proprietary algorhythms

Spotify uses its own set of criteria (i.e. play count) to tell us about our top songs of the year, but what they missed were the moments in between the car stereo and the headphones. They missed your favorite sunset back in June. They didn’t know about the moment you had at the concert when you locked eyes with the lead singer (this didn’t happen to me, but I hope it did for you).

Play count reminds you of the songs you had on repeat, but not why you were so obsessed with it and what it meant to you. Spotify’s got the data but you’ve got the memories.

Songs are a refuge, a meditation, a party and a little time capsule for a moment in life. Every year for the past five years I’ve logged my top ten most significant tracks and I look forward to it every single time.

Illusion of Seclusion by Photay

I’ve been wanting to feature this song since I started this newsletter and looked for a million ways to write about it. And while I finally did in October, I still don’t feel like I can quite articulate what I want to about this song to the degree that I desire. Until then, I’ll leave it as “check out this cool song!” ‾\_(ツ)_/‾

Blu (feat. Damon Albarn) by Mura Masa

This was a long mood. I may or may not have tired this one out, but it’ll come back.

Burning by Maggie Rogers

This one feels like the miraculous sunshine that breaks through the fog in April. I want to live in this song’s attitude forever. FTR this was my most played track from my top artist according to Spotify.

Welcome Home, Son by Radical Face

Summer in the city always hits me with a new sorta nostalgia. How can a nostalgia be new? I don’t know, it’s like déjà vu and amnesia at the same time.

Evening Side by Four Tet

A journey of its own. I’m convinced the proper way to listen to this is with surround sound in the middle of a coastal forest (in Northern California, obviously). While 2019 wasn’t the year I discovered Four Tet, it was the year I began exploring and loving him.

Strangers by Lucius (originally by The Kinks, 1970)

An observation, a plead, and a truth.

The Sky Was Pink by Nathan Fake (Holden Remix)

This year I saw a lot of bright lights in dark spaces beating to the sound of music. This song represents this and reminds me of an early morning in the deep playa.

Points Beyond by Cubicolor

Some artists open up a whole new genre of music, and Cubicolor did this for me with deep house. Points Beyond is what they play when you enter the fifth dimension.

Gold Town by Stavroz

Dark, deep and mysterious. Repetitive enough to be danceable, but not to the point of exhaustion. Lush and organic and electronic. I was very into this type of sound this year.

Blanket Me by Hundred Waters

It’s a perfectly balanced tug and pull; slow enough but flows fast. Gentle but turbulent. It’s both restrained and unfettered at the same time. This came out two years ago, but honestly, this is album of the year.

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Lastly, thank you for getting this far down the post! But also thank you even if you didn’t. Thank you for following my playlist. Thank you a TON for emailing/messaging/chatting with me about music! I’m incredulous and grateful that anyone even signed up to receive these half-coherent emails, so thank you for letting me type out loud about tunes I love.

Dear reader, I wish you the very best that this next year and decade have to offer! Love yourself, be well to your neighbor, and listen to things that make you think, feel, and do better.


All featured songs from 2019 are in this playlist:

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