If you, like I, took Highlights of Astronomy with Prof. Dave Meyer then I believe you’ll know exactly where this playlist is coming from. I’m not a science-y person; I hated biology, sucked at physics and almost failed chemistry. So when I found out I had a science distribution requirement, I could literally feel the ground beneath me crumble away into nothingness.
Fortunately, Northwestern offers a dazzling variety of courses aimed at the scientifically-challenged. Courses that are super interesting and don’t require you to have an extensive knowledge about anything at all (though they’re not always that easy) and are often taught by the best professors in the department. Astronomy 120 is definitely one of them because I have walked away from every single class questioning the meaning of life, the universe and everything. I have a class in Harris Hall just before it, and I kid you not, I literally run all the way to Tech just to make it in time, three days a week. Add a more leisurely 15 minute stroll back down south and multiply the whole thing by three, and that’s like … a LOT of time. That makes this playlist the longest by far!
1. Across The Universe — The Beatles
This is from the golden period of Beatles’ songwriting when they found themselves influenced by exotic Indian mysticism. That’s why the lines that I always heard as “a new day has come” are actually “jai guru deva.” Fun fact: This was the first song to ever be beamed into outer space!
2. Full Moon — The Black Ghosts
This song was part of The Black Ghosts’ first full-length album and is most famous for being part of the “Twilight OST.” While I’m no sucker for the series itself, you have to admit the soundtracks for all five films were pretty darn good.
3. Moonshine — Bruno Mars
So I know “moonshine” doesn’t actually mean “the sunlight reflected by the moon,” but can’t we just pretend it does, just this once? Yes? Ok.
4. Life On Mars? — David Bowie
Ah, Ziggy Stardust. Sometimes I just don’t understand what your lyrics mean but hey, I’m not complaining. Even if you don’t want to decipher what he’s singing about (especially verse 2 onwards), listen to it for the piano and string accompaniments!
5. Cosmic Love — Florence And The Machine
I am of the belief that every single song Florence Welch lends her voice to is instantaneously beautiful. Her soaring vocals and the persistent drumbeat that give way to a delicate breathiness is something that isn’t as easy to master as it may seem, but she consistently pulls it off effortlessly.
6. Fly Me To The Moon — Frank Sinatra
Yet another song that spawned a million covers, I’m adamant that Frank Sinatra’s version was, is and forever will be the best. But then, so is anything he lent his voice to; it’s a fact.
7. Stars — Grace Potter & The Nocturnals feat. Kenny Chesney
Grace Potter & The Nocturnals is the perfect example of a band that isn’t as famous as it clearly deserves to be. The lead singer and frontwoman’s voice is just so open and pure and wholesome that it demands you stop everything you’re in the middle of doing and just … listen.
8. Last Night On Earth — Green Day
I think I have a really big thing for songs that start with pianos. One of their more mellow offerings, it’s definitely a sound I won’t tire of hearing. It’s possibly one of the very, very few Green Day songs you could slow-dance to? My favorite line is definitely “you are the moonlight of my life, every night” — now if that doesn’t make your heart melt then I don’t know what will.
9. Borderlines And Aliens — Grouplove
I heard this just before seeing Grouplove live at A&O Blowout! And yes, the band really was even better live. Friendly tip: Don’t try to make sense of the lyrics, just go with them instead.
10. Valleys Of Neptune — Jimi Hendrix
The lead single from one of Jimi Hendrix’s more recent posthumous releases, “Valleys Of Neptune” is a pretty good introduction to his work if you’ve never listened to it before. For those of you who haven’t, make sure you listen to “Purple Haze” too for the true Jimi Hendrix experience!
11. Spaceman — The Killers
Need some inspiration for your Halloween costume this year? Check out the video for this song and you’ll be sure to find something! “Spaceman” was also voted one of the 100 Best Songs of 2008 by Rolling Stone! Not bad, not bad at all.
12. Starlight — Muse
“Starlight” is definitely one of the most cheerful songs Muse has written so far! And it’s not difficult to see why it’s one of the band’s most popular ones; the song has a beat that’s easy to follow and a simple piano riff that’ll stick in your head for days after you’ve heard it.
13. Supermassive Black Hole – Muse
Two songs by the same artist in a single playlist? “You’re just getting lazy here, Ditty!” you say. Me? Lazy? Never! Muse’s entire discography just happens to be the most perfect cosmic rock playlist you could find. And I tried, I really did, to include only one song in this playlist, but this one has a kind of latent energy that just leaves you feeling incredibly pumped up. It’s also the very first song I ever heard by Muse; if you’ve never heard anything by the group by now then give this a go and you’ll understand just why.
14. Planetary (GO!) — My Chemical Romance
I would have put this in my Gameday playlist, but since I try not to repeat songs I decided this song was more appropriate for a playlist about the universe. I mean, MCR talks about defending the planet and use cool scientific terminology like “velocity;” it’s like this song was MADE for space enthusiasts!
15. Starships — Nicki Minaj
I know so many people who’d cringe/protest/downright disown me for including this song but I’m not ashamed to admit I’m a huge fan of “Starships.” It’s true, I don’t understand most of the lyrics, but then I’ve never really paid attention to them. This is the kind of song you just listen to when you want to jump around your room doing something equally pointless, like laundry.
16. Blue Moon — The Overtones
Five good-looking men in suits and bow ties, singing 50’s-style music so well they’d give The Beach Boys a complex? That’s The Overtones for you. Formed a couple of years ago in Britain, they marked what I hoped would be the revival of doo-wop throughout the globe. But even though that didn’t happen, these guys shot to fame, and deservingly so.
17. Reach — S Club 7
I recently found out this song (and the entire cultural phenomenon that was S Club 7) wasn’t popular here in America when we were growing up? Is this true?! You guys have missed out! Growing up in Britain, this was the only thing any self-respecting “cool kid” listened to; check them out for yourselves and you’ll believe me.
18. Moonlight Sonata (Piano Sonata No. 14) — Ludwig van Beethoven
Let us all take a moment to pretend we are not uncultured swine who pollute our ears with the sounds of Justin Bieber and Alison Gold and whatnot. Ugh, no. Let us instead indulge in the delicate artistry of this particularly famous sonata. Perfect for when you want to practice your piano skills, compare the enormity of space to the insignificance of human life or just take a quick power nap in between study sessions.
19. Wish Upon A Dog Star — Satellite Party
This supergroup ended up being a superfail when it fizzled out just four years after its formation and one year after the release of its debut album! Nevertheless, the band did produce this absolute gem of a song that I can only identify as some sort of disco rock phenomenon.
20. Black Hole Sun — Soundgarden
Chris Cornell is definitely one of the more talented musicians of our generation, having fronted not one but two successful rock bands AND having sustained a not-so-miserable solo career. While his collaborations with Timbaland remain a bit iffy, I prefer some of his older music, such as this smash hit from the 90’s. Watch the video for more Halloween inspiration.
21. Drops Of Jupiter — Train
This song never fails to bring me to tears every time I hear it just because of how moving its background story is. Lead singer Pat Monahan wrote it in memory of his late mother (“Now that she’s back in the atmosphere” — The lyrics make so much more sense when you know this!) and it was Train’s very first breakthrough hit. With lyrics ranging from the deep (see above) to the adorable (“love, pride, deep fried chicken”), this is just one of the most perfect songs ever written.
22. Sun (Chordashian Remix) — Two Door Cinema Club
I told you I loved this band. And while the original version of this song is my favorite by them, this remix seems to slow it down a bit, make it more chill, so to say.
23. New Moon Rising — Wolfmother
What even happened to Wolfmother? Five or six years ago the group was dominating the charts, reminding the world Australia really did have amazing artists other than AC/DC, and we’ve barely heard from it since. Luckily for us, the band is supposedly working on a new album! Until then, listen to this offering off of its second album, “Cosmic Egg.”
24. Ancient Mars — The Zolas
This relatively new Canadian rock band started on its quiet rise to fame with the release of a debut album in 2010. The Zolas’ second album released a little over a year ago, sharing the same title as this song. If you like soft-voiced indie artists with simple tunes that you can bop your head to, this is exactly what you need to hear.
— Ditty Bandhari