This past Sept. 7 marked the three-year anniversary of Mac Miller’s tragic death. Naturally, I spent the day listening to past albums, watching old YouTube interviews and live performances and, yes, sobbing. Mac was and still is one of my favorite artists of all time, from when I was first introduced to him with “Best Day Ever,” to saying goodbye with “Swimming” and finally, to grieving with the posthumous “Circles.”
Knowing you’ll never get new music from your favorite artist is disheartening, but luckily I can listen to these songs over and over forever. I know some Mac fans might be underwhelmed by the amount of the old rap that made Mac famous on this list, but honestly, that wasn’t my era. I loved the soulful, instrumental and almost jazz music of his later years — “The Divine Feminine” and “Swimming” Mac Miller era. That being said, here are my favorite Mac Miller songs ranked from my playlist-necessities to my more-than-occasional listens.
“And you know you're dead wrong, you're in love with a lie / All I, all I, all I wanna do is free your mind / We don't see no lines, we don't color inside.”
This song is the ultimate windows-down, upbeat song. It seems to make its way on any good-mood playlist I ever make. The beginning is slow, but as soon as the drums and bass hit, you get an overwhelming urge to bop your head to the beat. While most songs on his “Swimming” album are sad with deep, often dark underlying meanings about depression and addiction, “Ladders” earns its rank for its positivity and emotional relief.
“Isn't it funny? We can make a lot of money / Buy a lot of things just to feel a lot of ugly.”
“2009” is the most difficult to listen to as it talks in detail about Mac’s struggles with addiction, mental health and his attempts at recovery. Knowing the outcome makes it all the more depressing. Nonetheless, it’s beautifully depressing. It sounds even better live both vocally and instrumentally. While you wouldn’t know by his early rap music alone, Mac’s late albums and live performances confirm that he was a strong singer, even among a live orchestra. The amount of times I have watched the NPR performance is troubling to say the least.
“Swear the height be too tall so like September I fall.”
As far as sad songs go, this one is a close second. The video appears to be set in a coffin, and the lyrics, like the lyrics above, have been thought to predict the tragic ending of Mac’s life. But prior to his death, I assumed it was an optimistic song about someone finally taking the steps to better themselves. I believe the two messages can coexist. Mac could’ve been hopeful for the future while also struggling with his recovery. The song’s lyrics perfectly depict the difficulties with sobriety and depression that he was facing in the months prior to his passing.
“Best Day Ever”
“No matter where life takes me, find me with a smile / Pursuit to be happy, only laughing like a child.”
This song is arguably Mac’s first big hit. Personally, it was the first song I heard that got me to keep listening. It’s upbeat and reflects his early presence in music as the funny rapper with big dreams of making it. Interestingly enough, his attitude toward fame and money changes almost entirely in his late work. While you won’t see any of his other early hits on this list, this one will always be the first song I heard and enjoyed for its energy. By default, it ranks among my favorites.
“I spent the whole day in my head / Do a little spring cleaning, I'm always too busy dreaming.”
While I had mixed feelings about Mac’s posthumous album “Circles,” this song changed my mind entirely. I felt lucky to hear more music, whether he was dead or alive. There’s no reason his pre-recorded music should never see the light. As someone who struggles with anxiety, the lyrics in “Good News” portray some of the internal dialogue that comes with that obstacle. This song and the album at large were well-received by me.
“Wanna get a mansion, a jacuzzi / A theater to watch my movies / Couple whips and lots of fancy things / The kids they call the Goonies.”
This song was great, and the new feature from MGM took it even further. Even the song’s recent popularity and overuse on TikTok can’t ruin this one for me. It’s the perfect song to sing and dance to with your friends, whether in a party setting or the backseat of a car. It has lived on my party playlist since 2012 when it came out, and it will live there long after.
“And when you hungry I can chef you up some stir fry / Get you some dessert wine, elevate this third eye.”
The first “The Divine Feminine” song to make the list, and let me just say, when Mac Miller wrote a whole album dedicated to Ariana Grande and his love for women, he raised the bar for men everywhere. This song makes me believe in love, despite knowing the outcome of that relationship. The romantic lyricism and smooth, soft melody make this song another certified happy song for me.
“Binge watched ‘Sopranos’, made it all the way to season five / I am her, she is I.”
Yet another song from “The Divine Feminine,” this song gives me butterflies as if it were written personally for me. The album, this song in particular, was the first of Mac’s to enter jazz territory. While it might seem repetitive, it still never gets boring. It’s catchy, well-written and the trumpet makes it a timeless hit. Frankly, I wish there was more music like it instrumentally, and I wish Mac was here to make it.