing to bet that you probably had your fair share of personal challenges, no? We live in a culture that glorifies stress and glamorises problems/drama. It’s considered desirable to be run off your feet constantly because that means you’re #killingit. Not to say anyone shouldn’t be endlessly proud of their achievements and hard work, but it can be all too easy to get caught up in a stress-head cycle that seems impossible to escape from. Pretty soon you’ll even be fooling yourself that you’re okay, you’re not that tired, you’re not overworked, you’re fine. And that’s a biiiiig problem, because you can only trick your body and mind into a state of anxious energy that actually allows you to function properly for so long. And when it all catches up with you? That could have some serious repercussions for your physical and mental health, long and short term. My advice is to turn off your phone if you can and make it your weekly (at least) mission to practice some radical self-care. My personal fave way to do this is to fill the tub, drop a bath bomb in, pour myself a glass of wine and read a good book while listening to some nice music – but you don’t even need to be that extravagant. Self-care can be as simple as drinking herbal tea and doing breathing exercises before bed. It can be driving out to a secluded rural place and sketching the trees. Whatever makes you feel calm and at peace with yourself. If music features in your perfect self-care vision, here are my suggestions.
Best Coast – Feeling Ok
Leave it to music’s queen of Feelings to get you in the right headspace to be nice as fuck to yourself. Sure, many of her tunes are so depressing that they’re probably a valid excuse to call in sick to work (Sorry boss, can’t come in, Bethany Cosentino spoke the truths of my soul and I wept) – but this isn’t one of them. Feeling Ok is not outwardly, transparently uplifting. But it is honest, and that’s better. If you’ve been neglecting yourself emotionally, a trite Walking On Sunshine-esque effervescent tune might just kinda feel like being beaten over the head with a fish. Gee thanks, undisclosed artist, you might think to yourself. You’ve really driven home just how displaced and adrift I feel. Not so with this. It sees your dark times, validates your feelings, and encourages you to achieve “ok” status and feel proud of it, even if it doesn’t seem like much. “But I’ll keep trying to stay this way/I know it’s love that’s got me feeling ok”. BTW for the purposes of this playlist, I am ruling that the “love” BC talks about is “self-love” not romantic love in this case so don’t even start.
Totally Mild – When I’m Tired
I had a good day, todayyyyyyyy. Sometimes hearing someone say the words can help make them true, or maybe they can be aspirational. There’s nothing in-your-face or obnoxious about the statement, either. Elizabeth Mitchell’s dreamy vocals pair with beautiful lilting guitar work and the rest is woozy bliss. This is the one to chuck on just as you submerge yourself in the tub with Lush bath bomb remnants fizzing away at the bottom (or you know, whatever your fave self care activity is). Lyrically, When I’m Tired could even be seen as a bit of a Super Polite Fuck You (TM) to the things/people/thoughts/feelings that have been messing with your vibe lately.
Le Pie – Better The Devil You Know (Kylie Minogue cover)
Before I begin here I want to emphasize how Important it is for Le Pie to release more music soon, thank you for your time. I realise the irony of saying that and including a cover rather than an original in this playlist, but holy smokes it’s such a bloody lovely cover. This might be one to skip if you’re down in the dumps about a specific on-off toxic relationship thingy, but otherwise you can just tune into the blissful nostalgia and keep your distance from the literal meaning. Le Pie’s doo-wop sensibilities shine through and you’re going to be physically unable to restrain yourself from a lil sing-a-long. Which is perfect – singing releases endorphins and you deserve to feel nice. If you haven’t really got on board with Le Pie before I’d recommend checking her out – start with Mio‘s Neverland (on which she features) and her own bangers Secrets and Up All Night. This cover isn’t on Spotify, so you can stream below.
Mallrat – For Real
This one comes with a little content warning for suicidal thoughts, but – stay with me here – the context is largely positive (You didn’t even wanna die once this week/And when you’re around I feel less of a freak). The Hannah Montana of the rap game herself once said she’s not sure if this song is happy or sad, and that she’d like to leave it open to individual interpretation. To me, this is a perfect self-care song. It appears to address the messy, wonderful bond of female friendship, but could just as easily be a love letter to oneself. If you can talk to yourself through this song, there’s a pretty sizeable chance you’re going to feel very warm and fuzzy afterwards. How could you not, with all them relentlessly uplifting synths? Giving me major early nineties movie female empowerment montage vibes.
LAZERTITS – Boss Bitch
Time to shake things up right at the end here (sadly also not on Spotify). Floaty, dreamy tunes are all well and good, but sometimes you need brash punky attitudes and crass language to remind ya just how capable you are. LAZERTITS, who are relentlessly excellent, smash through patriarchal structures and attitudes all while reminding you that you’re a fucking boss. This can be tough to swallow when you’re feeling anything but, which is why this song is sitting where it is, a bold cherry on top after strategically-placed layers of gently encouraging icecream. Yes, that analogy is weak as piss (especially because most people would eat icecream from the top downwards). No, I’m not apologising for it. I’m a boss. And so are you.
Image: Purple Clover/Pretty Woman