Powerful Playlists: Young Once
On our journey from A to B in life, whatever that is for each of us specifically, it’s important to remember to enjoy the in-between.
This is one of the founding principles of In-Between Media and something that I, as a 23-year-old with large aspirations, try to keep in mind consistently. I have a fuller plate than most: a communications position at a top-25 U.S. research university, leading a start-up company and putting the time in to become a respected professional fantasy sports analyst.
However, despite how overwhelming it can all feel at times, it’s important to recognize the unique chapter many of us find ourselves in – the latter stages of our youth.
You’re only young once. You only have a chance to fully embrace it, once. So, live it while you can.
One of the commodities within life that can help us recognize and make the most out of what we have left of our golden years is music. In this edition of “Powerful Playlists,” I’ll lay out a carefully crafted selection of songs that will help you fully embrace the fact that we’re only young for so long.
1. “bar hoppin’” – mike.
Formerly known as Mike Stud, mike. deploys a chill-sounding beet met with smooth lyrics that touch on one of people’s favorite activities while they’re young – bar hoppin’.
There’s no real reason why it at times can seem like the closest thing we have to organized sports in our 20s, or why it’s so amusing. But when you’re surrounded by the right people in a rad atmosphere, it is. Fire this track up for your next backyard patio sitting or in the hours leading up to a hoppin’ session.
2. “This Bar” – Morgan Wallen
Staying on the topic of taverns, this early 2020 track is a bar-drinking anthem, especially now that things have turned the corner in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Morgan Wallen, love him or hate him, successfully brought country music back to the mainstream with hits just like this. In “This Bar,” Wallen uses a variance of pace and up-beat country chords to tell a familiar story. Boy finds bar. Boy finds friends in the bar. Boy finds girl in the bar. Boy loses girl, just to find himself, both psychically and spiritually, in the same bar.
It was tough to pick just one song of Wallen’s to put on this playlist, as just about every one of his hits a little different with a cold beverage sitting on a barstool.
3. “The Thrill” – Wiz Khalifa & Empire of the Sun
Originally debuting as a mixtape in 2010, Wiz Khalifa’s “The Thrill” beautifully merges a sample of Empire of the Sun’s “Walking on a Dream” with goof-feeling rap lyrics and harmonies.
If there was ever a tune that encouraged you to be yourself and live the good life that comes with it simply for “the thrill of it,” it’s this one.
4. “The Spins” – Mac Miller
Another party-like anthem that covers an Empire of the Sun song is Mac Miller’s “The Spins.” On this track, Miller displays his confident, carefree side that we often saw in his early professional career that is just too good to turn off.
“The Spins” is an instant tone-setter track that’ll get even the stiffest of souls singing and dancing along to the Pittsburgh rap legend.
5. “In Too Deep” – Sum 41
Often headlining the “American Pie” films, one of the greatest young-adult comedy series ever, “In Too Deep” is all about the mistake that too many of us in our youth make: getting in too deep, whether it’s with the wrong person, job or just situation.
The heavy punk-rock guitar chords and crashing drum set take us all back to the simplest time in our lives, when we were all still swimming with our heads above water. Because of its former cultural influence, it’s by far the most crowd-pleasing track for all age ranges on this playlist.
6. “Young Blood” – The Naked and Famous
Resting in either the genre of dance or electronic music, the 2010 track “Young Blood” by alternative group The Naked and Famous is an absolute must-listen if you’ve somehow never heard it.
The electronically infused intro met with an early base drop hits just as hard now as it did over a decade ago. Its lyrics like “We’re only young and naïve still … / The mood changes like the wind … / Trying to find the in-between” hit home for anyone still trying to find the work/living life to its fullest balance.
7. “We Are Young (feat. Janelle Monáe)” – Fun.
Former supergroup, Fun.’s breakout hit “We Are Young (feat. Janelle Monáe)” immediately sets listeners in what sounds like a downtown pub during an awkward exchange between former lovers.
The rare use of piano in a song targeted toward a younger audience beautifully takes that awkward situation and transforms it into a statement about being just what the title alludes to – young. If you have the urge to figuratively set the world on fire at your next gathering amongst friends, I suggest firing this 2012 hit up.
8. “WHO RLY CRS” – Wallpaper.
Let’s be honest, we all have those few friends with whom when you get together, you have a tendency to take things a bit too far. This fairly common-sounding backtrack that has spry lyrics tells the story of just that and how when it’s all said and done, “Who really cares that we drink way too much?”
It’s a fun song that will absolutely start or continue a party of any size, reminding us all that most of our “problems” are of the first-world variety.
9. “Young, Wild & Free (feat. Bruno Mars)” – Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa
If there was ever a song that defined my generation, somewhere stuck in-between the millennials and Gen Z, it’s “Young, Wild & Free (feat. Bruno Mars)” by Khalifa and his legendary uncle, Snoop Dogg.
It’s another piano-dominant song but uniquely begins with the chorus, followed by two of the most feel-good verses you’ll ever hear in a rap song. It’s a constant reminder that while we’re responsible for setting ourselves up for future success, we’re also expected to get a little crazy sometimes and just be young, wild and free.
As is tradition, the final song selection of this “Powerful Playlist” is solely up to you, the reader. I hope that this collection of feel-good anthems allows you to slow down and enjoy the fleeting moments of your youth, even if it’s just for a little while.