Some may say the phrase “this song saved my life” or “this band saved my life” is overused or exaggerated. Some may say that a person or a group of people can’t have that much of a positive impact on someone. The proof, though, is in a compilation released by Hopeless Records on November 9 called “Songs That Saved My Life,” which shows that music truly can save lives, and that it not only impacts the listeners, but the musicians as well.
The principle of “Songs That Saved My Life” (STSML) is simple, touching and important – bands choose a song that has helped them personally through a difficult time and cover it. The album is sold with all proceeds going toward suicide prevention and mental health charities, including the Crisis Text Line, Hope For The Day, The Trevor Project and To Write Love On Her Arms, according to STSML’s website.
The album opens with Neck Deep covering “Torn,” performed by Natalie Imbruglia and originally written by Ednaswap. The pop-punk band from the United Kingdom plays it safe with the song, not venturing far from Imbruglia’s version. Vocalist Ben Barlow’s typically underproduced voice is clearly refined for the style of the song, but it would have potentially been good for the impact of the song to include more of Neck Deep’s love-it-or-hate-it sound. Covers have a tendency to feel uncomfortable when they too closely resemble the original, and while overall this cover is good, there are hints of awkwardness in it.
Movements, a band best known for the song “Daylily” about a girl suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, follows Neck Deep with “Losing My Religion,” originally performed by R.E.M., Movements did not have to stray far from their personal sound to create an unawkward and pleasant cover. The listener would probably have to be very familiar with R.E.M. to quickly detect the differences between the original version and Movements’ version, but, oddly, it doesn’t have that strange “this is definitely a cover” vibe that seems to be common with covers.
The true gem of the album is the fourth song, Dance Gavin Dance’s rendition of “Semi-Charmed Life” by Third Eye Blind. Dance Gavin Dance (DGD) is known for a funky, screaming, deliciously odd style that genuinely works in the 90s rock hit.
Highlights ranging from the guitar riffs that DGD adds to the cover, to everything about clean vocalist Tilian Pearson’s breathy voice, to Jon Mess’ screams during the verses, to the changes in tempo all will leave you punching your steering wheel, replaying and singing along until you feel your eardrums begin to protest. And you won’t even care. You’ll replay it so much you feel bad for the other songs on the album. You won’t be able to fully wake up in the morning until you’ve heard it. You’ll tell all your friends about it until they get annoyed with you. 12/10 rating. DGD is magical and wonderful and so is this song.
In total, out of the 12 songs on the album, only five stand out, but STSML has a power that I believe is unique compared to most other albums. Not only is it a charitable project, but it has provided an outlet for artists to share songs that have helped them, and therefore listening to the album itself can impact the listeners. As a listener, to know that a band or artist feels so passionately about and has such a strong emotional connection to a song is an intangible and beautiful way to reach fans.
I wish I could say that the all the covers on the album held the same quality as “Semi-Charmed Life,” “Torn,” and “Losing My Religion,” but I can’t. I apologize, but I appreciate the sentiment of the compilation. Despite the aforementioned critiques of the contents of “Songs That Saved My Life,” let this be known—if you choose to purchase the compilation, you will feel confident knowing that even if you only enjoy a few of the songs, your $10 went to a worthy cause.
If you or someone you know at UNH is struggling with mental illness and/or suicidal thoughts, visit Psychological and Counseling Services in Smith Hall or online at unh.edu/pacs/ or call (603) 862-2090.