1. Sing at the top of your lungs, with reckless abandon.
Not all of us are blessed with the voice of a pop star, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still sing loud and proud when you want to. In fact, there’s a whole bunch of scientific evidence that shows that singing can decrease depression, improve your immune system, and even help your memory.
Karaoke is a perfect place to do this, and can make you even feel like a pop star for a night. (Just ask this guy.) If you’re shy, you can always ask your friends to join in and help you, and the words are all right there on the screen in case you draw a blank. Here are some crowd-pleasing karaoke songs that are basically impossible to mess up if you need some help deciding what to belt.
2. Catch some world-famous jazz on the streets of New Orleans.
You don’t need to buy expensive tickets to a show to see some of the world’s best jazz music; all you need to do is take a walk around the French Quarter’s Frenchman and Bourbon streets. Live music is everywhere you go in this town, and music spills out from venues into the streets after showtime. As people stop to take in some of the music and dance, before you know it you’re in the middle of a full-on party.
New Orleans hosts an annual JazzFest every year in the spring, but you can avoid the massive crowds and go anytime — the music will always be there.
3. Request music from a jukebox and experience the joy of your song coming on after a long wait.
Playing music on a jukebox is an ordeal. First you have to gather up change. Then you have the daunting task of selecting a song from the hundreds of choices, and make sure that it’s one that won’t kill everyone’s vibe. Then comes the waiting. You have to wait…and wait…and wait, all the while refusing to use the bathroom in case your song comes on. Then, FINALLY, your song plays. And it never sounded so good.
4. Make a mixtape for someone you love.
And receive one too. Nothing compares to the thrill of receiving a mixtape — or a mix CD, or a personalized playlist — and reading into each and every song selection, transition, and artwork. Read this guide to the fine art of mixtape seduction if you need some help getting started.
5. Get lost in a record store.
Spend an afternoon zoning out and getting lost in the treasure. You’ll discover classics and favorites you may have forgotten about, and come across new records Spotify would never tell you about.
6. See a symphony orchestra play Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, “Eroica.”
Beethoven composed Symphony No. 3 while combatting hearing loss, and in the pit of depression, contemplating suicide. Ultimately, he decided to throw himself into his music, and this has become one of his most defining, passion-filled works. Even if you’re not a huge fan of classical music, hearing it live can be a really powerful experience.
Watch a video of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra of Spain performing the piece on YouTube.
7. Get on stage during a concert.
Because everyone should stand in those lights at least once.
8. See a show in a gorgeous outdoor venue with a view.
Like the Red Rocks Music Amphitheater in Morrison, Colo. The historic venue has been open since 1906, and has been the the home to a wealth of amazing live music over the past century. There’s nothing like taking in a show while sitting on the side of a mountain. And when night falls, you’ll be under the wide-open starry skies, which makes it an extra-magical place to see your favorite musical act.
If you can’t make it to Red Rocks, here are five other great outdoor venues around the U.S. with stunning views worth checking out too.
9. Go to a music festival.
Like Coachella, or any other festival where you camp, really. It’ll be crowded, hot, and you likely won’t shower all weekend, but the memories of running around to catch different acts with your friends will last you a lifetime.
10. Have a song written for you. (Or write one for someone else!)
There’s nothing as special as hearing a song that’s written JUST for you, about you. (Just make sure it’s not a hateful song. That’s another story.) And vice versa, an original song or tune can be the most thoughtful gift for a friend or love interest, and you can maybe more easily articulate the way you feel about someone when you put it to a melody.
11. Have Rihanna grab your booty during a meet and greet.
Because why not??
12. Sing along with a thousand other people at the same time.
There are many concerts where you can feel everyone singing the chorus together, but Ben Folds takes this moment to the next level.
At nearly every show, the singer plays “Not the Same,” from 2001’s Rockin’ the Suburbs, and directs the audience to sing along in three-part accompaniment. At Folds’ command, hundreds of voices combine to form an A minor chord, then rise up to a C major. The effect is pretty goosebump-inducing and resonates incredibly well in an enclosed space. It gives you a little glimpse of why people have gathered to sing choral music for centuries — there’s nothing like the power of human voices in harmony.
13. Listen to your favorite album with high-quality headphones.
You’ll pick up nuances in the music you won’t be able to hear through your car stereo or Apple earbuds. You can close your eyes and feel completely immersed in the music, transported into your own personal space, no matter how much hustle and bustle is around you.
14. See a musical on Broadway.
There’s something very unique about seeing a show on Broadway — watching a story come to life through song and dance by some of the most talented performers in the world can be an extremely transportive experience.
And while tickets may be pricey, most shows have the option to rush tickets or enter a lottery an hour before the performance for tickets as cheap as $20. Just get in line early.
15. Listen to a record on vinyl all the way through.
It was the first way people really heard recorded music, and the subtleties and ritual involved in putting a record on and dropping the needle can make you really slow down and focus on the music you’re hearing. Sometimes it’s nice not to have options and to just let yourself get lost in a full-length album.
16. Watch a rap battle.
A rap battle is like a boxing match, but with elaborate and clever wordplay instead of actual punches. The best part? As a member of the audience, you get to be the judge and decide who wins. There’s nothing like that tension that hangs in the air while two talented artists try to outthink one another on their feet. Sure, improvised jazz and and jam bands are unpredictable too — but they’re not trying to win a competition of wit and charisma. There’s something so elemental about a rap battle: There are no instruments, just two people fighting it out over the mic.
17. Shamelessly rock out to a song in your car with your friends…
18. Or by yourself, with the windows down and the wind blowing in your hair.
Nothing feels more freeing or therapeutic than driving with your music turned up loud — whether it’s during a sunny summer day, or a more reflective nighttime drive.
19. Get sweaty at a basement show.
It’s all fine and good to go to a show at a big venue, but sometimes you really need to be in the pit of the action to really FEEL the music. Let yourself get sweaty and squished in with other fans who share your passion, and lose yourself in the energy of the room.
20. And dance your face off at party where your favorite DJ is playing.
Is there anything better than when a DJ segues from one amazing song into another and the transition is so seamless and beautiful it almost brings you to tears? It’s a special moment when you find that DJ that knows just how to perfectly read the room and keep things moving through the night — where every song is “your song.” Find that DJ, grab your friends, and give your body over to the beat.
21. Learn to play a song on an instrument.
It’s an insanely rewarding and awesome feeling to be able to sit down with an instrument and make music happen. And when you practice enough, sometimes there’s a moment where the muscle memory all comes together and suddenly you look down and…it sounds so much like the song that you listen to all the time. And it’s you who’s making those notes come out of thin air! That’s a feeling of wonder no one should miss.