2020 Year End Music Review and Then Some

Blue sky with pink clouds

Woah. It’s been a minute since I wrote up one of these. Actually, it’s been a year since I’ve written a music review to sum up the year, so I knew I needed to do a 2020 music review. I started to write one last year, and just couldn’t finish it. You see, this is a tradition for me, since my early twenties. Summarizing my year with the songs that aligned to it, gave meaning to it, made me FEEL something, or perhaps was just relatable to the human experience that are all somehow racing through. This year, I decided I had to write a 2020 music review.

Anyway, I’m back. Why did I take a break from writing up a music review in 2019? Long story short? I was healing from the whiplash that comes with just one mishap after another. I really don’t want to get into it, but I couldn’t catch a break and a lot of it wasn’t preventable. Well, maybe spilling boiling soup all over myself was a little preventable, but believe me, I do what I can to take responsible steps to prevent any chaos that life throws at you. I was a Girl Scout after all, but the Girl Scouts don’t prepare you for the variety of mishaps I experienced. There’s no handbook to climb out of your lowest point, is there? 

You just need time.

That’s what I loved about 2020. *Cher voice* It gave back time. It gave me time to get back to myself. It gave me the time to catch my breath, come up for air. I felt fun again. I felt light. I felt confident in myself again. 

I remember walking outside on a spring night, and feeling the air, really feeling it for the first time in a long time. It felt different, like I belonged to myself again. You know that feeling you get when you breath in that fresh, spring air? It gives you a buzz. Like this excitement for life and what’s ahead? I missed that so, so much. And I felt it again one night in May. That’s when I knew I was back.

As I am writing this in my one-bedroom apartment that I finally was able to snatch up thanks to the job that I have worked so hard in, a career I really love, I am a different person. I now own a couch, in which I’m dancing to the songs I’ve added to this 2020 music review. So here they are, my 2020 Year End Music Review and Then Some. The “and Then Some” are my runners up and top picks for 2019 without the blurbs. I’ll let ya’ll use your imaginations.

She’s Always A Woman – Billy Joel

I had a moment this summer when I realized that I had a choice to be the kind of woman I wanted to be. Did I want to be strong, independent, unapologetically me? Or did I want to bend to others, change myself at the request of small people, tear my inner monologue apart until I fit in a tiny box? You could guess which I went for. This song helped me realize it. I do what I please. You can’t convince me, I just change my mind. I take care of myself. I am a graceful mess. I wouldn’t have it any other way. And I won’t find myself settling with people or concepts that don’t accept that. You don’t know hell until you’ve experienced others trying to bend you into the thing they want you to be. I walk before earth with fire at my feet. 

Ways to Go – Grouplove

Do you ever have these moments of utter devastation? Like you wake up and you’re like DEVASTATED. It’s definitely a 2020 thing. This year, I turned 30 and was NOT about it. I think I speak for a lot of millennials when I say we expected things to go differently by the age of 30. We were raised by people who settled in their early twenties, and grew up in the era where society decided to throw that all away. What a flip on the head, huh? I remind myself how young 30 is and how thankful I am that I haven’t just settled for less than I deserve. It also reminded me how far I have come over the last few years. How I didn’t even know my name, so to speak, but now I am who I am. I literally sing-scream this in my apartment or in my car with the windows down. I realize that we all, collectively, have such a ways to go, that it’s not going to be a straight line, but maybe a fun crowd surf to the end, letting yourself go with the flow of life.

Save Your Tears – The Weeknd

Do you ever feel like it all just gets so much that you want to run away? For instance, sometimes I I day dream of packing up my bags, selling everything I own, disappearing into a woodland escape, or I don’t know, maybe just Ireland. Sometimes life dog piles on you and you’ve just had enough, and this song just is a nice reminder to not allow the people and things in life that aren’t worth it make you cry. Save your tears for the things that really matter and the people who are worth your energy. To switch gears a bit, throughout my twenties, I’ve learned a lot from men. Some of the lessons of dating in my twenties were needless, albeit cruel, damning, traumatizing. Some were incredible and have led me to the person that I am today, a stronger woman. It’s led me to know that I would be a better partner now than I would’ve in any of those past relationships. And I’m thankful for that, at least. When I listen to this song, first of all, I absolutely love the Weeknd and his performance of this song during the People’s Choice Awards was probably one of the best I’ve ever seen. But it feels like all those disappointments are singing back at me, apologizing, validating every single misgiving that was dished out. Saying outright, “And you deserve someone better.” It’s therapeutic. I’ll save my tears for another day, another reason more worth my while. Like stubbing my toe for the 40th time.

Hard Times – Paramore

God, this song is for every single human being reading this right now. I legitimately remember crying in my car to this song on a drive back to the city mid-pandemic. And I am not a crier. 2020 has been a punch to the gut for a million reasons. The lyrics, “All that I want/Is to wake up fine/Tell me that I’m alright/That I ain’t gonna die.” GUH, I mean. The fear of the virus alone can make you repeat these words into your head, not to mention the civil unrest and fear that black and brown Americans face each day just by existing in this broken society. It’s heartbreaking. We live in a truly gut wrenching timeline. Beyond that, we’ve been living and yearning and wanting to be fine. Wanting things to get back to normal. Wanting what is “normal” to be different, but better than the (ab)normal we’ve been existing in. These have been hard times. We are all experiencing these hard times in our own ways, but what I hope is that it brings us closer together as one humanity.

Mind Over Matter – Young the Giant

This song kept creeping into my 2019, but it didn’t hit me until 2020. Maybe it was premonitory, or maybe it was just the light rock station that played in my real estate office. The part that gets me with this song is, “And when the seasons change, will you stand by me?” I don’t really take this in the literal sense. I think of it in a way in the seasons of life. The seasons of the last four years. I think about the people who have stood by my side through all my seasons – good, bad, ugly, good again, and so forth. I think about my dearest friends and how badly I miss them when we can’t see each other this year while the world is breaking around us, but we still make an effort to talk to each other. With everything this year, I knew I had to include this one in my 2020 music review. If there’s ever a moment, friends, where you don’t think anyone out there cares about you, I do. “You know you’re on my mind.” You’re in my heart, too.

The Lakes – Taylor Swift

The pond behind my parents’ home, the lake in Galena, the famous lake that I lived next door to for 5 years of my life. Lakes center me. Whenever I’m in a rough spot, I go to the lake. Whenever I’m feeling real good, I go to the lake. The whole thing is just soul cleansing, even if it’s just a random walk. A random day, for no reason at all. I always feel better than I did before. The water reminds me to stay on the ground, to ground myself. I love the quote in this song, “I want to watch wisteria grow right over my bare feet, because I haven’t moved in years.” It’s just a quiet reminder to step away from the madness and just be. Stop moving. Ground yourself. Live in the moment. This song reminds me of how much I’ve grown and changed from the 25 year old woman who moved into her Lake Shore Drive studio to the 30 year old woman moving out.

The End of the World (Cover) – Sharon Van Etten

Sometimes we looked around us and was fascinated by the fact that we all just kind of kept going through all of this. We watched people behave recklessly with all that’s going on around us like “r u kiddin’ meee?” Sometimes we would watch all of these men in charge push and push and push to save the economy. Dollars > Deaths. I feel like we may have all literally asked ourselves, “Don’t they know it’s the end of the world?” I sigh. Humans are incredibly resilient. I mean, look at you. You’re here! You’ve made it. We’ve made it to the end of the world. Terribly depressing, right? No, because with the end, there’s a beginning. And maybe the end of what a lot of us are used to, but maybe it’ll bring us closer to things that ARE more important. One can hope. I saw a video recently where a woman shared that we are all going through prolonged trauma as a collective and it’s going to have long term effects. And if you think your typical coping skills are going to cut it, well, they might not. And that’s okay. You shouldn’t expect to feel okay during all of this. It’s okay to not be okay. Let’s talk about it though.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 800-273-8255
Hours: Available 24 hours. Languages: English, Spanish.

Roses – Imanbek Remix – SAINt, Imanbek

This goes out to the time I danced on a table for the first time in maybe 7 years. It was February. It was amazing. I wish I had known it would’ve been one of the last night’s out in 2020. Shout out to McDonald’s and Uber Eats for their massive collaborative effort to revive me the next morning. 

2020 Music Review Runners Up

My Type – Saweetie: Never Settle, Lake Shore Drive
The One – Taylor Swift: Fast Love, Fleeting, Far
Texas Sun – Leon Bridges: Normalcy, Sun, Warmth
Saint-Tropez – Post Malone: Finally, Exhale
Oblivion – Grimes: Bursting Through, Healing
Silver Springs – Fleetwood Mac: Haunting

Here are my 2019 picks with a few words to sum up why they were chosen

High Horse – Kacey Musgraves: Texas, Redemption, Freedom
Mo Bamba – Sheck Wes: Disparity, Old White Dudes, Finale
Harmony Hall – Vampire Weekend: Healing, Deep Breathes, Long Drive, Leaves and Stone
Cut to the Feeling – Carly Rae Jepson: Lake Shore Drive, Closing Day
Sky Full of Song – Florence + The Machine: Doing Too Much, Grounded
Time On Her Side – Future Islands: It’ll Be Okay, You Are So Young
Girl – Maren Morris: Love Letter to Self

Check out my Spotify profile and my top 2020 songs that went along with my 2020 music review here!

2 thoughts on “2020 Year End Music Review and Then Some

  1. Dearest cous , great song, great words from a fantastic independent woman you have grown into I am so very proud of you xxx

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