Playlist: A Spring Coming-of-Age

According to Jonathan Jeffrey’s nostalgic book “Bowling Green in Vintage Postcards,” in 1906 one anonymous resident described a view from the top of the Pleasant J. Potter College — later known as WKU — as “the garden spot of the world.”

Certainly, Bowling Green has an arboretum. There’s a botanical garden a stone’s throw away. While noteworthy, neither are exactly uncommon.

Perhaps the postcard’s author was referring to college as a metaphorical portrait of a garden.

The spring of 1906 saw the inception of WKU – then named the Western Kentucky State Normal School. Classes commenced the following year.

College, like a garden, is a place for perpetual growth. It provides opportunities to cultivate necessary conversation. College is a confluence of creative thought; a place to stretch one’s intellect. And it’s better because of its diversity.

Sometimes, it’s inordinately tough. Winter arrives. Rifts form in the once loamy soil. Shards of ice and snow fill in the fissures. The world looks a little sad for a little while, as if it wants to say something but cannot.

But the frost isn’t forever.

The benevolent sunbeams of spring replace winter’s cruel winds.

Our spring playlist mirrors seasonal shifts as Bowling Green’s corner of the world thaws. Sonically optimistic, our playlist is a celebratory coming-of-age.

Below is an abbreviated list of our favorite tracks.

It’s Okay To Cry” by SOPHIE


Far too often, popular artists forgo personal lyrics and instead use their production chops as a crutch. Sophie employs both in her impactful tracks. It’s both cutting and twee. In an interview with Billboard, Sophie claims her songs “LEMONADE” and “HARD” are inspired by “physics and materials.”

“I synthesize all sounds except for vocals using raw waveforms … as opposed to using samples,” she said.

“It’s Okay To Cry” is emotional ecstasy, a song both melancholic and manic. Sophie’s voice is hushed as she whispers “I think you sometimes forget / I would know you best.”

The cascading bass continually builds on itself, and slowly starts to sound as if it’s bound to cave in on itself. The bass is unsteady and wobbles throughout the four-minute exploration of personal emotion. But that’s just Sophie showing off her maximalist tendencies.  

Lemon” by N.E.R.D, Rihanna

After a seven-year hiatus, N.E.R.D returns with the soulfully sleek and kaleidoscopic pop LP “No One Ever Really Dies” (based on their acronym). “Lemon” is an undeniably infectious opening track. Pharrell’s vocal delivery is smooth, but the instrumental is fast and frenetic.

There are political overtones on Lemon regarding the 2016 presidential election (i.e. “Don’t drink the Kool-Aid, my friends / I tried to tell y’all about this dude”) and throughout the duration of “No One Ever Really Dies,” but most of the focus here is on the accessible, club-ready beats.

Rihanna lends her talent to the mix, providing a memorable vocal performance.

Lyrically, “Lemon” strikes out. But it doesn’t try to be poetic or prophetic. It aims to be fun, and in that regard, N.E.R.D and Bad Girl Riri wholly succeed.

Track 10” by Charli XCX


Charli XCX – actual name Charlotte Aitchison – became a household name after “Boom Clap” and working with Iggy Azalea on the ubiquitous “Fancy.”


In 2016, Charli XCX worked with SOPHIE on the “Vroom Vroom EP,” and her influence certainly shows up here. The lyrics might tilt towards trite as an impassioned Aitchison sings “I blame it on your love / Every time I f—k it up,” but the delivery is so sincere and heartfelt, the simplicity of the lyrics falls away.


Stranger’s Kiss” by Alex Cameron, Angel Olsen

Australian electro-pop star Alex Cameron crafts character sketches of truly terrible humans. On his 2017 LP “Forced Witness,” Cameron splatter paints portraits of men addicted to internet porn and their own delusions of grandeur.

Cameron’s art is predicated on dichotomy: the lyrics are fraught with sometimes disturbing filth, but the backing instrumentation oft reminds one of catchy ‘80s glam pop (think: Phil Collins). In a way, it parallels the lyrical yearning for better days gone.

Angel Olsen’s haunting vocals comment on the dark nature of suicidal ideation, singing “Don’t bother flying when you jump off the cliff / Make sure it’s headfirst if you don’t want to deal with what if’s.” It’s both chilling and scummy but also beautiful.


There are two things you should know about Brockhampton. Brockhampton, led by Kevin Abstract, has 14 members (Brock Hampton isn’t a person). They bill themselves as the “best boy band since One Direction.”

It’s intentionally upside down, as conventional use of the “boy band” label connotes images of hair gel and half-crazed teenage fans. Brockhampton garnered mainstream attention and widespread critical acclaim last year when they released three full-length albums as part of their “Saturation” trilogy (their goal being to saturate the hip-hop charts with their original material).

It worked.

Brockhampton’s tracks are blistering bits of genius; it’s unfettered fun. Their motley crew skitters between Clockwork Orange-esque horrorcore, acid-drenched psychedelic trips, and more innocent and introspective tracks about growing up. However, each LP flows from track to track and avoids feeling too fragmentary.

If you liked Tyler, the Creator’s dreamy album “Flower Boy” or Kid Cudi’s early work, there’s a good chance you’ll like Brockhampton.



Spring is a metamorphic series of moments. In the hustle and bustle of daily life, it’s easy to dismiss days in anticipation of graduation or summer break. While it’s easy to look ahead to the future and daydream about the “next big thing,” don’t take now for granted. Calendar days can’t be unchecked.