more songs I heard

A collage of images representing the five songs listed below.

Here are the five songs I heard most in 2023.

  1. “The Loneliest Time,” Carly Rae Jepsen featuring Rufus Wainwright (2022)

This has happened to me more than once:

A Facebook screenshot: I like to think of myself as an adventurous listener
with an unquenchable thirst for new sounds and songs, but also sometimes I just
listen to the same Carly Rae Jepsen song for a week.

I read a quote from Jepsen on Apple Music:

This song is very much about that fantasy of going over to your ex’s in the middle of the night and pouring rain to kindle what was not finished… It’s just a terrible idea in real life, but it’s really fun to sing about.

That self-awareness is what makes this a comedy song. I love this bit:

Then you spoke the words to me
When you left – I still need to unpack it!
Let’s save sorry for another night
‘Cause this time, love, we’re gonna get it right

“I haven’t tried to understand why we broke up, but never mind! This time for sure!”

Also, it’s catchy as hell. I wasn’t even listening on repeat. I was asking Siri to play “The Loneliest Time” by name, again and again and again.

  1. “Famous,” Jenn Champion (2023)

Jenn Champion started her recording career with a lo-fi bedroom record called Sadstyle, all overdubbed electric guitar and angsty vocals (“Whatever you thought you saw in me that day, forget about it / ‘Cause it’s probably not there anymore”). I loved that album in all its tinny vulnerable teenage pain, and told her so once at a Carissa’s Wierd show, but a couple of albums later she changed her name and I lost track of her.

Fast forward to this summer, when I somehow stumbled on her Kickstarter, and this fall, when I cued up the new album for a first listen and started to cry. This song is all synths and banjo, but lyrically it’s a direct line back to those days – “just a kid in a goth club / didn’t know how to feel love,” through drugs and therapy and love and loss and… look, it’s weird and kind of condescending to feel proud of someone you don’t even know, but I’m just so proud of that sweet sad kid who grew up and made this record.

  1. “Bird of Prey,” Natalie Prass (2015)

I heard about this album from James Rone, probably back when it happened; I still go through phases, as with CRJ above, when I can’t listen to anything else. I love her voice, I love her songs, but more than anything I love the arrangements on this record, like scraps of an ill-fated collaboration between Dusty Springfield in Memphis and Philip Glass.

  1. “Molly,” Colton Ryan and Molly Gordon (2021)

Those arrangements also remind me of Burt Bacharach, a touchstone of my musical evolution who died this February. He wrote a new musical in his 90s! A new musical with melodies as catchy as his hits from sixty years ago! This song is from 2021!

  1. “Heptapod B,” Jóhann Jóhannsson (2016)

From the motion picture Arrival. I mean, have you seen this movie? Have you heard this movie? I don’t understand how this music was created and I hope I never figure it out.