Sometimes when I’m feeling particularly morose, I’ll soak in the sounds that match my mood— something dark from Sigur Rós and Radiohead, or something despondent from Mark Kozelek, the man behind Sun Kil Moon and Red House Painters. Or I’ll lean on the lazy lilting of Trespassers William and Mazzy Star. Or when that doesn’t quite do it, I’ll reach way back to the comforting miserable company of The Smiths and The Church.
Other times, though, I need music to snap me out of my doldrums, to lift my spirits, to make me believe that life can be good again. If, like me, you’re struggling with fear and anxiety over the spreading coronavirus or if you’re filled with fatigue and despair over the current political situation, I hope these songs will bring you joy the way they have for me.
Zaz: Paris sera toujour Paris
In the past two years, I’ve listened to Zaz far more than any other artist, which might say as much about my need for upbeat escapist pop as it does about her talent. But I don’t think so. Zaz is an extraordinary gift to music, and her songs have the perfect blend of contemporary pop sensibility and traditional French charm. While this video, in which she sings the classic 1939 tune by Maurice Chevalier, comes from her album of covers paying homage to Paris, her original songs from Recto Verso and her self-titled album are just as beguiling. If this doesn’t get you bopping and snapping your fingers, I don’t know what will.
Lizzo: Good as Hell
If you haven’t seen Lizzo’s tiny desk concert, do so now. Then come back and sing along with this video of her belting out “Good as Hell.”
Ben Platt: Share Your Address
Ben Platt knocked me over in his Tony-winning lead role in Dear Evan Hansen, but I was a little skeptical about how his style would translate from a musical to a pop album. Well, I’m sold. “Share Your Address” is my favorite track on his first solo album. The lyrics are by turns naive and knowing, corny and clever. And — oh my — what a remarkable set of pipes this boy has.