I had no idea what to expect when listening to assistant arts editor Jack Weynand’s top 10 songs. While I met Jack a little over a year ago now, I’ve only known him to be a movie buff—mainly for those in the EuroJournal Cinematic Universe—and an undercover STEM major among the majority of humanities majors in the arts section.
But whenever the topic of music came up, Jack always hesitated to share his tastes.
I don’t really understand why though. His playlist was kind of a smash.
The playlist starts with more of an R&B vibe, beginning with SZA’s “Blind” and going into The Weeknd’s “Less Than Zero.” The songs infuse a chill beat with acoustic guitar, giving them both a light yet melancholic feeling.
SZA’s “Blind” always makes me laugh a little because of the associated TikTok trend about ignoring someone’s red flags. Nonetheless, “Blind” is still one of my favorite songs on SOS. In the track, SZA sings about being blind to the good in her life and only looking at the dark side of things.
The song is quite a surprising one to start the playlist because its pessimistic lyrics seem to be the opposite of Jack’s vibe in every interaction I’ve had with him. Although “Less Than Zero” also has depressing lyrics about not being enough, the upbeat music underlying the track overshadows the message and leads you to sway your head to the song instead.
Now, I consider myself an avid ABBA fan, but I’m ashamed to admit I’ve never heard Jack’s third track, “Don’t Shut Me Down,” before. Upon hearing the first few notes, I mistakenly—and with great surprise—thought it was a Broadway show tune. But as soon as I realized it was Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad’s voices coming through the intro’s Disney-esque vocals and delicate violin, the song choice made more sense for Jack, a fellow ABBA enthusiast.
The disco-inspired guitar during the first verse continued the danceable feel of the playlist that “Less Than Zero” started. But this was short lived as the playlist moved into “Winner” by Conan Gray, a heartbreaking piano pop ballad about never being good enough for someone.
“Cause now there’s no one / Who ever has done better / At makin’ me feel worse / Now you really are the winner,” Gray sings in the chorus.
Jack kept the same emo vibes for the next three tracks: “Painkiller” by Ruel, “Ghost of You” by 5 Seconds of Summer, and “Little Blue Car” by Michael Cimino. Despite their sad, longing lyrics, they all have brighter, groovy melodies.
Cimino is also the only artist on the playlist I had never heard of—another surprising element to his playlist based on the fact that Jack has previously said he mainly listens to the hits. Twenty-nine thousand monthly listeners on Spotify is pretty niche.
One thought I was starting to have as to why Jack rarely talked about his music taste was because his own may have differed from the angst-written indie rock ballads that associate arts editor Sofia Torres and I fawn over. But then came “Summertime” by My Chemical Romance.
While MCR certainly isn’t indie rock, the band definitely has some underlying angst. But this song, contrasting with most of the band’s discography, adds a perfect optimistic note to flow into the last song of the playlist: “Sparks Fly (Taylor’s Version)” by Taylor Swift.
Up until these last two songs, and the outlier of “Smoke Slow” by Joshua Bassett, the tracks all had an electronic element to them and rather sad undertones. But the playlist breaks free of that with “Summertime” and even more so with “Sparks Fly.” Jack doesn’t seem like the type to want to leave something on a bad note anyway.
Even if the artists Jack listens to are bigger names, the tracks he chose predominantly weren’t. Besides, what’s the point of only listening to indie artists? Maybe Jack should hop on aux next production.