According To My 2018 Playlist, These Are The Musical Messages That’ll Resonate With Me In 2019
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According To My 2018 Playlist, These Are The Musical Messages That’ll Resonate With Me In 2019

Besides providing sick jams, music and the music artists behind it have a lot to offer about themselves and the world around just have to listen.

Jessica Shih

At the end of each year, I create a playlist summarizing how my year went, and play it on loop into the first week of January. Although many of the songs in these playlists were chosen due to my relatability to them, this year, I approached the task from a more third-person viewpoint. Sure, what I included in this year's playlist can certainly hold significance to any one listener like myself, but I've realized I should also aim to recognize and highlight the importance of song and songwriting to the music artists themselves. Through the intimate vulnerabilities they expose themselves to through music, these artists convey timeless messages to not only the world but also themselves about what it means to be human.

1. Lorde - No Better


Sure, Lorde's teenage angst about drugs and sexuality sing loud and clear in her older songs like "No Better", making it a musical trait that's probably not desirable for any pump-up playlist to summarize the year. But the airs of whimsy and mystery that are also present in her music—combined with Lorde's eloquent aura that translates into her songwriting—stimulate these timeless and nostalgic sentiments that make such controversial ideas seem irrelevant. In this sense, the then-teenage Lorde relays the ever-important art of handling mature topics with ease, class and poise—an inspiring concept that goes beyond fulfilling her "adolescent revolution" quota to extend its message to music artists and listeners alike.

2. Conan Gray - Crush Culture


"Romance" has never been a common term used in Conan Gray's vocabulary, both in and outside of his music. However, he makes such romantic intentions—or rather, lack thereof—prominent in his bedroom pop track "Crush Culture". Fueled by residual teen angst, he preaches his jaded old-man bitterness (despite having just celebrated his 20th birthday) toward the sickening infatuation teens have with romance, or as Conan puts it, "crush" culture. It's clear satire, but underlying his biting lyrics is also his regret of missing the milestone of experiencing the kind of over-the-top, mushy-gushy romantic relationships many others within his generation got to have throughout their youth. Though Conan's lyrical logic rules that since he can't be in love, no one else can, either, "Crush Culture" presents an anthem to the loved and the loveless that barates the excessive PDA that teenage crush culture displays, while also romanticizing and reminiscing the fleeting beauty of youthful passion.

3. Khalid - Vertigo


While Khalid hasn't been a longtime presence in the mainstream music industry, his 2017 hit singles like "Location" and "Young Dumb and Broke" were what gained him worldwide acclaim for his distinct, raspy-yet-haunting singing voice, electronic R&B sound and youthful, relatable lyrics. But as a result of his recently skyrocketed fame, Khalid has been finding himself struggling to distinguish the happenings in his life between dream and reality. As expressed in "Vertigo", he ponders if the dizzying height his musical career has reached is responsible for the senses of literal and metaphorical vertigo he now experiences. As his fame continues to surmount, he further wonders if these thoughts and experiences that have been troubling him are real and concrete or simply just fabricated "dreams" —obsessive worries that are merely the extensions of increased selfishness and paranoia due to his newfound stardom. After fulfilling one's dream or happiness—as in Khalid's case, musical success—is he, or anyone else, truly living, or merely existing?

4. Amine - Beach Boy


Aminé doesn't box himself in as many other contemporary rap artists do. While most rappers' lyrics tend to speak of a limited range between drugs, sex, fame and money, Aminé defies many of these conventionalities by relating aspects of himself and his insecurities to his music. In "Beach Boy", he emphasizes the dichotomy of being trapped between his past and future, in specific regards to his 2017 hit single "Caroline" topped global charts, and how his sudden fame has increased pressure for him to uphold a certain rap artist standard. Through this inner conflict of advancing his musical career by either caving in and adhering to the contemporary American rap music formula or continuing to experiment with unconventional sound and lyrics, Aminé's struggle to play safe or take risks results in him choosing the latter. Despite his fear that any further produced music will be "slept on" and thus keep him a one-hit wonder, he raps that he won't let "what-ifs" control him by instead taking control of them in his destiny to be a rapper.

5. John Mayer - New Light


Despite his longtime prominence in the acoustic folk music community, John Mayer has returned to his indie-rock blues roots this year with his newest single, "New Light". Complete with an 80s disco-esque driving beat and bluesy guitar riffs, Mayer preaches an unrequited love for a woman, unfulfilled by sustained friendzoning. But while his new funky sound (and outfit, as evidenced through the above GIF depicting him dancing in the music video for "New Light") is what's drawing in new and old listeners alike, his continuous ability to articulate his emotions in a relatable manner is primarily what has always kept, and what will keep, audiences entranced. According to his lyrics, John Mayer may be well into his adulthood, but that doesn't mean that he has completely figured out the world, his life or even himself. After all, as he once sang, he's still waiting on the world to change.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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