People talk about how certain songs and albums changed their outlook on life. How they can remember exactly where they were and what they were going through when they first heard a song for the first time. Music can literally change lives. I can attest to it.
The world had just recently shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic. At the same time, I was taking one of my English electives, journalism. Since interviewing students was something that we could no longer do, our teacher assigned us an album review. I knew exactly which one I was going to do. In the fall of 2019, I became addicted to listening to The Weeknd. I instantly fell in love with his discography and was thrilled to hear about his upcoming album, “After Hours.”
It was midnight and the album was fully released. Lying in bed with my headphones on, the beat dropped in “Alone Again” and I felt like I was transcending into another universe. As the rest of the tracks played, I was moved and couldn’t believe my ears.
The next day, while listening to every song once again, I poured my heart out onto the document. At the time, I didn’t think of it as an assignment. It was fun. I didn’t even find it difficult to incorporate both The Weeknd’s background and how it beautifully blended with my favorite tracks. I remember feeling like I had nailed the assignment, but I wasn’t prepared for what it would actually give me.
A day or two later, I got an email from my teacher saying “I’d like to put your article on The Statesman’s website.” I was shocked. Only if you worked on staff did you get your story put on the website. A journalism student’s article amidst the sea of staff writers. Thrilled to have my first-ever story published, I immediately responded “Yes!”
At the same time, I was debating on what to take for classes in my senior year of high school. I could either take another year of science to fully round out my chances of getting a scholarship if I so chose to attend a South Dakota college or I could write for the newspaper for a whole year. Considering I still didn’t even know where I wanted to go, my mom suggested I take a chance on the paper.
Turns out, saying yes to that one email changed the trajectory of my life. It didn’t take me long to fit in with the newspaper environment. Throughout the course of my senior year, I ventured a few times into feature stories on people, but stuck mainly to entertainment and satire pieces, doing numerous reviews on movies and albums. Because I loved the fast-paced environment of the newsroom, the personalities of my co-workers and getting to write daily, my only disappointment leaving high school was I didn’t get involved with the paper sooner.
Enter the Reporter. Moving out of state to a place where I didn’t know anyone, there was only one thing I knew for sure. I would work for the campus newspaper as soon as I possibly could. The day after I moved in, I picked up an application and promptly turned it in within two hours of walking into the office. As they say, the rest is history.
Had The Weeknd not decided to become an artist and release “After Hours,” I would probably be at a different college with different less cool people and potentially a different major. Just a 17-song album led me to find my passions in life. I attribute the majority of my success to “After Hours:” the album that changed my life.
Write to Emma Johnson at email@example.com