Without sounding too cheesy, songs have the ability to capture a snapshot of life. From singing along to upbeat, high-energy songs after acing an exam you thought you would fail to blasting heart-wrenching songs after a breakup, music is there to guide you through it. Flash forward to a different time in your life, and when those songs are played again, there’s a nostalgic feeling of the emotions and place you were in when those songs were first played. With pivotal moments in your life — such as being away from home and undergoing the “college experience” for the first time — the ties to certain songs may be even stronger and unforgettable. Here’s some of the Nexus Editorial Staff’s selection of songs that tap into memorable moments at UC Santa Barbara!

“The Circle Game” by Joni Mitchell 

I may be exposing myself as a sensitive soul for this one, but my dad played this song on the drive to drop me off at UCSB my freshman year. I have to be a crazy person because I listened to it again this year on my solo drive back to school. Both times it made me sob. A song about growing up and moving on that makes your chest feel that funny tight way, Joni Mitchell has a hold on my soul.

 – Emily Kocis, Opinion Editor

“Astronaut Kids” by Hotel Fiction

Whether you’re beginning your collegiate experience or finishing up, the interstellar nostalgia of “Astronaut Kids” makes for the perfect track. I first heard this song during a major transitional period in my life, and it’s been my go-to ever since. Play on repeat to restart your astronaut-obsessed, knows-so-many-space-facts phase. Or maybe that’s just me. 

 – Toni Shindler-Ruberg, Assistant Opinion Editor 

“Goodie Bag” by Still Woozy

Right before my freshman year, during the summer of 2018, I found out about Still Woozy. He only had five songs at the time, and I was obsessed with all of them, listening to them on repeat all summer. None of my friends or people in my hometown really knew about him, so I didn’t really have anyone to talk to or relate to about my budding Still Woozy obsession. Fast forward to move-in day, within 15 minutes of moving into my dorm in Santa Cruz I heard somebody playing “Goodie Bag” in their dorm. After stressing all summer about whether I’d fit in at UCSB, that experience instantly assured me that I was in the right place. Whenever I hear that song, I’m always reminded of that moment. 

 – Chace Duma, On the Menu Editor 

“CAN’T STOP THE FEELING!” by Justin Timberlake

“CAN’T STOP THE FEELING!” by Justin Timberlake will forever hold a special place in my heart because it reminds me of my time in the Residential Housing Association. The advisors would blast the song every day during our summer leadership training to signal the end of a break, and we’d all have to come into the room clapping to beat. 

 – Michelle Lee, Assistant On the Menu Editor 

“Way It Goes” by Hippo Campus

Thank you Hippo Campus for getting me through my strange first year of college. While “Way It Goes” was released in 2017, it gave me almost enough serotonin to overlook the fact that I lived at home for the first half of my freshman year in 2020. When I moved to I.V., I wanted to establish a routine for myself to keep myself focused on school work and to have something stable in my life. The tune of “Way It Goes” was able to encapsulate the emotions that I was feeling as well. It starts out upbeat, which in regards to my life was when I first moved in. As the song progresses, the song gets slower with layers of high vocals almost like it’s trying to emit a sense of calm, which to me felt like when I found an amazing group of friends and I.V. felt like home. 

 – Pricila Flores, Diversity and Inclusion Co-Chair 

“Circles” by Post Malone 

The song “Circles” was released just as I started my first year in college. Since I lived at the FT dorms, I always had a long bike ride to campus. This song resonated with me because it talks about change and running in circles. College was a time of change and also a new circle of life I was going through. 

 – Garret Harcourt, Sports Editor 

“The Greatest Day” by Jake Shimabukuro

Known for strong versatility on his instrument of choice, the ukulele, Jake Shimabukuro has performed at UCSB a number of times in the recent past, including virtually last year. The title track of his 2018 album, “The Greatest Day,” is an upbeat piece that showcases Shimabukuro’s dexterous fingers. I don’t listen to Shimabukuro regularly, but when I have, I often find myself fondly reminiscing. A bright spot in the fall quarter of my first year at UCSB was when a new friend of mine from the Nexus invited me impromptu to a concert of his being hosted at Campbell Hall. Even though I had a final paper due the next morning which I hadn’t even started, I decided to accept the invitation. I probably got less than an hour of sleep that night, but it was a lovely night — one that sticks out in my memories. 

 – Sean Crommelin, Science and Tech Editor 

“Are You Bored Yet?” by Wallows feat. Clairo 

Now a quintessential indie pop song, Wallow’s Dylan Minnette and bedroom pop songstress Clairo work in tandem to capture the feeling of teenage fleetingness. The release of the song in 2019 coincided with my first year at UCSB experiencing the “college lifestyle.” The track opens with heavy synths and echoey vocals as Minnette ponders “When we get old, will we regret this? / Too young to think about all that shit.” Every time the track pops up in my Spotify playlists, I’m instantly transported to a late-night freshman year driving around with new friends in Santa Barbara to ignore looming assignments as a radio-blasted Clairo sings, “Feels like I’ve known you my whole life …  / I don’t know where we’re going / But I’d like to be by your side.”

Marisol Cruz, Assistant Artsweek Editor 

“Cut Your Hair”  by Pavement

Before COVID-19, I played a cover of this song with my band, and every time I hear it I am thrown back to the sweaty, rambunctious garages and backyards of Isla Vista. Adrenaline and copious amounts of cigarette smoke included.

– J. Matteo Wharton, Nexustentialism Editor

“Mo Bamba” by Sheck Wes

Terrible, I know, I know! But quintessential to the UCSB Class of 2022’s freshmen year. There wasn’t a weekend when we would go out that you wouldn’t hear “fuck, shit, bitch” echo down the streets of Isla Vista. “Mo Bamba” makes me think about large parties in small backyards and the time before we had to worry about masks and having too many people. Despite the song’s repetitiveness, it will always be one that I associate with college nights.

– Melanie Ziment, Managing Editor

A version of this article appeared on p.14 of the Sept. 23, 2021 print edition of the Daily Nexus.