Brace yourselves, people, today is believed by many to be the most depressing day of the year (yes, somehow even more so than the rest of 2021 so far).
Christened Blue Monday, the theory is that a unique cocktail of factors – ranging from freezing weather and post-Christmas financial blues to New Year optimism being capsized by broken resolutions – converge to make the third Monday of every January an extremely miserable one. And let’s not lose sight of the fact that for many people the struggle with mental health is a 24/7, 365 affair. With all of this in mind, and whatever you’re contending with right now – be it grief, heartbreak, depression and anxiety – we’ve compiled some songs that might just help you power through it. Some express how you’re feeling at your absolute lowest ebb, others will pick you up off the floor. All of them are K! classics. Press play.
Foo Fighters – Walk
One of the standouts from their stunning Wasting Light record, Walk is an example of Foo Fighters at their uplifting best. Don’t let its mid-tempo intro fool you; it only builds and builds in intensity as it details the arduous process of rebuilding life from scratch. By the time Dave Grohl is singing ‘Set me free again / To keep alive a moment at a time’ in the bridge, your blues should be well on the way to being obliterated. Follow it up with On The Mend from In Your Honour for a double-dose of your Uncle Grohl’s Patented Spiritually Replenishing Song Medicine™.
My Chemical Romance – Famous Last Words
It’s worth noting that the stunning finale to The Black Parade is open to interpretation – is it a happy or sad ending? Well, for our purposes here, that doesn’t matter. When Gerard Way delivered the lines ‘I am not afraid to keep on living / I am not afraid to walk this world alone’ it instantly became more than just a mere chorus to a generation of rock fans. It became a mantra of survival.
Biffy Clyro – Machines
Sometimes, when it comes to dealing with incapacitating feelings of grief, anxiety or depression, the only way out is through. Few bands have captured quite what that journey entails as eloquently as Biffy Clyro. Taken as a whole, their 2007 masterpiece Puzzle is a testament to that endeavour. Its denouement, Machines, is a mass of contradictions – it sounds both desolate yet beautiful, bereft of hope and still somehow hopeful. If your life has fallen apart, the chorus of this song instructs you exactly what to do next. You just ‘Take the pieces and…’ Well, you know the rest.
Rise Against – Tragedy + Time
Typically, when somebody says the name Rise Against, the phrase ‘political punks’ isn’t too far behind. And yes, they have certainly written some of the finest protest music, well, ever. But that is only one string to their bow; some of their songs fight the power, others combat despair. Tragedy + Time from their incredible The Black Market album is a perfect example of the latter. Here, the old ‘darkest before dawn’ philosophy is dispatched via a brilliant, surging punk discharge. ‘There will be a time to crack another smile / Maybe not today or for awhile’ sings Tim McIlrath as he reminds us all about the cyclical natures of joy and sadness.
Pearl Jam – Rearviewmirror
There is no shortage of Pearl Jam songs that are full-blown loveletters to life itself: of the sheer wonder of existing at all. But when it comes to powering through Blue Monday, look no further than their classic track Rearviewmirror. It’s not just down to the driving power of the riff, or the eyes-rolled-back-in-his-skull soloing of Mike McCready, either. Eddie Vedder wrote this about the importance of removing yourself from certain toxic situations and people. If you’re looking to gain fresh perspective this Blue Monday, you might want to start by singing ‘Saw things so much clearer once you were in my rear-view mirror’ extremely loudly.
Linkin Park – One More Light
The profound sadness of the circumstances underpinning this swansong from Chester Bennington is piercing, but so too is the power and meaning of the song. The elegant title-track of Linkin Park’s seventh album is a lesson about the importance of making an adjustment of consciousness. When Chester begins with, ‘Should’ve stayed, were there signs I ignored? / Can I help you not to hurt anymore?’ it’s a reminder that we all need to be observant of those around us. A lot of individual lives can be lost in the big picture; it’s up to us to look out for each other.
Beastie Boys – Alive
With all due respect to Andrew W.K., the Beastie Boys are the irrefutable definition of fun. And, as we all know, fun is the arch-enemy of despair. Sometimes you can laugh your way out of the shit you’re going through, and Beastie Boys are hardwired to help you do it. You could play pretty much any B Boyz song to lift your mood, but for its marriage of absurd lyrics (‘’Cause I got a remote for my bidet’) and genuine sentiment we’re going this. ‘If you learn to love you’re in for a surprise,’ the trio rap. ‘It could be nice to be alive.’ Words worth remembering all year round, tbf.
Iron Maiden – Wasted Years
The past is not always just the sum total of stuff that happened to you so far; it can become an inescapable prison of coulda, woulda, shouldas. The old ‘carpe diem’ – that’s ‘seize the day’ to you non-Latin-speaking slackers – philosophy has been summoned by countless bands, but none have translated it into a song as perfectly as Iron Maiden. Wasted Years remains a brilliant meditation on the importance of living – and acting – in the moment. So, this Blue Monday, let Bruce Dickinson become your very own personal life coach and listen to what he’s singing: ‘Don’t waste your time always searching for those wasted years / Face up… make your stand / And realise you’re living in the golden years.’
twenty one pilots – Neon Gravestones
More often than not, twenty one pilots have camouflaged the various battlegrounds of mental health in their music with metaphor. Not so on Neon Gravestones. Frontman Tyler Joseph told Kerrang! he wanted to speak directly on the subject of suicide and put his feelings in black and white. In the song’s closing lines, he sings, ‘Find your grandparents or someone of age / Pay some respects for the path that they paved / To life they were dedicated / Now that should be celebrated.’ Here Tyler seems to be saying that life is not just worth enduring, it is actually the prize everyone should be chasing.
Metallica – Hit The Lights
You’re probably wondering if we’ve accidentally typed in the wrong song to conclude the list here. After all, Metallica are not exactly a band predisposed to PMA in their lyrics. Today is, for example, probably the only day it’s 100 per cent fine for you to skip One… But there is an entry in The Four Horsemen’s catalogue that may just shake you out of whatever feelings are overpowering you and remind you that life can be absolutely fucking joyful. Hit The Lights remains a hymn to the eternal therapeutic power of music, of going out to a show with like-minded people and watching your favourite band “rip” through your brain. Music heals all wounds. Amen.
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Posted on January 18th 2021, 11:05a.m.