Today is the 2 year anniversary of a certain band’s sophomore album release day. At the time, I had no idea this particular album was going to turn my world around, and turn it around for the better. The band responsible for said album and the shift in my world is 5 Seconds of Summer.
If you know me, my iTunes library is pretty eclectic. I have everything from classic rock to Broadway, and punk rock to classical. Of all the albums currently taking up residence in my library, there are two albums that broke me and pieced me back together again. One of those two, impacted me in a way that no other album ever has. And that album is 5SOS’s album, Sounds Good Feels Good.
On this day last year, I did exactly what I’m doing right now. Writing about the album that literally turned my life around in one of the most positive ways I could have never imagined. I’ve said it many times before and I’ll say it many times in the future. SGFG is the first album in which I related to every single track in some way, and it is the first album that had a profound emotional impact on me. I remember listening to it the night it downloaded on my iTunes and crying through most of my first listen. The next morning, on my way to work, as the tracks began to sink in and take on more meaning, I ugly cried my entire 45 minute commute (it was in bumper to bumper traffic).
When I think about how this album has impacted me, I’m always reminded of how I never connected to music in high school and my early college years the way I connect to music now. That’s not to say that I didn’t connect in any fashion when I was younger, because I did. There were a lot of songs that helped me get through a variety of times – both good and bad. But when I really look back, it’s clear to see how my connection with songs and music wasn’t nearly as deep as it is now. I realize it’s because I needed time to grow up and experience life. I was so caught up in my dance bubble at the time that I hadn’t experienced a whole lot of “real life” – for lack of a better phrase. After all, how can one truly relate to songs that talk about relationships, social/political issues, and other life experiences when you hadn’t experienced them for yourself? As I do every time I listen to SGFG, I find myself asking, “where the fuck was this album 16-17 years ago when I was in high school?!” And every time, I realize that I’m far more grateful that this album exists now and that it was released when it was.
Last year, I asked you to take a short side trip with me as I shared a story with you. I’d like to share that story again with some small updates. It all comes back to SGFG, I promise.
For 23 years, dance was my life. I started dancing when I was 5 years old when my mom asked me if I wanted to try ballet and tap. By the time I was 12, dance was no longer a recreational activity for me. It was my goal and my dream to become a professional ballet dancer with a major ballet company. My training schedule went from classes 3 days a week, 3-6 hours a day, to training/rehearsing 6 days a week, 6-12 hours a day. Training/rehearsal hours were even longer during tech week, show weeks, and show days. As I got older and started studying other styles of dance, my dream shifted from being a dancer in a ballet company to being a dancer in a contemporary company. Unfortunately, the dream of dancing professionally in a company didn’t become a reality. Let me re-phrase that. My dream partially came true. I danced semi-professionally with a small civic company in a small city out in the middle of nowhere west Texas. It just wasn’t the dream I’d dream of.
I still vividly remember when I realized my ultimate dream of dancing/performing professionally wasn’t going to happen the way I’d hoped it would. And it was a huge disappointment for me. I felt like I’d failed myself. But I couldn’t give up dancing that easily and I decided that I was going to dance as long as I could and take any opportunity that came my way. And looking back, there are some really incredible things I did get to do that I might not have been able to do if my ultimate dream had come true. When I started dealing with injuries on a near constant basis, I knew my body was telling me enough was enough. Deciding to pursue a new career path was one of the scariest and hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. Dance was who I was. Dance was my escape. The dance studio and the stage were my home. They were the places where I could let go and be me; where I could freely express my thoughts and feelings through movement without worry about being judged – to an extent. I was “judged” on my technique and performance abilities constantly. That comes with the territory. Dance wasn’t a hobby, it was my way of life. Dance taught me so many things about life and about myself. Dance shaped me to be the person I am today. Going from dancing every day for 14 years of my life to not dancing at all cold turkey was extremely difficult. It still is.
I shared that story with you again to say this: SGFG helped me come to a big revelation if you will. When I say it broke me and pieced me back together, I mean it. I just didn’t realize it had done that until New Year’s Eve that same year after seeing one of Michael’s tweets. That album, along with Michael’s tweet, helped me realize that it’s okay to struggle with figuring out who I am all over again. It’s a long, difficult process to discover who you are in general. But to re-discover yourself after a big life/career change… that was a whole new beast I had been in no way prepared for. And I think anyone who has faced and/or is facing that change would agree with me.
To this day, Sounds Good Feels Good reminds me that I am not alone and that there are so many other people fighting right along beside me to discover who we are, and fighting to find our place in this crazy world we live in. To this day, this band and this album constantly remind me that it’s okay to be feeling the way I am, which is totally and completely lost 98% of the time. Every time I listen to this album, I’m reminded to keep doing what I’m doing, to keep fighting, even on the days I don’t want to, because I will discover who I am again when the time is right. I still find comfort in the reminders that 5sos gives me through their music and especially through SGFG. And that is something I will always be grateful for.
Luke, Michael, Ashton, and Calum:
It’s been two years since this album dropped, and I still can’t seem to find the words to even begin to express the amount of gratitude I have for what you’ve given me through your music, and especially Sounds Good Feels Good. But I’m going to try. Again.
Truly and sincerely, thank you. Thank you for helping me come to the realizations that I have in the last couple of years and for always reminding me in some way that it’s okay to be feeling the way I am. It’s like I said earlier, I do wish SGFG had been around when I was in high school, but I am very, very, glad that it exists right now. It helped me through so much in the first year that it was released, and it still helps me through rough patches now. With all the insane shit that we see happening across the world these days, I know I wouldn’t cope as well as I do if not for this album.
Thank you for constantly reminding me that I’m not alone in the struggle that I face right now, and that one day things will fall into place. Thank you for using the platform you’ve been given to be, and give, a voice to me and so many people who feel like they don’t have one. Thank you for writing an album full of songs that so many people can relate to. Thank you for writing songs that address issues that many people are hesitant to talk about. Thank you for inspiring and encouraging me and thousands of others to not be afraid to share our own struggles. And in turn, thank you, for being courageous and sharing your own struggles with us. It seems far less terrifying to open up to those I’m comfortable with when the four of you have been open about what you’re going through in front of the entire world.
Thank you for the constant reminders that it’s okay if we don’t always fit in, that’s it’s okay to be different and to stand out. It’s okay to be who we are. And if people don’t like us for who we are, then it’s their loss not ours. Thank you for always reminding us that no matter who we are, where we’re from, or where we’re at in life, we’re all struggling with our own battles and it’s okay to not be okay. Those constant reminders and the comfort they provide mean more than you can even imagine.
It will never be enough in my eyes, I’ll never stop saying it, and I hope I can tell you in person one day:
Thank you for everything you’ve done and everything you still do. Not just for me, but for anyone who is a fan. And thank you for Sounds Good Feels Good, the album that broke me and pieced me back together, and became my own personal safety pin.
Happy 2 Years of Sounds Good Feels Good!