One of the things that appealed to me about my new job—I'm a Senior Editor at Slate, where I started working in January; was that I was given "control" of our music coverage. I'm a big music fan, which is a very basic thing to say because who doesn't like music? But that was always one of my favorite things to write about, all the way back to 11th grade, when I started pursuing journalism. In college, the radio station (which I managed my senior year and where I had a radio show all four years) partnered with the newspaper to have a monthly music column, open for any radio DJ to write about whatever they wanted. No one wanted to take on extra work, so I happily commandeered this column for myself almost every month, writing little concert or album reviews. It was fun and also a way for me to show off my impeccable music taste that was extremely unique and not at all similar to that of every other sad twenty-something cis het woman out there.
I edit all of Slate's music coverage, which is a privilege I am very lucky to have. But, as I've talked about before on this blog, editing means I don't often have time or energy to write. And should I want to write about music for my job, well—who edits the editor? I don't know! I've never asked, and so I've almost never written about music. But my prideful heart yearns for somewhere to dump all of my thoughts on what I listened to this year and how I felt about it, so here I am, on this blog, dumping all of my thoughts. Or at least some of them; writing is still a lot of work and I am very tired.
Regardless, I know there are scores of readers out there waiting with bated breath for my annual playlist of favorite songs, and at last, here it is. It's a Spotify playlist; apologies to the Spotify haters. It's randomly organized and has 77 songs on it at the moment, which I'll keep tweaking until January 1, 2022, as I listen to stuff I missed out on earlier. I considered transposing the entire list here, but the list is very long, and that's a lot of typing. So instead of sharing a note or anecdote for each one, I'm just going to call out and embed a few songs that I especially liked or have memories attached to them.
"brutal" by Olivia Rodrigo: This is my most-played song of the year (66 times). If this song came out when I was 17, I probably would have played it another 300 times this year, because it is essential teenage girl listening.
"Valentine" by Snail Mail: I loved this album so much that I bought the limited-edition vinyl a few days after it came out, and then I pinned the poster it came with to my bedroom wall.
"Peaches" by Justin Bieber: In a way, these are all my favorite songs of the year. In another, more accurate way, this is my favorite song of the year.
"Dancing With the Devil" by Demi Lovato: I recently decided that, after many years of preferring Demi, I am now a Selenator. Selena is just so ... charming?? Her makeup is good?? I love her cooking show and Only Murders in the Building????? But Demi's music is infinitely better than Selena's; always has been, always will be, sorry, h8rs to my left ha ha. Her first album post-overdose is very sad but also very good!
"Cough Up Cherries" by Kills Birds: My friend Aliya is a music journalist/maven and always has great recs. She is the least obnoxious or pretentious person I know about music—at least, if she is, she hides it well, so I always appreciate hearing her thoughts and finds. Aliya texted me asking if I'd heard of this band and that I'd probably like them. I hadn't heard of them before, but she was right! I love them now.
"I Love You, I Hate You" by Little Simz: Some whiplash (and then perfection) for you, below.
"Quiet on Set" by Remi Wolf: Maybe not "objectively" the best song on this excellent album, but objectively the funniest. The Five Guys joke makes me laugh out loud every time.
"Champagne Poetry" by Drake: I have a playlist of all of the songs by Drake that I think are actually good, if you want to check it out. This one, for example, is actually (very) good.
"Build a Bitch" by Bella Poarch: I don't watch TikTok on my accord—I don't like watching videos on my phone! It's hard to multitask with that! I only watch videos that people force upon me, and that "people" is almost always Andru. One of the many TikTokkers Andru has shown me this year is this guy named Tim, who posts constantly. He has a lot of videos where he's singing "Build a Bitch" but changes "Bitch" to something else, like, "This ain't 'Build a Blog'/ You don't have to pick and choose/ Different posts, different writers." I think about these videos all the time. I assume this is a big TikTok meme and not one that Tim started, but like I said, I don't watch TikTok.
"Went Out Without You" by Bachelor: I got this little remote-controlled disco ball lamp in a PR box, which I don't use enough. One night, I was watching a charity music "festival" that Bachelor organized and streamed live; it was really cool, and they closed out the show. I put on the lamp and danced around in my room while they played through their album, which I loved and listened to a lot this year.
"Pretty Places" by Aly and AJ: I was super lucky to have my four best friends from college all visit me this year; I was so touched and happy to have people I've known for so long travel from all over the country to see me. When Mehnaz stayed with me in June, we had a night where we ate pizza and sang along to a bunch of songs we like, and she put this song on. It's great!
"That Funny Feeling" by Bo Burnham: I know a lot of people really loved the Phoebe Bridgers cover, but I vastly preferred the original version. I like Phoebe a lot; that cover is just like a parody of Phoebe Bridgers. The original, though: Perfect song! Decade-long crush on Bo Burnham: Rekindled!
I hope you like the playlist, and I would love to hear some of your favorite songs too!