Top Tracks From Studio Ghibli Films

Studio Ghibli holds a very special place in my heart. Not only are the stories incredible and the animation breathtaking, but the soundtracks truly bring life to the narratives. From the lighthearted “Spirited Away” to the intense “Princess Mononoke,” here are my top picks from the collection.

“The Return” from “Spirited Away”

From Spirited Away comes “The Return,” a very light hearted and nostalgic track. Ghibli films have iconically crafted music and this classic from one of their most popular films is no exception.

“Always With Me” from “Spirited Away”

A beautiful ending song from an incredible movie; it’s all in Japanese, but the vocals and the tune are obviously worthy of listening to and falling in love with.

“A Walk In The Skies” form “Howl’s Moving Castle”

A lighthearted track, one of which can be heard throughout the entirety of the film. It is morphed into whatever the emotional moment is in the plot. It is first heard in “Merry-Go-Round of Life,” vaguely.

“Merry-Go-Round of Life” from “Howl’s Moving Castle”

A beautiful beginning track, it establishes the kindness and calmness of Sophie as a main character.

“The Demon God” from “Princess Mononoke”

A favorite from the film, it’s one of the first tracks and also one of the most intense. It describes the birth of Ashitaka’s curse and is referenced multiple times throughout the film. It’s a powerful assortment of notes and beats.

“The Journey to the West” from “Princess Mononoke”

Highlighting another beginning portion of the film, it follows the young Ashitaka to the forest. Viewers get to watch him develop in these few short scenes, establishing the character that you will get to follow for the rest of the film.

“Adagio of Life and Death” from “Princess Mononoke”

This is truly from the most powerful moment in the film. When Moro is killed and the climax truly begins, this track is gaining. It’s a very emotional track, especially paired with the context of the film.

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Top Instrumental Picks

Not all music to jam out to has to have lyrics. Instrumental tracks are incredible, as well. Whether from movies or from artists who only work in instrumental, they’re a great addition to any playlist- here are just a few of my favorites, dabbling in an assortment of albums that are worth investigating further.

“Time” by Hans Zimmer

A favorite from the Inception soundtrack, “Time” is a very slow but a very narrative track. It builds to a climax that still has a very calm quality.

“Dream Is Collapsing” by Hans Zimmer

Quite the opposite is “Dream Is Collapsing,” also from Inception. It’s intense from the beginning and highlights one of the most iconic moments in the movie.

“The Return” by Joe Hisaishi

From Spirited Away comes “The Return,” a very light hearted and nostalgic track. Ghibli films have iconically crafted music and this classic from one of their most popular films is no exception.

“Adagio of Life and Death” by Joe Hisaishi

A favorite from Ghibli’s Princess Mononoke, this is from one of the most powerful scenes in the film. The narrative that the instrumental track lays out is astonishing, as well. It’s a beautiful rendition of a very intense moment.

“Aren’t We All Running?” by 65daysofstatic

65daysofstatic is an iconic band for instrumentals. It’s a modern twist on a classical form, and “Aren’t We All Running?” is one of the most iconic. It’s a balance of sharp synths and piano tunes, a perfect balance.

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Album Picks: “You Haunt Me”

Sir Sly was one of my favorite bands in high school and they still have such a special place in my heart. The growth that I’ve seen from the group just reminds me of the time that has passed, and that’s something that artists can’t fake. “You Haunt Me” was their first full album and I remember waiting up at night for its release on iTunes. Here are my top picks from this nostalgically incredible album.

“Nowhere / Bloodlines, Pt. I”
The album is rather electronically aggressive, but this track combats that with a very laid back production and very thoughtful and emotional lyric choices. The two songs blend together very well, like they were meant to be listened together and even created together.

“Too Far Gone”
Another track that takes a step back from being in your face, “Too Far Gone” took some time to warm up to. But, with age it has become my favorite track from the album. The lyrics tend to mean more to me than any other song on the album.

The second song on the album, it is an incredible example of what Sir Sly’s premier style was: an electronic element with very thoughtful lyrics choices.

“You Haunt Me”
A tad more upbeat, “You Haunt Me” is the track that shares the name of the album. Many of the main elements of the album are found in this track: electronic beats, great lyrics, and themes from other lyric choices found in the rest of the album.

“Helpless / Bloodlines, Pt. II”
Much deeper production-wise and lyric-wise, this track was my first love. I put it on shuffle the first time that I listened to it and immediately fell in love with it.

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Great Additions To A Bonfire Playlist

A nighttime bonfire on the beach is one of the most incredible things to do on a free night. It’s a time to reflect on your emotion and relish in your experiences. There is something to calming and nostalgic about a night by the ocean. Here are the top tracks to kickstart a night on the beach.

“Vacation Town” by The Front Bottoms

This track was certainly meant to have beach town vacation vibes, from both the obvious title and the production and lyric choice. Take time to listen to each word- there is a ton of emotion behind them.

“Hazey” by Glass Animals

Glass Animals is a great pick for any party, especially one that includes something as sensual and emotional as the ocean. This is a great track, certainly one to add to your list.

“Au Revoir” by OneRepublic

A slower tune, but nonetheless a great pick for a party. There is a lot of emotion packed into this track. Each word has weight and deserves a lsiten.

“Headfirst” by Sir Sly

Sir Sly’s newest album is great for any chill party. Bring a bottle of wine with you and sit back and enjoy. “Headfirst” is a great pick from this iconic new style that the band has developed.

“Gorgeous” by X Ambassadors

A harder track, “Gorgeous” is one for you and your significant other to relish in. There is so much innocent affection in the lyrics, there is no way that you couldn’t love it.

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Album Picks: Blush

Mooseblood satisfies the pop-punk lover in all of us. Their lyrics are incredible and the vocals will keep you coming back for more. My personal favorite album, “Blush,” was released relatively recently in 2016. These tracks remind me why I fell in love with them in the first place. Here are my top picks from Mooseblood’s “Blush.”

The lyrics are my favorite part of this track. It holds a ton of emotion and is a relatable set of lines while also remaining totally clever and standing apart from tracks that tackle the same subject matter.

A slow track, “Shimmer” is another set of lines that are emotional and relatable. Unfortunately, this is a track that you need to be in a mood for. While incredible, it’s a heavy song.

One of my all-time favorite for the band, “Knuckles” is the classic pop-punk vibes that Mooseblood is always striving for.

This track has a bit of a different vibe. Instead of a classic view of pop-punk style, “Sulk” has a different production line. It’s a fresh new take on a classic style that Mooseblood has developed.

The combination of the production with the lyrics make this one of my favorite tracks that Mooseblood has ever released. The final minute and a half of this track pulls your heartstrings, using this same style tactic.

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Album Picks: ZABA

Glass Animals has been an artist that I’ve been listening to since early high school. Recently, in light of midterms and term papers, I’ve rekindled my love for this deliciously odd band. “ZABA” is the band’s first album, released in 2014, and certainly sets the pace for the rest of their tracks. Here are my top picks from Glass Animals’ “ZABA.”

A very safari vibe track, “Pools” is one of my recent loves. I didn’t appreciate it nearly as much as I do now when I was a young high schooler. The lyrics are as psychedelic as you would expect, but the production gives it a heavier weight.

My favorite track from this album, “Wyrd” has a very specific heaviness in the production. A very late night foreign club vibe, this is a song that reminds me of my recent study abroad trip. Each vocal and each beat takes me back to a Greek beach with a Corona.

“Cocoa Hooves”
I keep thinking of very fluid words to describe this album, but “Cocoa Hooves” has a sharper tone. The downbeats are harsher and the lyrics are a bit more aggressive. It’s a change of pace that the album certainly benefitted from.

This track certainly embodies the “gooey” vibe that this album is based on. A psychedelic experience, “Toes” has a very quiet, smooth tone.

A more “Mulan” and Asian vibe, “Hazey” has a very distinct sound that the rest of the album doesn’t have. The lyrics are incredibly thoughtful, as well. While the band has very specific lyric choices, “Hazey” has more weight to it.

This track has a name that describes the entirety of the album and style that Glass Animals has established. “Gooey” has all of the elements that makes this album one of my favorites: a psychedelic lyric choice, great vocals, and thoughtful production.

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Album Picks: Joanne

Lady Gaga’s “Joanne” is an iconic leap for this classic artist. I grew up with Gaga, and there is something so incredible about watching an artist grow while you do. “Joanne” is arguably her best release, with a style that feels truly natural for her and easy to love. Here are my top picks from Lady Gaga’s “Joanne.”

“Diamond Heart”

A very pressing tempo with lyrics to sing along to, “Diamond Heart” was my first love from “Joanne.” Gaga certainly turned out a great track with “Diamond Heart,” one with a ton of emotion and thoughtful lyrics.


Heartfelt and the star track of the album, “Joanne” is an incredible, slow tune that deserves a place among her most popular.

“Dancin’ In Circles”

Another one of my first loves, “Dancin’ In Circles” is another very upbeat, dance tune. Something to sing along to in the car.

“Million Reasons”

One of my favorite songs ever from Lady Gaga, this track was her most popular from this album. It’s incredible lyric writing paired with thoughtful piano production.

“Hey Girl” (feat. Florence Welch)

A duet with Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine, it’s a combination that I didn’t realize that I needed in my life until now. It’s a great track, especially when you’re in for a chill night with a glass of wine.

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Album Picks: M A N I A

Fall Out Boy recently added their newest installment: “M A N I A.” An experimental time for the band, this album plays with jazzy, swing production and heavy synths and dubstep-esque production. This is experimentation done right- here are my picks from “M A N I A.”

“The Last Of The Real Ones”

The most popular album from the band’s newest release, “The Last Of The Real Ones” is certainly reminiscent of track such as “The Phoenix” and “Centuries”- with heavy beats and a quick tempo. This is an outlier of the album, though, in the best way possible. It’s a throwback to the early days of Fall Out Boy, the time when we fell in love with them in the first place.

“Heaven’s Gate”

“Heaven’s Gate” is one of the most obvious instances of a new swing style that the band is experimenting with. It’s a song to sway with a beer to, which is exciting as the weather begins to warm up.

“Sunshine Riptide (feat. Burna Boy)”

My personal favorite from this album, “Sunshine Riptide” is a blend of this new experimental style and their classic one. A party song, no doubt, it’s also great for a jam session during your next drive.

“Bishops Knife Trick”

A laid back track that contrasts the rest of the album, “Bishops Knife Trick” throw it back to “American Beauty/American Psycho,” arguably the best album that the band has ever released. Lyric heavy with thoughtful production, this is another of the best tracks on the album.

“Young and Menace”

“Young and Menace” is incredibly production heavy. With dubstep-esque synths and bass and minimal vocals, it’s certainly out of the comfort zone for the band; but, it paid off well. It’s a perfect blend of a very heavy style and is presented incredibly tastefully, my largest complaint for any electronic heavy track.

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Album Picks: Here Come The Runts

AWOLNATION is an American alternative rock band, formed in 2009 by Aaron Bruno. Most known for their hit top hit “Sail,” and other great tracks like “Woman Woman” and “Hollow Moon (Bad Wold),” the band has risen to be iconic and incredibly dynamic for their genre. Always playing with new styles, the release of their newest album, “Here Come The Runts,” was exciting for all fans of alternative, not just the band. Here are the top picks from AWOLNATION’s “Here Come The Runts.”


AWOLNATION is known for their blending of styles within their tracks, and “Passion” is no different. The stark contrast between deep bass electronic and steady beats can be a recipe for a terrible track, but AWOLNATION has perfected the craft and ensured an incredible tune.


That being said, the band can perform individual genres very well. “Handyman” is a great example of that. The vocals and slow, steady tune is maybe out of the ordinary, but is done incredibly well, making this one of the best tracks on the album.

“Table For One” 

“Table For One” is, arguably, the best track on the album. The lyrics are thoughtful and the production that follows them fits well and it some of the catchiest that the band has produced.


Grunge, bass, and great lyrics- “Cannonball” is another one of my favorites. Back to a style more branded for the band, “Cannonball” is a great track to just jam out to.

“Tall, Tall Tale” 

The always pushing production gives tons of tension to this track, making it an intriguing listen. “Tall, Tall Tale” has a very steady tempo, but somehow gives a very anxious vibe. The sound additions, such as a light synths and water droplet truly make this production heavy track one of the best.

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Album Picks: G-Eazy’s “The Beautiful & Damned”

On December 15, 2017, American rapper G-Eazy released his fourth studio album by RCA records, “The Beautiful & Damned.” It featured guest appearances from Halsey, Cardi B, Anna of the North, and many others. In 74 minutes and 22 seconds, G-Eazy propels a new style for his personal genre, creating a darker and more inspective vibe. It is certainly worth a listen, at the very least. Here are the top picks from “The Beautiful & Damned.”

Pray For Me

An odd track but certainly one of the best, “Pray For Me” has a ton of personality while maintaining the dark vibe of the entire album. The “Wizard Of Oz” reference is clever, as well. Any well-placed references are worth noting.

Him & I

The most popular track, but certainly worth it. Halsey and G-Eazy make a great combo, and “Him & I” is a very fitting love song for the time, highlighting an unconventional kind of romance.


The production is what makes this track stand out. The lyrics are clever, no doubt, but that’s to be expected. The production is what keeps me coming back to this track.

Pick Me Up (feat. Anna of the North)

The subject matter of “Pick Me Up” makes it worth a few listens. While not being able to decide whether it is about drugs or women, production points play incredibly well into whichever topic.

Summer In December

A very laid back track from this album, “Summer In December” is the breath of fresh air from heavy production and subjects. This is certainly a late night drive with the windows down kind of song.

Mama Always Told Me (feat. Madison Love)

My favorite from this album, “Mama Always Told Me” has an oddly jazzy, swing production that plays very well with the vocals. The lyrics are clever and it’s easy to find yourself singing along.

Love Is Gone (feat. Drew Love) 

Packed with social commentary, “Love Is Gone” is an underrated track. Pay close attention to the lyrics and maybe read them through when you have a chance. Writers work hard to try to portray an ounce of this emotion.

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