The Soundtrack of your Life, Part 3: a song for a situation

To continue building “The Soundtrack of your Life”, I asked people which song they linked to various situations, because most of us like to live life like we’re in a movie: with a good soundtrack.



Background music is often considered unimportant and associated with elevator music, the songs you vaguely hear when you’re shopping, or the nice background sound in a YouTube video that might slip under your radar. 

A whole article could be written on the effects of background music, but here we focus on music that perfectly illustrates a special situation. The moments when you say, “Do you mind if we put some music on?” because it just seems right. 

Asking you what music you play when you’re in a car would have been too easy because we all have various playlists for our personal road trips. But your car isn’t the only place where you need a specific playlist. For the third part of “The Soundtrack of your Life”, I asked people to choose a song they associate with five different situations in their lives. 


A song for when you workout 


Some people can work out without music, but they are a mystery to me. Music is important during a workout – when you have to put in a lot of physical effort, the beats make it easier! Recognized magazines such as Time write articles to give people music recommendations for this purpose. 

Most of the interviewees gave me songs with a strong rhythm or a certain energy that motivates them when they need it. Meli (22, France) chose “Swing it” by Sean&Bobo for “the big big drum, it’s so powerful!” because you can work out to the rhythm. Both Abby (18, Germany) and Raine (14, India) mentioned Little Mix’s songs: “Salute” and “Power”, mostly for the global mood and the nice tempos. 

Another band comes back twice in the answers: Fall Out Boy. Illeana (23, France) picked up “The Phoenix” and Nox (15, Turkey) decided on “I Don’t Care”. In another musical genre, but still related to a good beat, Tyler (17, Germany) chose “My Shot” from the musical Hamilton. Who doesn’t like to feel like an American Founding Father when they work out, sure why not? 

To show the huge genre range that can help people work out, Lou Ann (23, France) talked about “I am the Fire” by Halestorm, when Bear (15, Australia) preferred “Run Boy Run” by Woodkid, and Júlia (26, Brazil) chose “Loco” by Anitta. On the contrary, Christelle (48, France) favoured a slower beat with “Comme un Boomerang” by Etienne Daho. 


A song for when you go on a walk 


When you just want to wander around, you need good music to accompany your steps. Annie (18, England) chose “Movement” by Hozier. “I live in a quite rural area, so Hozier’s vibes are pretty suited to it,” they explained. “Something about his songs makes me want to romanticize my surroundings”. 

Landscape and surroundings were also present in Meli’s (22, France) and Morgan’s (26, United States) answers. One decided on “Turn Loose the Mermaid” by Nightwish, when the other mentioned “Take a Walk” by Passion Pit: “I like good indie pop for enjoying nature”.  

On a positive note, Illeana (23, France) decided on “Le Manège” by Stanislas because it makes her “feel like smiling to everyone and just being happy to be here.”.

Malva (21, France) chose “El Cascabel”, confiding that it is “epic Mexican orchestral music, perfect to reflect”, while Chloé (22, France) just said that a Disney playlist does the job. Tyler (17, Germany) remembered “Sofarinrunning” by Racoon Tour, which he heard when he was walking through a forest: “it makes me think of the sun shining on your face”. 


A song for when you’re travelling


Travelling has a special place in a lot of people’s hearts and it’s logical to see that almost everyone has a story related to a song for travelling. 

Four interviewees chose songs that are related to a memory. Anaïs (22, France) mentioned a whole album, Best of 1980-1990 by U2: “My dad has been playing this album in the car every single time we go on holidays since I was born”. For Abby (18, Germany), “Welcome to New York” by Taylor Swift, sounds like a coincidence: “I heard it the first time I was on a plane and it has stuck with me ever since”. 

Meli (22, France) and Tyler (17, Germany) both chose special moments. “The Sun” by Parov Stelar, which Meli “associate[s] with one of the best trips [she ever] had”; and “Gib Mir Sonne” by Rosenstolz for Tyler because it “reminds [him] of driving through the Alps to get to Italy”. 

Kerry (17, Scotland) also mentioned riding in a car, when she chose “Sitting Pretty” by Bears in Trees: “I can listen to this song on car rides and create my own music videos or film scenes it would be in”. Also car-related, Morgan (26, United States) told me about “Roam” by the B-52’s which “always makes [her] want to drive off into a fun adventure that awaits”. 

Annie (18, England) mentioned “King of Hands” by Tall Dark Friend: “There’s a feeling of being at home for me. As someone who gets kind of homesick when travelling, especially in a new place, it would be super comforting to listen to it”.   


A song when you just got out of an argument 


Meli (22, France) uses songs by Metallica, and Kerry (17, Scotland) uses “Kill Somebody” by Yungblud to evacuate their anger after an argument.

On a similar note, Morgan (26, United States) chose “Smack a Bitch” by Rico Nasty because of the “aggressive beat and the lyrics that are saying ‘so glad I don’t smack a bitch’, that’s how I feel if someone pisses me off”. 

Malva (21, France) associates arguments with a need to be motivated and chose “Pokemon Diamond x Pearl Cynthia Theme”, while Abby (18, Germany) preferred a song with the “right energy” but that can make them dance, “My Songs Know what you did in the Dark” by Fall Out Boy.

With a different feeling, Nox (15, Turkey) mentioned “I Fucked Up” by Convolk, saying that it’s “basically about messing up and that’s usually how I feel after an argument with my friends.” To stay in a sadder mood, Ella (18, United States) chose “The Kill” by 30 Seconds to Mars. 


A song for when you just went through a breakup


Going through a break up, you don’t always need sad love songs. That’s why Abby (18, Germany) and Anaïs (22, France) told me about positive songs: first “Love Song” by Yungblud because it reminds them how one needs to love themselves and then “Free Woman” by Lady Gaga because her happiness doesn’t depend on someone else.

On the contrary, Meli (22, France) chose a song with “vengeful lyrics”: “Fuck you” by Lily Allen, and Raine (14, India) mentioned “The One that Got Away” by Katy Perry, because it makes them cry. 

Morgan (26, United States) mentioned “I Couldn’t be more in Love” by The 1975 and explained that “the lyrics are about what to do with unused love after the end of a relationship, to me it hits on that feeling of ‘what do I do with this’, it helped me cry out my last break up”. 


Just like songs can help you put words on a feeling, they can help you when you’re in a special situation, no matter if it’s a positive or a negative one. This is also what “the Soundtrack of your Life” is about: finding songs to go with your everyday life. And you, do you have specific songs for these situations? Let us know in the comment section! 


Laurine Tiran
Laurine Tiran

I'm a French student doing a Master's degree in International Politics at the University of Toulon, France.

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