Sunday, January 10, 2021

Listening in 2020: Favorite Songs

In 2020, I finally figured out a system for finding new music that works for me. I pretty much stopped listening to the radio when I got my first iPod and discovered the joys of curating my own digital playlists, but doing that made it hard for me to discover new stuff. I tried music review podcasts, but didn't love listening to critical opinions and only snippets of songs. Song-of-the-day podcasts were better, but - like with the Top 40 radio stations I grew up with - I had to wade through a lot of stuff I didn't like in order to uncover the rare song that I did. And I had to wait a whole day between each song in hope that tomorrow's would be awesome.

These days, I subscribe to Apple Music and I love the service. It's not perfect yet, but it's learning my tastes and most of its recommendations are right on. I also love the curated playlists and there's one called ALT CTRL that I listen to every week. It's focused on new, alternative music and updates regularly, switching out some songs for others, but once a song is on there, it stays on for a while so I have time to get used to it and decide how much I like it. It's a lot like listening to the radio, but there are about 70-80 songs each week and they're all super targeted to my interests. I throw this on every Saturday and listen to it while I'm running errands or doing chores around the house.

When I find a song that I really like, I'll put that on a personal playlist I call "Radio May," which is 150 songs that I listen to on shuffle. It's my own personal radio station of just my favorite stuff. (Apple Music also has something it calls a radio station built around my tastes if I'm in the mood to be surprised by some of its choices.)

I've been getting more into albums this year so that I'm not just listening to isolated songs. In the last few years, I've really missed getting to know the broader work of bands. And Apple Music makes it really easy for me to listen to a whole album if I like a particular song. It's so much cooler than back in the day where if I liked a song on the radio, I would buy the album and take a chance on the whole thing being good. These days, I can listen to the whole album before I buy.

I have a couple of playlists that each have six albums on them at any one time. "Try This" is based on songs I already have in "Radio May," so it's newer stuff. "Try This Too" is albums of older bands whose discographies I'm working through. As of this moment, it's got an album each by Elvis Presley, The Platters, Willie Nelson, Creedence Clearwater Revival, U2, and Keane.

So I'm loving music right now and not just old bands that I listened to in high school and college. There's a lot of great stuff coming out and I don't feel like it's work to keep up with it. Instead, it's music that I love that just happens to be fresh and current. 

Here are my favorite songs that came out in 2020, listed alphabetically because it's impossible to rank them by preference. As usual with my favorite music, there's a heavy '80s influence on a lot of these with a focus on groovy rhythm and soaring vocals. But not always.

"Ain't No Crime" by Gangstagrass (No Time For Enemies)

I became a fan of Gangstagrass after they did the theme for the TV show Justified. I'm not generally a hip hop fan, but turns out you can make that medicine go down easy with a spoonful of bluegrass.

"Bad Decisions" by The Strokes (The New Abnormal)

I love songs with strong, clean guitar melodies.

"Beautiful Anyway" by Judah and The Lion (Beautiful Anyway - Single)

Love the message on this one. It's an anthem for anyone struggling with depression or really even just having a bad day.

"Caution" by The Killers (Run For Cover)

Another big, anthemy song, but this one you dance to.

"Deleter" by Grouplove (Healer)

Speaking of dancing, I need a mosh pit for this one. So energetic and cool.

"Dirty" by grandson (Death of an Optimist)

The definition of groovy. Very funky. Awesome horns.

"For Sure" by Future Islands (As Long as You Are)

Samuel T Herring's voice washes over me and so does this lovely, grooving song.

"If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)" by The 1975 (Notes On a Conditional Form)

The band's name may be inspired by the '70s, but their sound is quite '80s. Reminds me of sounds like Howard Jones, but lead singer Matthew Healy nailed it when he said their biggest influence is John Hughes films. "If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)" would be right at home in Sixteen Candles.

"Leave Me Alone" by I Don't Know How But They Found Me (Razzmatazz)

Funky, danceable synth.

"loneliness for love" by lovelytheband (conversations with myself about you)

It's a great, danceable song, but also twentysomething-year-old me really relates to its lyrics about "I keep mistaking loneliness for love."

"Oh My My" by Blue October (This is What I Live For)

So cool. 

"Overthinkin'" by Carly Bannister (Overthinkin' - Single)

Light and breezy. Just lovely.

"Post Humorous" by Gus Dapperton (Orca)

I'm in love with Gus Dapperton's voice and this song. Nice guitars and the way the song builds just fills my heart.

"Visitor" by Of Monsters and Men (Visitor - Single)

Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir's voice is so sultry and gothic and only improved by awesome harmonies and a kickass guitar line.

"You Already Know" by Cold War Kids (New Age Norms 2)

And finally, another groovy, funky tune. 

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails