In 2017, Nathan Zed, a YouTube vlogger, launched a movement called “Good Enough.” The movement was created in order to spread a feeling of positivity and love in the world. Zed wanted to ensure that people knew that they were good enough and to stop comparing themselves to others.
In 2016, Zed made a video called “You’re Not Good Enough.” In this video, he expressed the constant feeling that he was not good enough to participate in things that he enjoyed doing. He explained that if he wanted to pursue singing but wasn’t really good at it, then there was no point in doing it, even if he enjoyed it. Zed realized that he wanted to make this movement after many people could relate to not feeling like they were good enough. He then made a video called “You Actually Are Good Enough” to introduce the “Good Enough” movement and the first wave of shirts that went along with it. In the video, he explains that the shirts are meant to be a way to express in your clothing that you are good enough to pursue your interests. Later that year, Zed also released hoodies. To accompany them, he put out a four-part playlist series.
These playlists tell the story of Caleb, who is a fictional character created by Zed. The playlists tell Caleb’s story of accepting himself as good enough through the songs chosen. In the order of Honey, Thorns, Spiral, and Bloom, the playlists seek to show the way that the character Caleb went through a relationship with a significant other and with himself. Zed created these playlists along with Caleb’s story to show that “growth begins with accepting yourself as enough.”
Part I: HONEY
“Honey,” the first playlist in the series, is named after the honeymoon phase in a relationship, when the people involved are so strongly in love and feel that they will be together forever. In Caleb’s perspective, the songs in the playlist represent a time when there is a feeling that the relationship will become more serious because it is going so good at the current moment. “Honey” begins with “The Love Below — Intro” by Outkast, which sets the tone in 1 minute and 27 seconds with lyrics that say love can bloom anywhere. Something that Zed also spent a lot of time on was making sure that each song flowed nicely into the next, which can be heard throughout the entire playlist series. One song that stands out to me is “Get You” by Daniel Caesar and Kali Uchis, an R&B piece that, while mellow in sound, still presents an uplifting story of being in love. The playlist includes a variety of genres, including R&B, pop, rap, and alternative.
Part II: THORNS
The second playlist in the series transitions to a time when Caleb’s relationship begins to fall apart. The message of doubt and miscommunication is a common topic throughout many of the songs. For those who have been through a breakup, this playlist may be a strong cathartic experience to realize that many other people have felt this way. “Thorns” is a diverse playlist because not only does it demonstrate a relationship falling apart, but also the feeling of not being good enough. The song “6/10” by dodie is one that resonates with me. With strings and piano, the music presents a strong support for the insecurity and self-doubt of the lyrics. Throughout the playlist, the songs tell the story of Caleb as he begins to feel that he is not good enough and wonder if his feelings are reciprocated. We hear the relationship fall apart on “FACE” by BROCKHAMPTON: “But you don’t love me like you say you do/white lies hold the hidden truth,” and “Bad Religion” by Frank Ocean: “It’s a bad religion to be in love with someone who could never love you.”
Part III: SPIRAL
“Spiral” moves on to tell Caleb’s story as he is struggling to accept himself and to believe that he is good enough. Zed states that this playlist shows Caleb in his “lowest mental state.” The playlist begins with “Alyssa Interlude” by Vince Staples, which sets the mood for the initial message that goodbyes are always painful. A few songs later, we hear “She fooled me twice, it’s all my fault” on “I Fall Apart” by Post Malone, which reinforces the feeling that the reason the relationship is failing is a personal fault. The songs show a complete downward spiral, hence the name of the playlist, and hit the lowest point during the last two songs. The second to last song, “u”, by Kendrick Lamar, preaches the message that he is a failure and that the world doesn’t need him. However, the playlist ends with “1-800-273-8255” by Logic, which begins with a cry for help and ends with the reaffirmation, “I don’t wanna cry anymore, I wanna feel alive, I don’t even wanna die anymore,” nicely transitioning into the finale.
The finale of the series, “Bloom,” symbolizes a personal growth in Caleb’s self-confidence and love. From “Interlude: The Glory is in You” to “I’m Good,” the playlist encompasses a feel good vibe that incorporates self-love and positivity. Every song focuses on an aspect of bettering yourself and making changes to your life. On “Wanna Be Happy?,” Kirk Franklin expresses making a change for the better: “If you’re tired of being the same/if you’re tired of things not changing/it’s time for you get out the way.” The last song of the playlist, “End” by Frank Ocean, nicely wraps up the series: “Looks like all we’ve got is each other.” For me, the playlist is a good pick-up on a bad day, with upbeat songs that are danceable and meaningful.
The playlist series does an exceptional job at telling a story through the songs. Although for some, it may be hard to listen to the playlists because of their past experiences, the message communicated is important. These playlists serve to not only show the story of Caleb as he goes through a relationship with himself and a loved one, but also to relate to the lives of others. On Twitter, Zed stated, “I’m excited to see how people are gonna interpret this story depending on where they are in their lives/their own memories.” The “Good Enough” playlists are an effective way of showing people that accepting yourself is a process, and it is important to realize that while it may not feel like it at some points, everyone will be able to bloom.
Yarina Ruiz is a dual-enrollment student at Valencia College. She loves all things music as well as re-watching every single episode of The Office.