Spotify curates so many personalized playlists for its users that some music listeners may not feel they need to make their own playlists anymore. Between the “Lit Shower Mix” the algorithm made for me and the new “daylist” feature, it would be easy to think I need not curate my own mixes (my first personalized “daylist” was titled “yearning swamp tuesday afternoon,” stylized with lowercase letters to show cringeworthy Gen Z sensibilities). However, denying oneself the pleasure of creating hundreds of niche little pockets of somewhat related music would be a disservice! Playlists and mixtapes are like little time capsules that, when dug up years later, ignite sense memories of exactly where you were when you made it. It is a truly miraculous thing.
And, the adage says, “it’s the little things” that make life worth living, and what better way to make a day feel worthwhile than by doing the little task of gifting yourself the perfect autumn playlist! Here are a few recommendations from my fall playlist that you might check out and add to your own, with a spotlight on two tracks that would be a shame to overlook.
“Infinity Repeating” (2013 Demo) [feat. Julian Casablancas + The Voidz] by Daft Punk
Never once did I think that the “she’s up all night to get lucky” duo would cement themselves a place on the most wistful season’s playlist, but it is September, the sun is behind the clouds, and here we are. I do not assign the song to the season because I mistakenly think it is warm and cozy. From the beginning, the synths resonate with a cool timbre, and the smooth percussion sounds like it should be turned up just a tad louder to be satisfying. Casablancas, best known as the frontman of The Strokes, then comes in crooning with a muffling filter over his vocals, and the song gets even colder.
The lyrics confirm the chill of the instrumental. Sixty percent of the song repeats the refrain, “it’s not right / it’s not true / it’s not right / it’s not how we used to do,” which refers to the onset of AI and other technological systems. When a lyric repeats itself this many times, we have to ask, “hey – what do they want us to get from this that we didn’t get the first 15 times?” And to that I would answer, “well, if he said it once, we would take it as fact, but since he repeats it so many times, it seems he is stuck in a rut about this and says it over and over hoping that he may convince someone!” The song’s disillusionment with change embodies how bizarre autumn can feel in school with all of the newness, and that is why I can classify this song as a fall song (Actually, I put it on this list because I just think it’s a great song, ha ha ha). Also, it is worth noting that this was the duo’s last-ever song released.
“Say Yes” by Elliott Smith
Something about autumn brings out the wistfully self-indulgent part of me. What can I say? I’m just like everyone else. When the air gets a little crisp, I do the quintessential fall activities: apple picking, buying fall-flavored treats and working myself up about how you can’t relive your memories. There is no one out there better than Smith to mop up the soppiness of my moods on these days, and there is no better song than “Say Yes.” In the 12th and final track on 1997’s “Either/Or,” (which the Rolling Stone placed on their 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list in 2020) Smith does some damage control for the emotional havoc he wreaks on his listeners. Smith places the track in F major, contrasting the minor tones present throughout much of “Either/Or.”
The lyrics are gorgeous, clever and pithy – it is truly a masterclass in poetic lyricism. Smith spins a heartbreaking tale of wanting a former lover back, but what sets it apart from other songs of that vein is how hopeful he is despite not feeling justified in his hopes. At his most self-deprecating, Smith wrote, “Crooked spin can't come to rest / I'm damaged bad at best / She'll decide what she wants / I'll probably be the last to know / No one says until it shows, see how it is / They want you or they don't / Say yes.” His desire to be with her conflicts directly with how undeserving he feels of her love, and the quick shifts between these two aspects feels like a dizzying step inside of Smith’s brain. I could probably write a 10-pager on this song, but I’m gonna cool it for now. All I know is that this song is close to perfect and that everyone should listen to it :).
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Fall is not just for being melancholic and pensive! Here is a roundup of more upbeat tunes (primarily pop songs) that beg to be listened to this autumn:
“Rush” by Troye Sivan
“Hit ‘Em Up” by 2pac and Outlawz
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“New Body Rhumba” by LCD Soundsystem
“Be Sweet” by Japanese Breakfast
“Servo” by The Brian Jonestown Massacre
“Move Me” by Charli XCX
“4AEM” by Grimes (this one is incredible)
“Peppers” (feat. Tommy Genesis) by Lana Del Rey
“Death By a Thousand Cuts” by Taylor Swift
“Hold On” by John Lennon
Listen to me talk about a few of these songs from 4-6 p.m. on my show (title subject to change) this Thursday on WDCE 90.1 FM! Bye now!
Contact opinions and columns writer Greta Gordon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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