So… I went through a hurricane and a trip to Chicago, and here’s my playlist for it.

So, I first must apologize for the lack of updates. As you may or may not know, the east coast was hit by Hurricane Sandy and many went without power for several days, nearly up to two weeks. I was one of those people. On top of that, I had to go to Chicago for a convention for members of college media outlets – newspapers, radio stations, yearbooks, etc. – so I’ve been a busy bee, but have never felt more inspired to write about how music fuels the spirit and, when it comes to my trip to Chicago for the New Collegiate Media Conference, no other than Ellie Goulding inspired me the most.

In particular, it was Ellie’s new album, Halcyon (which came out the 9th of October and that I’ve been wanting to review for a bit until, well, y’know, I was left sitting in the dark and playing cards), that inspired me during my entire time in Chicago. Staying in a hotel that overlooked the Chicago River, maybe it was the album’s overall water-like and ocean-like themes and aesthetic that kept me so in tuned with the city. There was just something that felt so aquatic and mysterious about the city; maybe it was the river completely overflowing in green-blue dye, but it just fit with the blue and purple tones of the album’s musicality.

The sky just felt more open, it felt like a brighter shade of blue than I’ve ever seen and it all just had brought to mind Ellie shouting “Anything could happen! Anything could happen!” over and over again. Literally, anything could happen.

Just walking around the city – no, really, the people are oddly really friendly and engaging – and seeing what the city could offer, there felt as though there was a whole moving energy to everything. People wanted to speak with strangers. There was a romantic feeling in the air about the city, much like that in the instrumentation of Halcyon. Even in the title track, Ellie shouting “It’s gonna be better! It’s gonna be! It’s gonna be! It’s gonna be better!” is that kind of pure hopefulness that could inspire someone to pack up all they own and move to a new city.

So, I listened to all of Halcyon for most of my trip, which scores an easy 4 out of 5 in my book, but I also listened to some other bits of music. There was something that just put me in a very spiritual mood. Again, I think it’s the river. Maybe all the chemicals and dye give it some kind of magical powers. I just wanted to listen to something that made me feel warm or empowered on the inside. Something that could even inspire something like synesthesiain the colorblind. PS – I would easily say Halcyon is a lot of blues and purple, while the other two tracks on the playlist are, respectively, a bright blood red and a cool mint green.

  • Ellie Goulding – Halcyon
  • Wynter Gordon – “Stimela”
  • Solange Knowles – “Losing You”

Wynter Gordon’s “Stimela”, a single from her free Human Condition EP series, is so powerful in its usage of electro-elements and the new age take on afro-percussion. It just screams movement and the thought of wind and power and travel, which all kind of sum up how it was dealing with Sandy, flying to Chicago and the time there. It felt like a mirage, almost, like it didn’t happen, but it impacted in a way so significant that I just know in my truest of senses that it was one of the realest experiences of my life.

Also, interestingly enough, Chicago at night felt like a different city that I’ve never really seen before. It was easily and extremely different from Jersey City, but it even felt as though it was a different kind of species than New York City. If New York City is the hungry animal, constantly looking for the next opportunity and always so eager for what’s next, Chicago often felt very laid back and a city where people just enjoyed what was going on. It felt like a city and a group of people who were able to appreciate and soak in ‘a moment’ and really value each moment of bliss and fun for what it was worth.

I think that’s what I appreciate the most about Ellie’s latest output with Halcyon. Be it the cheerful ignorance in “Anything Could Happen” or the chaotic anger of “Only You” or the tribal-inspired sadness of “My Blood”, there’s something so emotive and powerful in every song. Something in the music feels cinematic  which was, I guess, extremely fitting for my experience in Chicago, which felt like a 4-day movie or dream that I never wanted to wake up from.

I’m really excited to get back to blogging – it’s been far, far too long – and to really just keep growing as a person who loves music and art and how society can work and grow. To quote Ellie, anything can (literally) happen. Just a couple days ago, I voted for the first time in my life in a presidential election and can proudly say I voted for President Obama’s re-election. To also quote Wynter, Stimela siembala nambalale, sibele talaku…. or, in English, ride the train to freedom. If life is a train, I have no interest in getting off anytime soon. My stop hasn’t come up yet.

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