Friday, December 29, 2023

GL.23.11: Gina Uriarte


100 SONGS: Aaron Bergstrom

GL.23.01: Ilana Bergstrom

GL.23.02: Curt Trnka

GL.23.03: Marisa Plaice

GL.23.04: Isabel Vermaak

GL.23.05: Raffa Pantaleo

GL.23.06: Erik Kristjanson

GL.23.07: Lukas Brooks

GL.23.08: Jem Stirling

GL.23.09: Max Einstein

GL.23.10: Tony Schoenberg


GL.23.12: Ryan Joyce

GL.23.13: Desa Warner


After a strong run from 2013-2019, it has been a few years since I contributed a guest week list. 

I’m not sure why I stopped (pandemic? laziness?). Truth is, I love putting these together. Not because I think anyone actually reads them or cares what some rando has to say about their very specific taste in music. But because it serves as a way to reflect on a year as told through music. 

So I took the opportunity to look back at some of my prior lists and they are each a perfect time capsule of that year for me.

2019, the year I spent five months abroad, has more international influences and an overall summery, beachy vibe, reflective of the time of year I was traveling and the coastal cities I inhabited. 

2013 features “Rage” in the top spot. A song that most people probably don’t know or care for if they do (trust me, I tried unsuccessfully to turn a lot of people on to “Rage”) but became my anthem for that year. Back when (most) of my friends were still living in the city, we had jobs that paid us well enough but didn’t stress us out, and I was regularly spending my nights at the Fillmore, Independent, Fox and Regency. (Sidenote, why is “Grammy” by Purity Ring still not on Spotify? An injustice.)

2014 made me chuckle because I wrote, “I was worried that my list would basically just be Taylor Swift's 1989, but with the songs in a different order than they actually appear on the album…So here are, in no particular order, 25 songs that I loved this year almost as much as "Blank Space." Which is very similar to an earlier draft of my opening for this year, “When I considered submitting a list this year, I thought what can I offer? I’ve spent the entire past year listening to “Cruel Summer” on loop. Does anyone really need a list full of Taylor Swift songs? ... And so this list is all about the other tracks that were king of my heart this year.” Which proves that either I am incredibly unoriginal or time is, in fact, a flat circle.

Looking back at the songs I listened to or enjoyed the most this year I wondered what theme would emerge. How will 2023 stand the test of time? And one thing became incredibly clear. My music was, overall, more subdued this year. Here’s the thing. I like music that makes me feel good. Music that makes me want to dance awkwardly or sing off-key (and likely to the wrong lyrics). People listen to music for all sorts of reasons and there is, of course, no right or wrong way to consume music. And all of my past lists have one major thing in common: they are full of dance, poppy, upbeat, energetic songs. Simply put, there are 1989 and Reputation girlies and there are Folklore and Evermore girlies. I am firmly the former, though I can certainly appreciate the latter.

But this year’s list just … hits different. And it makes sense. 2023 was a rough year. I lost my father. His passing was expected yet sudden. He had been diagnosed with cancer and didn’t have a good prognosis. On the night of Christmas 2022, he was rushed to the hospital. He spent his final two months in the hospital. When we were being told that he had more time and to start making plans for in-home care or a full time facility, I went home for a few days. I had plans to go back to the Bay Area on Friday and mom called me on Wednesday to tell me he passed. Expected yet sudden.

I didn’t seek out music to help me cope with my grief. It was just there for me every day as it always is and always has been. I start each morning by turning on my speaker in the living room and launching Spotify. I have music playing all day, whether listening to it intentionally or as background noise. 

And while this year’s list is still overtly poppy and catchy. Even the very on the nose “The Day My Father Died” is incredibly upbeat. I found myself turning more and more to songs like “The Roads,” “A Lot More Free,” “Loneliness,” “Free” and “The Sweet Sound of You.” Alongside more pop-dance songs like “Flowers,” “Psychedelic Switch,” “One That Got Away” and “Say Don’t Go.”  

Ultimately, this mix of songs gave me what I needed this year. And whether the lyrics or themes are dealing with personal loss, the end of a relationship or reflecting on how you can come out on the other side, uptempo or downtempo, they were there with me each day. A reminder that no matter what, we carry on.

*Making it into my Wrapped means a lot of those songs came out last year. But the first rule of Guest Lists is there are no rules. Still, in addition to mining my Wrapped, I reflected on all new music I added to Spotify this year and tried to prioritize songs that were released in 2023. This list is a combination of my most listened to tunes as well as favorite new discoveries from this year.

Songs I Felt Compelled To Write About

(But in no particular ranking order. In fact, “U & I” and “Free” were two of my favorite songs this year, but I couldn’t articulate why, so they are included with Best of the Rest …)

Miley Cyrus - “Flowers”

Big Miley fan (since “Party in the USA”). Anyone calling this Miley's comeback album just makes me think they haven't been listening. While some may have missed the memo (Plastic Hearts), I'm just thrilled she's “back.” 

  • In the Top 100: “Flowers,” “Jaded,” “Rose Colored Lenses,” “River,” “Violet Chemistry,” “Plastic Hearts,” “Angels Like You,” “Prisoner, High,” and “Never Be Me”
  • Added in 2023: “Flowers,” “River,” and “Violet Chemistry”

Jonah Kagen - “This Life Ain’t Easy”

I get Jonah Kagen and Noah Kahan mixed up a lot. Not only are their names similar, but if you're into Noah, you'll likely like Jonah. I stumbled upon Jonah on TikTok a few years back when he was just fooling around with a snippet of what would become his song “Broken.” Fast forward, and he’s put out several songs that I simply adore.

  • In the Top 100: “This Life Ain’t Easy,” “The Roads,” “Graveyard Shift.” and “Broken”
  • Added in 2023: “This Life Ain’t Easy,” The Roads,” “Save My Soul,” “18” and “Pollution” 

Noah Kahan - “Homesick”

Speaking of Noah … I haven't been to Outside Lands in a while (after singing my off-key heart out in the fog from 2008-2018). As I've watched Noah (and his ticket prices) blow up, I’ve been slightly bitter that I didn't catch him back in 2019. Or better yet, being one of 12 people in attendance for his show at Bottom of the Hill in 2015. Instead, I settled for a front-row seat via livestream to his Outside Lands performance this summer, drowning in a sea of FOMO. I was, truly, Homesick.

  • In the Top 100: “Homesick,” “Stick Season,” “Northern Attitude,” and “Growing Sideways, Dial Drunk
  • Added in 2023: “Everywhere, Everything” (with Gracie Abrams), “Dial Drunk”

Carly Rae Jepsen - “Psychedelic Switch” 

Carly had the misfortune of releasing her album, The Loneliest Time, the same day as Taylor Swift's Midnights. Then, the day after my birthday this year, Carly gifted me (and the world) with a companion album of B-sides, The Loveliest Time.

  • In the Top 100: “Talking to Yourself,” “Western Wind,” “Beach House,” and “Surrender My Heart”
  • Added in 2023: “Psychedelic Switch,” “Kamikaze,” “Shy Boy,” “Shadow,” “So Right,” and “Come Over”

MUNA - “One That Got Away” 

I have Aaron to thank for introducing me to MUNA via his 2017 list and I never looked back. So whenever I get a notification about new music from MUNA, I listen.

  • In the Top 100: “Home by Now,” “Pink Light”
  • Added in 2023: “One That Got Away”

Gracie Abrams - “I Know It Won’t Work” 

Is slipping a Gracie Abrams track into the mix a subtle way to share that I caught her live opening up at The Eras Tour – you know, the one where snagging tickets felt like winning the golden ticket? Guilty as charged. But here's the kicker: I miraculously scored face value tickets through Ticketmaster. Call it luck or call it fate, but I gotta flex.

  • In the Top 100: “I Know It Won’t Work”
  • Added in 2023: “I Know It Won’t Work,” “The Bottom”

BANNERS - “Tell You I Love You” 

Every time the first notes of "Tell You I Love You" hit, my mind goes to Stars Hollow. Is it just me, or does the intro to this track conjure up vibes from the opening of the Gilmore Girls pilot ("There She Goes" by The La’s)? Maybe it's not a direct sample, but they've gotta be low-key fans of the show.

  • In the Top 100: “Someone To You,” “Keeps Me Going,” and “Where The Shadow Ends”
  • Added in 2023: “Broken Hearted,” “Tell You I Love You”

CHVRCHES - “Over” 

The sheer fact that this song was written during the pandemic and dropped in Feb 2023 is a timestamp in itself. As fate would have it, I finally had my first bout with COVID later in the year. Seriously, wake me up when it’s over.

  • In the Top 100: “Over”
  • Added in 2023: “Over,” “Talking in My Sleep”

Grouplove - “Hello”

Grouplove was my jam in 2011 and this song, more than any of their other songs from this year, catapults me straight back to those days of running wild through the streets of San Francisco.

  • Added in 2023: “Hello,” “Francine”

Moon Taxi, Molly Tuttle - “Evergreen”

“Lay Low,” “Set Yourself Free” and “Classics” are the songs from the album Set Yourself Free that I probably enjoyed the most. They are catchy, upbeat, and pleasant. Everything I want from Moon Taxi. “Evergreen” feels a bit out of place, and maybe that’s why I like it.

  • In the Top 100: “Classics”
  • Added in 2023: “Classics,” “Lay Low,” “Set Yourself Free,” “Evergreen,” and “Step Into The Light”

SYML - “The Day My Father Died”

I shazamed “You and I” by SYML at some point this year. I don’t recall what I was watching, but it led me to the album The Day My Father Died.

  • Added in 2023: “You & I,” “Laughing at the Storm,” “The Day My Father Died,” and Believer” 

Taylor Swift - “Is It Over Now?” (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)

I couldn’t really get through this list without including a Taylor Swift song. It’s a vault track released this year, so it counts.

  • In the Top 100: Too many to list
  • Added in 2023: Replaced all stolen versions of Speak Now and 1989 with Taylor’s Versions + new vault tracks

The Best of the Rest …

The Paper Kites - “The Sweet Sound of You”
Bear’s Den - “Loneliness”
Michael Kiwanuka - Beautiful Life”
Joel Culpepper - “Free” (feat. Tom Misch)
Milky Chance - “Colorado”
Baby Queen - “Dover Beach”
Zinadelphia - “Love Language”
Dagny - “Same Again (For Love)”
Noah Kahan - “Everything, Everywhere” (feat. Gracie Abrams)
Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness - “Stars” 
Caroline Polachek - “Smoke”
Freedom Fry - “Rescue”
The Aces - “Solo”
Max McNown - “A Lot More Free”
Metric - “Who Would You Be For Me”
Beach Weather - “Pineapple Sunrise”
FKJ, Darius, Wayne Snow, Crayon, The Nightbirds - “U & I”
Lord Huron, Ben Schneider  - “Ace Up My Sleeve”
Zach Bryan - “East Side of Sorrow”

Some Repeat Artists
(because I had a hard time picking one song)

SYML - “Laughing at the Storm”
Moon Taxi - “Classics”
BANNERS, Young Bombs - “Where the Shadow Ends”
Jonah Kagen - “The Roads”
Miley Cyrus - “Violet Chemistry”
Taylor Swift - “Say Don’t Go” (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)

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