(The title of this post is inspired by the band Icon for Hire’s song: Rock and Roll Thugs)

Welcome back to another OWLS tour post, though clearly, it seems this one will be a little bit different. I won’t be talking about any anime at all in this post, only my favorite songs from my favorite bands and what they have done to impact me.

If you aren’t aware, this post is of a tour for the lovely group, OWLS, which I’ve been writing for since June of last year! We are a group of loving anime fans who want to spread positivity through pop culture and anime! We are non-discriminant against anyone regardless of their race, gender, sexuality, etc.

In one way, music is form of healing and self-expression. For this month’s topic, we will be exploring some of our favorite musical pieces (anime/drama OSTs, movie soundtracks, music genres and etc.) and how it has impacted our lives and/or reasons why we enjoy listening to it.

I was incredibly excited to see this prompt pop up for this month, and I knew immediately that I would talk about this. I’ve always wanted to incorporate music into blogging, but I never knew how. For a few blog tours, I posted Spotify links on Twitter with songs relating to the theme, but I always forgot to do it.

And, my music doesn’t really fit on an anime blog exactly…so I hope this post is alright anyway.

This post will have descriptions of my own experiences with mental illness and bullying, some being a bit raw and hard even for me to write. They all do have to do with the songs I am highlighting, bear with me.

This post is also my longest to date. It even beats my OWLS post for March. It’s nearly 1,000 words longer than that one. Clocking in at about 4,200 words.

My Musical Journey

Music has always meant a lot to me. I would listen to different things with different family members growing up. My aunt mainly listened to pop, which brought me to enjoy artists such as Kelly Clarkson, Selena Gomez, and Miley Cyrus (as in, pre-Wrecking Ball), and my dad would play his 90s rock bands from when he was younger. As I grew up, I acquired the tastes of both parties. I mainly listen to pop rock or pop punk music now (slang terms being “emo” or “scene” music, which generally have a negative connotation, so I choose to not call it that). Something upbeat, but with a lot of drums and strong lyrics.

I was in dance classes from kindergarten to fourth grade. I had to quit due to financial reasons, and I’ve been itching to go back ever since. I still sometimes practice jazz moves, and I hope to one day choreograph something on my own for fun. If you’re unfamiliar with types of dance, I always explain jazz as being like if you mixed ballet and hip hop. It’s mainly performed with pop music, but it has plenty of ballet moves like spins and jumps, yet it’s so much faster. I fell in love with that form of dance, and I still love watching performances when I can.

All three years of middle school I had an elective called “show choir.” It wasn’t your typical stand-on-the-bleachers-in-matching-outfits-with-your-hands-to-your-sides type of choir. We choreographed every song we sang to, sometimes even with partners, and our performances always had a story to go along to it. As in, there was a little bit of acting involved as well. We did everything from the origins of rock to movie soundtracks. It kept my love for music and dance alive for those three years. Along with this, I was in concert band for four years, but quit in eighth grade. And I definitely sucked at playing the clarinet, but I did it to get out of morning announcements.

In the beginning of high school, I listened to a variety of Christian alternative artists, which basically meant this type of music wasn’t the kind you sing in church. I mainly liked pop Christian artists such as Jamie Grace, Toby Mac, and Royal Tailor. I also listened to anime OP/ED and Vocaloid.

Once I hit tenth grade, I fell out of that music, and I didn’t really have much I listened to. Mid-way though it, I discovered Spotify, and started listening to Paramore, Evanescence, and Skillet. In eleventh, I started making radio stations based on artists I already liked to find plenty more that I now love.

My Favorite Bands

I’ll be showcasing both English and Japanese music, though there’s much more English music that I listen to, so I’ll be starting there.

As of now, the English speaking bands I love are Paramore, Tonight Alive, Pvris, Flyleaf/Lacy Sturm, and Icon for Hire. All have women as lead singers, though I didn’t seek that out on purpose. I listen to all of these bands on nearly a daily basis, and for good reason. I’ll be explaining my favorite song by each of these groups, and then giving extra recommendations if you wish to check them out more.

 

Paramore

I listened to this band a little bit when I was 10-12, then forgot about them, and picked them back up when I was 15 or 16. I love all of their albums, and so many songs speak to me. But the one I love the most is:

Brick By Boring Brick

[Verse 2]

So one day he found her crying, coiled up on the dirty ground

Her prince finally came to save her, and the rest she can’t figure out

But it was a trick, and the clock struck twelve, well make sure

To build her home brick by boring brick, or the wolf’s gonna blow it down. 

Keep your feet on the ground, when your head’s in the clouds

I’ve found two meanings in this song: growing up and dealing with depression. The latter you may find is a theme in pretty much every song I’ve chosen. It’s not so much to make you sad, but to give something to fall back on when you’re feeling that way. I always look for songs that have deeper meanings, and aren’t about what majority of mainstream pop music is. I’m so sick of every song I hear in the grocery store being some longwinded metaphor for sex. I have no interest in the topic at all, and while some songs on my playlists are still conveying that, I try to find another meaning anyway. It’s hard to escape that in modern-day good old United States of America.

This song explains the transition from childhood to adulthood.

I’m in the state of my life where I can still act like a kid sometimes, but I have legal adult rights. I can smoke and vote and get married, not that I’ll use all of those rights. It’s weird. I still feel like a kid, stuck in these fantasies and going through the pre-life stages. I’m a baby compared to a majority of the world. Heck, even in the blogging community I’m a baby. I can count on one hand the number of teenage bloggers I’ve met.

This song resonates with me because it helps me face the fact that my childhood of fantasy and ignorance will soon be over, and it’s okay to be scared of that. Everyone goes through it, though whether they accept that or not is still up in the air. We have our heads in the clouds, waiting for the perfect life to come our way, but that’s just not going to happen. We have to make it ourselves and grow up.

Other Songs

  • Playing God
  • Idle Worship
  • Rose-Colored Boy
  • Fences

 

Tonight Alive

Temple

This is a very new song, their new album just came out at the beginning of this year, which rekindled my love for this band.

[Verse 1]

I’m intoxicated by my depression, and I’m consumed by the fear

That I might never find the answer, as the end just gets more near

So take my blood and tell me something’s wrong,

Yeah, I need to know, I need to know

You can tell me I’m a lost cause, I’ve had enough

Cause if my body is a temple, why does it hurt like hell?

I’ve spoken about anxiety and panic attacks before. I haven’t had any really bad attacks in a while, but small ones still happen. Just a few days ago, when I thought I’d bombed my interview, I was driving and all that I could think of was how awful I did. How nobody would want to hire me because I can’t give the right answers in an interview. My throat felt tight and tears were brimming in my eyes, but I tried to keep it together while I picked my brothers up.

What saved me was listening to some music and writing a little bit of a fic I was working on. I don’t think it was this song, but it really relates to that situation.

When you aren’t someone with anxiety or another mental illness, you aren’t aware of how it feels. The terror that courses through your body and how you feel like you want to scream. I have a friend who thought there was absolutely nothing wrong with me, even when I would have attacks right in front of her. Even when I was pouring out my feelings to her. I have to remind her time and time again that sometimes I don’t feel okay, and I need somewhere to pour that out.

It also sometimes feels like there isn’t understanding between us. I too feel confused about why I feel like that when other people don’t. My extreme paranoia isn’t normal, but sometimes I forget that. It’s rough to know you’re not “normal” but don’t know why that really is.

That’s what this song is to me. It lets me know that at least this artist also understands how scary and hurtful it is to not be understood, and to not even understand yourself sometimes.

Other Songs

  • Lonely Girl
  • The Ocean
  • Waiting for the End
  • Amelia

 

Pvris

Ghosts

I shared this song on Twitter for our “Treasure” tour in September, and now I’ll finally get to explain myself.

[Verse 1]

I’m the one with the ghosts in my bed, but they only come alive at night

Stuck in my sheets, an accustomed coffin, I swear that I’ll be fine

I’ll be fine in the daylight

If I change, and I start to fade, and all the green in my eyes desaturate

It’s my head not my heart that’s strayed

I’m sorry I keep pushing you away

This reminds of when I first learned about my anxiety. There were times I’d be fine, but all of a sudden, at midnight on a school night I was struck with an unknown fear and I’d be up for hours longer until it subsided. By morning, I felt fine.

The song has an implication of a significant other helping the narrator with these nightly problems. I don’t have that. I don’t have interest in dating other people, but I do have friends that I only sometimes reach out to. There was one instance that weighed on my mind for half a year. I had an attack the whole night after the instance happened, and I non-stop thought about it for a whole week, scared out of my mind. I suffered through the replays of the event in my head by myself. One day, months later, I was reminded of it, and I wrote a lengthy message to my friends describing the situation. It was 3 am. I was shaking as I wrote it, but once it was sent, I felt better. I didn’t get any response until when I woke up, but when I saw the feedback, I knew I could trust them.

Pushing away the thought of confiding in others for so long hurt me. I still have recurring thoughts about that situation, even though it happened a year ago and I should be over it by now. Holding it in for so long was the worst decision. If I had just told them to begin with, I may have healed from it. And I may have never blown it out of proportion in my head either. I don’t want to share what it was here since I don’t want to have a permanent reminder of it. But it wasn’t life-threatening, or even health-threatening, so don’t worry too much!

This song just reminds me that it’s a good idea to tell others about my problems, since they can help when I’m having a hard time carrying the weight by myself.

Other Songs

  • St. Patrick
  • What’s Wrong
  • Anyone Else
  • White Noise

 

Flyleaf/Lacey Sturm

A bit of a story with this band. This band is gone, unfortunately, but the lead singer, Lacey Sturm started her solo career a little while back, and her new solos are in the same style as Flyleaf used to be. But, for one album, they got a new singer, Kristen May, and with that singer, the band took on a totally different sound. Many hated it, but I viewed the album as separate from the old band, and I quite like it. My favorite song as of now, and what has been my favorite for quite a while, comes from that album.

Head Underwater

(This one is so unpopular there’s not even an official video for it on YouTube, so Spotify will have to do.)

I’ll drown in the water, if I listen to the sound

Of cruel laughter, I let the stones fall to the ground

They don’t know a thing about me, and still the wolves are crying out

And I hear you say, “I’ll take you away”

[break]

So will you stand for something? And give them back the ammunition

Or will you let them tell you who you are?

My love is bigger than the stars, and you are bigger than the scars

That you feel at night, when you’re holding your pillow tight. 

And you’re wishing for someone to call you home

It’s you and I alone, it’s you and I alone.

Though I heard this far before watching the anime, this song somewhat reminds me of March Comes in Like a Lion, just due to the symbolism of drowning. It’s a powerful symbol. It represents helplessness, in both this song and that anime. In the song, it seems like it’s telling the story of both depression and the effects of bullying.

This is the song I belt out in the car when I’m on my way to pick my brothers up. It moves me every time I hear it. I feel all of the lyrics so deeply. Don’t let those who bring you down keep you down. There will always be someone who is there for you even when others want to hurt you and belittle you.

I’d like to say I was never bullied when I was younger, but I was. It was nothing like what my brother has gone through, and I was never truly effected by it. But I am effected by my brother being bullied.

My brother has been bullied for years. And it’s made him develop worse anxiety and depression than me. He’s threatened to kill himself, and he’s purposefully hit his head, hard, against walls and scraped up his skin with his nails. He pulls at his hair and yells about how nobody cares about him.

I do care, a lot. I cry with him every time he’s having a meltdown. I remind him how much I love him, and try calming him down the best I can. In recent months, he hasn’t had as many attacks due to bullying. He still has kids picking on him, which makes me furious to no end. I wish I could just beat those kids up for being such assholes. The kids just dig into any teeny tiny crevice they possibly can to rile my brother up. He tries to ignore it, but when it’s every day, it gets to be too much.

I try to be the best support system I can be. I give him the advice I can, and I try to get his mind off things when we get home. I watch him closely because those threats he may have been tossing because he was upset have deeply rooted fear in me. I do worry that my brother will reach a point where he doesn’t want to live anymore.

And it’s because of kids being too bored with their own existence that they have to find fulfillment in tormenting others.

This song gives me the reminder that he’s doing what he can to continue on, and I can do all I can to ensure he does more on. I am my brother’s home, and he is bigger than any emotional scar that he bears, as said in the song.

Other Songs

  • Impossible (Lacey Sturm)
  • Sober Serenade (Flyleaf)
  • New Horizons (Flyleaf)
  • Missing (Flyleaf)

 

Icon for Hire

This band is actually a little different from what I generally listen to, but the harshness of the music and the lyrics really got me to love listening to them.

Demons

[1st Bridge & Chorus]

Don’t you wanna feel something in those heavy little veins of yours?

The clock’s ticking now, get your body off the floor

This is your addiction, so you can play the victim

But you can’t make me play along

Oh, fight back your demons, don’t let them take you down, down

Oh, scream like you mean it, make me believe you now

This band doesn’t sugarcoat a thing. Everything is very to the point, but that’s what gives the words such power. I’ve found myself getting chills listening to this band, on more occasions that I can count.

This one is simple, though, unlike the others that are more woven in their meanings.

Anything that keeps you from moving on isn’t necessary. It’s important to acknowledge what that is, but not let it bring you down. Fighting against your own mind is sometimes something we have to do. Like when I was in my head mulling over my interview, I had to eventually remind myself that even if I don’t get the job, I can try again. I ended up getting the job anyway, but it’s still something I’ve learned from.

Those negative thoughts of “I can’t” and “nobody wants me” are my demons. And, they do come to mind more often than I’d like to admit. They hurt me in school and life and this blog. Because I don’t always get A’s. Because I didn’t do quite as well as I wanted during that interview. Because I don’t have the largest follower count, and not every post I write gets a whole lot of likes and comments, it’s hard for me to be okay with myself. I have to beat those thoughts down just to get through to the next hurdle.

This song reminds me of that.

Other Songs

  • Supposed to Be
  • Too Loud
  • Make a Move
  • Under the Knife (This one is a bit hard to listen to. It’s a raw, true telling of the stigma attached to self-harm. It’s labeled explicit not for cursing, but for the bluntness)

 

Jpop/Jrock

I use these songs as blogging music mainly. I listen to the songs above in the car. I find it easier to concentrate on writing when I can’t understand the lyrics, and better to be able to sing along to songs when I’m driving to make the experience not as bad.

I don’t actually listen to a ton of Japanese music, but I do have a few artists I like. SCANDAL (pop), ONE OK ROCK (rock), THE ORAL CIGARETTES (pop rock), BUMP OF CHICKEN (pop), GARNiDELiA (pop/techno), and Kenshi Yonezu (pop) are about it. Which, I’m sure you don’t recognize the last artist, but I bet you’ve heard him. He was the one behind the 2nd My Hero Academia opening, Peace Sign, which I love, along with the 2nd ending for March Comes in Like a Lion, Orion. But, I recommend checking his other songs out! Especially the video for the song, Loser. I didn’t have any plans of highlighting the lyrics of his songs, but I wanted to give him a mention anyway.

And here’s the Loser video!

Though, I’m not going to talk about him. Instead, a girl band I fell in love with.

SCANDAL

I heard of them through one of the Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood endings, Shunkan Sentimental, and one day ended up watching a ton of their videos. Now I have a good number of their songs on Spotify. Though, I haven’t listened to their new album yet and I really should…

Koisuru Universe

(Translation found at scandal-heaven.com)

The five o’clock chime reverberates throughout the city

I looked for your line of sight

But we already know 

We both have the same thing

In the darkness that streetlamps make at even intervals

If we meet eyes next time, I’ll call your name

…and kiss you

[Chorus]

Ah, a universe in love

Even God can’t get in the way

Of a pair drawn to each other

Ah, a universe in love

Ah, what do I do

I love you so much

It’ll help a lot to watch the video before I talk about this. Just by reading the lyrics, it looks like a generic love song. The video is a little…strange, but there’s something important in it. There are multiple parts in the video where two of the band members are close in a romantic sense. And it’s done on purpose.

From scrolling through the YouTube comments, I pieced some things together. The song does imply love among the same sex, especially in the line “even God can’t get in the way of a pair drawn to each other.” Basically saying that there’s no reason for people to be split up if they love each other.

While I initially enjoyed the song for the sound, as I generally do for Japanese songs, I really began to love it because of this. There aren’t too many songs I’ve listened to that have this message, and it definitely wasn’t something I expected of a Japanese band.

Other Songs

  • Stamp!
  • Pinheel Surfer
  • Syoujo S
  • Platform Syndrome

 

ONE OK ROCK

I think I found this band at the same time I found SCANDAL. I like this one a lot since majority of their lyrics are in English, so I have a good idea of what the song is about. It also has a similar feel to the American rock bands I’ve heard.

The Beginning

(Lyrics in all caps are originally in Japanese. I found the translation on animelyrics.com)

[Chorus]

So stand up, stand up

Just gotta keep running

Wake up, wake up

Just tell me how I can

Never give up

THAT INSTANT OF DAZZLING BEAUTY IS ALMOST MADDENING

Just tell me why, baby

They might call me crazy

For saying I’ll fight until there is no more

THAT GLINT IN YOUR EYES WHICH IS WRAPPED IN DESPAIR

Blinded I can’t see the end

So where do I begin?

I don’t think too much about the lyrics when I listen to this band, but when doing research for this post, I found a few songs with really good lyrics. This being one of them.

This is one of those songs that could give you a push when you feel down. Standing up and deciding to keep going, even if it seems like things will only go further south than they already are. I love songs like this, where the words you need are right there on the surface, no need to think deeply. It’s a bit like the Icon for Hire song.

And it also references being able to depend on others for help, something I don’t do so great with.

Other Songs

  • Riot!!!
  • C.h.a.o.s m.y.t.h.
  • Re:make
  • Clock Strikes

I hope you’ve learned something throughout this post. About me and about some of these bands. I do hope you check out some of them, and let me know which ones you like! I gave other recommendations since I know my favorite song won’t always be other people’s favorite song. And if you don’t like any of them, that’s okay too! I’m glad you read this long, long post.

This is the most I’ve ever poured my emotions out in a post. And I didn’t expect it to happen either. The lyrics just brought a lot out of me.

Also, I have a special post coming out on Friday, in honor of a certain anime getting a new season on Saturday! Watch out for that!