“In This Diary” by the Ataris
Jess: The sentiment in this song is simple: Enjoy being young, because it won’t last forever. Kris Roe’s simplistic lyrics are amazing because it seems like he wrote them just for you. Detailing random situations many of us have found ourselves in (we’ve all stayed up late “quoting lines from all those movies that we love”), the song is nostalgic throughout, without ever becoming sappy or regretful about the past. Staying true to the purpose of songs like this, Roe imparts his wisdom on the younger generations, reminding them that “the only thing that matters is just following your heart, and eventually you’ll finally get it right.” Maybe it sounds like a na’ve or juvenile sentiment, but regardless, it’s still worth listening to. At the very least it will remind you of better, simpler times, and maybe help us cling to our childhood for just a bit longer.
“Pas de Cheval” by Panic at the Disco
Carrie: With the risk of starting to sound like a broken record, this song by Panic at the Disco is the ultimate feel-good song. Not because it’s flowery or overtly cheerful, but because of its completely ego-centric lyrics. Ryan Ross’ chorus, “It’s the greatest thing that’s yet to have happened/Imagine knowing me/It’s the greatest thing you’d ever imagine/But you’ll never know until you’re there,” is so in-your-face full of itself that any person feeling down about themselves would be crazy not to be completely self-confident after listening to it. The boppy beat and laid-back guitar solo only add to the celebratory vibe.
“Livin’ On A Prayer” by Bon Jovi
Jess: There’s a good reason why, more than 20 years after its initial release, this song is still listed each week among the top 100 most popular songs on iTunes: It’s just plain amazing. Not many songs can get people so pumped or feel so inspired, yet Bon Jovi manages it with insane power. It doesn’t have the same light, airy feel as a lot of other feel-good songs, but nonetheless, it still manages to leave you in a much better mood after you’ve heard it. Slightly strange, considering half of the song talks about a couple’s hardships and struggles to get by. The song quickly shifts though, as the chorus takes on a much more hopeful tone. “Prayer” has perhaps been so popular for so long because it’s real. There are no fake ideals here. No adolescent hopes for perfection. There’s just a simple story of people looking for something better, something we can all certainly relate to. With such mass appeal, it seems very likely that this song will still be popular another 20 years from now.
“Stand in the Spotlight” by Armor for Sleep
Jess: There might be a lot of songs out there that preach individuality and liking yourself for who you are, but none of them are quite as affective as this. Armor weaves melodic verses with a powerful chorus that makes it impossible to be in a bad mood while listening to it. “Spotlight” manages to be empowering without being aggressive, encouraging listeners to ignore the people who talk badly about them, without adopting the all-too common fuck-the-world mentality often heard in songs today. If you’re ever in a bad mood, put this song on. In a mere four minutes I guarantee your mood will be changed for the better.
Carrie: This is the last song on Armor’s album, “Smile for Them,” and it definitely ranks up there with best enders. It’s like Ben Jorgennsen and Co. read each emo kid’s mind and wrote this song. The bridge is as epic as it sounds: “One day they’ll see/One day they’ll all see/One day they’ll be shouting the truth/One day they’ll all be cheering for you.” And the chorus is: “You are the starlight that sparks up the whole night/let their voices fade out and stand in the spotlight/And take a bow.” After you’re done listening to this, you may be crying. You’ll possibly be moved. But you’ll most definitely want to take a bow.
“20 Dollar Nose Bleed” by Fall Out Boy
Carrie: The third-to-last song on their newest effort, “Folie a Deux,” this song is one of the best FOB has written. Pete Wentz’s typically witty and slightly ridiculous lyrics take a back seat to the completely joyous brass and piano flooding this track. Vocalist Patrick Stump’s voice is at its finest, and guest vocalist Brendon Urie adds an element of pizazz and celebration the song wouldn’t have had otherwise. The lyrics are downright emo – the first and last line, “Have you ever wanted to disappear?” is anything but cheerful. But the music and voices combine to make this one heck of a pick-me-up.