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The Soundtrack to Your Year

On the rare occasions that I end up riding in the car with my mom, there’s always one point during the drive that she will shush me and turn up the radio, interrupting me so that she can listen to whatever song just came on. She cranks the volume up and begins to warble along, smiling dreamily, then tells me about whatever point in her past that particular song reminds her of.

The stories vary pretty widely—she’ll ramble about anything from singing karaoke with a drunk Aunt Toni to the first night that she met the man of her dreams—but the point is, the songs elicit a specific memory for her. Even when they are God-awful, which they often are, just hearing them instantly sparks nostalgia and brings a grin to her face. Young and radiant as she is (love you, Jenny Mama!) these songs remind her of years long past, or if we’re going to be cliché here, of her “glory days.”

You know, as weird as it is to think about, these are our glory days. When we’re older and we’re riding in the car with our own kids, we’ll interrupt them in the middle of a story to crank up some song. We’ll be the ones babbling on about how we remember at exactly what point we heard this song blasting through the speakers at THON, at a tailgate, or at some frat.

And our kids will say “YOLO? What the hell is YOLO?”

In order to make this inevitable reality a little easier on you, we’ve compiled a list of the songs that are bound to remind you of the 2011-2012 school year here at State. Whether they mark your first taste of freedom as a freshman or they represent a bittersweet goodbye for all you seniors, these tracks are certain to take up a special place in your heart from this point forward (even the overplayed ones—especially them).

Whether you listen to it during your last pre-games of the semester, while you study for exams, as you pack up your belongings after finals, or on your long drive home next week, don’t be surprised if you find yourself smiling dreamily at the memories that accompany each catchy chorus.

There are 40 songs on this Spotify playlist, but we’ll just share the top ten:

 1. Rihanna- “We Found Love”

We found love in hopeless place/we found love in a hooooopeless place/we found looooove in a hopeless place/we found love in a hopeless plaaaaace”

If you were on any of the 2012 THON committees, you heard this song at the beginning of every COTW video all year long. Not to mention, it was played repeatedly throughout THON weekend. Even if you weren’t involved in THON, this song probably still followed you around campus, both between classes and at parties. And if you haven’t heard the “We found drugs in a dopeless place” or “We found Dove in a soapless place” parodies, you should really get on that.

2. Mac Miller- “Knock Knock”

“1, 2, 3, 4/some crazy-ass kids come and knocked-up on your door so/(knock knock) let ‘em in!/ (knock-knock) let ‘em in!/ (knock-knock) let ‘em in!”

Earlier this semester, this song was heard all across campus in anticipation of the Mac Miller concert. However, since then, it’s been played for a new reason—assuming you were conscious for the series, you know that this is the Flyers’ victory song. Which explains why it’s been playing loud and proud all over Penn State since game six of the series. Even you Penguins fans have to admit, it’s a decent song to jam out to. We know you’re secretly singing along.

3. Carly Rae Jepsen- “Call Me Maybe”

Hey, I just met you/and this is crazy/but here’s my number/so call me, maybe?”

When you start screaming along to this one in the car years down the line, expect your kids to laugh mercilessly at you. In their defense, the lyrics are ridiculous. In ours… it’s really freaking catchy. Whether you hate to love it or you love to hate it, this song was a State Patty’s Day anthem, and from that point forward, hearing the opening notes will forever lead us to a reaction like this.

4. Drake- “The Motto”

You already know, though/you only live once/that’s the motto, ni**a/ YOLO” 

If you want to argue over the stupidity of the term YOLO, please click here to read OS writers bitch about it. Otherwise, you have to at least acknowledge that the phrase has caught on as more of a joke than an excuse for irresponsibility (mostly). Really, though, whether we’re misusing and abusing YOLO or not, Drake’s got a point: you only live once, so do it right! That’s something we can appreciate at Penn State, and something we’re all striving to do.

5. Tyga- “Rack City”

Rack city, bitch/rack rack city, bitch”

I realize that’s a super-short lyrical excerpt from that song but… I can’t bring myself to put the rest on here, foul-mouthed as I may be. Though its lyrics are shitty and offensive, the beat is just perfect for grinding all up on some girl you don’t know, which is probably why it has haunted campus since September. As OS’s own Dennis McNamara put it, “THE HILLS ARE ALIVE WITH THE SOUND OF RACK RACK CITY BITCH.”

6. One Direction- “What Makes You Beautiful”

Baby, you light up my world like nobody else/the way that you flip your hair gets me overwhelmed/the way you smile at the ground, it ain’t hard to tell/you don’t know, oh oh/you don’t know you’re beautiful”

I’ve always thought that boy bands were a silly concept. I mean, I got why the girls of our generation liked BSB and N*SYNC because, well, we were children. Why did the college girls of the 90’s like them? I mean, five guys singing gooey pop songs about love, really? …Then my roommate made me listen to One Direction. Suddenly, as much as I didn’t want to be, I found myself shrieking about how talented and perfect these adorable guys are. Thankfully, though, so is every other girl on campus; my dorm is not the only one that can be heard blasting this song, so I’m not too embarrassed. (Besides, have you seen Zayn?!)

7. Big Sean- “Dance (ASS)”

“Ass ass ass ass ass/ass ass ass ass ass/ass ass ass ass ass/stop!/…now make that motherf***er  hammertime”

Okay, maybe not the most progressive lyrics in the world, but at one point or another this song was stuck in all of our heads, not to mention reverberating through our bodies as it pounded from the speakers at any given party fall semester. Hopefully you don’t end up singing this one in front of your kids down the line, but when you have a class reunion, feel free to drop it low like you used to back in the day.

8. Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa ft. Bruno Mars- “Young, Wild & Free”

So what? We go out/that’s how it’s s’posed to be/livin’ young and wild and free”

That just about epitomizes any good weekend in Happy Valley. You can just hear some Penn Stater shouting the lyrics in real life: So what? We get drunk! “It’s all in good fun,” is the general message of this song, and we’re just enjoying the wildness and the freedom of our youth. Now’s the time to do it, right? Which is precisely the sentiment that has kept this song in our heads all year long.

9. LMFAO- “Sexy and I Know It”

“Girl, look at that body…/I work out!”

All right, I’ll admit, this song is kind of a joke. But it’s a super catchy joke. One that we all laughed at and danced to at some point this year. Whether you drunkenly screamed “I’m sexy and I know it!” to everyone at the bar or drunkenly gyrated on innocent bystanders on the White Loop while singing “Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, yeah!” (I know people who have done both), this song probably made its way into one of those “This one time, when we were really hammered…” stories at some point or another.

10. The Wanted- “Glad You Came”

The sun goes down/the stars come out/and all that counts/is here and now/my universe will never be the same/I’m glad you came”

This ties it all up neatly, doesn’t it? It’s been a hell of a year, not just in regards to the crazy parties and the agonizing classes. I mean overall for this university. The loss, the changes—it’s all been hard. But we got through all of those things together, as a school, and now here we are with this new era before us. The Wanted is right; all that counts is here and now, and our universe will never be the same. I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m still glad to be a Penn Stater. I’m glad I went to all the games, the seminars, the parties, the line dances, the meetings, the vigils, and everything else in between. As much of a roller coaster as life has been here, I’m still glad I came (so glad I came).

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About the Author

Alicia Thomas

Alicia is a senior with majors in Print Journalism and Spanish and a minor in International Studies. Chances are that she's somewhere talking about her semester abroad or ranting about sexual assault prevention right now. She can be reached via Twitter (@aliciarthomas) or email ([email protected]).

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