If you’ve only been listening to songs all these years, boy are you about to feel foolish! While I concede that listening is the most preferred of your senses to use on music, I’ve got news for you. If you aren’t smelling your songs, you are missing out on a whole new world of experience.
Some songs are a bit on the nose with their smells, by telling you what they smell like in the lyrics. For example, “Hotel California” offers up the “warm smell of colitas rising up through the air.” You may not know, but colitas is weed. “Hotel California” indeed smells like dank weed, a danker highway-adjacent hotel, and lots of cheap champagne.
Similarly, you already know that “Margaritaville” by Jimmy Buffett smells like sunscreen and paying way too much for a hamburger. And “Lose Yourself” by Eminem smells like vomiting mom’s spaghetti.
“Hello” by Adele is a good candidate. “Hello” smells like the tissues that have the Vick’s VapoRub™ lotion in them, so you can heal your tissue-chapped nose. You’ve been sobbing, but sometimes love does that. Every revolution, every empire was built on heartbreak, and girrrrl, you are as strong as you ever have been. Also, “Hello” has subtle notes of cookie dough from the tube, as well as cat dander.
Let’s try another one.
You may be tempted to think that Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” smells like rings of smoke through the trees, or an exploding blimp, or even fresh carpentry of a long, wooden bannister headed skyward. But don’t succumb to that temptation. Because “Stairway” smells like an old copy of Rolling Stone magazine from the 70s, being leafed through by a couple of pretentious music nerds.
OK, it’s time for a quiz to see if you can now smell songs: What does the 2004 banger “Yeah,” performed by Usher, Lil Jon, and Ludacris smell like?
You may think it smells like sweat dropping down one’s balls, because you are confusing it for the Lil Jon song “Get Low.” “Yeah” actually reeks of Red Bull Vodka and sweaty grinding in the club. So, I guess, in a way, you were right.
Pump some quarters into my smell-o-vision jukebox.
“Stand by Me” by Ben E King smells like the aftermath of a passing thunderstorm in the summer.
“Land Down Under” by Men at Work smells like an outhouse in the outback, where the water flushes counter clockwise.
“Like a Virgin” by Madonna smells like a field full of wild deflowers.
“Friends in Low Places” by Garth Brooks smells like the unconventional fried food offerings of a state fair. Mostly, deep fried butter.
“Cats in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin smells like a leather glove, all oiled up and broken in, that sits under your bed because you never got to have a catch with your dad.
“Walking on the Sun” by Smash Mouth smells like Guy Fieri getting out of hot yoga.
“I’ll Make Love to You” by Boyz II Men smells like making love all through the night. It sounds better than it smells, especially when crooned and harmonized by four romantically- motivated boys/men. Not so great..
“Pink” by Aerosmith smells like someone trying to hide of the mothball smell permanently embedded in their scarf drawer.
“Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes smells like sauerkraut. I don’t know why, but it just does.
“Happy” by Pharrell smells like a single Yankee Candle that combines clean laundry, apple orchard, Christmas wreath, Bahama breeze, buttercream, and eucalyptus into one horrible, overwhelming sensory experience.
“Proud Mary” by Tina Turner smells like knee-length leather boots, while “Proud Mary” by Creedence Clearwater Revival smells like dirty socks.
“Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears smells like corporal punishment in a high school hallway.
“Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon smells like all of the plated wedding dinners getting cold and congealed as you and your tablemates dance for 45 minutes.
“Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana actually smells like adult apathy.
“The Boys are Back in Town” by Thin Lizzy smells like Brett Kavanaugh’s beer breath.
“Courtesy of the Red White and Blue” by Toby Keith smells like a freshly unfurled flag, made in China.
What does your favorite song smell like? Join the conversation with @thepromptmag on Twitter and let us know!