It occurred to me approximately ten months ago that most people’s playlists are longer than nine songs, and that there are a lot of artists out there that I’ve never listened to before and that I might like, if I’m willing to give them a try. Also, that it’s great to be friends with people who have awesome taste in music and listen to their playlists. (Shoutout to Jada, if you’re reading this!) Of course, there’s a delicate synergy involved in the construction of playlists. Each one has its own personality and unique feel, some of which I try to reflect in their titles (“88% cacao,” “asymptotically approaching rap,” “caffeine/small talk,” “en français”). My monthly playlists reflect a combination of how I feel and how I want to feel. E.g., January 2020 featured songs like “Asexual Wellbeing” by Okay Kaya, “Supalonely” by Benee, “Love You For A Long Time” by Maggie Rogers, “The Best” by AWOLNATION, “Wasteland, Baby!” by Hozier, and “Born to Die” by Lana Del Rey, because I love melodrama and I am not ashamed. February 2020 included some I-hate-midterms vibes (“Cry Baby” by Cage the Elephant), sardonic odes to religious constructs (“Paradise” by Rex Orange County), reflections of my sleep schedule (“6 in the Morning” by TENDER), musings on unhealthy coping mechanisms I don’t use but somehow still vaguely relate to (“Sober” by FIDLAR, “FAKE ID” by RAT BOY, “Vampires” by L.I.F.T if drinking blood is a coping mechanism), and descriptions of my mental state following epic study marathons (“Sea Sick” by binki, “SCRAMBLED” by Havelock [I seem to have a thing for all-caps]).
March 2020 took a darker turn, courtesy of covid, with “circle the drain” by Soccer Mommy, “Good Grief” by TORRES, and “Bite the Hand” by boygenius. But April 2020, of course, is the exact opposite of “Pressure’s Off” by Kelsey Kopecky. The April playlist was charged from the very beginning with the critical task of carrying me through a month of long-distance learning, shelter-in-place, infuriating Autism Speaks ads, exhausting advocacy work, trying to figure out WordPress formatting, and bemoaning the prevalence of ableism in the US and the entire world. Bitterly angry, tentatively hopeful, casually devastating, devastatingly casual, and then some songs that don’t have to mean anything…I just like the way they sound. So, all that being said: here are the highlights.
“Sweet” by Porridge Radio
The artists were apparently listening to Lorde’s album Melodrama while writing this, which a) makes sense and b) makes me happy because I love that album. Love, love, love. I don’t even know what this song means except I know that it latches onto my heartbeat and I can almost feel the notes squirming their way into the cardiac muscle tissue, overpowering the flow of ions, outwitting blood. My mum says that I look like a nervous wreck / Because I bite my nails right down to the flesh. This is catharsis. I think.
“XS” by Rina Sawayama
Sometimes, I like listening to songs that are completely incongruent with my personality. This is an excellent example. Cartier set, Tesla Xs / Calabasas, I deserve it / Call me crazy, call me selfish / I’m the baddest and I’m worth it. So, so not me. Great melody, too.
“Garden Song” by Phoebe Bridgers
If I believed in goddesses, I would believe in Phoebe Bridgers, except I don’t, so I won’t, but there’s no way she’s a mere mortal. This song is devastatingly beautiful and ominous and soul-twisting and did I mention beautiful, and the music video is profoundly psychotic in feel and I think she’s high the entire time. Good stuff.
“bad idea!” by girl in red
I love living in a time and place where at least half of my friends are LGBTQ+ and Pride is one of the most highly anticipated events of the year and I get to listen to song by Norwegian lesbian teenagers whose titles refer to lesbian sex and also how people respond to the more absurd suggestions I make about, say, Calexit.
“Isolate” by Sub Urban
“Sophie” by Arlo Parks
I’ve never listened to a Neo-Soul song before, but I love it.
“Slam (Angel Miners)” by AWOLNATION
The lyrical pulse of something intangible, soundtrack of a movie that doesn’t exist. The word “paranoia” juts out to me. Covid has me feeling vindicated, in a way. The world is ending, the world is ending. It turned out to be true. I like music with a mythical quality, music that makes it seem like my surroundings are throbbing with some sort of life-force that endows every moment with meaning.
“WAKING UP DOWN” by Yaeji
Some of the lyrics are Korean! Yay.
“Copy Cat” by Melanie Martinez
Could be about echolalia, but isn’t. Alas.
“Sports!” by Dream Wife
F**k “sorry,” f**k “please will you so kindly start again?”…Height is time / time is money / never apologize / (these are the rules). Recommended this to a friend of mine who says sorry way too much.
“12345SEX” by UPSAHL
It’s funny because the number that comes after five is six, at least in base-seven and above, but instead of six, the singer says “sex,” which sounds similar but means something totally different. It’s a pun. Get it? Get it?
“Is Everybody Going Crazy?” by Nothing But Thieves
“2 Down 2 Dance” by Sorry
lol me 2
“Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America” by The 1975 (secretly) feat. Phoebe Bridgers
See above re: girl in red. Also, I will listen to 30 minutes of anything if it contains so much as 30 seconds of Phoebe Bridgers.
“Stella Brown” by Jelani Aryeh
A reference to Streetcar Named Desire (Stella + Blanche means white + last name brown)? Probably not, but a good song nonetheless.
“Social Cues” by Cage the Elephant
Hide me in the back room, tell me when it’s over, don’t know if I can play this part much longer. Aka how I feel at any social gathering with more than six people. (Did I mention that I’m really good at social distancing?)
“Best Fake Smile” by James Bay
There’s a yoga class I go to – that is, used to go to – and I love almost everything about it, except for the fact that the instructor keeps telling everyone to smile. I don’t smile. I flap my hands, butterfly-style, when I’m walking down the street. I rock back in forth when a type. I even yell at crows when they’re being too loud. (Not a very effective strategy, but still.) Anyway, the point is that I’ve spent so much of my life consciously and unconsciously behaving how people expected me to. Prioritizing other people’s comfort over my own. And I’m over it. No fake smiles for me, and plenty of real ones, usually accompanied by butterfly hands, because
“Communicationissexy/idkhow2communicate” by the Aquadolls
I think this one is pretty self-explanatory.
“I Wish I Was Stephen Malkmus” by beabadoobee
I for one don’t wish beabadoobee were Stephen Malkmus, because I love her music, but, you know, her feelings are valid. Especially since they led to this great song.
“Kyoto” by Phoebe Bridgers
Can you tell I’m obsessed?