Life Without A Rubric’s 2020 Curtain Call: Music Part 2

Life Without A Rubric’s 2020 Curtain Call: Music Part 2

Hi, Hello and Assalamualaikum! I’m Aina and welcome to Life Without A Rubric!

DISCLAIMER: This is a continuation post so you’ll understand better if you’ve read Part One!

Welcome back to the run-through of my Spotify Wrapped 2020.

          I hope you had a Merry Christmas and took care of yourself as well as the people around you! Just a reminder that I’ve added links into new discoveries or re-discoveries for you, so feel free to either stack up tabs or open the links one by one through text that looks like this. Now onto Part 2!  

Top 5 Artists

          You know the drill by now, here’s a deep-dive into my Top 5 artists of this year:

1. Tomorrow X Together
Seeing that three out of ten of my top songs were by Tomorrow X Together, it only makes sense that they’re my top artist. If you don’t know them, they’re a year old Kpop boy group and their name is Tomorrow By Together. I was quite shocked but pretty proud that I was in the top 0.5% of their listeners this year. The fact that the number is less than 1% amazes me. I’ve said this before and I will say it again: their discography is flawless. Apart from the fact all five members can sing, dance and rap, they have songs in over 24 different genres ranging from hip hop, tropical house, new jack swing and a variety of pop! TXT really made my 2020. I feel like my lows would have been lower if I didn’t have them to listen and watch. They’ve been a huge highlight of this year and I am sincerely so grateful for their existence.

2. Stray Kids
The first Kpop group I ever wholeheartedly supported. I’ve been supporting these boys ever since I watched their survival show, which was heart-wrenching if I do say so myself. They are such a special group to me and what I think is amazing about them is not only do they self-produce but they don’t really have positions (in Kpop most if not all groups assign which member does what and has official positions like the main rapper, main singer, main dancer etc). Every member can sing, dance and rap really well and I think that’s truly incredible for a group of eight to all be able to do. Their music has always been something I can relate to and something that has always been there to reassure me, lift my spirits and keep me going. All eight of their personalities are so different from one another yet they work so well. I adore each and every one of their eight souls. Their leader and eldest member, Bang Chan, is also one of the kindest and most caring people I’ve ever seen. If there’s a group I can call home, it’s this one.

3. Bangtan Sonyeondan aka BTS
If you don’t know this name, I would be quite surprised but I won’t judge. The Bangtan boys were the very artists who opened up the wonderful world of Kpop to me. I did actually dislike and prematurely judge kpop prior to them, I had a bad history relating with who first introduced me to kpop. I could never didn’t want to understand why people listened to music they didn’t want to couldn’t understand and I was challenged to go against couldn’t get past the now seemingly ridiculous statements of ‘they look like girls’ and ‘they all look the same’. BTS tore all of that apart because of their undeniable skills at what they do. I could go onto how they revolutionised Kpop for the world even though they aren’t the first to do so. They definitely made a really huge impact. They were also my first concert and I’m proud to say so. I respect these men, what they do and what they’ve done and to them. They paved the way for many things personally and globally. To them I say: thank you.

4. Harry Styles
Fun fact, I was never a Directioner (I really liked a lot of their songs as of 2020 though). The only one time I put my attention into their music was when they released ‘Made In The A.M.’ and that was after they went on hiatus… Anyways, this is about our man Harry Styles. I love his music. I love what he’s produced since his first album but I undoubtedly love ‘Fine Line’ the most of the two. I also admire and respect him for what he stands for and how he carries himself. I’ve seen clips of what he’s like onstage and offstage. Not only does he have a good sense of humour but he really does stand by his words, ‘treat people with kindness’. I couldn’t – and I tried – to find clips of him snapping or being rude to someone, the paparazzi especially, but for someone this famous not to have a clip of that fascinated me. He’s also an advocate against toxic masculinity and I admire him for what he’s done in support of self-expression.

5. Billie Eilish
I’m surprised she’s on the list but this girl will never cease to amaze me. I will happily admit, she got me through 2019. She was my top artist of 2019 and deservedly so. Her album, ‘When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?’, is legendary. I listened to it on repeat, sometimes even while studying (especially math). In 2020, she released three new songs: ‘No Time To Die’, the new James Bond title song which was just so cool to me. The way it embodied the 007 aesthetic so well had me in awe. My Future’, this was one of my top songs of the year and is a song I go back to when I want to remember to look at life through a lens of hope and gratitude. Lastly there’s Therefore I Am’, an intellectual flex because of how she used the theories of two philosophers, Descartes and Plato, within her lyrics. Ultimately, I respect how unforgivingly herself she is.

Throwback Decade

          Spotify Wrapped follows up your Top Artists with which ‘Throwback Decade’ you listened to the most. 

          Out of the ’70s, ‘80s, ‘90s and 2000’s, I wasn’t surprised to see which decade I ended up listening to the most. ‘

          I also wasn’t surprised that ‘Crazy’ by Gnarls Barkley was my top song from said decade. I deem it the greatest one-hit wonder I’ll ever come to know and love. 

          When I was younger, I had no idea what this song was about and I couldn’t understand even after listening to it repeatedly. With the knowledge that the singer (Cee Lo Green) also sang another bop by the name of ‘Forget You, I thought it was something between a couple but never could place my finger on the whole ‘crazy’ aspect of it all.

          I was just confused. Some people say that the song is about going through the experience of taking psychedelic drugs. My current interpretation of it is as a dialectic in one’s mind. Instead of the singer talking to someone else, they are actually talking to themselves. In my perspective, it depicts someone going through the process of questioning then denial and finally acceptance for who they really are and realising that their true self isn’t ‘crazy’. The older I get, the more I feel I understand what the song might mean.

          From the bass line to the rhythm and the melody and vocals, I just love everything about this song and I believe I will never get tired of it.

Pioneer Award

          Last year Spotify Wrapped said who ‘My Top Connection’ was and although I’m still not sure what that means, it was the Jonas Brothers.

          This year, Spotify Wrapped gave users a song that they were a ‘Pioneer’ on, which I understand.

          Initially, I was surprised because I thought that I listened to the song ‘Monster’ by Dodie late in its release and I was sure by then it would’ve surpassed 50,000 streams. Then I read the screen properly and realised that this was Pomplamoose’s version where she duetted with Dodie. Whereas the original was released in 2019, this was released in 2020.

          The song ‘Monster’ by Dodie came from her first album release ‘Human’ and I resonated a lot with some of the songs from that album. There’s a part in it that she calls a ‘rap’ and I think that part is really unique so take note of it if you ever give it a listen! Special mention to Dodie because her music got me through pretty hard times.

          Two of my all-time favourite songs from her are ‘Would You Be So Kind’ because of its sweet take on unrequited love and ‘Guiltless’ because of its deeper meaning of what accepting your past may entail.

Top 5 Podcasts

          I hope to one day be able to recommend proper Podcast episodes to you. Ever since I discovered the wide world of podcasts, I feel like I’ve been more efficient during times when I might have just listened to music absentmindedly or get really caught up in my thoughts. I also find it somewhat of a mindfulness exercise because when I listen to a podcast and realise that I don’t understand where I am now, it means I wasn’t paying attention and focusing on the now.

          This was fun because there was an interactive aspect where I could tap on which of the top 4 was possibly my top podcast of the year. I also asked my sister and mother to guess and we all got it wrong!

          Brief dive into my Top 5 Podcasts:

1. Crime Junkie is my top one because it was the first podcast I ever listened to! Also, the episodes I listened to lasted at least 30 minutes or more. As you may be able to tell by the title, this podcast is about crime which has happened in countries such as the USA and Australia. I avoid listening to unsolved cases because not only is it a cliffhanger but it truly is frustrating when justice hasn’t been served on those gruesome crimes.

2. The 5AM Miracle has a lot of great productivity tools and I saved about five episodes into my playlist. I don’t actually listen to it at 5AM but maybe I will one day!

3. The Hustle Sanely Podcast is one of two of my favourite podcasts and has a lot of great life development tools. There’s also a whole online community that this podcast opens you up to. Jess also hosts courses on her website. This is the podcast I wish I discovered earlier in life when hustling to get work done was overwhelming.

4. The Lavendaire Lifestyle Podcast is the other one of two of my favourite podcasts. Aileen talks about a variety of topics on personal development and on designing your life to achieve your dream life. This is a podcast I’m grateful for discovering now. I’m surprised I found her through this medium instead of Youtube which is where I tend to search for videos that she creates. She also has guests on her show which is where I rediscovered Alivia D’Andrea whose ‘Glow Up Diaries Series’ on Youtube is a big hit.

5. The Mindset Mentor does exactly what the title portrays. Rob Dial talks about a range of topics that have to do with changing and improving your mindset. I found all the episodes I’ve listened to so far really useful.

I’ll be sharing more of my favourite podcasts in the playlist below, so do take a look if you’re searching for more to listen to!

Aina’s Podcast Playlist

Wrapping Up

          We can now wrap up my Spotify Wrapped 2020. Writing this has really allowed me to reflect on my year in music and what/why/how music has actually played a huge part in it. Especially since it took up 47,915 minutes of it! That’s the highest amount of time I’ve ever listened to Spotify since I started using it in 2015! Seeing that we’ve been in quarantine over half the year, I’m surprised it’s not more.

         Back in the first part of this two-part special, I mentioned that “I find it interesting how some people grow with their music as if it’s an extension of their personality.” I really do believe in this. I find that as you grow, your music taste tends to reflect who you are inside and that it does show something about you in some shape or form. Maybe not to a significant amount but to me, music always means something.

          On a more personal note, the right music at the right moment is a form of catharsis to me. A way for me to release or express my emotions. Music has also been a form of adventuring the world if and when I can’t venture physically. I don’t know and don’t want to know what my life would be without music.

          If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading. I hope something came out of this for you as it did for me. Just like part one, my ‘Song Recommendations’ section holds more songs that didn’t appear on my Spotify Wrapped 2020 that I would like to highlight. There really is no end for music. There’s just more to discover, listen and escape to. Today I will leave you with an English translation of some lyrics that hold an important meaning in 2020’s ending circumstances:

“Like an echo in the forest
The day will come back around
As if nothing happened
Yeah, life goes on.”
life goes on, BTS

Music Recommendations:

1. ‘The Show’ by Lenka has been another one-hit-wonder that I love from the 2000s. I love the meaning behind the song and how it portrays life as a metaphorical ‘show’. When I feel like I don’t know where I’m going or what I’m doing with my life, this song reminds me that I’m not alone. It reminds me that regardless of what I’m going through, what ‘show’ I’m watching. I might as well enjoy it because I’m not getting my ‘money’ back.

2. Welcome Home, Son’ by Radical Face is a song that makes me feel safe and secure. Funny enough, I first heard it as a Nikon commercial way back when going to the cinema wasn’t life-threatening. It was my favourite commercial and this song played a huge part in that. There’s just something about the guitar that makes me feel at home and how the vocals aren’t overpowering but complement the acoustics really well.

3. ‘Cherry Wine’ by Hozier is only one of my favourite songs from him. I’ve always really liked Hozier’s voice. In this song, he sings softly and makes it sound almost like a lullaby even though the song has a deeper meaning in the topic of domestic abuse. I love the guitar picking that plays throughout this whole song and I can’t wait to learn it one day.

4. ‘Swear’ by E’LAST, a debut song. I was shocked to my core when I discovered this song was a debut song because of the clarity and strength the vocals and rap had and just how beautiful it is as a song. The orchestral power is so prominent especially through the musical-esque beginning with the piano and violin. There’s also this note in the pre-chorus that I am obsessed with. The music video fits the beauty of the song so well and I really wish this boy group had more recognition because they really deserve it.

Aina’s Monthly Playlist

Currently Reading: Mindfulness in 8 Days by Kathirasan. K, The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer, The Sword of Destiny by Andrzej Sapkowski

Life Status: ready to complete this week of blogs!

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