SMYTHY SELECTS: New Year, New You Playlist

Seeking a magical method for transforming into that god or goddess you’ve always strived to become? While there may not be an app for that–yet!–these songs might just perform the miracle themselves.
Note: Click the song titles to hear each song.

Sara Bareilles–Brave
Bareilles’s declaration, “I wanna see you be brave” is the call to action that rings in my ears during my most crippling moments of social anxiety. It helped me muster the courage to come out to my parents. It is the calming hug before what is always, for me, an anxiety-ridden first day of classes. It even helped me brave breakup drama. Whatever the nature of the situation, Bareilles’s message (“Maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live / Maybe one of these days you can let the light in / And show me how big your brave is”) never fails to empower me.
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Johnny Nash–I Can See Clearly Now
The bass and bongo opening of this song melts away stress from the onset–throw in Nash’s warm falsetto voice and the song’s even warmer lyrics, and you’re bound to end up a puddle of bliss. And if the song’s “bright sunshine-y day” doesn’t quite fit your situation, rest assured–this song is a day-brightener even when it’s sub-freezing and sleeting.
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KT Tunstall–Suddenly I See
When I first read Susan Cain’s description of Rosa Parks’ “quiet fortitude” in The Power of Introverts, I realized that’s exactly who I want to be–someone who exudes calm strength. Tunstall’s lyrics echo this epiphany: “Suddenly I see / This is what I want to be / Suddenly I see / Why the hell it means so much to me.” The song has yet to transport me to the storybook-like land in Tunstall’s video, but it’s definitely made me feel just as liable to strut.
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Muse–Feeling Good
The first time I heard this gem in the Will Smith movie Seven Pounds, it had me feeling so good I ran straight to the library to rent Muse’s entire Origin of Symmetry album. The way the entire band comes punching in after the quiet piano-and-voice intro gives you the sort of power surge that gets you feeling good. And feeling like you’ve earned it.
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Katy Perry–Roar
Don’t let the over-the-top “motion theory adventure filmed in junglescope” distract you–this song is even more motivating than “Eye of the Tiger.” The rush of confidence I get when I hear Perry’s crescendo of roars as I’m walking to work is enough to straighten me out of any serious slouch. Sometimes it even gets me dancing on the subway–and I hardly even dance when I’m at a wedding reception.
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Cat Stevens–If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out
Want to post a feminist rant on Facebook, even though you know it will turn into comments section verbal combat with your friend Hadley and at least three of your cousins? Look no further for permission. Cat Stevens offers just the go-ahead you need: “You can do what you want / The opportunity’s on / And if you find a new way / You can do it today.”
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Des’ree–You Gotta Be
In “You Gotta Be,” Des’ree defines everything that I myself strive to be–“bad,” “bold,” “wiser,” “hard” ( but “not too, too hard”), “tough,” “stronger,” “cool,” “calm,” “together.” I’m just slightly disappointed that she’s retired from her music career–I could use three more albums of this brand of wise positivity.
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Michael Jackson–Man in the Mirror
The lyrics to “Man in the Mirror” (“If you want to make the world a better place / Take a look at yourself and make that change”) were just the motivation I needed this year to make positive changes in my own behavior–to respect friends’ pronoun changes as unequivocally as possible, to become vice president of a club, to post messages on Facebook wishing people a beautiful week. I can even attest that changing yourself does help others–I’ve gotten a few thank you’s from friends for posting my encouraging Facebook messages.
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Natasha Bedingfield–Unwritten
When I listen to Bedingfield, backed by a gospel choir, sing “release your inhibitions,” I want to explore the possibilities of my future’s blank pages–starting with that novella I’ve been working on for months, most of which is also still unwritten. But with this song playing in the background as I write, it’s definitely getting there.
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Taylor Swift–Shake It Off
After watching her transform from boy-obsessed country crooner to confident media-slamming pop superstar, even this more indie-leaning music fanatic respects Swift. If you encountered a few players, haters, heartbreakers and fakers in 2014, never fear–that just means you’re about to shake them off and have a 2015 to rival Swift’s awesome 2014.
Buy it here!


~~~Kim Kaletsky is Ideasmyth’s editorial and tech assistant, and a senior at NYU studying English and American literature, creative writing and web programming. When she is not busy writing novels and running her lit mag blog, Brouhaha Magazine, she moonlights as a music fanatic and boasts a music collection of more than 12,000 songs–and a mental repertoire that is probably twice as large.


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