I don’t even have anything pithy to say about 2020. Everyone’s already said it, and everyone knows it, so it doesn’t need to be said.
But, on the bright side, a lot of great music was released this year! Every year, I keep a playlist of songs I like that were released that year. It’s a good way not to forget something that I liked, and I can always go back and cherrypick songs for my annual roadtrip playlist, or rediscover albums I’ve forgotten from past years’ lists.
This year’s playlist is the longest since 2015, clocking it at almost exactly 18 hours. 2015’s was almost 24 hours. Here’s 2020’s playlist in all its glory. Enjoy!
And if you want to see past years’ lists, they’re here:
The family just did our big annual road trip to see my family in Northern VA. That meant over twenty hours on the road. I almost always create a new Roadtrips playlist every year (first in iTunes, then Rdio, now Spotify). This year’s was a little different since I let the kids add songs to it… and they did (for better or worse). We didn’t end up listening to it on the big drives, but it was great for our trips around town with everyone in the van.
We mostly listened to podcasts. This year, I created a new playlist in Overcast of things I’ve been meaning to catch up on, or that I know the kids like. It worked great, especially since I limited all of those podcasts to only the 5 most recent episodes. It kept us from getting too many episodes of the same podcast in a row, and kept me awake since I never knew what was coming up next.
I had to skip podcast series where you have to have listened to all the episodes to know what’s going on, so no Limetown.
Here’s what we listened to, along with my recommendations (1-5 stars):
- The Cut on Tuesdays: 5 stars. You never know what you’re going to get with the one. It could be an interview, or a fun story about “bad” dinner parties (my favorite episode), or a story about the history of birth control.
- Revisionist History: 5 stars. Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast is now in its fourth season and it’s great. Super thought-provoking and great storytelling.
- Scene on Radio (The Seeing White season): 5 stars. We only listened to the last four episodes of the season, but it’s amazing. It’s a great introduction to the history of whiteness, its power over the systems that run our lives, and some hopeful ideas on how to fix it. It’s like a podcast of Dismantling Racism and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
- Everything is Alive: 4 stars. A really silly concept: that everything is alive, so let’s interview them, but it turns into some mind-bending, funny, and touching conversations. I especially like the elevator one.
- Every Little Thing: 4 stars. There’s some heavy stuff in this playlist, but ELT isn’t one of them. Audience questions get turned into explorations of things you never thought about. It’s always educational and fun.
- Lore: 4 stars. You know about this one already, right? Scary stories haltingly told.
- Sawbones: 3 stars. The kids love this one. It’s hit or miss for me. Some episodes are great and hilarious. Others just don’t work for me.
- Solvable: 3 stars. Solid interviews with people changing the world. A little dry, but worth listening to.
There you go. Hopefully that helps your end-of-summer roadtrips a little more pleasant. Enjoy!
It’s been a great year for actual music, but a sad one for me personally. Why? Rdio died. I loved Rdio for years – even when I was working at a music startup building a competing service, I still loved Rdio. And now it’s gone. I tried Google Music, and had to give up on it because it lacks any idea of social, and does some very strange things with explicit lyrics. Now I’m on Spotify and it’s all right. It’s not perfect. It’s definitely not Rdio – but it’ll do.
Enough sadness, let’s get on to the music! Last year, I just threw together a list of the albums I liked and put them in three categories. That was a cop out and saved me from having to pick a single album. This year, I’m picking a single album that is my favorite of the year! And then a couple more than I really liked.
My album of the year is…
Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit by Courtney Barnett! It’s funny. It’s fun to sing along with, and the songs are actually about things. This album came out early on this year and I kept going back to it all year.
It was really hard to pick just one album but I did it. Courtney’s biggest competition was from an artist that my friend Bryan told me about – Ghostpoet. His album, Shedding Skin, is fantastic. It reminds me a lot of Massive Attack, which is always a good thing. You should listen to it, a lot.
There were a lot of really good albums that came out this year. So many that my Kevin’s 2015 Favorites playlist has 340 songs in it and if you listened to it all at once, it would take 23 hours and 29 minutes. So, get started!