I celebrated the start of the new year with Conor, at our apartment in Los Angeles that we’ve finally started making “home” after a full 2020 here. When we realized that we would not be spending the holidays with family it made it "official" (I'll stop"quoting" now). On the bright side, we've birthed 12 plants, adding to the 3 succulent pots we already had. We spent the day playing water pong, making dinner, drinking lots of champagne, singing along to our favorite tunes from the past year (and a lot of Harry Styles). The night ended with falling asleep while watching the biggest comfort movie à la 2004 - 13 Going on 30.
I started January in another post feeling refreshed and excited for the year to come, for normalcy to eventually resume and for me to finally see my family. It’s going to be gross how much I’ll cry when I see my parents again. I feel more “me” after starting therapy. Within all of these feelings is my ongoing anxiety - worrying about the future now that it's a new year and we can see the end of this pandemic in sight. I feel anxious often, but I'm now embracing it, navigating it and using it to my benefit. With January I decided to create a playlist around this feeling, taking power from it.
Here's to 21 songs that stand out so far in 2021. Writing commentary along the way and highlighting ~life~ in between
ONE - Drivers License by Olivia Rodrigo - I have to start by paying respects to this year’s biggest pop song. After watching High School Musical: The Musical The Series I immediately followed Olivia on Instagram. After learning that she wrote some of her own songs for the series, I knew she was one to watch. Early on in the pandemic, she often posted some short clips of songs, all with a unique melody and catchy chorus I found stuck in my head all the time. This song blowing up to #1 for so many weeks this year is a testament to that talent. Of course it came with the drama of the co-star relationship she wrote the song about. I loved following along to what everyone was saying, but coincidentally the New York Times Brittany Spears documentary released around a similar time. It made me want to scream to everyone - be careful how you’re speaking about young talent on the internet. (overall the cyber bullying I’ve seen on Twitter to any form of celebrity has only gotten exponentially worse, and I’m not a fan. Just hope we don’t do wrong by more women artists). Since then, she’s turned 18 and released another song Deja Vu that is almost always playing in my head. Excited to see how she continues her career and can't wait for her first album Sour releasing in May (few weeks!)
TWO - Oracao by A Banda Mais Bonita da Cidade - Every year I try to listen to more Brazilian artists. Really, international artists overall. It’s ignorant for us to think of the United States as the center of the universe when there is so much talent elsewhere. I really only hear Portuguese when my parents speak to me, so music is a way I can easily access this native language - one that I want to connect to more. Is this the year I finally commit to learning Portuguese? Actually, yes - have only started with 10-15 mins of Duolingo so far, but it's progress! It has been fun to learn a few songs, dissecting the translations with Conor, for both Portuguese and Spanish songs. Building language. Some other notable listens: Seu Fim em Mim by Clara x Sofia and Nao Pode Parar by Ivete Sangalo. (side note on the lack of accents on these Latin songs/artists - due to me not figuring out how to add while using this bluetooth keyboard...may come back to fix.)
THREE - SNOWCONE by REI AMI - Always thankful for Spotify’s Discover Weekly when it uncovers gems like it did with this one. My jaw dropped when I recommended this song to a friend and a friend let me know that Rei Ami is a fellow Terp/UMD alum. I wonder if our paths ever crossed while at school. Freak Show (by Sub Urban, ft. REI AMI) and Snowcone are amazing songs and I could not recommend more. SNOWCONE has a break about halfway that shifts the mood of the song, it’s authentic and real - “and I’m just a thift store sweater with the holes”, while still cohesive and and completes the song as a certified BOP.
FOUR - Cold Summer by Dead Emerson - Another Maryland alum that deserve recognition. Cold Summer by Dead Emerson. Really just listen to all of his singles so far, they're great. The sounds are overall ~good vibes~ and if you listen to Grady, Hippo Campus or like alt rock in general you should be listening.
FIVE - Don’t be afraid by Tycho Jones - The second verse found itself stuck in my head more than once “ring ring ring on my phone, hot hot hot on my own, on my own” and it's such a random verse that it found me a while to find. After listening to the song 100 times more it’s turned into more than two lines that gets stuck in my head. It’s a song that brings recognition of my fears and breaks any self-doubts I might be having. Helps to hear it, especially in this current time of anxiousness. Almost like a mantra, it gets out of my head.
SIX - Doctor by Remi Wolf - me currently: looking up synonyms for BOP so I stop using it. In just reading the name of this song has it replaying in my head immediately. This song is just a fun listen and don't let the lack of paragraph here deter from the listen
SEVEN - Sunflower by Harry Styles - I kind of wish I had Spotify listen stats daily instead of the annual wrap-up so I could check how many times this song has been played. Fine Line is an excellent album. This was the single I turned my Harry Styles obsessed ears towards after Watermelon Sugar. Now it's Golden.
To getting in touch to my anxiousness in January and embracing Love in February. Valentine's for us has always meant bottomless brunch. This year since not going out to eat, we decided to make a new steamed bun recipe. Life really revolves around food, and I cooked several great meals throughout the month, fully in my obsession with eggplant recipes. And the one outing we did have was to The Huntington - officially my favorite place in LA. I also watched the latest To All The Boys - which was perfect movie it needed to be & I’m obsessed with the cinematography. Plus, a great soundtrack!
EIGHT - 17 by The Greeting Committee - A 2017 favorite, bringing me back to college. Thanks for TATB for bringing it back in my rotation. And quick shoutout to my second favortie song titled 17 by Youth Lagoon.
NINE - Pain by King Princess - Also coming back into my ears after a few years. Honestly a perfect song about how love can be difficult and awful. And it’s catchy and King Princess deserves all of our time. Influenced by SNL, another rock star that we’re all listening to - Phoebe Bridgers. I love music for being so diverse in sounds and just wish i could support more artists all of the time because they are so deserving!! Glad these artists are getting the spotlight they deserve.
TEN - Love Again by Dua Lipa - Honestly just listen to all of Future Nostalgia, great title and all songs we will be dancing to til the end of times. I know a lot of artists are holding their albums back until ~normal~ times, and I would have understood if Dua Lipa did. Her songs are meant to be played full blast, for people to dance at the club to. I'm certain we'll get there and can't wait for it.
ELEVEN - Manta Rays by Chloe Moriondo - she's only eighteen and already has a solid track list. I can't wait for what else she puts out. The artwork also makes me think of two things I loved growing up: Lisa Frank plus the epic show Rocket Power.
TWELVE - All Good by Samm Henshaw - The first few lines are really IT "It's been a long week, think I'm finna kick up my feet. I'm craving isolation and a few tangerines." As we're heading into a year of quarantine/lock downs it was the jazzy, light listen we needed. It's difficult to get out of the ruts we all have felt staying static in our spaces for so long, but this song is a reminder that we can still enjoy it. Selfishly, I enjoy writing these blog posts as I usually search more into these artists I'm newly in love with. Here's a great interview and perspective on this song on Flaunt.
THIRTEEN - Love This Way by Saint Raymond - I've been listening to Saint Raymond since 2013, patiently waiting for him to come to the US to tour. His sound is consistent, catchy and nostalgic for me. It's fun picking up the lyrics for any track first listen.
In March I was really excited for Women’s History Month. I have never really celebrated or contributed, but have wanted to. This year, I had the rest of the Mas+ board there to support and it felt amazing to be a part of the planning and communications spotlighting women at the company that deserve awareness. The events team planned two great events, and on the comms side we put two playlists together, one per event, and spotlighted 2 Latina employees through email and Slack every week.
For the first playlist and event, we celebrated the Latina icon Selena. I hadn’t seen the Selena series on Netflix yet, so it was the perfect time to binge before the event and it turned into frequent Selena dance parties in the apartment + the best addition to our road trip playlist as we visited Death Valley for a weekend.
FOURTEEN - Besitos by Selena y los Dinos - The 1997 Selena movie was a consistent watch growing up. It was one of the few times we saw ourselves represented on screen and Jennifer Lopez was a star. She had the same confidence as Selena that we were all in awe of and obsessed with. To be honest, JLO was who I saw when thinking of Selena since growing up after Selena passed and I really only listened to a few songs of hers. It wasn't until this March that I truly immersed myself with all things Selena and I'm so glad I did. I get sad listening to Dreaming of You, reminded of her young loss of life. At the same time, Besitos and so many other songs pull me out of any grumpy/sad/mad mood I'm in and is an immediate shift to happy. Most recently, running an hour late to my vaccine appointment, once Bidi Bidi Bom Bom played I let go of the stress of not making it (we made it Latino time, last ones to be vaccinated literally 2 minutes before the center closed).
The second playlist was Poderosas, the same title of the new event series. The playlist was just an amazing positive/fun listen while working. Along with the iconic JLO, Shakira, Gloria Esteban, ROSALIA, I also added a few of my favorites from Brazil. I also took time to look at other upcoming Latinas in other countries - which was surprisingly tough in finding answers that weren't repetitive. It’s now something I’m hyper aware of when listening to “top” artists playlists - they’re often mostly men.
FIFTEEN - Quando a Chuva Passar by Ivete Sangalo - My first search for artists to add to this playlist was for Ivete Sangalo, and quickly I was being transported to my childhood home in Connecticut Circa 2006 watching the latest Novela with my mom. I don’t remember anything about the novela besides that this song was an absolute gem. I added other favorites, like Ceu, Clara x Sofia and Anitta.
SIXTEEN - Buen VIaje by Femina - We limit ourselves in listening to songs mostly in english since limited in understanding other languages, but music is so much more than the lyrics. Its the instruments, the sound, the feeling. I've found the songs that I've gravitated towards are so beautifully written as well. And today, especially as I've been thinking about mortality a lot again, this song hit hard, it's all about striving for immortality, not disappearing. Another song I felt similarly to was Flower Girl by Rallye a few months ago while focusing on my connection to the earth. Now getting emotional over the power of music and meaning at any point in our lives :')
We visited Death Valley in mid-March, in time for stargazing under a new moon. It was a ton of fun and was welcomed with a 17 hour long playlist of new and old favorites. I will admit it was a little overboard for a 3 hour drive, but it was plenty of variety for the weekend. Lastly, My regularly scheduled March playlist, titled Women, was packed with feel good songs from extremely talented artists.
SEVENTEEN - ROYL by Chloe x Halle - I am amazed by everything they do. Both sisters hold so much talent and I'm genuinely in awe in how they are able to express themselves as they do. And props to their entire team as they production on all of the pandemic performances.
EIGHTEEN - Rise by Willow and Jahnavi Harrison - Willow is another artist I'm constantly in awe of. Rise from her latest yoga album is a good listen anytime and i love doing a short flow to it or just being mindful of my breath during it. Meanwhile, Wait A Minute continues to be the best song out there and I'm glad it's getting the next gen on Tik Tok aware of her talent!
NINETEEN - Garden in the Sky by Prinze George - Early contender for top album of the year with Prinze George's Happy Garden. They were the last group I saw perform live before lock down in Feb 2020. These new tracks give me life and Garden in the Sky
TWENTY - Varanda Suspensa by Ceu - A song I’ve been listening to for years and still makes it into many playlists. In all honesty, I still need to look up the lyrics. All songs by Ceu rock.
TWENTY-ONE - I Was Sad Last Night I'm OK Now by Tobi Lou - I almost texted my college friend Tami this week asking if he'd heard this song, but remembered that he's the one that introduced me to Tobi Lou, haha. Listening to these lines last night while driving to Taco Bell brought me back to college, where my dining points were accepted there so it was my go-to (convinced myself the power bowl was “fresh”). Also brought me back to the days when going to sleep hungry was frequently a choice made:"You ever been so hungry you just lay down? You ain't even eat, you just went to sleep. Just so you could dream 'bout some takeout?" Love that line and overall vibes of the song.
And that’s a wrap! Here’s a way to easily access all twenty one songs