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Insight: Clinging to nostalgia with embarrassing throwback songs

Echo writer Vaishalini Sitaraman shares the guilty pleasure songs she listens to most while social distancing


"The easiest way to step back to happier times is through nostalgia music." Illustration published on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020.

I don’t think I’ve ever been as desperate for entertainment as I have these past few months of COVID-19 isolation, and I have often found myself clinging to the songs I used to jam out to when I was younger. I’ve found the easiest way to step back to happier times is through nostalgic music. The "quarantine blues" descended upon us, and desperate times call for desperate measures. 

Here are a few of my favorite albums and songs that have gotten me through the past few months from least to most embarrassing:

"Empire State of Mind" by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys

This 2009 classic is the essence of throwback. The New York anthem is the perfect choice for a Monday morning. Alicia Keys’ vocals are always stunning, and the uplifting melodies really make it feel like “there’s nothin’ you can’t do.” 

Bruno Mars’ "Doo-Wops and Hooligans"

This album was my favorite growing up. Mars’ soulful style indulges in my quarantine moodiness. In fact, there’s pretty much a song for every single mood I go through throughout the course of my day. Kicking back to watch Netflix because “I don’t feel like doing anything”? “The Lazy Song” hits the mark. Crying when Sokka has to say goodbye to Yue in Avatar the Last Airbender? “Talking to the Moon” is eerily perfect. Need a soundtrack for running around in circles with my dog because she won't let me work in peace? “Count on Me” is the anthem for furry best friends. 

"A Thousand Miles" by Vanessa Carlton

The "White Chicks" anthem is essential for when I drive around in circles in my neighborhood in the name of “getting out of the house” even though it does nothing for me but waste my gas. Vanessa Carlton’s hit piece is one of those songs where everyone seems to know all the lyrics, even if they’ve never watched "White Chicks."

The entire "Lemonade Mouth" soundtrack

I revisited Bridgit Mendler's entire discography during quarantine, and I firmly stand by my belief that she is incredibly underrated. "Lemonade Mouth" was one of my favorite Disney movies — I still love Naomi Scott and Hayley Kiyoko years later. “She’s So Gone” and “Somebody” have been stuck in my head for nine years — and I can’t complain. 

Christopher Wilde’s "Hero"

Looking back, I realize Disney Channel movies were way better when I was little. The Disney Channel movie classic "StarStruck" is about famous teenage singer, Christopher Wilde, who meets the "I’m-not-like-other-girls" protagonist, Jessica Olsen. It featured Christopher Wilde’s swoon-worthy song, "Hero," and my childhood obsession with it came back for a long visit during quarantine. 

"Bangarang" by Skrillex

This song was the bane of my mother’s existence — and I totally understand why. My poor mother had to sit through hours of my brother and I playing straight EDM featuring a distorted voice shouting Bangarang. The entire song makes no sense, but it is still somehow one of Skrillex’s most popular songs and has garnered over 300 million streams on Spotify. Despite having no intelligible lyrics except the title word and a music video featuring little kid bandits, a bunch of dogs and a dismembered ice cream truck driver (I don’t think any of us ever understood it), the song brings me comfort, I am embarrassed to admit. 

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