Music for Time Travel
We may not have actual time travel figured out (yet), but put on the right song and you can feel suddenly transported—to freshman year, to childhood, to a different generation.
By THE MUSIC TEAM
Here are the songs that lift us out of the present moment and drop us somewhere else for a few minutes.
“Memories,” David Guetta ft. Kid Cudi
It only takes this song one second to transport me back to my middle school years, and I somehow mean that in a good way. It’s like dancing my heart out at a bat mitzvah in a sequined, bubble-hem dress I bought from the teen section of Nordstrom. It’s my very own “the club is bumping, the ladies look good, the alcohol is flowing; there is much pain in the world but not in this room” moment. This song came back into my life during the pandemic lockdown when I craved ESCAPISM and VIBRANCY and spent hours searching for the most excruciatingly decadent, optimistic pop music of yesteryear that I could find. This song doesn’t care at all about the world outside its ecstatic moment.
“Midnight City,” M83
This song made me realize I was into electronics and synths. Also this opening… chef’s kiss!
“Kissing the Lipless,” The Shins
If this song wasn’t on Windows Media Player on my parent’s desktop computer, I truly don’t know who I’d be. I couldn’t tell you how many hours I sat hooked up to that desktop with this on repeat until I saved up for the full album. This song—and later, this album—was my gateway drug to alternative music.
“Levels (Original Version),” Avicii
(DO NOT COME FOR ME)
All I have to say is the world would literally stop the moment this song came on at every college party in 2011-2012 and I’m not sure I’ve experienced that kind of time-stop for a song ever since. I am going to keep requesting this song at all my college friends’ weddings.
“Gonna Love Me,” Teyana Taylor
Whenever I move somewhere new, I love to buy a new candle and make a new playlist to associate with that place (TLDR: sense memory). When I moved to Paris during college, I bought Lola James Harper’s “Surf Shop” candle and made a playlist peppered with the sounds of French and American classics, English ‘00s folk, and modern R&B. Teyana Taylor’s “Gonna Love Me” is one of those songs. To me, it feels like falling autumn leaves, a hug amidst homesickness, a fresh espresso at Café Le Quartier Général.
“Moth’s Wings,” Passion Pit
“Moth’s Wings” brings me back to such a specific time and place. I was in my high school ceramics class and my teacher began playing it loudly over the speakers (bookended by Modest Mouse’s “Float On” and Empire of the Sun’s “Walking on a Dream”). I remember hearing it and just feeling like anything was possible. Maybe it was the song, maybe it was the youthful ignorance, but all I know is every time I hear those opening notes, I feel a sort of renewed aspiration.
“Alter Ego,” Tame Impala
This track brings me back to 7th grade, going to middle school on the Lower East Side. My best friend at the time was really into bands like MGMT and Tame Impala. We used to go to her house in Tribeca, lay on her bedroom floor, and blast InnerSpeaker with all the lights off. It felt like the perfect coming-of-age album, and this particular track felt like driving a racecar. I was breaking out of my shell at this age, and music like Tame Impala’s introduced me to a whole side of music that was more alternative than anything I had previously been a fan of.
“If I Ever Feel Better,” Phoenix
I have been fortunate to see Phoenix live a handful of times throughout my teenage years. Their music reminds me of the energy of New York. This particular track makes me feel like I’m in a Jamba Juice in the Fashion District—I remember being sixteen, waiting to meet a friend, and hearing this song over the speakers. It was pouring rain, I was seeing Phoenix the following week at Governor’s Ball, and things were simple. I always am transported back to that moment now when I hear this song.