It Feels Like Summer: How Music Impacts Our Emotions, Memories, and Lives



Music Video for Bodies by Muna and the Knocks, Dr. Zanotti’s song of the summer

“Hips don’t lie because my hips don’t lie,” Ezra Rosenthal, a rising senior described his spirited summer, failing to leave out any detail. Fueled with excitement, Ezra can’t help but dance a little while sharing what the last few months were like. “Hips Don’t Lie” by Shakira is Ezra’s song of the summer; it reminds him of “dancing and chilling with [his] homies” while recalling the memory of hanging out on the “rooftops of Tel Aviv with [his friends] from the east coast.” 

“Hips Don’t Lie” by Shakira’s music video, Ezra Rosenthal’s song of the summer (Shakira).

Many people, including students and faculty at Milken, feel music’s power in their lives. So how can one go from sobbing into pillows to the feeling of wanting to run into a meadow, not a care in the world, as joy pushes each overexcited step? And how is it that one single song, a composition of words and notes can somehow encapsulate a whole set of emotions, and feelings so strong that they can transport one to a different time and place? From bringing back dementia patients’ memories to helping us lay down new ones, music has taught people to take a look back at the past, and appreciate the memories they’ve made.

Ezra isn’t the only one who feels carried away when listening to a song that reminds them of cherished memories. Ms. Mavrin shares, “[In the] summer there were some really tough busy days I had, so on the way from work I would put [“False Alarm” by Matoma and Becky Hill]  and it would just lift me right up.” Many people like Ms. Mavrin with the aid of some let it go belting or just the right beat drop, can feel like… I believe I can fly, thanks to the power of music.   

Music Video from False Alarm by Matoma and Becky Hill, Ms. Mavrin’s song of the summer (Matoma).

Researchers have found that memory is boosted by music, so the simple act of listening to a song while driving down a windy street or the song that is played in the background of a hangout with friends allows us to retain those memories for much longer periods of time. Physician Oliver Sacks noted, “Musical emotions and musical memory can survive long after other forms of memory have disappeared. Part of the reason for the durable power of music appears to be that listening to music engages many parts of the brain, triggering connections and creating associations.” 

Listening to music reactivates the brain areas closely tied to memory and emotion. By listening to songs from their childhood, dementia patients regained some of their memories. The close ties that memory and music have are why one can not only perfectly remember the lyrics of a song that they used to listen to as a kid, but also why when they hear that song, they can feel the sand beneath their feet.

Sunflower, by Rex Orange County, Ella Breskal’s song of the summer (Rex Orange County).

The memories that someone creates, preserved by the influence of music, allow one to enhance their emotions and through that create happier lives.  As Ella Breskal ’25 shared, “I use music for everything, music lets me express my emotions, it doesn’t matter if I’m sad, happy, tired, excited, or not feel anything, in particular, music always adds so much joy to my day.”So the next time one finds themselves crying a river, hit the jams, and…if you don’t believe me just watch! BADATABADATABADATAAAAA….NANANAAAAA