It’s time once more to look back on the past year and create an arbitrary list of new-to-me songs that I wanted to include on this list. These aren’t necessarily the best songs of the year; there are rules for inclusion, but for those of you outside of my head they may appear random. This year, the list is ordered by the date I first encountered the song.
Several of my siblings were visiting yesterday, and I took advantage of this captive audience to solicit comments on the candidates for this list, which are included below.
Ice Cube - Good Cop Bad Cop
K: “When did that come out?”
Kendrick Lamar - DNA
K: “It was very Kendrick Lamar.”
Tatiana DeMaria - Too Much
K: “That was one of the better ones you’ve played today.”
The Decemberists - Severed
K: “It wasn’t one of my favourite Decemberists album, but that’s one of the better songs on it.”
Fall Out Boy - Wilson (Expensive Mistakes)
C: “I’m obviously a fan.”
The Regrettes - Come Through
K: “I don’t know if the prevalence of 70s influences is due to you and your preferences, or reflective of the year’s culture and cultural preferences.”
Janelle Monáe - Make Me Feel
K: “Have you seen Black Mirror? This reminds me very much of San Junipero.”
Brass Against The Machine - Killing In The Name
K: “I’ve heard this song differently.”
Panic! At The Disco - Say Amen (Saturday Night)
K: “Oh, was I supposed to be coming up with a pithy comment? Good use of microwave safety rules. I always forget how violent it is.”
Baker Boy - Marryuna
K: “It’s nice that you have some happy songs in here.”
Camp Cope - The Opener
K: “I’m not ignoring this song, I just already know that I like it. Camp Cope is one of the few albums I bought this year.”
Larkin Poe - Preachin’ Blues
K: “It was very pretty.”
The Snake Charmer - Drowsy Maggie
K: “Obviously I love it.”
Christine and the Queens - Girlfriend
K: “Well, it doesn’t have very many lyrics, does it?”
Screaming Females - Glass House
K: sigh “I’m tired of being the only one who has comments.”
Tessa Violet - Crush
K: “She reminds me of Angel Olsen. A less good singer Angel Olsen.”
Van Canto - Neverland
K: “I always think their music videos can’t get any worse, and then they do.”
twenty one pilots - Jumpsuit
K: “It was a really cool music video, I just didn’t think the lyrics stood up to it.”
Billie Eilish - You Should See Me In A Crown
K: “I only heard of her three weeks ago, and I’m already tired.”
The Jungle Giants - Feel The Way I Do
K: “It seems a little stalker-y.”
King Princess - Pussy Is God
K: “Is she capable of fully closing her lips?”
Palaye Royale - You’ll Be Fine
K: “It really appeals to my emo punk aesthetic.”
Skating Polly - Hail Mary
K: “I like the song, but the music video is very confusing. Unexpectedly bloody. I don’t get it.”
case/lang/veirs - Georgia Stars
K: “Pretty, but overly long for what it is.”
Betty Who - Some Kinda Wonderful
K: “Aww, it’s adorable.”
MØ - Red Wine
K: “I can see why you like her. It’s all flute-y and kind of shouty.”
Alien Weaponry - Kai Tangata
K: “Is everyone dead now? It was good.”
Poppy - X
K: “Yeah, I’m not into this song.”
Bad Cop / Bad Cop - Victoria
K: “Yes, that’s better. Sad and angry, but better.”
Loo & Placido - Funky Dragula
me: “I didn’t watch this music video. It’s weird.”
K: “I didn’t expect that to be the song they had sampled.”
C: “I wasn’t paying attention to the other ones but that’s definitely #1.”
Laura Jane Grace and the Devouring Mothers - I Hate Chicago
K: “I also hate Chicago. The sentiment at least seems sincere, if not poetic.”
Joshua James - Queen of the City
K: “YES. I love this song.”
Versatile - Perfume
White Irish comedy rappers? You bet your sweet bippy.
Rilo Kiley - A Better Son/Daughter
This song is good, but it’s not actually new-to-me and I only wanted to pretend it was so that I could mention Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette (which uses it in the closing credits.) If you haven’t watched Nanette, it’s on Netflix and you should.
Nanette is like an onion. It has layers, and it will make you cry.
Reviewers are often tempted to exclude Nanette from the category of stand-up comedy and call it a one-person show; this does a disservice to both Hannah and comedy. Nanette is a beautifully crafted one-hour comedy set that displays her mastery of the form, and would not work nearly as well if it had been created as a mere stage play.
Early on in Nanette, Hannah Gadsby notes that “Homosexuality was a crime in Tasmania until 1997. Not long enough ago.” Fun fact: while they are currently unenforceable due to a 2003 (not long enough ago) Federal court decision, more than a dozen states in the US still, to this day, have laws that criminalize homosexuality.
Lord of the Lost - Morgana
I have a weakness for symphonic metal, but this didn’t quite make the cut.
Childish Gambino - This Is America
This is a striking work of art taken as a whole, but I think the song (divorced from the video) is middling.
Janelle Monáe - Americans
An interesting counterpart to This Is America.
Heilung - LIFA
I’ve only ever listened to this as a whole album, so I didn’t feel like picking out a single track to feature on the main list.
Andrew O’Neill - Anti-Ukelele Anthem