Playlist: The meanest girl you know


Emily Palombo

Cover art by Sarah Riedlinger

Welcome to my thrift store of songs. I would best describe my music taste as that of an old man while also that of an angry ‘90s teen. I wanted to encapsulate my journey of developing a love for music with the songs that started it, like “Radio Ga Ga” by Queen, and the ones that further that love every day, like “Come Along” by Cosmo Sheldrake. 

Music has always influenced me. My dad and I share a very similar love of the “classics,” whereas my mom and I bond over soft rock of the early 2000s. These artists and songs stay with me because they remind me of a different time in my life when I was small and was very influenced by the things my parents loved. Now, I have respective songs I put aside to listen to when I am missing home. Nostalgia comes very easily to me and I feel it the most strongly through music.

 As far as genre is concerned, I am not limited or committed to one. I find myself attached deeply to lyrics, and as a writer I find myself constantly captivated by the artist’s ability to make me empathize with their words. My biggest inspiration in life is Freddie Mercury, and he has been since I was about ten years old. I remember listening to his music and feeling literal chills; he is perhaps the reason I turned to writing as I grew up.

The most important songs on this playlist to me are:

“Zombie” by The Cranberries

I love this song, because it served as an early example of a protest song for me. Between the strength in Dolores O’Riordan’s voice and the emphasis placed on it from the bass, this song is a powerhouse that sends a powerful message. It is gritty and it tells us exactly how horrific war can be and the lasting effects of a nation from the death of civilians.

“Rhiannon” by Fleetwood Mac

Ah, this song. This song inspires me to be my best witchy self. Stevie Nicks inspires me with her honest voice and her larger -than-life aesthetic. This song is an embodiment of the kind of woman I have always wanted to be. When I hear the lyrics, “She is like a cat in the dark and then she is the darkness,” they give me chills every time. This is a haunting song, and I am ready to be spooked. 

“Radio Ga Ga” by Queen

As I stated earlier, there is no bigger inspiration to me than Queen. This is an anthem of solidarity for anyone who has ever felt a chill when they listen to music, who has felt comfort in the words of an artist and who has ever danced around in their living room when no one else is home. This song, written by drummer Roger Taylor, has stood the test of time and continues to inspire other lovers of music to pursue their dreams. Don’t believe me? Ask Lady GaGa how she got her name.

“Jump in the Line” by Harry Belafonte

I can summarize my love for this song with three words: Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice! This song reminds me of those cold October nights when I would watch that iconic movie in my basement when the rest of the house was asleep. Now as an adult, it is the best song to wash the dishes to. 

“Emmylou” by First Aid Kit

This song might be self-explanatory, but I love it because of its title. I first came across it because I was interested to see if any songs existed that had the same title as my name. I found a few very dramatic punk rock songs simply called “Emily,” but once I stumbled across this song, I was elated. My dad called me Emmylou a lot as a kid and still does on occasion as an adult. This song reminds me of home and what if felt like to be called by a childhood nickname by someone you love.

“As the World Falls Down” by David Bowie

Of all the songs on this playlist, this one comes out of left field. Yes, I love David Bowie, but my origin for that love came from Jim Henson’s 1986 cult classic “Labyrinth. This is one of my favorite movies of all time, and David Bowie’s shining role as the Goblin King makes it all the more enjoyable. This song is his dedication to Sarah, the movie’s hero. Romantic, charming, and tender (though not condoning a relationship between an immortal Fae and a sixteen year old girl), this song reminds me of Bowie’s talent and his unfortunate departure from our world. Perhaps he is now exploring the labyrinth.