Arts & CultureMusicScene Guide

Emerald Recommends the songs that feel like spring



The start of spring is pivotal: it marks the slow departure of the lousy weather and seasonal affective disorder. It’s the beginning of a new chapter in the year, as predicted by the weather-overlord groundhogs in early February. You can now wake up to the morning sun, fall asleep without freezing and generally feel all right. Everything is uphill from here.

This week, the Emerald recommends the songs that feel like spring.

Listen to our Spotify playlist here:

“I Think I Need a New Heart” by The Magnetic Fields

Spring for me has always been about shedding the winter layers and starting anew.

In high school, I would spend long afternoons biking around Portland blasting indie-pop group The Magnetic Fields. The group’s upbeat melodies and genre-crossing sound — from punk to country to electro-pop — are the perfect soundtrack to an early spring day.

Ironically, the band’s most famous work, 69 Love Songs, contains a lot of break-up songs. I’ve always thought that “I Think I Need a New Heart” captured the album’s bitter undertones the best. Over a jangly melody, lead singer Stephin Merrit laments, “You’ve lied, too, but it’s a sin that I can’t tell the truth/Cause it all comes out wrong unless I put it in a song.”

Sometimes, the only solution to a love gone sour is to tear your own heart out. And then see what grows back. –Hannah Steinkopf-Frank

“My Sweet Lord” by George Harrison

It’s impossible to not feel 100 percent better about life when “My Sweet Lord” is on. Harrison cleverly connects the supreme deities of Hinduism and Christianity, as the “Hallelujah / My sweet lord” praises overlap the “Hare Krishna” chant mid-way through the song. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more celebratory expression of joy, as this song is sunshine incarnate. –Emerson Malone

“Finally Moving” by Pretty Lights

This song remixes and mashes-up Etta James’ “Something’s Got a Hold On Me” and Sonny Stitt’s “Private Number.” The two original songs are classics, and Pretty Lights does a fantastic job of remastering them to create a new, upbeat and groovy sound. The light-yet-playful vibes completely embody the essence of springtime.

The title itself, “Finally Moving,” even represents the fresh blossoming start that flowers have during the beautiful season of spring. Dance, hang out or even study to this song – it’s a perfect springtime jam. – Carleigh Oeth

“Beautiful World” by Colin Hay

Hay’s blissful ode to the simple life is easy to sing along to (except the part about “lapsang souchong”) and a perfect song for admiring spring’s beauty. He talks about swimming in the sea, driving in his car and making love to a beautiful woman. There’s nothing really difficult or complex to understand here, it’s just a simple song with a pretty simple acoustic melody. But Colin Hay makes it special and instantly infectious, especially with his unique Scottish-Australian accent. Put on this song with the windows open or top down and it will instantly put you in a good mood. – Alex Ruby

Get To Heaven – Everything Everything

Spring is a time for a spiritual cleansing and stepping away from the old standards and taking in something fresh. Few alt-rock acts in the last decade fit that bill quite like English indie group Everything Everything. Mixing electronic drumbeats with haunting vocals and classic pop-rock song structure, they’re an eccentric act worthy of a quick obsession. Their latest release Get To Heaven boasts a bright mix of radio-ready singles with sing-a-long hooks (“Distant Past,” “Blast Doors”), as well as more expansive tracks perfect for scoring a long afternoon in the woods, like “No Reptiles,” or “The Wheel (Is Turning Now).” If you’re looking for a memorable cleanse from weeks of study-friendly Spotify playlists, give this a spin. – Chris Berg

“It Feels All Right” by Washed Out

From the opening strokes of the harp on “It Feels All Right,” cumulus clouds part, birds chirp in the morning forest, and a bright sun bursts through. This daydream tune is infused with oscillating synths and vibrant vocals, held together in a wonderful collage of sound. You can almost see the time-lapse footage of flowers blossoming as it plays. – Emerson Malone

“Astral Weeks” by Van Morrison

One of Van’s best songs from one of his best albums, “Astral Weeks” is all about finding his loved one in every lifetime. It’s beautiful and wistful and perfectly sets the mood for those spring breezes and bright blue skies. The track is seven minutes long, but it flies by like the springtime birds and transports you into a warm, bright and faraway land. There’s nothing quite like walking down a sunny street with Van’s shimmering strings playing in your ears. It’s soothing and peaceful and evokes that mood of an everlasting spring. Not to mention, the rest of the album perfectly sets this mood as well. – Alex Ruby

“Sunday Candy” by Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment

Chance the Rapper and company’s single off of Surf is the most fun you’ll ever have while thinking about grandma and religion. It’s vibrant and soulful, funky and danceable. It’s the perfect song for those late afternoon hang-outs on the porch where you don’t have to worry about an upcoming midterm. Let Chance’s signature flow, the Social Experiment’s funky instrumentation, and Jamila Woods’ soothing singing take you away. Just let loose in the spring sun with the supergroup Social Experiment. – Alex Ruby

“Can I Kick It?” by A Tribe Called Quest

Celebrate the late Phife Dawg’s life the right way with a marathon of A Tribe Called Quest’s discography. The ‘90s jazz-rap group’s songs are so chill they’ll have you bopping your head all day. The group’s songs are perfect for springtime because of their warmth and natural flow.

“Can I Kick It?” is a great song when you just wanna kick back and sing along with some of your friends.

“Electric Relaxation” is for when you notice that special someone walking through campus and can’t stop thinking about them.

Every song is truly memorable and just waiting for you to lay back and chill to on a sunny spring day. – Alex Ruby

“A Walk” by Tycho

If you need some quiet introspection but still want to be outside, then “A Walk” is for you. Tycho’s ambient production will calm you down while lifting your spirits. It’s a song that slows life to a manageable pace, if only for five minutes. It doesn’t want you to think, it just wants you to go with the flow. It quiets down in the middle, allowing you to take some deep breaths, and then gets louder as you take it all in.

This may seem obvious, but “A Walk” is a great song for those long walks where you don’t quite know where you’re going, but you also don’t care. – Alex Ruby


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Emerson Malone

Emerson Malone

Podcast producer with The Daily Emerald and student research fellow with the UO-UNESCO Crossings Institute.