Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Weekly Playlist: See Collegian staff picks for late October

From Taylor Swift to Arctic Monkeys, October was filled with hits
Graphic by Joey Lorant


“Guts Theme” by Rooster

Jackson Walker, Collegian Staff

Swedish producer Gud debuted his newest project “Rooster” last Friday with a five-track EP. The full 12-minute project is certainly worth a listen, but “Guts Theme” especially stood out. Featuring raw vocals from the producer who most recently handled “Foreign Exchange” in collaboration with Rx Papi, the title and sound of “Guts Theme” allude to the unfinished manga series “Berserk.” The accompanying music video upholds the sense of minimalism found in the song’s production. In the video, Gud wanders the streets of an unnamed city, searching for his guts.


“Lavender Haze” by Taylor Swift

James Rosales, Head Arts Editor

Taylor Swift’s album openers tend to be grandiose in production, reinvention or messaging, but not “Lavender Haze.” The R&B-inspired track is carried by a synth pad, vocal samples, sub bass, kick and snare, a sound that reaffirms pre-“folklore” pop works. Lyrically, it resembles themes first explored in 2017’s “Reputation,” like navigating intimacy against the trials of fame. Swift finds comfort and security in the sensuality she refers to as a “lavender haze,” alluding to private moments with a lover amidst the chaos of gossip and judgment; the track is a pop star diary entry at its peak moments.

Sonically, the track takes on dark and atmospheric synthpop, with hints of hip hop and 80s groove. Production by the versatile Jack Antonoff (“1989,” “Reputation,” “Folklore”) and Jahaan Sweet (credits with Beyoncé, Drake, Kehlani) explains the multi-genre fusion. “Lavender Haze” is a return to the cool girl of “Reputation” as much as it is a legacy-extending intro to the biggest album of the decade.


“Midnight Rain” by Taylor Swift

Molly Hamilton, Assistant Arts Editor

Opening with a distorted version of Swift’s vocals, pitched down to sound almost unrecognizable, “Midnight Rain” is arguably the most sonically unique track on “Midnights.” Swift’s new album offers the niche brand of pop she’s been refining for years — catchy, timeless melodies with hyper-specific lyrics. However, this track takes that foolproof formula and twists into something entirely new: a dark, moody experiment that effortlessly hits the emotional highs Swift is known for.

A dizzying mix of wistful nostalgia and placid acceptance comes through in lyrics like, “He wanted it comfortable, I wanted that pain.” All these risks, big and small, lead to a refreshingly honest and complex pop song that suggests thatSwift hasn’t yet lost her ability to endlessly reinvent herself.


“I Ain’t Quite Where I Think I Am” by Arctic Monkeys

Ashviny Kaur, Collegian Staff

Much like their previous album, “Four Out of Five,” Arctic Monkeys’ latest release draws from the same vein of low, groovy, synthpop. It’s nothing like their self-titled that we all know and love, rather, it is much more psychedelic and melancholic. “I Ain’t Quite Where I Think I Am” relies heavily on its bubbly guitar and repetitive cymbals, soft and slightly jazzy. This track, along with the rest of their newly released album, “The Car,” reflects the band straying away from its stereotypical sound, yet still staying true to their roots. Their lyricism is as beautiful as ever, and “I Ain’t Quite Where I Think I Am” is a glaring example of the band’s growth and evolution.


“frog” by Cavetown

Sierra Thornton, Collegian Staff

One of the pre-released singles from the upcoming album “worm food,” “frog” is a somber bedroom-pop track for autumn. In a highly creative and soothing direction, Cavetown uses rustic instruments to create the noise of a frog, mimicking their signature croaks. Another successful way Cavetown conveys the song’s subject matter is through utilizing stories like “The Princess and the Frog,” metaphorically waiting for a kiss to make the pain all better. For many, “frog” will fit comfortably in their relaxing playlists, especially while enjoying the changing of seasons.

“October Passed Me By” by girl in red

Kelly McMahan, Head Podcast Editor

In her 2018 viral hit “we fell in love in october,” Marie Ulven Ringheim of girl in red gushed about her budding relationship. After gaining traction on TikTok over the past few years, content creators used this song to soundtrack montages of idyllic fall relationships, anchoring new love in the sensory characteristics of autumn.

Four years later, girl in red has now released a sequel, “October Passed Me By,” in which she revisits this previous relationship, now broken-up, and the associations she has with the month of October. It’s a breakup song, directly referencing specific lyrics of “we fell in love in october” in the past tense. This sequel seems especially melancholic, considering that the romance of her previous song became a model for so many internet couples. Her new lyrics show that she accepts the loss with grace. Together, both songs create a complete timeline illustrating change and reclamation.


“Shirt” by SZA

Shannon Moore, Assistant Arts Editor

First teased on her Instagram story nearly two years ago, “Shirt” addresses the themes that SZA does best: love, lust, obsession and trying to know your worth. Packed with intense bass, ethereal backing tracks and angelic vocals, SZA sings about her own insecurities after leaving a relationship. Lines like “Still don’t know my worth/Still stressin perfection” convey SZA’s struggle with confidence.

The artist is in a darker place, feeling resentment towards herself and the choices she makes, but she doesn’t entirely hate it. She sings “In the dark right now/Feelin’ lost right now but I like it.” She knows she’s making bad choices, but she doesn’t care. Most likely released in anticipation of a new album, this track is promising for what is to come next from SZA.


“In My Head” by Juice WRLD

Olivia Patt, Collegian Correspondent

Despite Juice WRLD’s tragic overdose in December 2019, his passion for music is reflected through songs released posthumously. Released on Oct. 28, “In My Head” conveys deep emotions of being trapped in one’s own mind and feeling like a “broken machine.” A heavy guitar melody plays in the background as Juice raps about how his problems are not resolved, regardless of the cash he earns and the amount of weed he smokes. It is difficult fighting emotions while listening to this song, especially knowing Juice WRLD never was able to overcome the pain he felt. Honoring Juice WRLD through his music will hopefully create awareness and motivate others to get the mental help they need.

“Lift Me Up” by Rihanna

Shanti Furtado, Collegian Staff

Rihanna makes her long-awaited return to music in the primary single for the new film, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” Being one of the pinnacle Black female artists of the 21st century, Rihanna’s place as the cover star of the sequel’s soundtrack is an impactful one, not only for her own career, but in terms of widespread vital representation. Five years since her last solo project, Rihanna makes clear that her musical skills have only matured with time.

Vocally, the nine-time Grammy Award winner deviates in many ways from the fast-paced, dance music that skyrocketed her to fame. Instead, the ballad, “Lift Me Up” highlights Rihanna’s unique vocal range and tone, complementing the emotion-evoking lyrics of the track. Recurring harp melodies and the enlistment of background harmony from Rihanna herself and a gospel choir complete the song’s angelic ambience. Rihanna speaks of the importance of unity and compassion, particularly in times of hardship. In a world with so many moving parts that are in and out of our control, “Lift Me Up” serves as a reminder to take the time with those you love and just be.

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