I considered not making one of these playlists this year, but someone said that traditions are most worth protecting when everything else has changed. My instinct with traditions is sometimes just to snap old things off and find something new to do. Maybe a couple of years of therapy will tell me why, but until then, I figured it was pretty low stakes to just make one.
And to my surprise (happens every time), it was an enjoyable exercise and I’m reasonably happy with the result, even though it contains some really basic hits and I probably left out a whole lot of other great stuff.
One thing I noticed as I was pulling in favorites I’d saved throughout the year: there was a tendency towards quiet or mid-tempo songs this time around. Probably a reflection of staying home amidst an apocalypse unfolding in slow motion. In trying to balance that out, I rediscovered a few songs I’d saved but never got back to, like the opening song Don’t Die. As usual, I tried to build in continuity of themes and good transitions, and there are a few intentional jokes in the sequencing of titles.
Edit: Looking back, I discovered many of these songs serendipitously outside of recommendation engines and so on. Apple Music does offer personalized weekly new music picks, but I tend to find new songs by tuning in to the Apple Music 1 live radio station (née Beats 1), or checking in on their curated genre playlists. Algorithms, don’t trust them.
- Don’t Die — NOBRO
- Shook Shook — Awich
- Cool With Me (feat. M1llionz) — Dutchavelli
- Inside Out — Grouplove
- Together — beabadoobee
- Mood (feat. iann dior) — 24kGoldn
- fuck, i luv my friends — renforshort
- you broke me first — Tate McRae
- PAIN — King Princess
- Say So (Japanese Version) — Rainych
- Laugh Now Cry Later (feat. Lil Durk) — Drake
- I Dunno (feat. Dutchavelli & Stormzy) — Tion Wayne
- Apricots — Bicep
- The Hill — Model Man
- People, I’ve been sad — Christine and the Queens
- Kids Again — Sam Smith
- Eugene — Arlo Parks
- Lover — G Flip
- Young Americans — Durand Jones & The Indications
- Lockdown — Anderson .Paak
- It’s Hard (feat. Email Sandé) — Giggs
- Show Me Love (feat. Miguel) — Alicia Keys
- snow jam — Rinne
- Holy (feat. Chance the Rapper) — Justin Bieber
- death bed (feat. beabadoobee) — Powfu
- Devil That I Know — Jacob Banks
- Believe — Anna of the North
- the 1 — Taylor Swift
- You’re Still the One — Okay Kaya
- Good News — Mac Miller
Don’t Die — NOBRO
Not only a fun song with a great animated video, but an obvious message to open with? Don’t die!
Shook Shook — Awich
I don’t understand why someone whose husband died from being shot would make a song that appears to glorify gun violence, but it’s a banger.
PAIN — King Princess
I hated this song so much on the first listen. It sounded so cheap and 90s, I thought she’d lost her mind. Maybe I was using a bad pair of headphones. On subsequent listens, I’ve been into it. It’s rad. It’s wicked. It’s a bodacious jam. What else did we say in the 90s?
Say So (Japanese Version) — Rainych
Yeah I don’t think we can get through a 2020 list without this song, but I like this Japanese cover by Indonesian YouTube artist Rainych for being super cute. Even Doja Cat has approved it.
Kids Again — Sam Smith
Not a fan, but this song has been annoying the hell out of me because I’m 100% sure the very pretty melody has been lifted off a song from the 80s or 90s, but I can’t remember it, and no one on the internet seems to have made the connection either. I feel like the guy in Yesterday, the film, who wakes up in a world where the Beatles never existed, except this time it’s a lesser band like Firehouse or something.
Show Me Love (feat. Miguel) — Whenever Alicia Keys does an interview, I’m tense. It’s like she’s liable to suddenly say something Goop-y or new agey and I really don’t want to hear anything that would affect how much I enjoy her music. She’s probably on that Goop shit, though, because she doesn’t look like she’s aged a day since her first album.
Holy (feat. Chance the Rapper) — Justin Bieber
If we had to put up with Yummy just so that Justin could arrive at Holy and Lonely this year, I’m okay with paying that price.
Believe — Anna of the North
First I heard the cover and was blown away that someone could remake Cher’s Believe and make it their own thing. ‘What an honest and unironic interpretation’, I thought. And then I saw the video and couldn’t stop laughing. It’s a shot-by-shot recreation of the original, but it still works! I never want to see Anna of the North quit music. She’s gold.
You’re Still the One — Okay Kaya
Likewise, I’m thankful that someone took the sublime melody of Shania Twain’s You’re Still The One and separated it from its original form so it can played today without a hint of cheese.
Good News — Mac Miller
Circles is my favorite album of the year and I’ll be listening to it for years to come. Yet I never listened to Mac Miller when he was alive; for no apparent reason, I just assumed he was a bozo. I say this to remind myself that I often make ridiculous snap judgments about people while liking to believe that I approach life rationally and logically.
This song though, in the context of his death, just floors you. It’s got more vibes than a lifetime supply of Ocean Spray, and the lyrics sound like they’re written from the other side. It reminds me of how it felt when Bowie’s Blackstar came out a week before he died. I only made this playlist because it would be kind of against the rules to just post Circles in its entirety.