About a month and a half ago, I went to a concert on campus and listened to a huge crowd of college students sing along to their middle school sweetheart. When Jesse McCartney held the mic out to us, we shouted the words to “Beautiful Soul” as if they were the most heartfelt, meaningful lyrics ever written. The Benson Auditorium was overwhelmed with a sense of togetherness as those melodies brought back a stream of memories for everyone there.
The day after that, I was watching TV when an episode of Glee came on, and that particular episode ended with the Glee club singing “Keep Holding On” by Avril Lavigne. It was powerful and perfect for the “all-in-this-together” kind of vibe the show thrives on, and I started singing along. Then I felt myself starting to cry. But I wasn’t crying because of what was happening in the show. I cried because the song reminded me of the time I blasted it on repeat on my old Windows computer and bawled because my grandma was in the hospital and there was nothing else I could do.
One of my all-time favorite singers is Ed Sheeran because his music has been such a constant part of my life. Through every emotional and crazy time in my life, I listened to his music. I would listen to “Let It Out” when I felt sad or lonely, and it would instantly make me feel better. I don’t know what it was about his music, but I always felt comforted by every song.
If you would have asked me about K-Pop a few months ago, I would have defined it as that weird, semi-annoying Asian band my roommate would play in the car and spend all her money on. Now, I know it as the greatest display of entertainment ever. K-Pop means Korean Pop, but it’s not just pop. It’s more of a mashup of every genre ever. Every music video is a huge production and the groups do amazing choreography. My favorite groups are BTS, Got7 and EXO; you should look them up.
These groups have surpassed some of my favorite American music artists even if they sing mostly in Korean, and I have to watch every interview with English subtitles. I look up translated versions of the lyrics and I’ve listened to the songs so much now that I know what they’re saying. Even though we don’t speak the same language, I can listen to their songs and connect with the feeling. I understand what the song means and can appreciate the music.
Jesse McCartney, Avril Lavigne, Ed Sheeran and K-Pop artists have all influenced my life at some time or another. I can listen to one of their songs and remember other times I have heard it. I love that we can understand people’s thoughts and struggles through music and we can relate to each other in the same way.
Think about the song you played on repeat after your first break up or on the way to your high school graduation. For you, that song represents a specific time in your life, a specific feeling or memory. That same song could be just as important to someone else too.
BTS’s new song “Spring Day” talks about missing someone and the pain experienced when wondering when you’ll ever see them again. As I listen to this song, I try to sing along to the Korean lyrics, and I imagine someone in Korea trying to sing along to the few English parts as well. Both of us could be listening to the same song and thinking about the people we miss.
That’s the best part about music: that it is so universal. It can connect cultures and people from all over the world. Even if we don’t speak the same language or come from the same background, we can understand each other through music. It can unite people from different countries and influence culture all over the world, even transcending language barriers. Music may be an art form, but I could easily argue that it is also one of the most powerful things on this planet.