On Background Music

When I watch movies, I’m very observant. I always absorb the minute details that mean basically nothing in the grand scheme of things, and I let these little particulars take up space in my memory that should instead be used for remembering things like my boyfriend’s five month birthday or that I have to put my dishes in the dishwasher and not just in the sink. So when High School Musical 2 came out six years ago, I subconsciously decided to remember that Corbin Bleu, a.k.a. Chad, wore a custom made t-shirt that read “I come with my own background music.”

Music is such a staple in the society of the modern young adult. And just like Chad, I think we all wished we came with our own background music. Why? Because then our lives would be a lot less… well… awkward.


However, Chad is still pretty awkward.

Music serves so many purposes. And as an avid listener myself, I have no intention of denouncing its importance. But the older I get, the more I realize that music creates a safe place whenever we need one. Music gets too loud so that we don’t have to make small talk at parties because we can’t even hear each other. Then, the same music gives us a reason to dance because we aren’t talking. Not only does music let us dodge talking in general, but it fills in the spaces when sometimes, you have nothing to say except “my feet are literally dying in these heels but I’m wearing them because I want you to think my legs are thinner than they actually are” or “I know we’re pretending we just met but we both know we’ve been introduced a solid total of seven times over the last month, but like whatever.”

We want our lives to be like a corny, R-rated Disney channel movie so that it becomes a combination of Mean Girls, High School Musical, and The Notebook. We want a soundtrack that makes us live vicariously through the people we wish we were. We let music set the mood because if we were in a Nicholas Sparks movie, it totally would. And don’t deny it—we all pretend that our lives are like movies in which we are the struggling protagonists with hearts of gold with bitches standing in our way. There’s always an adorable boy who probably has a crush on us because we’re so darn cute. Of course in reality this boy only winked at us because he had dust in his contact and yeah, believe it or not he was a lot more interested in the girl he spent the entire night talking to than he ever was in us (serious shocker). But, nevertheless, we can still pretend that this is just a really complex way of playing hard-to-get and eventually the two of us can reenact a Taylor Swift music video. Probably not the “Trouble” one though because a) T-Swift is clearly sexually frustrated and although we probably are too we’ll pretend that we’ll not and b) there are already too many screaming goat versions of that song and we want to be more original, obviously.

There is truly nothing like a magical moment with the perfect background music—i.e., kissing scene in the rain in A Cinderella Story set to Hear You Me by Jimmy Eat World and even Milkshake by my girl Kelis in Mean Girls. Of course, we all know that after we saw Friends With Benefits we made our ringtones Closing Time by Semisonic (NOT Third Eye Blind). And if we weren’t proactive enough to change our ringtones, we all really wanted to.


Whenever I go to a big party with my boyfriend, my relationship with music becomes love-hate. I feel too weird to dance and I would feel even weirder standing in the corner like an old, antisocial hag, clutching my red cup and iPhone for dear life. Then I’m forced into conversation, which is the very problem music is supposed to fix. I have to kiss random boys I’ve been introduced to on the cheek and act like that’s a nice “thing” even though I think it’s kind of stupid when you’re eighteen. Then I complain and my boyfriend yells at me to suck it up so I either cry or suck it up but usually cry… what? When my life is at its most awkward, music isn’t always there to save me. Occasionally I have to learn to step up to the plate and march to the beat of my own drum. No pun intended (lolz).


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