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2021 Musical Time Capsule: Our First Annual Playlist

Submitted by Joel on Sun, 02/18/2024 - 13:50

As mentioned in my previous post, we've been making playlists of our favorite songs of the year. As I was trying to add songs to our flash drive, Bethany suggested making a folder for the best songs that influenced our year. They aren't necessarily songs released that year, but songs that we really embraced throughout the year. I'll go through the entire song list below and why each song was added, but in order to make the list more accessible, here is the playlist (in the order that we felt had the best flow and linked to YouTube):

  1. Ed Sheeran - Nancy Mulligan
  2. Olivia Rodrigo - drivers license
  3. Bibio - Curls
  4. We The Kingdom - Holy Water
  5. Ludo - Anything For You
  6. EMMY - Witch Woods
  7. Olivia Rodrigo - good 4 u
  8. AWOLNation (feat. Grouplove) - Radical
  9. Taylor Swift - All Too Well (Taylor's Version)
  10. Maroon 5 - Memories
  11. Victoria - Growing Up Is Getting Old
  12. Berk & Pasternak - Everyday
  13. Yoke Lore - Beige
  14. Imagine Dragons - Enemy
  15. Olivia Rodrigo - traitor
  16. Nathan Evans - Wellerman
  17. P!nk - Walk Me Home
  18. Iron & Wine - Call It Dreaming
  19. Taylor Swift - willow
  20. Golda May - Read My Mind
  21. Tom Speight (feat. Lydia Clowes) - Hymn for Her
  22. Mimi Webb - Good Without
  23. Ariana Grande & Kid Cudi - Just Look Up

Bethany had the idea pretty late in the year, so we hadn't really cemented our plans for what these lists will be. Still, it's a pretty good list, and we still enjoy going back to it and revisiting the playlist. And that's really the sign of good music, isn't it? When you're willing to listen to it again and not skipping to the next song. 

Building the Playlist

I went into why songs might make it in the other post so I won't go into broad concepts here. Instead, I'll go through the list and say what made us think the song was worthy of making the cut. I'll probably jump around a bit as songs can be grouped together based on why they made the list. 

We start with Nancy Mulligan by Ed Sheeran. This is a folksy sea-shanty-like song based on his grandparents. 2021 was the year of the sea shanty, which is why we also had (16) Nathan Evans - Wellerman. Personally, I don't like having songs together that have a similarly unique sound, so I split them up. 

Going from a love story to a breakup, we continue with (2) Olivia Rodrigo's "drivers license", who dominated Bethany's requests for the year. Olivia is on the list 3 times this year with three breakup songs ((7) "good 4 u" and (15) "traitor"). For some reason, we both like break up songs. Bethany tends to like the angry ones and I tend to like the sad ones. Olivia does a good job mixing in both emotions, thus, three songs. Also, 2021 was all about getting our UK driver's licenses, thus, every time we thought of them, on came the song.

In November 2021 Netflix released the Christmas movie Love Hard. This became one of our all time favorite Christmas movies. We now watch it every Christmas along with Love Actually and Die Hard (where the name Love Hard comes from). Not only is the movie a fun romcom, it has a pretty darn good soundtrack. Curls by Bibio is the first song on the playlist from the Love Hard soundtrack. It is a nice melodic love song with an ethereal feel. Other songs: (12) Everyday by Berk & Pasternak is a cover of the Buddy Holly song, (18) Call It Dreaming by Iron & Wine is an original song that's soft and sweet, and (20) Read My Mind by Golda May is a cover of The Killers song with a gentle, acoustic take. Remember, we started this project late in the year, so having several songs we really liked from one soundtrack made cutting any of them pretty tough. 

The fourth song on the list is a rare entry from a Christian band. Bethany tends to like Christian music more than I do. This one I do like, though, so it made the cut. Holy Water by We The Kingdom isn't for everyone, that's for sure. I like the music and the message, and Bethany loves the song, so maybe see what you think? 

Next we have (5) Ludo - Anything For You. Spotify played it randomly and it tickled me. It's just an over-the-top love song that doesn't take itself too seriously. It makes me smile every time I hear it. As I listened to it occasionally, Bethany started really liking it, too, so it was soon added to the list.

Witch Woods by EMMY is the first (but definitely not last) song that we found by watching Eurovision. This song didn't even make it to the actual competition, but Bethany LOVED IT. It's now played quite often every October as it has a nice Halloween feel. It's loaded with a ton of girl power attitude and a fun tone (and yeah, kinda silly). Check it out! Or try the live version as we experienced it!

(7) Olivia Rodrigo's "good 4 u" is followed by (8) "Radical" by AWOLNation (featuring Grouplove). Radical was just a catchy song that Spotify played and it kept getting stuck in our heads. We saw AWOLNation in concert, so it will always have a place in our hearts. 

So in 2021 Taylor Swift re-released Red (Taylor's Version) and the song (9) All Too Well was EVERYWHERE. She had short radio versions, long versions, and really really long versions. Magazines featured red scarves in photo shoots and people tweeted at Jake Gyllenhaal to return Taylor's back to her. It was a real moment. It's sad and sweet and I dig a good sad song, so it made the cut. Not the 10 minute version, though... or the Sad Girl Autumn version... or the Short Film version... (there are a lot of versions).

Spotify played (10) Memories by Maroon 5 and I really like the similarity to Pachabel's Canon. Spotify also randomly played (17) Walk Me Home by P!nk (which has a really cool music video!) and (21) Hymn for Her by Tom Speight (a haunting duet about freedom and love). Spotify played it, we liked it, it eventually made the cut. 

(11) Growing Up Is Getting Old by Victoria was in the Eurovision Finals representing Bulgaria (it got 11th) and we liked it and kept playing it. It's a nice tune about how sucky getting old is. Let's just say it resonated. 

A friend suggested (13) Beige by Yoke Lore. It's got a unique sound to it. We like to have a nice wide range of music on our playlist and it made the cut. It's a good one and lead me to Seeds, which was probably my favorite song of 2023! Thanks for the suggestion, Grace!

(14) Enemy by Imagine Dragons was the theme song to Arcane on Netflix. We never skipped it because we liked it. And now it's forever a part of our 2021!

Evermore was released in 2020 by Taylor Swift and (19) "willow" kept getting play in our house, so it found a place on the list. Not my favorite song, but I have to admit, there's a quality to it that I really enjoy. When it comes to Swift songs, her lyrics are really what get me to keep listening. Pop music today tends to be so repetitive and Swift just does a good job mixing things up enough to keep me entertained. 

Every few months, I'll check the charts for songs that I might have missed that are good. I usually find none that I like. I just did this today and played them for Bethany. She thanked me for doing this without her. Maybe we're just out of touch with music, but we just do not appreciate the songs on the Hot 100. That said, I found (22) Good Without by Mimi Webb while listening to the UK chart toppers. I thought Bethany would like the upbeat, yet mournful feel to the song. She did. It made the list!

Finally, we have (23) Just Look Up by Ariana Grande and Kid Cudi. It was featured in the movie Don't Look Up (again on Netflix) and we really enjoyed the movie and LOVED the song. It's just so indignant and witty morphing from this typical love song into this powerful political statement. So it was a given that it was added to our list, even though we watched it on New Year's Eve, it HAD TO go on our list! It also started a tradition of having an Apocalypse Song every year!

What Do You Think?

Do you remember your favorite songs in 2021? Let us know what your faves were! Maybe try out some of ours and let us know what you think. And now that you kinda understand our tastes, maybe you could suggest some music for future playlists. Remember that music is VERY subjective and personal. Your music doesn't have to be our music. 

The next post will feature our 2022 playlist, which is the first year that we specifically listened for songs to add to a yearly playlist, so it really matured. Stay tuned for that complete list in the next week or so! Thanks for reading!