We’re already almost halfway through the term, and everyone seems to be feeling the stress continue to build as the weeks wear on. Luckily, music is here to help us get through it. The Index Staff share some tracks that have helped them stay calm, focused, and centered this past month.

“Are You Even Real” by James Blake

Admittedly, I have never been an ardent fan of downtempo music or James Blake’s musicianship. His popular tracks released before 2020 are perfectly tolerable to me, but I was yet to find any of his songs truly remarkable until his three most recent singles, specifically “Are You Even Real”, which he released in July 2020. For those who love songs that mix orchestral sounds with modern melodies like I do, “Are You Even Real” is an essential track to have on your fall playlists. Something about the mixture of classical strings and contemporary beats provokes feelings of nostalgia and catharsis in me every time I hear it. The single combines Blake’s mastery of blending delicate, mesmerizing harmonies with a strong bassline that sounds like it belongs in a Drake track, all under a graceful violin melody that adds a certain ethereal quality to the song. The lyrics, written for and dedicated to his partner Jameela Jamil, allude to private memories and jokes that he shares with her and question how such a perfect person can be real at all; it is truly the love song to end all love songs. I have kept it on heavy rotation in my Spotify cue all summer and it has proved to be extremely versatile. It can help me fall asleep, keep me focused while studying, or make me dance, depending on my mood when listening to the track. That, in my opinion, is exactly what a good song should be. — Isabelle Williams

“Mice on Venus” by C418

The “Minecraft” soundtrack needs no introduction. The sweeping, intimate piano chords and wonderfully melancholy composition will inevitably pull you under their spell on their own, even if you don’t have the additional nostalgic context of spending the best years of your youth playing the game it’s designed for. “Mice on Venus” stands heads and tails above the rest. Its whimsical, tender opening chord progression instantaneously whisks away the listener to lands unknown, before graciously setting them down in what is perhaps the most iconic chord resolution ever composed. You’ve probably heard “Mice on Venus” before—but it’s worth a listen outside its context. — Quint Iverson

“How Far I’ll Go” by Auli’i Cravalho

In times of stress, I’m a big proponent for the magic of nostalgia and childhood innocence. When the walls of the adult world just seem to be closing in and crumbling down, a little escape into a time of simplicity and innocence is an effective medicine. And while 2016’s Moana was not a part of my childhood, the magic of Disney–especially the music of Disney–just brings that comfortable feeling of childhood wonder that we really all could use right now. Plus, I’m just generally obsessed with that movie. The soundtrack has been on a constant loop for me this past week, and there’s no better standout than the cornerstone longing-for-escape anthem that is “How Far I’ll Go.” It’s magical, it’s brilliant, it’s gorgeous. And most importantly, it slaps. — Bren Swogger

Editor-in-Chief / News Editor | + posts

Isabelle Williams is a junior at Pacific University who is majoring in Journalism and minoring in Theatre. She is from Astoria, Oregon, and enjoys writing about music and entertainment as well as investigative reporting.

Writer | + posts

Quint Iverson is a rising senior at Pacific University, taking a leave of absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is a major in Film and Journalism who enjoys writing about arts and entertainment.

Former-EIC | + posts

Bren Swogger is a journalism major at Pacific University Class of 2021. They currently live in Oregon City, OR. They are the creator of Indie/Alt Magazine, and also write for Vortex Music Magazine in Portland.

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