Illustration by Paddy Mills

Long after the pain of term papers and problem sets have passed, we remember the soundtrack that defined our college days and nights. You know the songs we’re talking about — the ones whose titles can’t be recalled without singing, out loud or to yourself, the opening lines.

We polled the seniors whose portraits open this issue about their favorite college music and created an eclectic playlist for our readers to enjoy. Their answers are a window into the soundtrack of the Class of 2019. 

 Hearing how much music meant to these seniors inspired us to ask a few more people who appear in the summer issue to tell us about the music that helped create lasting college memories.

The catchy lyrics of Earth, Wind & Fire’s hit “September” transport Nicole Van Den Heuvel ’81, the director of Rice’s Center for Career Development, back to her days as an undergrad at Brown College. 

“I remember dancing to this song at so many Rice parties. My kids love this song too, and we dance to it at all family parties.”  For Anastasia Bolshakov ’15, Ke$ha’s “Tik Tok” and Walk the Moon’s “Shut Up and Dance” were the unforgettable songs “played at every college night I ever attended.” For Jarvis Miller ’16, it was “anything by Mumford & Sons.” Van Den Heuvel, Bolshakov and Miller are among those who offer advice in our feature, “A Guide to Life After Rice.”

For Leslie Contreras Schwartz ’02, who was recently named Houston’s poet laureate, R.E.M.’s “Nightswimming” takes her back to being “a young student at Rice listening to pirated music in my boyfriend’s (now husband’s) dorm room.” For faculty member D. Colette Nicolaou, the subject of this issue’s Wisdom interview, the song that was on frequent rotation at college house parties was Real McCoy’s “Another Night.”    

Tanvi Nagpal ’16, who wrote us a letter from her home in New Delhi, recalls that studio all-nighters were accompanied by a heavy dose of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space.” “Some nights, it was not uncommon to see the whole studio dancing to this number through the glass windows facing Valhalla.” For President David Leebron, whose popular column appears each quarter, Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” takes him back to undergraduate days.   

What song defined your college experience? Email lynngosnell@rice.edu or give us a call at 713-348-6768 to let us know what you think of this issue. 

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