• Mari

Traffic Jams

Updated: May 30, 2021

Today is hot, the air blowing out of the car AC is hotter and traffic is slowly starting to move. The windows are rolled down and the heat is making me sweat, but the breeze feels nice, so I don’t mind. A faint snare comes from the speakers as 2-D of Gorillaz melodically lulls about how joyous it is to be held by the sun. This ride is expected to be longer and warmer than usual, but the sounds of Solange, Sky Ferreira, Kindness, Calvin Harris and Gorillaz are those of familiar friends eager to come along for a drive.

Empire Ants- Gorillaz (featuring Little Dragon)

Tires slowly begin rolling forward, and bumpers take this as their opportunity to kiss across four lanes. The anxiousness of highway congestion is put to ease as Yukimi Nagano of Little Dragon helps Gorillaz craft a tune that is best enjoyed in this 90+ degree Texas weather.

“Little memories marching on, your little feet working the machine."

The upbeat synths romanticize the lyrics that serve as a reminder to indulge in the everyday moments. Truly fitting, considering it is 5’oclock on a Wednesday and everyone is on the march home.

Encouraging me to sit back, embrace the traffic and turn the volume up, I listen with a new appreciation for the still moments in the car.

Losing You- Solange

Gaining some pace, the energetic sound of ‘Losing You’ by Solange continues to soundtrack the drive. Co-written and produced by the unbelievably talented Dev Hynes of Blood Orange, Solange creates a unifying bridge between R&B and electronic music.

The speedometer steadily hits forty-five as the chorus dances in, my hair whipping into view from the breeze that seems to be catching onto the beat.

“Tell me the truth, boy, am I losing you for good?”

A song about the uncertainty of a lover contradicts its lyrics with a lively production that intends to get its listener moving. Inside of these four metal doors, the sound takes over and creates a dance floor for me and the cool chill of air teasing my skin like a partner would. Together we groove, unashamed of neighboring glances and in no rush to get home.

Everything is Embarrassing- Sky Ferreira

The once steady rhythm of an open highway is short lived as taillights begin to repaint the horizon red. Coming down to a slower speed, the haunting and manipulated voice of Sky Ferreira comes through the speaker.

“I know you’re trying.”

‘Everything is Embarrassing’ tells the story of an unrequited love set to a synth-pop melody also produced by Dev Hynes alongside Ariel Rechtshaid. Together, they crafted a song that makes you feel like the protagonist in a coming-of-age movie. Driving down the highway, the indecisiveness of a romantic interest’s affections looming over the passenger seat, Ferreira’s voice soundtracks the feelings of being uncertain in love.

Sounds of straining breaks transition into the tense chorus snare. A chorus that is meant specifically for highway drives because there is no other way to deliver a line more unapologetically. It is a form of therapy with the prescription being to scream.

“Maybe if you let me be your lover, maybe if you try then I would not bother.”

Ferreira’s words are emotional, heavy hitters, that accompanied by an equally moving tempo will continue to haunt highways for as long as we allow.

Swingin' Party- Kindness

The stop-and-go routine has subsided, and vehicles are beginning to cruise again. Windows are still down; the sun is still hot, and the chorus is ringing in.

“If being afraid is a crime we hang side by side, at the swinging party down the line.”

Kindness holds the power to create an entire personality through one listen of “Swingin' Party”. Their entry into pop was greeted hungrily as they produced a cover of ‘The Replacements’ hit that will continue to fuel angsty youths in their coming of age.

Dark purple tinted sunglasses are now perched on my nose, my hair continuing to tangle along to the melody and the drive has finally hit open road.

Keeping up with the synth-pop beats, Kindness has joined Lorde on the list of covers that will leave its listeners with an unabashed feeling of cool.

Slide- Calvin Harris (feat. Frank Ocean & Migos)

Easy-going piano chords echo throughout the car. The recognizable sound brings back blurry nostalgia from the summer of 2017. Frank Ocean’s distorted voice rings from the speakers,

“I might empty my bank account and buy that boy with the pipe.”

Coincidentally, the never-ending waves of rush hour traffic have subsided to a mellow tide that makes the drive easier than ever. A wave of air rips through the windows as the speedometer hits seventy-five, Calvin Harris’ “Slide” soundtracks the breezy ride.

A collaboration practically made for the heat of summer, Frank Ocean and Migos complete the algorithm of a Calvin Harris radio hit. This introductory track to Harris’

“Funk Wav Bounces Vol.1” album is a perfect example of all things funk, waves, and bounce.

Migos’ Offset and Quavo lend hand to the California coasting track. Together, they add signature adlibs and tongue twisters, easily bringing the hit together. There is little to nothing that will come close to the satisfaction of screaming, “Offset!” then completing his verse about a life of luxury flawlessly. The same way there is little to nothing that comes close to highway drives with a perfect playlist.

With ‘Slide’ softly fading away from the car speakers, I see my exit and home approaching. Both relief and resistance fill the air after Ocean’s vocals signal the end of the track and ride. These impending summer rides are grueling, but with a great soundtrack, can be life changing. So here is to those cathartic songs created over the years that continue to romanticize traffic jams long before, and after the lifespan of a driver’s license.

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