- Alex, Ester & Naomi
The Cultural Impact of Our Favorite Songs
Ester: A song that changed my life for the better is “You Belong With Me” by Taylor Swift. Despite not being one of her more meaningful songs, it introduced me to the world of Taylor Swift and “the Swifties,” Swift’s fans’ self-proclaimed name. Before I talk about the song, I want to talk a little about her history. Taylor Swift was born in Pennsylvania and from a young age loved singing, and was especially fond of country music. She wrote her first song, “Lucky You”, when she was twelve. Taylor released her first album, “Taylor Swift”, when she was seventeen. Following the success of that album, she released her second album, “Fearless.” “Fearless” includes many amazing songs, but my personal favorite is “You Belong With Me.” I first heard the song when I was around six or seven, when I had just moved to US. I liked it, so when I got home from school, I had my brother google the lyrics, which led me to the music video. The video made me love the song more. In an odd way, the video made me feel seen. At the time, I was new to the US and was having trouble making friends because I didn’t speak English. In the song, Taylor Swift writes about loving a boy from afar but not changing for the boy. Obviously, I wasn’t in love when I was six, but the song did help me in a different way. It helped me reaffirm that I didn’t have to change myself to make friends (as cheesy as that sounds, it is true). Other than helping me feel better, the song is an absolute bop. The music video for it has more than one billion views, that number growing every day. Whenever I hear the song, I can’t help but smile and sing along. To this day, this song remains one of my favorite songs of all time. Listen to the song here.
Alex: A song that changed my life for the better is “Stitches” by Shawn Mendes. I remember watching Disney Channel in 2014 and seeing that Disney’s “NBT” (next big thing) was Shawn Mendes. He was a fifteen-year-old singer who posted covers of songs by other artists, such as Ed Sheeran, who was one of his biggest inspirations, on YouTube. The song talks about Shawn’s struggles of loving and losing someone in a relationship. One of the main lyrics is “And now that I’m without your kisses/ I’ll be needing stitches.” This lyric talks about repeatedly going back to the same person, even though the person keeps hurting you. This song blew up across the internet and the music video has 1.1 billion views. Since 2014, Shawn has grown as a person and as a singer; his voice has evolved, and he now can hit many high notes. He has written three albums since his debut: “Handwritten,” “Illuminated,” and “Shawn Mendes.” Shawn has gone on three world tours for those albums. I have been to all tours. His performances are always incredible, and his presence is breathtaking. He connects with the audience during each show and makes every concert unique. Shawn Mendes is now 21 and has accomplished much since writing “Stitches” and appearing on Disney Channel’s “NBT.” Shawn Mendes is my biggest inspiration and my favorite artist. Listen to the song here.
Naomi: Harry Styles is my favorite artist, and his debut single, “The Sign of the Times,” is my favorite song. But first, let’s discuss everything leading up to the single. Harry was a member of the band One Direction, which formed through “The X Factor,” mostly due to Simon Cowell. The band was known for their pop songs and slightly cheesy lyrics about love and relationships. A lot of people, however, didn’t follow the individuals’ solo careers after they decided to go on a “hiatus;” the band members began to find their individual sound after splitting up, and Harry Styles decided to approach his music with a folksy/rock sound. He brought together a band with whom he made his debut album. He also began using more acoustic and electric guitars to attain the rock sound aesthetic that he had grown up listening to. Harry’s first single, “The Sign of the Times,” has definitely made my life exponentially better. The first time I heard the song, I was in seventh grade, specifically in a Computer Science course on April 7, 2017. We weren’t supposed to be listening to music, but I decided to anyways with Alex. As I pressed play and the beginning piano chords began to blast into our ears, I knew it was going to be a good song. So, when he sang the line, “Just stop your crying, it’s a sign of the times,” I wanted to cry. That line is still my favorite part of the song, and I feel such a deep, emotional connection to the lyrics. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Harry explained that the song was written from the perspective of a mother giving birth where “the child is fine, but [the mother isn’t] going to make it,” so the mother tells the child to “go forth and conquer.” His interpretation makes the song significantly better and gives the song a whole new meaning and point of view that I would have never imagined. This song clearly has had a huge impact on society. The video alone got over 557 million views with 4.3 million likes. On Spotify, the song has over 538 MILLION streams. If that isn’t impressive for a first single, I don’t know what is. To this day, “Sign of the Times” still makes me emotional, and whenever I listen to the song, I scream my little heart out. I love the song. I love Harry Styles. The end. In fact, you be the judge of the song. Listen here.
Afanador, Ruven. Shawn Mendes against white background. 26 Nov. 2018. Rolling Stones,
www.rollingstone.com/music/music-features/shawn-mendes-cover-interview-756847/. Accessed 26 Oct. 2019.
Heck, Erik Madigan. Taylor Swift posing against a yellow background. 18 Sept. 2019. Rolling Stones, www.rollingstone.com/music/music-features/taylor-swift-rolling-stone-interview-880794/. Accessed 26 Oct. 2019.
McGinley, Ryan. Harry Styles Posing on a Brick Wall. 28 Aug. 2019. Rolling Stones, www.rollingstone.com/music/music-features/harry-styles-cover-interview-album-871568/. Accessed 26 Oct. 2019.