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The 5 songs that changed Vampire Weekend's Ezra Koenig's life

Ezra Koenig, the frontman of the indie-rock band Vampire Weekend, is one of the few people who remain a delicate balance as an introspective and empathetic creative. In the ever-evolving and fast-paced entertainment industry, Koenig is sensitive to the changes taking place around him. The songs he composed for the albums by his band Vampire Weekend are some of the most influential and refreshing sounds that not only incorporated elements from music around the world but were also lyrically profound. The extensive range of Koenig’s compositions owes its roots to the diverse musical influences that he was predisposed to from a very young age. 

As a child, he recalled his father bringing home records by the Ramones, Run DMC, Blondie – music that was intrinsically involved with the New York core. In high school, Koenig’s taste shifted to hip-hop, where he was listening to artists like De La Soul, Tribe Called Quest and rock bands like The Grateful Dead and Sublime, which helped shape his musical style immensely. In an interview with Radio X in 2019, Ezra Koenig shared some of the songs that impacted his life in a major way. He associated these songs with certain dominant feelings and looked back upon some fond memories these songs reminded him of.

In the list, he mentioned a song by Meatloaf called ‘I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)’ as a song that takes him back to his childhood. This was a song he heard when he was about eight or nine-years-old. He related how he first heard the song on the radio his parents bought him. One of the reasons the track intrigued him so much as a child was because of its vague lyrics, explaining how it was the mystery involved in this obscure song by an artist he knew nothing about. Koenig detailed how, by the end of the song, he was left with more questions than answers as to what exactly the track was really about. He said, “The name is so weird and the video is so weird, and the lyrics were so mysterious that, I was just like, ‘What is this? What does this mean?’ And I’ve thought about it quite a bit since then,” but didn’t say if he ever got the answer to the query he had as a nine-year-old.

Another song he mentioned was Kate Bush’s ‘Wuthering Heights’. To Koenig, it was one of those songs that were a companion to his angsty 14-year-old self. He said that the song, in particular, had a vibe to it, but that it was the drama that really appealed to him. He continued by saying, “I love the whole song but specifically the kind of guitar solo on the fade-out… One of my favourite guitar solos of all time, actually.” This, coupled with the guitar track from another song from his list, were ones he remembered quite prominently. 

Moving on, the next song was ‘Aerodynamic’ by Daft Punk. Sitting in the car, in the suburbs, while the song blared from the car radio, Koenig remembered feeling the anticipation with which he waited for the guitar track to hit. “There is this part (in the song) where it goes metal guitar solo, metal arpeggios, which I love… everything dropped out and you just heard that mellow guitar solo.” Evidently, the isolated guitar tracks made an impact an impact on Koenig as much as the actual songs did.

He also mentioned ‘Optimistic’ by Sounds of Blackness that reminded him of someone he loved, in this case, his girlfriend. To him, it was a song that had a dreamy feel to it and, at the same time, was an excellent song to dance to. “Even though I’m not much of a dancer, it’s just one of those songs that like, when you witness people dancing to it, it’s energetic and calm and serene, all at the same time,” Koenig said about the song.

And finally, the last on Koenig’s list was a song that gave him just lifted his spirits up at times when he needed it. Eric Prydz’s ‘Call On Me’ was the song that made him feel fantastic and was, in general, a really fun song for him to listen to, so much so that he claimed that the song always puts a smile on his face.

It is indeed a memorable moment when certain songs really resonate with us and help shape us as a person. These are the songs that stay with us for the rest of our lives as a reminder of the important turning points along the way. Here’s hoping some of them make you smile the way certain songs did for Koenig. Below is the complete list of all the songs that impacted Koenig’s life in very crucial ways and helped him grow as an artist and as an individual.

5 songs that changed Ezra Koenig’s life:

  • Meatloaf – ‘I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)’
  • Daft Punk – ‘Aerodynamic’
  • Sounds of Blackness – ‘Optimistic’
  • Kate Bush – ‘Wuthering Heights’
  • Eric Prydz – ‘Call On Me’