Billboard just released their 100 Songs that Defined the Decade list, with songs that shaped and reflected the music culture of the 2010s. 

As the decade ends, so does my own childhood. I am now a 21-year-old adult who has started applying for post-graduate jobs. I think I’m allowed to be emotional about the end of the 2010s, because it marks this chapter of my life to a close. So, when I first saw Billboard’s list, I couldn’t help thinking, “I remember making fun of that song!” and “I haven’t heard that in ages” and “Weezer’s Africa?” 

Here are a few of my personal favorite memories and anecdotes attached to some of these songs (let me be nostalgic, please, I’m getting old):

  • “Country Girl (Shake It for Me)” – Luke Bryan – This song made me hate country music, which I used to listen to when I was younger, on account of (most) of it being kid-friendly. Still not sure why, but this song killed that for me.  
  • “Born This Way” – Lady Gaga – Lady Gaga defined my early teen years. I listed to Poker Face on my iPod over and over. Born This Way was another song I listened to a lot, and it made me realize that it’s okay to express yourself and be who you want to be.  
  • “Midnight City” – M83 – The first time I heard this song, I was in Pittsburg, PA. I was 15. When the sun went down, all the lights swirled together, and it made me feel like I was a part of something bigger than myself.  
  • “Little Lion Man” – Mumford & Sons – This song, and a few others not on the Billboard list, defined the summer before my last year in high school. I went to creative writing camp that summer, where I met “my people” for the first time. I went home with a new sense of purpose: to write, as much as I could (and to find more people like the friend’s I’d made). 
  • “Girls Like Girls” – Hayley Kiyoko – Sexuality can be weird and confusing, and this song helped me sort some stuff out when I first heard it in high school. 
  • “My Shot” – Hamilton Cast – Okay, hear me out: Hamilton got me into the musical scene. I still haven’t seen it live though, because I’m broke. 
  • “Closer” – The Chainsmokers ft. Halsey – I don’t necessarily think this song is the best, but a few years ago it was the song that everyone played at the end of parties so the crowd would belt at the top of their lungs and leave with a good feeling. This song marked the beginning of my life at college away from my parents, and the first taste of independence even as I made terrible life choices.
  • “Truth Hurts” – Lizzo – Lizzo is an icon and her music will forever remind me of this past summer, the last one before I need to deal with real responsibilities. 

Image by Elice Moore or

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