FNV (Friday Night Video) – Spotify Wrapped Edition 2022 Edition – Songs #91-100
My favorite time of year, music-wise, is always when Spotify Wrapped comes out. I’m rarely surprised by the songs that are on my list, but I’m always excited to see what I’ve listened to the most. This year, I decided to make my 2022 Wrapped Playlist into a regular installment on my blog by listing my top 100 songs, ten at a time, and explaining why I like them and what memories I associate with them (reasons that often overlap, since music, to me, is always a nostalgic medium).
Today is an extra good day to write about my favorite songs**, because I’ve been home sick for three days now, and will probably be out for at least two more after today. I rarely get physical illnesses, so I hardly know what it’s like to get the flu, or something like it. But the past few days, my eyes have been constantly secreting disgusting substances, I’ve had a fever, and my throat has been incredibly painful, even after taking Ibuprofen.
Nobody likes to be sick. On the flip side, I can’t remember the last time I’ve had five days to myself to quarantine inside my house and decide how to divide my time all day.*** It’s resulted in a lot of organizing, when I have energy, and some intermittent sessions of online Monopoly with my friend Asma and her two oldest kids, who live out of town. And it’s also resulting in this…another blog post. Last time I posted (a couple weeks ago) I vowed to do so more regularly, and now I can fulfill that goal by talking about one of my favorite things on this planet, music. So, here are my 91st – 100th favorite songs from last year, in order from 100 to 91.
100.) I Want You to Love Me (Fiona Apple) – This song is a relatively new Fiona Apple song, off her album Fetch the Bolt Cutters. My early memories of Fiona Apple include watching her at least mildly seductive music video, Criminal, on MTV in the mornings before school during middle school or high school. I’ve always liked Fiona Apple’s music, but Fetch the Bolt Cutters is so different from the Fiona I’m used to, and so versatile, so captivating. Her lyrics, as always, are quick, catchy, and intelligent, and her approach to music on this album is varied and unique.
I started listening to this album over a year ago. It reminds me more of that time period than it does now. I was in a difficult relationship with a man who was “good on paper” but who was manipulative and controlling. My closest friends advised me to get out fast, but I stayed for a few months before making that decision for myself. I was also coming off a significantly delusional episode, and I was trying to work 30 hours a week at my old job as Keyholder at Torrid while teaching two classes at a local university and working on my dissertation. Suffice it to say, it was a chaotic time in my life, but one I learned from.
I didn’t know the intricacies of this song well before actually realizing that it was on my top 100 for the year; I tend to listen to music without, often, approaching the lyrics very analytically. What’s always stood out most to me about this song is the simplicity of her delivery when she sings the refrain. When she emphasizes “you” she sings it deeply and without much inflection, as if the straightforward, unembellished approach were intentional. It makes her sound like Nico, who I’ve always thought had a particularly deep voice and an unembellished style of delivery. Fiona Apple’s unceremonious delivery of this refrain is one of many small, subtle maneuvers that contribute to the uniqueness of this album, and the lyrics leading up to the refrain are really well-written, clever, and fast-moving.
99.) I’m on Fire (Bruce Springsteen) – I’m a considerable Bruce fan, and one of my favorite memories is definitely seeing him in Pittsburgh with Michael and staying in a nice hotel with a suite that was close to the venue so that we were in walking distance. That was about seven or eight years ago, and we were seeing him sing on his River tour, a tour in which he sang the entire album, The River, plus a few more songs. “I’m on Fire” wasn’t one of the set list that night, but it’s probably among my favorite Bruce Springsteen songs despite the fact that I’ve never heard it live.
In fact, I don’t have many specific memories that accompany this song, but it’s so damn sexy. And it conveys the emotion of strong human desire incredibly well. For some reason, it conjures the image of covert liaisons on sultry summer nights in small country towns. My favorite lyrics are probably “Sometimes its like someone took a knife baby edgy and dull and cut a six-inch valley in the middle of my skull,” because it’s such an earnest, honest simile for yearning.
98.) Georgy Girl (The Seekers): This song is just fun! It’s a song I would truly classify as an “oldie,” and it always makes me want to sing along. Now, don’t get me wrong, its “girl-power” message is a reflection of girl-power in 1966, not today. Though the narrator is clearly rooting for Georgy girl, she tells her to shed her “dowdie” feathers, asks why all the boys pass her by, and suggests there must be another version of her buried deep within herself. It kind of reminds me of when Oprah said that inside every fat person, there’s a thin person waiting to emerge, and then of Adie Bryant’s bit at the beginning of the show Shrill when a woman says that to her and she starts going on and on about how she hopes the little thin person who’s hiding in her is okay. But, well, I digress.
To me, this song definitely reinforces the belief that our value is measured, in part, by how culture rates our physical appearance, and by our ability to attract the opposite sex. Achievements in such areas are conflated with “happiness” and the “dowdie” girl in the corner would probably have a better life if she just put some makeup on and dropped 15 lbs.
If I sound harsh, I don’t mean to. I actually and perhaps inexplicably love this song. I think one useful motif that stems from it is the sense that we benefit from the openness and willingness to change (“don’t be so scared of changing and rearranging yourself”). Plus, the beat is super catchy, and it’s sung with good intentions and good faith, even if the lyrics don’t quite fly in a 2022 context. Really, this song pumps me up, and for that, I love it.
97.) Coconut Oil (Lizzo): Lizzo sings, “I thought I needed to run/and find somebody to love/but all I needed was some coconut oil,” and I’m like, yes, Lizzo, yes, this. As you can see, there’s kind of a girl power theme running through songs 91-100 on my top 100 playlist, and the theme will ensue throughout. Lizzo is on here because when I don’t know what to listen to, I know Lizzo will put me in a good mood, or augment the good mood I already have, so I just shout “Alexa, play Lizzo,” and try to check things off my to do list as I jam.
But this song’s great because, well, conveniently, it’s a nice 2022 answer to #98, “Georgy Girl.” The implication is, of course, that Lizzo (and the listener) don’t need to run and find somebody to love; women aren’t defined by their ability to attract men. I enjoy romance, and I love love, but I’m at a point in my life where I very much agree with Lizzo; in the absence of romance, it turns out, there is so much more to life. Coconut oil is healthy and rich in nutrients, and I believe in a healthy, balanced life of exploration, the pursuit of knowledge, helping others, and seeking the divine. I am always quite in awe when someone says they are miserable because they are alone; if you are miserable alone, don’t you think you’ll be miserable when you find the (perhaps unfortunate) significant other that you seek? In this song, Lizzo suggests such wisdom when she sings about her own revelation.
96.) La Vie En Rose (Louis Armstrong): I am contradiction manifest, because this song, “Life in Pink,” is all about how the right kind of love or romance makes life take on a pink hue. I’m not a complete cynic, and I’m not saying this is impossible; indeed, I’ve just learned it’s nothing to chase, that there’s so much joy and happiness to be had from life that relying too much on the prospect of finding it in love is a waste of time. Conversely, who isn’t seduced by the idea that finding love can’t make the sometimes gray days seem pink?
A co-worker at Torrid was talking with me one slow night in the store (before I moved to Chico’s) and she told me how great the Louis Armstrong version of La Vie en Rose is. I love the original French song by Edith Piaf, even if I don’t understand all of it, and I love the cover of the song that Lady Gaga sings in the newest iteration of A Star is Born. Of course, the song is ultimately a lie; Armstrong says, “give your heart and soul to me/and life will always be/la vie en rose.” Life can’t literally always be “en rose,” and I’ve been in relationships enough to know that even the best romance doesn’t make life pink all the time. But it can, sometimes, and what a beautiful notion to hold onto.
95.) Hallelujah (Jeff Buckley): I think this song is a classic. I’m not sure what to say about it beyond that. I love it by Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and Rufus Wainwright; all three versions of the song are beautiful in their own way. What I didn’t realize, before writing this piece, was how different some of the lyrics in Cohen’s version are from Buckley’s version. To be honest, I fell in love with Rufus Wainwright’s version first, and later heard the earlier renditions.
In a strange, tangential way, this song reminds me a little bit of Washington, D.C. I lived there for a semester junior year and loved it. The odd thing about that memory is that I didn’t actually listen to this song a lot while I lived in D.C., although I was certainly aware of it. I recall the song—I think the Rufus Wainwright version—playing toward the end of an episode of the West Wing, and while I don’t even remember what the episode was about, the snow was falling, and the music supplemented the scene’s ambience so well. I think it’s that connection to the West Wing that makes me think of Washington when I hear the song. Whatever the case, it’s an old favorite of mine, no matter what version I’m listening to.
94.) Empire State of Mind (Jay-Z, Alicia Keys) If the last song in this list reminds me, in a tangential way, of living in Washington, D.C., then of course this song reminds me of New York City, as it’s intended to do. I’ve only been to New York City once. I flew there from Houston when I was 23, manic, and a bit delusional. I was visiting my friend Sabrina, who lived outside NYC in Jersey City, and while I have good memories of the trip, I do feel bad for poor Sabrina, whose memories might be less happy. She later told me that when we were standing in line to enter a night club, I kept screaming and shouting strange things and profanities for no reason. That night was probably indicative of my behavior throughout the trip. I imagine Sabrina was quite humiliated, but I was flying high on a frenetic, somewhat anxious mania. I was a lot to handle in those days.
This song also reminds me of Sex and the City, because they played this song to advertise the second film. While I like the slow version only by Alicia Keys, I like this spunky hip hop version better, and I get a little giddy when part of the slow, melodic music turns to an intense beat.
93.) The Rifle (Alela Diane) When we were younger, before the advent of streaming services, my sister and I used to make mixed CDs. Sometimes I liked to piece the songs together so that their juxtaposition enhanced one another, as if my compilation were a work of art. Other times, I put whatever songs were on my mind on the CD, which is what I do with playlists now. I was going through some old CDs a year or two ago when I encountered one of my sister’s old mixed CDs, and this song was on it.
While a lot of these songs take me to the past, this particular song grounds me in the present. Although it was released some time ago (2004), I’ve only started to listen to it a lot since I re-discovered it on one of my sister’s mixed CDs (which I probably burned once she made it so that I’d have a copy of my own). I’ve done a little quick web research on the meaning and haven’t found one conclusive answer, although it sounds like a song that details an invasion. Suffice it to say, it’s not exactly an upbeat song, but there’s something about the melody and the mysterious story within it that captivates me.
92.) Hook (Blues Traveler) There are a few songs on my Wrapped list this year that made the cut because Spotify puts them on so many of the mixes it makes for me, not because I hit the repeat button frequently. This is one of those songs; I think after hearing spotify play it a few times, I put it on one playlist, but it’s not a song that would have ended up on my top 100 list if not for the presence of algorithms. Now, that said, I’ve come to really like this song the more I listen to it.
Granted, this one is a nineties classic (1994), and I recall it playing on the radio when I was younger. But the song doesn’t only make me think of the 90s. I started a new position this summer as the Assistant Manager at Chico’s, a women’s clothing store. The job was difficult at first, probably for a lot of reasons, and it took awhile before I warmed up to the position and began to feel comfortable and somewhat confident there. The thing about Chico’s though—among other things—is that the store has an amazing soundtrack of songs from the 70s up through present day. I recall the song playing on the radio one pleasant day toward the end of summer, when the job was starting to become a little more comfortable, and so I often associate this song with the bright, vivid, carefully styled boutique I work in.
91.) Shadowboxer (Fiona Apple) As I stated, I’ve always really liked Fiona Apple. I had her first album on CD when CDs were more popular (I still listen to them, but some people find that comical when I tell them). I loved getting new CDs when I was in my pre-teens and early teens, especially for Christmas. I remember getting a slew of them on Christmas morning, and then taking them up to my bedroom where I’d sit on the floor, listening to them on my CD player while reading the pamphlets inside the CD as the snow blanketed the ground outside. Tidal (the name of Apple’s first album) was released in 1996, so I would have been 12 when I felt the delicious anticipation of taking the plastic wrap off the CD, peering at the album information inside, and playing the song on my CD player. It’s a delightful memory, one that probably spans many Christmases, and it makes me grateful that streaming hadn’t become popular or legal when I was a teen/pre-teen.