By Megan Tullos |

Back when I was in middle school (and high school okay I’ll admit it) some of my favorite songs were by One Direction. I couldn’t tell you exactly why, but their music seemed to get me through school drama with friends and boys alike. 

Everyone has their favorite songs; their own “Story of my Life” by One Direction. We all have songs that take you back to a happy moment, make you warm and fuzzy inside or feel all the feels. Music undoubtedly has a powerful connection with the human brain. There’s a reason we carefully curate our playlists, pay hundreds of dollars to see our favorite artists and feel better after crying to a sad song on a bad day. 

“After a hard day of class, there’s nothing better than turning on some Kacey Musgraves and heading home,” said avid music listener Audrey Crites. “It just makes me feel at peace after a long day.”

Audrey says that something about Kacey’s voice and the rhythm of her songs makes the stress of a long day melt away. There is an actual scientific reason she feels this way. 

According to Psychology Today, humans tend to “synchronize our body movement to external rhythmic stimuli, such as music (Ball, 2010). Rhythm can have a powerful effect on movement because the auditory system has a rich connection to motor systems in the brain.” 

This phenomenon helps explain why slow-paced, relaxing music can help reduce feelings of stress or anxiety; the rhythm of a slow song is similar to your body’s internal rhythm when relaxed.

Since the rhythm of music has the power to manipulate our emotions, it’s no surprise that we seem to get attached to our favorite artists. Maybe this explains why I cried listening to Lover by Taylor Swift (it’s just a beautiful song, okay?) or why boy bands like NSYNC and One Direction have had such a large impact. We hear a song that makes us feel good, and we simply want to listen again. 

“For me, listening to music is such an important part of my life,” said senior David Rambo. “There’s just something special about it. Nothing else really feels the same way.” 

He’s not the only one who feels that way.  According to TechCrunch  “In the U.S., consumers spend 24 hours per week on average listening to music.” Listening to music we love gets us through workdays, long study sessions and traffic-filled commutes. I don’t know how I’d make it through my 18 hour semester without a good playlist. 

Looking at my Spotify year in review, I listened to 4,085 songs in 2018. They range from mellow favorites like “New Light” by John Mayer to songs by country giants like Kenny Chesney (full disclosure, I never stopped listening to One Direction.)  Each one makes me feel a certain way and reminds me of a special time. Music is powerful and impactful, and our brains certainly agree.