OPINION: 5 songs to have an existential crisis to during finals week


“Salad Days” album cover.

Christina West, Commentary writer

With only three weeks left of the fall term, it can feel like you are on the verge of an existential crisis, or at least an academic catastrophe. Here are five songs for when you’re frustrated, overwhelmed or sad in the remaining weeks. 

“Bulletproof… I Wish I Was” – Radiohead 

“the bends” album cover.

“Bulletproof… I Wish I Was” is a stunning song. It makes me feel like I’m sitting in a desolate wasteland. Lead singer Thom Yorke’s vocals blow me away on this track, but he sounds somehow exhausted like he’s done all he can and he’s resigning.

 The vulnerability that he expresses is eating away at his sense of self. He wants to absolve himself from blame with the lyrics: “you have turned me into this” but rectifying perceived weaknesses within the self is the only solution. 

I think this song is about accepting and embracing your vulnerability. Sometimes you will fall short of the expectations you have set for yourself, and other times you will exceed them. 

Finals can make students feel stretched too thin. We want to devote our best work to everything, but there is the inevitable chance that something might not go as planned. That is ok though. Nobody is invincible, or should I say, bulletproof to all of the woes of the end of the semester. 

“Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” – The Smiths

“Louder Than Bombs” album cover.

Indulging in self-pity isn’t quite the same without this song. The instrumental is deceptively cheerful, but there is no denying the overt lyrics about, well, misery. The Smiths portray the process of seeking fulfillment only to be in the same state of utter disillusionment with life. 

Maybe you have a final on Friday at 8 a.m. or you have 6 projects due on the same day. Of course, you’ll probably pity yourself. It’s only natural. Being overworked and overstressed can take the enjoyment you have out of your field of study, but everything will soon pass the moment winter break starts. 

“Who Would Leave Their Son Out in the Sun?” – Have a Nice Life

Listen to this song with caution. I’ll admit, the entire Deathconsciousness album is not for the faint of heart. The distorted, lo-fi vocals make me feel completely hollowed out and dejected. The lyrics are difficult to decipher, but a careful listen or quick search reveals its hopeless narrative. 

The lyrics speak for themselves — “But there aren’t enough archangels in the sky to come down to make me feel right.”

“Isabella of Castile” – STRFKR 

“Starfucker” album cover.

Electro-pop band SKRFKR hits where it hurts. “Isabella of Castile” causes a pang of nostalgia on your very first listen, and I’m not even sure how that’s possible. STRFKR often samples audio from philosopher Alan Watts. His wisdom echoes in the background and creates an otherworldly experience for the listener. 

This song is what it feels like when you don’t know if you have a solid ground to stand on. It is hard to feel secure when everything is a series of tests. It can seem like everything falls back on an arbitrarily defined notion of intellect. 

“Chamber of Reflection” – Mac DeMarco 

Like “Isabella of Castile,” this song contains few lyrics but creates a spectacular atmosphere that is rare to find. I honestly have no idea what this song is about, as DeMarco has not been super upfront about its meaning. Regardless, its popularity is warranted. It is the type of song you want to listen to on repeat. 

Listening to this song naturally prompts self-reflection. Even the most basic aspects of the self can come up. Just as there are boundless things to learn about the universe, the self contains many mysteries as well. 

When you reflect on yourself, such as your academic performance or productivity, do not limit your reflections to black and white binaries. Growth and effort are more important than a letter grade. 

Good luck and study hard. Music is always here for you through all the highs and lows. 

Commentary writer Christina West can be reached at [email protected].