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Beyoncé, Brits, and Barry Keoghan: My Soundtrack to Term 2

Term 2 of the university year is always a drag – deadlines, friendship drama, the collapse of those long-promised New Year’s Resolutions. However, fear not. If you are much like me, you managed to pull through by sticking some headphones in and momentarily escaping from the chaos of it all. In my bid to survive assignment season, I curated a list of some of the best tracks I had on repeat at the start of this year. So, if you are interested in the secret to what sustains a literature student with a slight caffeine-dependency problem, then carry on reading below.


‘Oscar Winning Tears.’ – RAYE (2023)

I first became familiar with RAYE through TikTok. Over the Christmas holidays, it became near impossible to click on the app without seeing an aesthetic lifestyle vlog set against the sped-up version of her hit ‘Worth It’. However, short snippets of her music on the platform truly fail to do justice to the masterpiece that is My 21st Century Blues. Following the jazz bar track, ‘Introduction.’ ‘Oscar Winning Tears’ perfectly encapsulates all that makes RAYE a stand-out artist worthy of the six Brit Awards she secured this year. A unique R&B track propelled by gritty lyrics and outstanding vocals, ‘Oscar Winning Tears’ was one of many RAYE tracks that I listened to on repeat at the start of the year.


‘TEXAS HOLD ‘EM’– Beyoncé (2024)

I like to think I am quite open-minded when it comes to exploring new music, however, country has never been something that I have been able to get my teeth into. So, when I found out Beyoncé was putting out a country album, I was quite apprehensive.

Much to my surprise, Cowboy Carter is a masterclass in genre exploration and undeniably will become one of the defining albums of 2024. ‘TEXAS HOLD ‘EM’ was the first track I encountered off the album and immediately, I was hooked. Layered with delicious vocal harmonies, and an earworm of a melody, this track convinced me there was still hope for me finding a latent love for the country genre.


‘Goddess’ – Laufey (2024)

This list could very well have just been an extensive list of Laufey’s discography.  With tracks such as ‘From the Start’ and ‘Valentine’, the Icelandic-Chinese singer is renowned for her seamless blending of jazz and mainstream popular music. Her latest single – ‘Goddess’ – is no disappointment. A velvety piano ballad that truly shines a light on the singer’s beautiful voice, it was the perfect backing track for bus rides back home after a long day on campus.


‘Nothing Matters’ – The Last Dinner Party (2023)

It has been a while since I have come across a new British band who I think have a chance at having a lasting impact on the industry. However, I believe The Last Dinner Party are here to stay. I first came across their distinct sound when I was planning my weekly radio show and ‘Nothing Matters’ struck me as an instant hit. Euphoric and chaotic, the track is designed to be screamed at the top of your lungs. The band present a new branch of popular indie music, defined by theatrics and maximalism, leaving their listeners eager to see where the band goes next.


‘Tummy Hurts’ – Reneé Rapp (2023)

Thanks to The Boar Music I had the incredible opportunity to review Reneé Rapp’s Snow Hard Feelings tour in Birmingham. Despite being a fan of her music before the concert, seeing Rapp live really made me reconnect with certain tracks off her album Snow Angel.  ‘Tummy Hurts’ was a real stand-out moment in her set, with the crowd singing along to every line and the enigmatic Towa Bird accompanying on her on guitar. This song is the perfect bitter breakup anthem, defined by its catchy chorus and Rapp’s characteristically honest lyrics. It is the perfect background music for pre-drinks, the gym or anytime you just decide you are really done with a man!


‘Murder on the Dancefloor’ – Sophie Ellis-Bextor (2001)

If you have seen Saltburn there is no explanation needed. All I can say is that I will never be able to listen to this noughties hit in the same light again… and I am not entirely mad about it.


There were many other close contenders that almost made my list: Olivia Dean, Wasia Project, Dua Lipa. However, my final selection I felt perfectly reflects the chaos, confusion and burnout that characterised the start of my year.

With only a few more deadlines to meet, as summer approaches I am eager to get my teeth into upcoming releases from the likes of  Wallows, Taylor Swift, and Charlie XCX. Whilst headphones in the library may have helped me survive term 2, I cannot wait to dig out my wireless speaker and begin piecing together the soundtrack to long, sunlit evenings I look forward to sharing with friends in the weeks ahead.


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