Life as a Millennial today can often feel like it oscillates between a promising view of the future with endless opportunities and an overwhelming fear of failure and making mistakes. Singing to the reality of growing up, falling in love, and facing disappointment, today’s top artists are exploring journeys of self-discovery, all the while offering one bold message—it’s all worth it.
A little bittersweet, a little inspiring, these songs will speak to you—guaranteed.
‘Truth Is a Beautiful Thing’ by London Grammar
The reality of regret is perfectly captured in the haunting melody of London Grammar's latest song, Truth Is a Beautiful Thing. The trio's song is about remembering someone you knew long ago and left behind. The message of regret is that she failed to tell him how she truly felt when she had the opportunity. The song creeps into the soul of the listener in much the same way regret grasps the heart; slowly then all at once. Progressing softly the song floats on the air reminiscent of a decision made that cannot be taken back.
Viewed the right way, though, regrets are not to be feared. Is the recollection of missed opportunities painful? Of course. Is it bad or unnatural to feel regret? Absolutely not. The whole point of maturation is to learn from our could have beens. The singer laments: “To hold your heart, hold your hand / would be to me the bravest thing.” In the end, the truth of regret can be a transformative and beautiful thing.
‘Sign of the Times’ by Harry Styles
Is he talking about Taylor, Kendall, or Caroline? Who knows. What's clear is Harry knows what it's like to be in love with someone who you know it won't really work out with. Maybe you keep having the same fight, coming back to the same incompatibilities despite trying to hold on. “We never learn we've been here before,“ the former One Direction frontman sings.
It can be incredibly hard to just walk away in life. From negative friendships, from loves, from anything. But being honest and moving on with authenticity is what counts. Styles sings, “We don't talk enough / We should open up.” We all have to brave the world of vulnerability, of sharing our thoughts at the risk others wont understand. The song crescendoes as Styles leaves the listener with a rousing anthem that encourages shattering the mold. He cries out, “Stop your crying, baby / It's a sign of the times / We gotta get away from here / We gotta get away from here.” In order to do something great we must escape from the shackles of popular opinion and take a risk. Aim to be fearless in pursuing what sets your heart on fire.
‘Castle on the Hill’ by Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran has made his mark as a soulful singer who cuts right to the emotions we're all facing. Sheeran's first single from Divide, “Castle on a Hill,” provides an unexpected cathartic trip down memory lane. Who hasn't taken one of those before? A kiss on a Friday night, drinks with friends, and sneaking out late; these unexpectedly meaningful moments are the ones that he suggests provided him the opportunity for growth. Experiences, whether good or bad, contribute to the tapestry of his life. He could not be the man he is today without the friends, the struggles, and loves of his youth.
“Castle on the Hill” is hardly pure sentimentality. In many ways, the height of the song is found in the last verse where he gives a catalog of what his old friends are doing now; not all the futures are bright. He shows that life does not always go the way one hopes. Still, the song returns to its triumphant chorus: “And I’m on my way, I still remember / These old country lanes / When we did not know the answers / And I miss the way you make me feel, it’s real / We watched the sunset over the castle on a hill.”
Sheeran does not dwell on the dreams and desires that went unrealized. Rather he shines a spotlight on the beauty of living, undergoing transformation, and coming out stronger on the other side. For me, that's a message I can play on repeat.
Photo Credit: London Grammar