The second year of the pandemic has dissolved so many of the certainties and constants that structure everyday life. Hours and days bleed into each other; half the time, I’m hard-pressed to remember what month it is, let alone what the point of my various daily endeavors are.
In the middle of this boundless, inchoate mess, music has been a necessary anchor. That sounds like a grand statement, but it also works on the most mundane level: On far too many days, looping the same song on full blast turned out to be a key prerequisite to being a functional human being.
I’ve always liked this exercise because it creates a rich and often surprising sketch of the past year. Spotify Wrapped’s jazzed-up data is cool, yes, but there’s more texture to these annual playlists. Each song finds its way here because of the specific emotional logic of a certain moment. Or, put a different way: I needed these songs, at one point or another, and this compilation says more about how my year went than a programmed breakdown of my account data ever will.