“Stepped Out Of My Zone”

There are times where it feels as if I’ve outgrown the chance to discover new music. It’s not true, of course, and new favorite songs still appear in my life on a fairly regular, if somewhat slow, basis. But there was once a point where it happened all the time; I was listening to more music then, for one thing — the radio seemed like a constant companion, and there were clubs to go to, concerts to see — and it felt like I’d trip over something I’d never heard before but grew obsessed with on a weekly basis, if not more.

All of which is to say that the experience of hearing “Elevate” by DJ Khalil at the end of Spider-Man:Into the Spider-Verse was this thing that was at once revelatory and comfortably familiar, in a way.

It’s music as onomatopoeia, the song itself. The riff feeling like tension itself, building and building with every repeat — elevating, of course — while the lyric of the chorus underscores that feeling, explains what you’re listening to: “Gotta go hard/I ain’t got time to waste/I gotta go high/I gotta elevate.”

(The callbacks work to that effect, too; Gotta go hard being met with another, more urgent gotta go hard. It builds the tension even further; ain’t got no time.)

And each verse works off that specific tension, but the song never relaxes, despite that. The whole thing feels amped, excited, exciting; it matches the energy of the (amazing, thrilling) movie it belongs to and the more, leaving you with your head spinning and your feet itching to move. It’s utterly compelling, completely catchy. I left the theater wanting to hear the song again immediately, and listened to the song repeatedly over the next few days, each listen just upping my desire to play it again and again. Elevating.