November: Power anthems and broken hearts

A part of me believes I am in a perpetual state of heartbreak.

If it isn’t actively being broken, I am waiting for someone to drop it. Or I am waiting for someone to come judge its worth before putting it back.

This personification of my heart isn’t meant to remove my responsibility from the cycle. I am the one who offers it up, bandages it when broken, and then waits for the stitches to heal — only to throw it back out there again.

I have gotten so good at heartbreak that I have become the one all my friends call when it happens to them. I know the right brand of waterproof mascara to buy (Maybelline, The Rocket), I know the right movies to recommend (“Legally Blonde” followed by “Everything is Copy,” the documentary on Nora Ephron’s life), and I am a professional at curating the perfect heartbreak playlist.

Songs about heartbreak are great, because unlike your friends, they don’t tell you to brush your teeth and get out of bed. They don’t call the heartbreaker an asshole, or say throwaway lines like, “You are so much better off without him.” They don’t judge you like you judge yourself; they never use the word “should” or yell at you for being stupid, for feeling love, for giving someone the ability to hurt you. They don’t tell you your pain is your fault, or laugh at your tangled hair — no, songs about heartbreak are great because they simply sit with you as you cry, rub your head and whisper: “I’ve been there, too.”

And luckily, if you are a fan of any music out there, this has been the month for songs about heartbreak.

Three of the most influential women in alternative music — Lucy Dacus, Julien Baker, and Phoebe Bridgers — released a group album Nov. 9, under the name “Boygenius.”
The album sounds like the long walk home after someone breaks up with you. It sounds like sitting quietly as the relationship morphs into the saltwater on your cheeks, and your mind begins to race through the relationship, the vulnerability, the joy, the shift in tone, the sadness.

It places you at the beginning of heartbreak, when you still have the aftertaste of love, and walks you into the middle of the pain, into the true moments of melancholy. If you are longing for a love that’s too far away or a few months past, and just wish you could be in a place where love still exists, I’d recommend giving the song “Ketchum, ID” a listen.

But if alternative is a little too “the world is bleak and happiness is impossible to find,” for you, don’t worry: Country is spilling over with heartbreak and power ballads, too. Miranda Lambert, who might be the current queen of country, had a scandalous divorce from Blake Shelton — you know, the country guy from the show “The Voice.”

She paired up with two other female country singers, Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley, to release their third album Nov. 2 as the band Pistol Annies. If you are looking for someone to bitterly rant with, as you make fun of whoever that new girl in their Instagram is, look no further than the song “When I Was His Wife,” which could basically be renamed “To Gwen Stefani.”

The song starts off with the lyrics, “He’d never cheat, he’d never lie, he’ll love me forever till the day that we die. He’ll never take me for granted, I said that too when I was his wife,” and it only builds from there.

As for pop, you’d have to have never left your dorm room, or checked any social media, to have missed Ariana Grande’s song, “thank u, next.” She dropped it Nov. 3, an hour before a Saturday Night Live episode aired starring her ex-fiance, Pete Davidson. In the song, she thanks every one of her famous exes for what they taught her before she found love within herself. If there’s any song that can get you to stand up, wash your face, and give you hope that you’ll be okay, it’s this one.

It is November, and everyone in music I care about is heartbroken, or at least singing about it — and I am not. A part of me almost feels left out; the rest of me is petrified I am about to join all of them. But if the music of November has taught the world anything, it’s that if you are nursing a heartbreak, you are on the precipice of growth, of an epic movie montage of getting your life back together. You are about to be more than okay. And most of all, you aren’t alone in heartbreak; the entire music industry feels it, too.

Anna Koppelman is a first-year at Pitzer. You can either find her reading poetry, hanging out with friends, or ranting about how long it’s taken for Vampire Weekend to release a new album.

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