2020 has been one long, insufferable, sour note. I would give you a recap, but we’re all exhausted, and plus, you’ve seen the headlines. You know what’s been happening. To be quite honest, there have been few things to keep me motivated and going. However, one of the things I turn to when I’m feeling depleted and need rejuvenation is music.
I feel most at peace when I turn all of the lights off, light a candle, put in some earbuds and lay back as I listen to my newest curated playlist for that specific season. I’m able to tune out and escape the cacophony of the world — and tune into a realm that makes me feel hopeful.
I want to share three songs that I’ve had on repeat that have gotten me through this year (thus far).
"OLLA (Only Lovers Left Alive)," Jhené Aiko
This gem by Jhené Aiko actually dropped on her album Trip back in 2017. One of my flaws is that I catch onto things super late — whether it's trends, music, TV shows or apps. Whatever it is, I will not be aware of its existence for at least two years. I found this song in March of this year, right before Spring Break. Then, when the pandemic hit and the country seemed like it was on a downward spiral, this song turned dark to me. As we all questioned our impending doom, the idea of being the only ones left alive eerily echoed. However, as I continued to replay it, I found that my favorite part of the song is the skate break announced by a roller rink DJ. It reminded me of how much I love to go to skating rinks, but during lockdown, going skating wasn’t possible. Ever since, the song has been a motivating force to look toward the future and to the next time I can go skating to my heart’s content.
"Pockets Bigger," Flo Milli
Firstly, three words: Flo. Milli. Then an explicit word that I can’t publish, but if you know, you know. One thing I admire about Flo Milli is that she exudes confidence — a confidence that I had been seeking. She dropped her mixtape in July with multiple tracks that established her place as a new artist in the rap industry and as an individual. The beat behind “Pockets Bigger” is nasty in the best way. After months of uncertainty about the world and about myself (due to imposter syndrome), the first downbeat instantly flipped everything on its head. Listening to this song makes you feel like you are the ultimate and the supreme and that you are not to be played with, not even by the nonsense that 2020 tries to throw at you.
"Lost One," Jazmine Sullivan
This song dropped at the end of August, and I was ecstatic when I learned it was coming. It’s been a long five years since Jazmine Sullivan released her last album, Reality Show, so hearing the news of new music was like a light at the end of the long, grueling tunnel that is 2020. This song is stripped down to a guitar and vocals, which allows for her voice to shine through. I swear that Jazmine Sullivan’s voice cured my flu once, and I’m sure her runs and riffs could end the plague. This year has been reflective for me and has allowed me to look inward. Hearing this song after putting in a lot of self-work was the reassurance I needed that I’m on the path I was destined to walk.