I joined Spotify this past fall and it has literally ruined my life. I have always been a serious iTunes curator and serious music downloader. At my best, I had about 60,000 songs and I was in the process of listening to and rating all of them. Of course, my external broke and I had to rebuild over the years, but I was dedicated. A year or so ago, a close friend of mine informed me how dumb I was being. “Spotify has pretttttty much anything you could need…why are you spending all your time downloading music?” One year (and one newly acquired job) later, I made the switch. I truly don’t know what I’ve been doing all this time. It’s like I was writing with mustard and someone FINALLY handed me a pencil. I say all of this because it is important background information for how this list came to be. Fall, as defined by my alma mater’s quarter system, runs from September to December. It was during that time that I first purchased and started regularly using Spotify. This post is not an ad for the platform, but I can’t advocate for it enough. The easy access to most music you can think of (and a ton that you would never) in addition to automatically curated playlists are both game changers. Through these curated lists, I was introduced to a lot of music that I would have never heard otherwise. Additionally, because of Spotify’s access to music, I was able to listen to a lot of artists whom I had heard of but had never pursued. Anyway, enough babble…
Parameters for this list:
- I had to have first heard the song during the fall period (September to December) and/or given it an immense amount of play during the fall time frame from September through December.
- Popular music (like stuff you would hear on the radio) works to the disadvantage of the song in getting on the top ten list. It’s much more interesting to hear about music that you wouldn’t regularly be exposed to. There are exceptions to this rule however if the song truly is a jam.
- My list is biased to my preference in music. I honestly don’t have anything against any type of music (I’m not one of those “I like anything but country or metal” folks…but I don’t really listen to those genres as much; I would love suggestions, however).
- I only included tracks that could be found on Spotify (sorry HAM4BEY…like…I literally just typed the words and had to put it on…I’m literally listening to it right now…so good) though I am providing Youtube links for those of you who have not converted.
And so, in no particular order:
All Caught Up (feat. Tinashe) – GTA
Despite not being in any particular order, if there was a number one, it would probably be this one. I played the hell out of it. I heard this song for the first time at a friend’s house when I was helping to cook and I literally had to stop doing what I was doing to listen. I was ALL about it immediately and I started playing this song incessantly. I love the harmonies at the chorus and the way that the synth pulls you through the beats. While I don’t really follow Tinashe, she’s made some banging R&B songs in the past (and the girl can DANCE). I wasn’t really familiar with GTA (besides the song “Intoxicated” with Martin Solveig, which is a jam) either. The group (which stands for “Good Times Ahead”) released their first album, a self-titled EP, this past year. I’m hoping for big things after how much joy this jam brought me. In one season, it became the most played song on my Spotify account this year.
Changing My Major – Emily Skeggs from “Fun Home,” the Broadway musical
I had the pleasure of seeing “Fun Home” in Chicago with a friend from college with whom I had only really been an acquaintance. We were moving towards being good friends after having hung out a few times and I honestly think that, though we never said it explicitly, seeing this show together actually got us there. The show won the 2015 Tony award winner for Best Musical and it was totally deserved. Based on the award-winning graphic novel by Alison Bechdel (of the Bechdel test, an indicator of gender bias in film), the play tells the story of the author and her father. The narrative follows Alison through her childhood and years in college as she deals with her sexuality and eventually comes out. The play is narrated from Alison’s adulthood where she is wrestling with the death of her father and realizing that he himself was gay. I really can’t do the plot justice—you really should read the book. The play and the music however really bring to life the awkwardness of Alison’s personality, the pain and confusion around trying to understand her father, and the difficulty and joy of her own sexuality. Picture the scene: Alison sings this in her dorm room from and around her bed after waking up next to Joan, the object of her affection. This song personifies the joy, confusion, excitement, and fear that come along with a first sexual encounter when coming to terms with one’s sexuality in a world where being queer is still seen as aberrant (“Am I falling into nothingness or flying into something so sublime?”). I know that I had never heard something so perfectly describe this moment and I don’t think my friend had either. When the song ended my friend and I both turned to each other and nodded in a sign of understanding. We were both there. When Alison hits the note on “changing” at 2:58 and the song modulates, I get goosebumps and a tear comes to my eye literally every single time. Kudos to the performance, the lyricist, and the songwriter. So…all of that and it’s hilarious. This truly is a work of art. See the show if you can.
Girls @ (feat. Chance the Rapper) – Joey Purp
The beat of this song is, light, popping, and driving. Will definitely get you moving. It’s also important to note that there was so much love for Chance this year and it was all warranted. His verse on this track makes the song alone (I mean he goes through a whole conversation with a girl in 16 bars AND makes a rhyme with “Ta-Nehisi Coates”…C’MON).
Come Down – Anderson .Paak
I had had many a friend tell me that I needed to check out Anderson .Paak (and no, I don’t know why he has that period there, but it’s right) and I’m sad I waited so long to do so. The man has an incredible life story to match his talent. He is up for a Grammy for Best New Artist for his album Malibu and it really is a shame that he is up against Chance, because against anyone else he should totally take home the honor. The drum beat in this song is everything and the lyrics are also super fun (“You drank up all my liquor. C’mon, what I’m supposed to do now? You talking all that shit? C’mon, you gonna have to back it up” #accurate). Just watch him perform at the BET awards where he PLAYS the drums. The dude has it all.
Foreplay – Jalen Santoy
Concrete (feat. Pete Philly) – Melle Jutte
One of the many great features of Spotify is that it has these wonderful playlists where they curate music for you based on what you have been listening to and what is in your library already. Through these lists I have found a lot of great songs. These two top that list. “Foreplay” has been on repeat particularly at the end of the season. As you can tell, I am a sucker for horns…they make the rap so sexy. “Concrete” has such a hip spin on an electronic song. When that beat drops, so do my hips. Also, I just have to say, Melle Jutte is kinda handsome…
Inhale Exhale – NAO
This girl is fierce and this whole album is gold. It may be the only album I’ve listened to this season in which I can say I pretty much liked every song in some way. Her voice is so strange but sultry. Be sure to check her out. Nuff said.
Dang! (feat. Anderson .Paak) – Mac Miller
I will admit that I am a bit ashamed that a Mac Miller song made this list, but I found it by following Anderson .Paak. I love the groove that this song has. The horn hits are a great touch. And there is something about Miller’s inebriated-sounding rap cadence that I actually find kinda fun and attractive (despite him not being attractive at all).
Give Me Your Love (feat. John Newman and Nile Rodgers) – Sigala
I learned who Nile Rodgers was because of this song, which is a shame, because the guy has been in the game making and producing hits and playing with stars since the 70s starting with the popular group Chic (you know the song “Le Freak”; one of the best disco guitar licks ever). His repertoire includes performing with the likes of David Bowie, Madonna, Britney Spears, Disclosure, Christina Aguilera, Kylie Minogue, Lady Gaga, Pharrell Williams, and Avicii, to name a few. He’ll be added to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this coming year. Anyway, this song is an electric-disco funk masterpiece because of Rodgers. Always makes me get up and move my feet. The dancing in this video is also pretty boss.
Starving (feat. Zedd and Grey – Hailee Steinfeld)
So I know this song was popular and so I am breaking my rule, but I played the hell out of it this past fall. It should have been one of those pop hits that I hated, but I love it. Every time this song came on the radio a smile came to my face. Steinfeld’s voice is sweet and clear and Zedd’s production really helps to make the song super catchy. I also think the sentiment of the song makes it a super cute love song.
Wild – Marian Hill
Satisfied (feat. Miguel & Queen Latifah) – Sia
The Greatest – Sia
You Know – Jerry Folk
The Battle of Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down) – Original Cast from “Hamilton the Musical”