With the no end in sight to pandemic and the necessary quarantine to keep things in check, at least for the foreseeable, this playlist of songs is guaranteed to get you through some times, no matter how emotional they may turn out to be.
When I first shared that initial quarantine playlist a couple months back, I thought life would return to some sort of normalcy come early 2021… yet here we are in January and it looks like things are not going back to normal any time soon. With new strains of COVID-19 on the horizon and vaccine distribution and rollout being disasters, I guess it’s safe to say that we are stuck in lockdown far longer than we what we wanted. With limited things to do indoors, music has been a gracious savior, not only for me, but I’m pretty sure everyone else.
Here’s another list of songs and artists who helped me get through the last six months, which I hope will do the same to you as it did it to me:
Jackie Onassis – Elio
I don’t know about you, but my go-to sad dance bop to listen to during the quarantine was Robyn’s Dancing On My Own. Unfortunately, it definitely gets tiring after the hearing it for the 1000th time. Thankfully, I have discovered a replacement song: Jackie Onassis by Elio. Similar to Robyn’s iconic banger, it is not only easy to dance and bop to, but also puts you in the same introspection mood. Instead of singing about a guy moving on with another girl, Elio sings about wanting to live extravagantly while restrained by things that the pandemic has brought on to almost everyone: depression, financial hardships, longing to travel, physical human interaction, and of course, spending an entire weekend at your local convenience store (’cause that’s the only place you can go to these days)
Mood: When you’re feeling melancholic, but you don’t want to feel too sad to actually cry.
Lost One (Live) – Jazmine Sullivan
Most people only know Jazmine from the time Amber Riley covered her song in one of the early episodes of Glee. That is a travesty as Ms. Sullivan has one of the most impressive voices in the industry. This is further highlighted in this live rendition of Lost One, which is taken from her new album. Its simple arrangement belies just how powerful this song is thanks to Jazmine’s incredible vocals and devastating and blunt lyricism. You can practically hear the agony and regret in every word as she sings about losing someone because of her own carelessness and selfishness. Listen to this to fill that void in your broken heart but also waiting for Adele to release a new sad ballad.
Mood: When you actually want to have a good cry.
Your Light – Big Moon
Let’s switch gears to something a little more uplifting. Spotify was kind enough to recommend this song and band after generous hours of listening to Haim. Your Light boasts a big chorus layered with mesmerizing synths that is just pure earworm. If you feel the first two songs of this playlist is just too darn depressing, this track, most especially after the song’s bridge, from Big Moon will definitely sprinkle a dose of sunshine whatever time of the day.
Mood: When you’re longing for a roadtrip.
Put Your Records On – Ritt Momney
The 2006 Grammy nominated song, Put Your Records On by Corinne Bailey Rae has been brought back into mainstream media thanks to
the ridiculously named Ritt Momney’s cover, which went viral on TikTok. While the original song radiated a perfect sunny afternoon, Momney’s version, filled with dreamy lo-fi synths, is predominantly gloomy like there’s this raincloud that seems to follow you everywhere. (Think: Eeyore.) While the song does pick up in certain parts, it never fully escapes this perpetual feeling of sadness. I guess that’s why it became a viral hit, as it manages to encapsulate everyone’s emotional fragility during quarantine.
Mood: When you’re in the mood to reminisce about our pre-COVID normal routines that we took for granted.
What’s Your Pleasure – Jessie Ware
If there is another travesty that I can add to the already horrible year that was 2020, it is Jessie Ware’s soon-to-be-iconic disco album not receiving any Grammy nominations. Whereas Dua Lipa’s fantastic Future Nostalgia captures the energy of disco pop of a club at 11:00 PM, What’s Your Pleasure is the embodiment of a club at 3:00 AM—bartenders shouting last call, people going out to smoke, everyone drunk and horny looking for a body to take home. I am still quite disappointed that no one was able to
worship enjoy this song the way it was meant to be played: on the dance floor.
Mood: When you’re itching to go dancing.
Favorite Mistake (Acoustic) – Giveon
Speaking of Grammy nominations, one that I am extremely ecstatic is Giveon’s nomination for best R&B album. His album about heartbreak, longing, and loss really helped me cope with the early months of quarantine. While his album is amazing in itself, I would like to direct your attention to his acoustic covers that are, sadly, only available on his YouTube channel. The stripped-down arrangement of Favorite Mistake paired with Giveon’s haunting, baritone voice really hammers down the heartbreak of the song even more. Here’s a bonus tip for y’all: If you really want a vibe, listen to his songs slowed down and reverb. It. Is. Sublime.
Mood: When you’re in the mood to text your ex because you’re that lonely (or bored).
Baby Powder – Jenevieve
A couple of years ago, everyone else I knew, myself included, was introduced to Mariya Takeuchi’s Plastic Love thanks to YouTube algorithms. The 80s song manage to introduce the genre of Japanese city pop to the rest of the world. Now, Jenevieve isn’t from Japan, but her 2020 song, Baby Powder, echoes the elements of city pop with its sleek synths, funky percussions, and delicate vocals. Similar to Giveon, listening to this slowed down and reverb is a vibe.
Mood: When you’re in the “It’s 2:00 AM and I can’t sleep, so let me just watch videos online” mood.
Back To The Streets (ft. Jhene Aiko) – Saweetie
2020 was a huge year for female rappers with Cardi, Megan, and Doja Cat dominating the charts with great bangers. Another female rapper who deserves just the same attention is Saweetie (who has Filipino blood!). You can immediately detect the laid-back West Coast vibe in Back to the Streets, where Saweetie sings about moving on to another man. One of the highlights of the song is her harmonies with Jhene, which I believe is smooth as honey.
Mood: When you want to low-key vibe outside on a sunny afternoon.
Like I Do – Awa
I can’t count the number of times I have managed to watch this music video. Don’t get me wrong, the song itself is great with its dirty bass and powerful lyrics of self-worth; however, there’s just something completely mesmerizing about Awa being surrounded not only by works of art, but by a group of women of color. Accompanied by some sick dirty bass lines, it’s like she’s this regal queen gliding around her palace shouting to her loyal subjects about their self-worth. You can’t help but to stop and bow down.
Mood: When you’re needing a big dose of self-confidence.
Little – Jany Green
Summer feels so close yet so far away. Here’s hoping that in 2021, we actually get the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors. In anticipation, take a listen to Little, Jany Green’s buoyant single that’s meant to be played full volume on speakers. Its funky production makes it accessible and friendly to any age, as well as extremely replayable. Just be careful though, as I got LSS listening to the chorus. Good luck trying to forget it.
Mood: When you need a picker-upper.
Come Over – Dagny
If you’re a Millennial like me, you most likely spent a large dose of your early adulthood listening to bubblegum pop that was very prevalent over ten years ago. Nowadays, with the exception of the Queen Carly Rae Jepsen, a lot of the famous pop stars have strayed far from this genre of pop music. Norwegian singer Dagny seems poised to fill that niche as well. She comes from a long list of European female artists (Robyn, Sigrid, et al) who just manages to craft the best pop songs. Come Over is so unabashedly saccharine, it will give you cavities.
Mood: When you’re kilig about a person you’ve matched with online that you can’t wait to meet.
Guy Stuff – courtship
Let me count the ways of my borderline unhealthy obsession with courtship. 1.) I have watched them every single time they came to visit New York. 2.) I have a photo with one of the band members while he was chilling at a bar. 3.) I left a concert after they played. (They were just the opening act). To be honest, it’s really hard not to love them. Other than being two of the friendliest people I have ever met, the LA duo pens the most euphoric and adrenaline pumping pop songs out there. Since discovering them in 2016, they have been a staple to my yearly summer playlists. They should be on yours, too.
Mood: When you’re longing for summer.
Picking Up Speed – Augustine
With gyms closed these days, I find myself running around the nearby park as my only form of cardio. Now, I abhor running, so I need all the motivation I can get to help me finish a couple of laps. This electro pop track from the Swede is my favorite song to jog to…and it’s not just because the title is literally telling you to hurry the fuck up. With hints of Passion Pit, Empire of the Sun, and well, even the Bee Gees, Picking Up Speed has just the right tempo to keep a steady running pace before
picking up speed reaching a crescendo as the song goes on. Just make sure to breathe.
Mood: When you need a good workout.
As Long As You Care – Ruel
Don’t make the same mistake I did of simply brushing off Ruel (pronounced rool) as another Shawn Mendes or Justin Bieber knockoff. What Ruel has that the other severely two lack is soul. The 18-year-old Australian has been making waves in the music industry, garnering praises from the likes of Elton John to Tyler the Creator. It’s not that difficult to figure out why. Ruel has the innate talent of effortlessly fusing pop, neo-soul, and gospels in his discography. He released his latest EP last year, with As Long As You Care being the highlight.
Mood: When you need to relax with a glass of wine after a hard, long strenuous day.
Baby Blue – Rence
Rence used to live really close to me and I think because of that, I developed this strange kinship with him and his music. He’s mostly known as the guy Noah Cyrus had a duet with, but simply labeling him as such is a great disservice to talent. Baby Blue, I believe, is his finest single to date as it recalls elements of Bon Iver and James Blake. Even though it’s sad as hell, there’s something quite cathartic with the song production that can’t help but relax you.
Mood: When it’s raining outside and you just need to hear sad songs to make you happy.
I Know The End – Phoebe Bridgers
I think the feelings that best describe my relationship with COVID-19 is frustration and anger. Frustrated and angry that people didn’t take this seriously; frustrated and angry with the government not knowing the fuck they’re doing; frustrated and angry at theory conspirators not believing in the science of vaccines, and frustrated and angry at would-be murderers refusing to wear masks…it gets depressing. Don’t you just wish you can just have that moment to scream your feelings away? Well, Phoebe Bridgers did. Taken from her critically acclaimed and multi-Grammy nominated album, Punisher, I Know The End is the fitting ode to describe what 2020 was for everyone. Phoebe screamed, so we didn’t have to.
Mood: When you want to just fucking scream out your frustrations.