2018: A Journey in Music

We listen to a lot of music in a whole year.

For the past few years, I’ve been compiling YouTube playlists of some of the songs I listen to throughout each year. Looking through the many months and various genres, it’s interesting to look back and chart your annual journey, your progression, your ups and downs.

I realize 2018, for me, has been a year of finally moving forward, getting rid of expectations and carving your own path, realizing that your wellbeing must come first if you’re to do anything else... and so, in no particular order are six of the defining songs I listened to this year.

1. Ojai- Young and Sick


I tune the world out / Least I try, least I try”

The world is an amazing place… and also currently terrifying, so much so that it’s all we seem to think about. Dazed, confused and downtrodden like most of us are at this moment in time, this song filled my soul when I realized Young and Sick finally said something I had been meaning to: “I feel everything / And it’s all too much / And I feel everything / And it’s all bad news.” Finally, I thought; Something in words to match my (…our?) internal madness.

2. Leave It- Yes


…breaking down the dreams we make real

It’s really easy to think you know how your life will play out. The moment you let go of those expectations and become something truly different is terrifying, but this year, I learned to enjoy the thrill. Leave It’s surreal production by Trevor Horn (and equally curious music video) is a sonic wonderland in which to explore a new blank slate and a whole world of possibilities.

3. Eet- Regina Spektor


You spent half of your life / Trying to fall behind / You’re using your headphones / To drown out your mind”

I’ll be honest. I shelved an album this year and it still hurts. I’m not sure if I’m proud of it, but there had to come a time where I had to let go, especially when I realized I wanted to tell a story about a time in my life I couldn’t anymore, despite feeling I owed something to those years. Here at the crossroads was a memory that brought me back to the heart of it all and made me miss it even more. The cherry on top was being introduced to this song by my high school’s acapella group. Don’t we all long for those days again?

4. No Such Thing- John Mayer


They love to tell you / Stay inside the lines / But something’s better / On the other side”

Here’s another throwback I’ve been missing until now. Music has this funny effect where you may not realize the truth until you hear it in song. Much like Ojai by Young and Sick earlier on this list, John Mayer’s No Such Thing brought its lyrical sunshine crashing through my window, validating my path in life and everything I wanted to be as an artist and musician. The standard way of doing things in America- college credits, degrees, grad school- never filled my soul… and, for once, that’s OK. Maybe I wasn’t meant to blend in…

5. No Tears Left to Cry- Citizen Queen


Right now I’m in a state of mind / I want to be in like all the time.”

The moment this Ariana Grande cover’s beautifully warm chords (arranged by Pentatonix’s Scott Hoying and arranger Ben Bram) filled my ears, I knew I was in for something good, possibly life-changing. After a year of fighting my own career expectations and letting go of a lot of things, I was finally tired of being tired of it all… and here was the door into something new. Citizen Queen’s lineup transformed Ariana’s already liberating pop groove into something stellar and soulful, a perfect reminder to remember your own worth and move forward only when you say it’s right. You call your own shots.

6. The Flat Earth- Thomas Dolby


The earth can be any shape you want it / Any shape at all / Dark and cold or bright and warm / Long or thin or small”

Thomas Dolby’s The Flat Earth is without a doubt my all-time favorite song, something so transformative and introspective that it made this year’s playlist twice. Yes, you read that right. I’ve looked up to Thomas Dolby as a musician since fifth grade, and I would definitely cite him as one of my most prominent influences… little did I know that I would have the chance to meet him in August. “You’re the reason I’m a songwriter.” were the first words I ever spoke to the man himself, echoing inside my head for what seemed like an eternity. And there it was. After a lifetime of music, I realized I could finally give back to it for all it’s done to shape me and allow me to have purpose.

As long as we continue to aspire to give as much of ourselves as we can, we’ll be in good hands. After all, the world can be any shape you want it, so why not believe that we can change it for the better?

Happy new year. Here’s to a 2019 full of incredible music, old and new.

What songs made your 2018 playlist? I’d love to know.