Favorite Tunes of 2020

Finally! The post you’ve all been waiting for. Obvi.

My Favorite Albums:

  • Perfume Genius “Set My Heart on Fire Immediately” (May) Oh my, this album. Falsetto swoony dramatics can be hit or miss for me, but I absolutely loved this. Favorite songs: “Jason,” “Nothing at All,” and “Some Dream.”
  • William Prince “Reliever” (February) This deep voice of calmness was so soothing. I guess this is labeled as country. If you like Eddie Vedder’s solo stuff, you might like this. Favorite songs: “Always Have What We Had” (with the best line “I can miss you from anywhere” SWOON) and “That’s All I’ll Ever Become.”
  • Ethan Gruska “En Garde” (February) don’t know what made me pick this one up (maybe the collab with Phoebe Bridgers?), but it stuck in my head. It’s certainly got a bit of an Elliott Smith vibe which turns out to be the kind of sound I was seeking all year long. Perfect for a melancholy “OMG it’s the end of the world” year like 2020, am I right? Favorite songs: “On the Outside,” “Enough for Now” (w/ PB), “Teenage Drug” one of my favorite songs of the year for sure.
  • Phoebe Bridgers “Punisher” (July) Speaking of Elliott Smith vibes… I wrote ‘Yup, yup, yup” next to pretty much every song on this album. I know this was Taylor Swift’s year to many people (and I do like both those albums enough to have them on my top 10) but I will maintain that this album and the HAIM release (below) are JUST AS GOOD, if not… better? Heh. Don’t come at me, Swiftees, I’m allowed to have a different opinion than you! Favorite songs: “Moon Song”, “Graceland Too”, “Kyoto”… And all the rest of them. Ha.
  • HAIM “Women In Music Pt III” (July) Do I own or know anything about parts 1 and 2, if those indeed exist? Nope, I don’t, but this album just really dug its way in to my eardrums. There’s all kinds of musical nods happening in the backgrounds, it’s so upbeat and fun in a LOT of ways. There are several songs with just a great! beat! on this album. What fun. Favorite songs: “Los Angeles,” “The Steps”, “I Know Alone”, “Up from a Dream” “Don’t Wanna”, “All That Ever Mattered”, “Now I’m In It.”
  • The Weeknd “After Hours” (April) Cringe. Some of his lyrics are so misogynistic, I don’t think I’d love my teenage daughter getting obsessed with his music. Those are probably all the songs I like the best HAHAHAHA OMG life is frustrating. I just… always love every album he puts out and then one day I find myself analyzing the lyrics I’m singing along to and get annoyed. Oh well. Such is life. Sometimes great songs have shitty messages. Music is complicated like that. Favorite songs: “Hardest to Love”, “Heartless”, “In Your Eyes”.
  • Kesha “High Road” (February) I had never bought a Kesha / Ke$ha album before but this one was totally worth it. TOTALLY. A wild mix of upbeat rock and pop, melancholy country, it’s up, it’s down, it’s all over the place. Favorite songs: “Cowboy Blues” (“Did I fuck my whole life up?”), “High Road,” “Birthday Suit” (so ridic), and “Resentment” (w/ Brian Wilson and Sturgill Simpson, of all people).
  • Waxahatchee “Saint Cloud” (April) Pretty sure Busy Phillips’ instagram stories put this on my radar as I’ve never really been a Waxahatchee fan in the past. This album has what is definitely a contender for song of the year: “Fire”. I take it for granted / If I could love you unconditionally / I could iron out the edges of the darkest sky / For some of us it ain’t enough / It ain’t enough. Cannot stop listening to it, singing it, humming it, getting lost in its chorus. It’s 2020’s Maggie Roger’s “Alaska.” Other favorites: “Lilacs” (so Dylanesque) and “Hell.”
  • Taylor Swift “Folklore” (July) OK are the “Cardigan” commercials not cracking everyone else up at this point? I mean, it seems insane months (and another album) later to suddenly see them a million times every Hulu show I watch. Heh. Favorite songs: “Exile” (feat Bon Iver) duh, “Seven,” “This Is Me Trying,” “Invisible String”, and “Mad Woman.”
  • Taylor Swift “Evermore” (December) Seriously, if this album was just the song “Ivy” in every single position, I would love it just as much. SONG OF THE YEAR, people, song of the whole damn year. Oh, goddamn, my pain fits in the palm of your freezing hand. But, sure, there are others I liked. I guess. Favorite songs: “Willow,” “Champagne Problems,” “No Body, No Crime” (feat HAIM), “Dorothea,” and “Coney Island (feat The National).

Honorable Mentions:

  • Little Big Town “Nightfall” (February) In keeping the favorite list to 10, Waxahatchee knocked this one off. But there are a ton of songs on this album that really *really* stuck with me. Favorite songs: “Questions” and “The Daughters” might be the best back to back on an album all year.
  • BLACKSTARKIDS “Whatever, Man” (November) Oh wow, I dig this one. But.. I got it in November and then didn’t really start listening to it until 2021. Heh. I am always up for trying albums recommended by Hanif Abdurraqibb because his writing about music just sucks me in! But a lot of times it turns out I don’t hear what he heard in it. This one, however, is aces. Favorite song: “Camp Whatever” Haven’t felt alive in a while, but I’m not dead.

Best 1-2 Punch of the Year:

“WAP” Cardi B. & Megan Thee Stallion to be followed immediately by “Watermelon Sugar” Harry Styles. I know, what are we-teenagers? Just take my word for it.

Favorite Songs Not From Aforementioned Albums:

  • “Conversations in the Dark” John Legend – just all kinds of big swoony love for this tribute to CT.
  • “No Time for Love Like Now” Michael Stipe – definitely my favorite song of those early Pandemic days. Ah, those early Pandemic days.
  • “Hard to Forget” Sam Hunt – yes, I love his cheesy sappy fratboy albums. But never all the way through. This song though…
  • “Another Beginning” Joshua Radin – can he even write a bad song?
  • “Kings & Queens” Ava Max – just put this baby on repeat.
  • “One More Second” and “Take Me Out of Town” Matt Berninger – I was bummed to not really enjoy this album overall but loved these two.
  • “Ridiin’ Solo” Jason DeRulo – I think this may have come out some other year but 2020 is the year I could not stop singing it, like, basically, ever. It’s all about the beat, baby.
  • “Wasted Youth” Diana Gordon – oooooo love this draggy slow swirl.
  • “Almost Home” Moby (feat Damien Jurado – OMG so Bon Iver.
  • “I’m the One” DJ Khaled (feat. Justin Bieber et al) – Good grief, I like a song with Justin Beiber on it? Just bury me in shame.
  • “Spiral” Pinegrove – Another Busy Phillips insta earworm. “Drink water, good morning…”
  • “Video Games” and “Goodbye to All That” Sufjan Stevens – another album I found myself disappointedly uninterested in. Sigh. I love so much of Sufjan’s stuff, but somehow I never found a way in with this one.
  • “Cavalry” Mashrou’ Leila – an album recommended by YA author Abdi Nazemian, thoroughly enjoyed it and this song was the real standout for me.
  • “Beige” and “Goodpain” Yoke Lore – their Goodpain EP was a highlight.
  • “Gone Gone/Thank You” Tyler, the Creator – probably came out in 2019 but I bought the album in January, one of my “everyone had this on last year’s list” purchases, I think.
  • “Pictures” Asgeir – I buy a lot of singles when I hear them in a movie, on a TV show, or on a commercial. Presumably that’s how I found this one.
  • “Lost Here” Fauntella Crow – probably same.

Favorite Covers: (in that rare year where I bought very few!):

  • “Explain It to Me” Squirrel Flower – Liz Phair cover, that frankly sounds very close to the original. Heh.
  • “I’m on Fire” Staves – all slowed down and glorious.
  • “Put Your Records On” Ritt Momney – omg the name of this band. Smacks forehead.

What’d I miss? What song or album could YOU not stop listening to in 2020? I’d love to know…

À la Super Eggplant, currently, I am…

Watching: I just finished a rewatch/watch of One Tree Hill (I had only seen some of the first few seasons) and now I’m rewatching Firefly, which as you may know will hardly take any time at all. 🙁 I can’t figure out what I’ll watch next!

Reading: I’m about a third of the way through “Theft” by Peter Carey, which is definitely fun so far. I read quite a bit of Peter Carey back (BACK) in the day.

Listening to: Completely bingeing on Maggie Rogers “Heard It in a Past Life”, but also really obsessed with J.S. Ondara‘s “Tales of America.” It’s so good!

Writing: Sexy daydream poems on the bus, in the duplex form created by Jericho Brown (whose poems I’m obsessed with!).

Eating: Suddenly finding myself in sammy mode, I’ve been making nice big fat ones with ham, turkey, provolone, pickle slabs, roasted red peppers, giardinera, tomato, spinach and a little mayo. Oh yum they’re so good.

Drinking: So much lemonade I think it might be giving me acid reflux. Ha!

Knitting: Ah, nope. 🙁

Quilting: Also nope.

Sewing: Just made another tunic! And two more cut out. Let’s keep that momentum going…

Focusing on: Not spending any unnecessary money. Not bringing work home. Not staying at work beyond the hours I get paid for.

What’s up with you? 🙂

Music I Bought in 2018…

So my $$$ spent on music has greatly decreased both due to lack of time (either to listen OR to even have heard about new tunes) AND lack of $$. But here is a quick review of the albums I bought in 2018 and whether they were worth it or not!

January: no tunes purchased.

February: no tunes purchased.

March:

  • Black Panther (soundtrack) – I adore Kendrick Lamar. His last two albums (ESPECIALLY “Damn”) have just rocked my socks off. But I bought this, forgot to listen, started, forgot, started, forgot. I’m not sure I ever even listened to this all-the-way through. March tends to be a NUTS month at school though so I probably just kept not finding any time to listen. Bygones.

April:

  • Tinashe “Joyride” – OK. didn’t love it.
  • Kylie Minogue “Golden” – LOVE love love love. One of my favorites of the year.
  • Cardi B “Invasion of Privacy” – It’s OK. Most of the songs sound exactly the same to me! /ducks/

May: No tunes purchased.

June: No tunes purchased.

July:

  • Maluma “FAME” – Yes, I started buying Spanish-language rap and R&B a few years ago due to my primarily Hispanic students and some of their recommendations. No, I don’t speak it even close to well enough–I either look up translations of the lyrics OR I just enjoy it for the sounds and don’t worry about its most likely inappropriate lyrics (it is AMAZING what students will recommend to you sometimes without considering their audience). This is, to my very-inexperienced-with-it ears, definitely in the “reggaeton” tradition, like Nikki Jam, another student-inspired purchase of mine.
  • Meg Myers “Take Me to the Disco” – Love love love love. Definitely one of my favorite purchases of the year.

August: No tunes purchased.

September:

  • Troye Sivan “Bloom” – It’s OK. But I had too much built-up anticipation because I looooove his first album so much. This falls short for me.
  • ARM & TEPR “Psaumes” – this is an older release that I just got turned on to. I have in the past bought a lot of French rap/R&B but I’ve fallen off recently. It’s OK–I think a certain song or two convinced me to buy it but then I didn’t love the album as a whole.
  • Also bought two singles from Odessa “I will be there” (love) and “Hummed low” (OK), and “Black Beatles” from Mayrie, which I like.

October:

  • Cat Power “Wanderer” – I like it. It’s very mellow. The Rihanna cover is what grabbed me. But I’ve been more into previous albums of hers.
  • Matt Nathanson “Sings His Sad Heart” – SO good! Best album of his, in my view. He’s awesome in concert, has such SUCH good stage banter, and his albums before this have never lived up to his live performances for me–they’ve always been a little cheesy. A little white frat boy “college-ing it out” (a term I use a lot and frankly think it’s self explanatory so maybe you understand it and maybe you don’t). Anyway, I love this album.

November: No tunes purchased.

December: I spend the most $$ on tunes in December every year, where I start rabidly buying things I see on best of lists!

  • Boygenius EP – It’s SO good, I can’t stop listening to it.
  • Kacey Musgraves “Golden Hour” – I like it but it’s a little light. There’s one song I just can’t stand to listen to. There’s two I love. But I don’t really think it earned the hype for me.
  • Janelle Monae “Dirty Computer” – this is basically a Prince album to me. So I like it. But it doesn’t necessarily make me feel like seeking out all her stuff.
  • Mitski “Be the Cowboy” – definitely like a few songs from it. Haven’t listened to it enough yet though. My bad.
  • Rosalia “El Mal Querer” – I love this. So operatic and drama mama. Her videos are all Queen of Wands sass, vim and vigor. LOVE. Even though I don’t understand the lyrics. 😉
  • NoName “Room 25” – bought based on best of lists. Hasn’t really pulled me in. But need to give it a few more tries.
  • Lucy Dacus “Historian” – it’s good but I like the Boygenius (which she’s part of) a LOT more.
  • and I bought a single of Brandi Carlile’s song “Mother” which is stunning. She’s an artist I really only buy singles by though, her full albums never grab me.

À la Super Eggplant, currently, I am…

…posting to my blog for the first time in over a year, WHUT. There’s a few technical things I’ve been vaguely waiting to fix behind the scenes, and then there’s LIFE and all that, and… yeah. HI. ‘Sup?

Watching: OK, I was rewatching all of the original Charmed, but I got to around when SOMEONE becomes a SOMETHING (no spoilers)…and I just sorta stopped. I did miss those goofy witches. I watched the first couple episodes of the new Charmed (which is really what sent me back) but it really annoys me that they got such a cool cast of girls and then put this doofy white dude in charge of them a la Giles from Buffy and so yeah I haven’t watched it after the first three. In current TV, I still adore Blackish and Chicago Fire. New TV wise, I am liking A Million Little Lies, even though it 100% has party-of-five syndrome (too many issues in one small group of people), and New Amsterdam, which makes me break down almost every week. But it’s good. Best hospital show in absolutely years. I started watching The Patriot (TV show not the dumb old movie) on Amazon–but I can only watch it when I stay late at work on that laptop b/c neither my personal laptop nor my home desktop are updated enough to currently watch shows on Prime, yes I’m pathetic, and now that I’ve made a personal vow to leave with the kids every night, well, I haven’t been able to watch anymore of it. But it’s SUPER cool and SO quirky. Oh, but the best, best, BEST thing I’ve seen in absolute years is Killing Eve, which I completely inhaled a weekend or so ago and cannot stop thinking about ever since. So good! So so so sadly I have not been to a movie in at least a few months… I’m having a hard time even remembering what I saw last! OMG THAT’s SO HORRIFYING. 🙁 I’ll come back and talk movies in another post if it comes to me.

Reading: I’ve instituted a new system where I read a YA or middle grades book in the morning, on the way to work, and an adult book on the way home. It’s been working great until I get stuck in a book I don’t want to read and then the system sorta breaks down and I listen to tunes instead, HA. Anyway, since I haven’t posted here all year, I haven’t made a book list (I KNOW, DID YOU JUST DIE OF SHOCK!), but I do have goodreads COMPLETELY updated (it’s got an app, it’s easier…) so you can check there. Some recent reads I would recommend are: 

Adult:

  • Friday Black, by Nan Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, a short story collection, the first and last stories of which are just mindblowingly good.
  • Spinning Silver, by Naomi Novik, a slow (slow) burn but it really pays off in the end, a modern fantasy fairytale.
  • Graphic novel series Saga by Brian K. Vaughn (I’m caught up to Volume 9) and Monstress by Marjori M. Liu (there are three volumes out, GO START!), I love them both so much.
  • Muse of Nightmares, by Laini Taylor, the sequel to Strange the Dreamer, both of which are amazeballoons.

YA/Middle Grades: 

  • Kendare Blake‘s sister queen series “Three Dark Crowns“, ALL of those books were fabulous.
  • Endling: The Last, by Katherine Applegate, the beginning of a new high fantasy series by the author of Ivan!!
  • The Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill, a good kid book alternative to Spinning Silver mentioned above.
  • And anything by Jason Reynolds or Kwame Alexander, two of the hottest young authors out there. And by hot I mean happening and in the news, as I have now had to clarify to numerous groups of silly students!

Listening to: I have bought sadly so very little music this year. It’s actually really stressing me out. The three albums I have listened to the most this year are Kylie Minogue “Golden”, Meg Myers “Take Me to the Disco”, and Matt Nathanson “Sings His Sad Heart” (wow, what a step up in quality!!), and I’ve been dipping into Cat Power “Wanderer” in the past few weeks. I do have a list of four albums I think I want from various top-10 lists out there (the latest from Kasey Musgraves, Janelle Monae, Mitski and Lucy Dacus) and I want the boygenius EP (the boygenius that Lucy Dacus is a part of, not any of the various boygenius things that come up when I search iTunes) but not sure it’s out yet? I also want to check out No Name, a female rapper.

Eating: Cooking all my breakfasts and lunches every week, as I generally do during the school year, and particularly obsessed with Chrissy Teigens’ Cravings 2: Hungry for More book. Everything I make out of it has been delicious.

Drinking: Coke, coke and more Coke. Oh, Coke, why can’t I quit you?

Knitting, quilting, sewing: I’ve done a TON of sewing throughout 2018 (9 dresses maybe? tunic/dress types) and I’ve still got quite a bit of fabric and new patterns to try. I made two new ones from the Lou Box Dress pattern just last month–a knit dress version that is perfection (OK, maybe a little wide in the neck but perfection, srsly), and a woven tunic version that is basically a wearable muslin. I haven’t got the fit right in the woven for a dress yet. I’m knitting a brioche scarf, and I have a sweater I have sort of gotten back to that I believe I started in January (oops). I want to make that my Christmas break project… we’ll see. 🙂 No quilting has happened recently though. 

Focusing on: Separating home life and work life. Trying to leave with the kids or as close to it as possible. Not bringing any grading or work home AT ALL. I get it done at school, or I don’t get it done. I’m not going to get into an argument with people about the insanely overworked, underpaid status of teachers these days but let’s just say I’m done letting myself be a victim of a sick system that gets millions of hours of free work from its primarily female workforce. It’s sexist bullshit frankly and were the majority of teachers men there would have been a government-sanctioned revolt a million years ago. But then again, would we even still have public education these days, if it wasn’t primarily women doing all the work???? 

So, that’s me. How about you? Leave me a note and let me know what you’re reading!

I can’t stop listening to Taylor Swift “1989”.

I (finally) got this album in November…and loved it on the first listen…but then I just barely had any time to listen to music during the school year and sort of forgot about what I had bought earlier and even had some months where I didn’t even buy anything (what? that’s unheard of!). Well I’ve remedied that in the past 10 days and I cannot turn this album off. True sign of a great album: even the last three tracks are fabulous.

Her public persona is a BIT much (along the lines of Tom Cruise is a BIT enthusiastic), and I have never listened to any of her prior stuff, and sure some of the lyrics are a little silly, and sure when you hear what the songs are reportedly about sometimes you have to scoff…but I can’t stop humming them and singing them and dancing to them. Just can’t stop.

You people and your creativity.

Just finished A Brave Man Seven Storeys Tall which I really loved more and more as it went on and these two interviews (this one and this one) with the author are wildly entertaining, intriguing and informational.

Thanks to NPR’s MonkeySee podcast, just started listening to this British rapper Kate Tempest and started reading about her award-winning poetry and her other work and am just blown away.