As school starts back up, every student should be armed with a solid playlist to get them through the day. Whether you’re running to class or sifting through dozens of introductory assignments, here are four songs that are sure to liven up your days as you get back into the swing of things.

On Emma’s playlist: 



  1. “Unlock It (Lock It)” by Charli XCX feat. Kim Petras and Jay Park

This song, expertly squeezed in on XCX’s 2017 feature-heavy album “Pop 2,” is a blissful collection of electro-pop sounds and beautifully curated vocals by XCX and Petras. “Unlock It (Lock It)” has recently enjoyed a resurgence thanks to a viral TikTok trend, and I couldn’t be more pleased. Dreamy lyrics like “Roller coaster ride in the fast lane/ Got the roof down/ Kiss me hard in the pourin’ rain” give the song an effortlessly in-love vibe that makes you smile every time.

I could probably do without Park’s verse, but it doesn’t even matter because the rest of the song is so good. The energy both Petras and XCX bring to the track is only enhanced when you listen to the other tracks on the album; XCX’s “Tears” feat. Caroline Polachek is a great way to make yourself unnecessarily sad after this bop. Even though XCX recently hinted at a (devastating) departure from her signature hyperpop sound on Instagram, “Unlock It (Lock It)” will always be there for us to dance our hearts out to.

  1. “no body, no crime” by Taylor Swift feat. HAIM

The second single off of her ninth studio album “evermore,” “no body, no crime” is a criminally underrated song that sucks you in with the riveting tale of a cheating husband and a concealed murder. Swift stars as the friend of Este, whose husband is “acting different and it smells like infidelity.” You’ll have to listen to the rest of the song to find out what happens, but Swift’s enchanting songwriting skills and the haunting echoes of the HAIM sisters in the background won’t let you down.

Critically acclaimed at pretty much every point throughout her career, I started to assume a long time ago Taylor Swift would probably never write a bad song. So far, I’ve been right (barring her suffocatingly saccharine tune about being a great lover, “ME!”). The rising intensity of the lyrics as the song moves along is complemented by Swift’s vocals, which build in both volume and sheer passion. Whether you’re in a murderous mood or not, “no body, no crime” will definitely make you feel like a badass.

On Joseph’s playlist:

  1. “Amoeba” by Clairo

​​Off her new sophomore studio album “Sling” is Clairo’s “Amoeba.” This song is a perfect example of the growth and development that Clairo’s style and songwriting has taken as she moves out of her simple bedroom pop roots. In “Amoeba,” Clairo reflects on the negative aspects of her success in a conversation with herself. Lines like “Aren't you glad that you reside/ In a hell and in disguise?” and “And centerfold, humility shown/ You're not as good as what your mama's sewn” are vicious and cold.

What makes this track so strong is its production and instrumentals. Flourishes of horns blend perfectly with the weightless layered vocals of Clairo. The guts of the song are exposed during the key modulations towards the end of the song; this is also where hints of a clav, bass guitar and piano line mix with the ensemble creating a rich and dizzying groove. Although the lyrics of the song are harsh, it all flows together incredibly well. “Amoeba’s” intricate beat uplifts the song, pushing frustration into an indie, earthy and raw dance groove. Some of my other favorite tracks off “Sling” are “Partridge,” “Zinnas” and “Harbor.”

  1. “Murphy’s Law” by Róisín Murphy

Sadly, we all have been sleeping on Róisín Murphy. In October of 2020, Murphy released one of the strongest albums of the year titled “Róisín Machine,” and it does not disappoint. Off this disco and house-inspired album is a song called “Murphy’s Law.” Murphy sings about her experience with Murphy’s Law, which states that “anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” Lines like “I feel my story's still untold/ But I'll make my own happy ending” as well as “And just when everything is goin' alright/ All my hard work goes down the drain/ And Murphy's law, I'm gonna meet you tonight” describe the relatable and ironic experience of working extensively on something only for it all to fall apart in front of you.

This gem of a song features a lead bass line, quick drum beat, piano and repetitive claps which fuse together creating the perfect disco song that sounds fresh and exciting in 2021. Murphy’s smooth and pouty tonality adds a dark quality to the song which keeps it from being too bright.

I highly recommend listening to this album in full. Murphy and producer Richard Barratt (AKA DJ Parrot or Crooked Man) created each song to bleed seamlessly into each other, creating a non-stop, hour-long experience full of fun, house-and-disco-inspired tones. And if “Róisín Machine” wasn’t enough for you, in April of this year Murphy also released a memorable remix version of the album titled “Crooked Machine.”


In summary, the addition of any (or all) of these songs to your usual music rotation could be just what you need to hype yourself up for the semester. It might seem trivial, but making the perfect soundtrack to your life can provide some serious encouragement.

These songs, and more, can be accessed in our "Back to School" playlist through the Spotify link that you can access by clicking here.

Joseph McKee is the design director at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at designdirector@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @josephdmckee

Emma Trevino is the culture editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at culture@dailylobo.com  or on Twitter @itsemmatr

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