Last week, I went through my 2020 Spotify Wrapped playlist. It was made abundantly clear what everyone who reads this column, or in fact has ever spoken to me for more than three minutes, could tell you already: Musically, I am stuck in the ’90s.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not apologizing for it. There was great music in the ’90s. I’m happy here, settled in my comfortable rut. Periodically, flannel shirts come back in style, so I don’t even have to change my wardrobe. I will stand by my musical stubbornness.
That said, sure, I guess occasionally I should get a little more modern. I mean, this column is literally called “Rewind,” but I guess I should diversify a bit. So here are five songs from the last decade I love just to prove I’m not entirely stuck in the ’90s.
K.Flay — “Self Esteem”
This K.Flay tune is so new it dropped this week! That’s pretty new!
I’m a big fan of K.Flay and her music, and especially her musical origin story, but also she’s very cool as a person. For example: At Outside Lands in 2017, after seeing a few sets, I was back in the media tent sitting on a hay bale and writing up what I saw. One of those acts was K.Flay. I try to include local angles whenever possible, and I knew she’d gone to Stanford, but I wanted to see if she grew up here as well. I was about to Google it when I turn my head and see her sitting on the next hay bale over.
“Hey, excuse me,” I said. She turned. “Weird question, but where are you from? I don’t want to trust Wikipedia if I don’t have to. Oh, and hi.”
She laughed and told me she grew up outside Chicago, and asked how I liked the set. I said it was great and that I loved the Meredith Brooks vibe, which she took as a compliment, so I included it in the write-up. We chatted for a bit until a fellow reporter showed up to interview her.
Yes, that is literally all it takes to win me over.
Kawehi — “Heart Shaped Box”
This viral video from 2014 does not get enough attention anymore. I love it so much.
For one thing, live looping always seemed impossible to me. I can’t even begin to conceive of how to make my brain keep track of everything, even if I had the voice and musical talent to actually do it. It’s like watching a musical magic show; you know it’s sleight of hand and skill, but still, it just doesn’t seem possible.
Second, this wasn’t rehearsed! According to Kawehi’s interview with Elle after the video got popular, this was practice! She was playing with new audio equipment, and her husband was playing with a new video camera, and I remember it fondly nearly seven years later. That’s even more incredible to me than live looping.
Wolf Alice — “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)”
This 2017 song by Wolf Alice is the rare, wistful, melancholy song I like.
I know my bio mentions Metallica, but I don’t exclusively listen to loud, aggressive music. I love Gordon Lightfoot, after all. It’s just that I could never get into truly sad songs because I was never really all that eager to become sad. It just seems like something I’d prefer not to inflict on myself.
But this? This is just beautiful. How can you not like this? It manages to dodge all the usual pitfalls by not being corny or melodramatic, and it’s sad but not in a way that makes it unpleasant.
Five Finger Death Punch — “Gone Away”
Yes, I appreciate the irony of following up an item where I said I don’t like sad songs with an even sadder song. I did say it’s rare, not that it never happens!
The thing is, the video is even sadder than the song. In an era when music videos don’t really have the same importance they had during MTV’s prime, this one from 2017 is an absolute gut punch. I wouldn’t expect a band named after a Tarantino reference to make the modern version of “Johnny Got His Gun,” but here we are, watching the most heart-wrenching anti-war movie of our age that happens to be five minutes long and has no dialogue.
Kina Grannis — “Jumper”
OK, I got a little depressed there. Sorry about that. This one isn’t as heavy, I promise. I mean… it’s not exactly AC/DC, but it also won’t turn you into a nihilist.
Full disclosure, Grannis’ sister Misa is a friend of mine. But that does not influence my pick! She’s a great musician, and this is a great song. And, in keeping with the theme, it’s from this month! It’s very new!
Anyway, next time someone tries to tell me I don’t like new music, I’m gonna point them here. It is conclusive proof my musical tastes continued to evolve into the 21st century.
Follow editor Daniel J. Willis and tweet column ideas to him at Twitter.com/BayAreaData.