Column: The soundtrack to my senior year

Courtesy of bleachers

Courtesy of bleachers

Marybeth Stanziola, Columnist

I’m not quite sure how to process the fact that my college experience will be complete in less than a month – I haven’t even figured out how to make my way around Kirkhof yet. Campus navigation aside, I’ll be exiting GVSU with a multitude of other unknowns: how to jumpstart a career, what the future holds for me, etc. Something I do know for certain, however, is that I wouldn’t have gotten through the last year or found passion in my work without the music that accompanied me on my walk to class every day. (Hopefully) without falling down a rambling rabbit hole of self-indulgence, here are a few of the tracks that I’d consider the soundtrack my senior year.

“45” by Bleachers

My freshman year was defined by Bleachers’ sophomore album “Gone Now,” an excitable yet melancholic project about coming of age. Now, thanks to frontman Jack Antonoff, I get to exit my college experience with their third record, “Take the Sadness out of Saturday Night.” Antonoff’s raw vocals, minimalist production style, and hard-hitting lyrics like, “Are my hopes finally gonna waste me? Am I the worst compass I could know?” manifests in the musical equivalent of a warm embrace.

“Devil’s Advocate” by The Neighbourhood

Another artist whose music has stuck with me since my early teens, The Neighbourhood’s 2020 record “Chip Chrome & the Mono-Tones” brought some much-needed light into an otherwise dreary (to say the least) couple of years. “Devil’s Advocate” is an industrial rock track reminiscent of the sound I fell in love with in high school, riddled with futuristic samples and an infectious bassline. 

“Street Lights” by Kanye West

A staple in most of my playlists, this song off West’s 2008 album “808s & Heartbreak” has followed me throughout my adolescence and early adulthood. Its atmospheric, busy instrumental is balanced by Kanye’s sometimes monotone (but never bland) vocal track. A sincere and humble reflection of West’s earlier career, “Street Lights” pits unsureness and confidence against each other in each line, all blanketed by Kanye’s determination to establish his legacy.

“Come Down” by Anderson Paak

Any entry off of “An Evening with Silk Sonic,” Paak’s 2021 collaboration with Bruno Mars, could have easily made an appearance here; but “Come Down” and all of its funk glory deserves a spot atop the throne. Anderson Paak’s effortlessly cool demeanor and at times humorous lyricism à la “cool beans” makes the song an ultimate pick-me-up post-exam or lecture. 

“Nothing New” by Taylor Swift (featuring Phoebe Bridgers)

The newest and most poignant addition to my Spotify rotation, this collaboration between Swift and Bridgers perfectly sums up each doubt and insecurity that comes with transitioning into complete adulthood. “How could a person know everything at 18, but nothing at 22?” – so much has changed since freshman year, both in my personal life and across the world. The track never answers the questions it asks, instead reassuring listeners that even though uncertainty is scary, it’s universal. 

To everyone who’s graduating this semester, a simple “congratulations” doesn’t feel grandiose enough considering what we’ve worked through to get to this point. I hope you’ve found avenues and outlets that’ve helped ease you through your journey at Grand Valley State University — and I couldn’t be more excited to walk across the stage alongside you.