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It goes without saying that this year has been weird, and we are all craving some comfort and familiarity at a time like this. Sometimes you just need something to help you get away for a little while, even if just mentally.
Nostalgic music tends to do just that for music fans of all kinds, and besides bringing you right back to your frosted tips, your guyliner, or your low-cut hip-hugger phase, it really does bring us a level of calm and joy when we hear an old favorite ringing out of our speakers.
And that is okay, and something I think we all need right now.
Our musical tastes tend to evolve and develop as we grow and get older. But there’s something special about that beat drop or opening guitar riff that can instantaneously take you back in time. But why does it actually feel so good?
Well there’s actually some science behind it. Our old buddy, dopamine, is the culprit. And we’re getting a fat hit of it nearly every time a song stimulates certain areas of our brains, according to neuroimaging studies.
Various studies have found that even from birth, humans have an uncanny ability to recognize music, commit it to memory, and draw very specific associations from it during particularly formative parts of our lives. This happens almost immediately when you hear a tune you know, lighting up your brain’s visual cortex like a Christmas tree!
Studies have also shown that music has an amazing ability to recollect memories from the listener, and that’s part of the nostalgia behind it. It quite literally brings your mind back to different points and life events you’ve experienced; anything from your middle school dances, to spring weekend college parties, wedding day, trips with friends, and holidays with your loved ones.
Even more specifically, the music we listened to as teenagers is said to be incredibly influential to us for the rest of our lives, as it occurred during the most formative years of our brain development — and more importantly, when we started coming into our own unique personality.
So not only is that nostalgic feeling something we seek out for a little throwback vibe, it’s quite literally a source of calming comfort for your brain’s neural pathways.
+ Read more on Flypaper: “Why Do We Like Sad Music So Much? On ‘Life and Death’ from Lost“
With everything happening in the world these days, comfort is something we all want, and deserve lots of, after getting through this crazy year. So it’s okay to blast that old-school mixtape that’s been sitting in your car for ten years, it’s okay to rock out at the grocery store when their playlist is unexpectedly awesome, it’s okay to have your guilty-pleasure Spotify playlist on in heavy rotation.
Music makes us feel. Feeling makes us human. And nostalgic music makes us feel good.
So break into your running man in the kitchen! Embarrass your kids with an epic air guitar solo in the pickup line! Sing your heart out! And bring yourself all the way back to a simpler time that makes you smile — you deserve it.
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