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Class of 2020 – The 100 Greatest Songs of the Year!

13 Dec, 2020

Playlist on Spotify at the bottom of each page.

#100-#81 | #80-#61 | #60-#41 | #40-#21 | #20-#11 | #10-#2 |#1


10. Laura Veirs “Turquoise Walls”
(from My Echo)

9. Disclosure “Watch Your Step (feat. Kelis)”
(from ENERGY)

citattecken “…it occurred to me that a lot of times you find yourself apologizing to someone after you’ve let them down. So, the idea came to me to apologize in advance…”

8. Son Little ”Don’t Wait Up”
(from Aloha)

“It was a sort of dark time in my life when I was struggling to find my way. I was in a relationship when it occurred to me that a lot of times you find yourself apologizing to someone after you’ve let them down. So, the idea came to me to apologize in advance. Instead of waiting to apologize until I mess up, let me apologize before, ha ha!

The song went through a lot of changes. From point A to point B there was a bunch of things I put in and took out but what I ended up with was weirdly similar to what I started out with… In spite of that, all the things that I did were necessary. There were times when I took out the main electrical piano that I started with and tried to fill the space with something different, but it never sounded right to me, so I put it back in.

This comes up a lot, I think. You’re always looking for this vibe or tone, you want it to be as pristine and well-recorded as possible, but sometimes there’s really no substitute for the feeling you that had in the beginning. At this point I don’t even remember where I played that electric piano sound or where it came from, but after trying to duplicate it in the studio with all the grand equipment I just couldn’t seem to get the right sound. Sometimes you have to try things that are wrong to figure out what you don’t want, just to confirm that your original idea was right.”

– Aaron Earl Livingston

citattecken “I sarcastically sing ‘…it must be someone else’s fault’ with the intention of trying to encourage the listener to look within their own personal choices…”

7. Courtney Marie Andrews “It Must Be Someone Else’s Fault”
(from Old Flowers)

“This song was born out of the idea of desiring to take control of our own story. Placing blame somewhere else is always easier than owning up to our own mistakes and growth. I sarcastically sing ‘…it must be someone else’s fault’ with the intention of trying to encourage the listener to look within their own personal choices. Ancestral trauma, relationships gone wrong, and pure bad luck can bear hard truths, but knowing you always have the choice of how you react is so important for internal growth. This was a song that was hiding in a burrow of my heart for a long time, so when I finally sat down to write, it came out with a ferocity and fire.”

– Courtney Marie Andrews

citattecken “I was pretty interested in where Krautrock, early techno, disco and all this stuff intersect. Having something that’s danceable but also has some rock energy…”

6. The Seshen “Head To Head”
(from CYAN)

Aki: ”Particularly in that time period I was pretty interested in where Krautrock, early techno, disco and all this stuff intersect. Having something that’s danceable, mid or uptempo, but also has some rock energy to it. Just that time period in general there’s post punk and early electronics going on, where Kraftwerk started off. That confluence of styles and genres happening. That was the very beginning of the idea, something that was within grasp of what we do and falls into a lot of the genres and spaces we like to explore. We have a lot of fun doing that.

Those are real drums on the song played by our drummer Chris [Thalmann]. The idea started at home where I programmed stuff and then we worked out the drum parts together between practicing and in the real studio we went into and tracked them. Part of the appeal with that time period of the 70’s and 80’s is that it was humans trying to be machines. That’s a fun aspect of that, whereas now there are drum programmes that sound incredibly human.

About that synth sound going in and out of tune, I like things that are a little shaky, that are not super crystalline and perfect. So I think I was just after what I felt sounded right on the song. I’m using a plug-in in this instance, but there are a lot to the instability of older, vintage synthesizers. They drift and pitch. Part of that idea was probably just trying to fit the influence without thinking about it too much.”

Lalin: ”Aki presented this music, and the energy of it just really inspired something lyrically that had a bit more urgency to it. Tension and conflict. Being head to head. I think it came very naturally. What came to me was two people who are in this conflict, this driving force of trying to figure out where to go from there. I had a lot of fun thinking about that. I’m pretty sure the hook was completely improvised where I just started belting this thing and that worked out. It was really using the sonics of it to inspire what it lyrically was going to be about. Things that have hopped up in my life and the lives of my friends. Relationships with people are hard and it can be so challenging. You have to figure out where to go from there. I still wanted it to be tormented, like ’here we go again, what should I do?’. A release from all the weight that we sometimes carry when we’re uncertain around what to do with ourselves.”

– Aki Ehara and Lalin St. Juste

5. Adrianne Lenker “anything”
(from Songs)

4. Algiers “Unoccupied”
(from There Is No Year)

citattecken “…driving and singing and crying – a terrible combination. I wasn’t driving anywhere in particular, just to feel like I was physically able to leave…”

3. Grace Turner “Disdain”
(from Half Truths)

“I wrote ‘Disdain’ while driving and singing and crying – a terrible combination. I wasn’t driving anywhere in particular, just to feel like I was physically able to leave what I was going through in my life. The original opening line was ‘I want to watch the blood drain from my body’. I sung it live once and my Dad was in the crowd and i just couldn’t do it, so I found a new line which I think is better anyways.

‘Disdain’ is such an intense word and meaning and I’m glad to have gotten it into a song. To think of oneself as unworthy. Eventually I took it to a jam with my drummer and he encouraged me a lot that it was a keeper. My guitarist wrote the killer riff for this one. We think it’s so good that when we were in the post production phase of making the record we decided to repeat it after every vocal chorus making it a kind of instrumental chorus. I think it really makes the song.

The chords don’t ever change in this one and melodically it’s pretty subtle in its movement. In post production we also decided to cut the band out in the bridge. I like bringing more intensity to the line ‘what a time to be alive, steadily walking towards our demise’. It feels pretty apt for 2020. I like having a heavy song lyrically that is up beat, it’s really cathartic to play this one with the band. It’s one of my favourite tracks off the record and I’m glad that it’s become a favourite for people too.”

– Grace Turner

citattecken “I found myself in this one club with my best friend and we stayed there for practically 24 hours. Within that time I got to meet incredible people…”

2. Georgia “24 Hours”
(from Seeking Thrills)

”The whole of Seeking Thrills was written over a three and a half year period. There were two things in that period that was going on with me; 1) I was on a sobriety journey, and 2) just because I was going on that sobriety journey I didn’t want to stop a big part of my life which was going out, having a nightlife and seeing clubs and DJ:s. That has always been a big part of my growth as a human being when I hit the age of eighteen. As soon as it was legal to hit the clubs I went to Fabric and others. I just loved it. I guess that in turn goes back to my childhood with my dad being in a dance band, I’ve just been exposed to dance music from a very early age.

So during the making of the album I was sober but I was experiencing clubs. I had a real turning point when I was in Berlin for a friend’s birthday. Basically, it was just going to be three nights of going from one club to the other. Berlin has always been a place I’ve identified with because it has always embraced techno music and clubbing culture, but throughout touring over the years I’ve also experienced clubs all around Europe, America and Russia. Club culture is just part of my DNA.

I found myself in this one club with my best friend and we stayed there for practically 24 hours. Within that time I got to meet incredible people, I got to see people finding each other, losing each other, finding themselves. Euphoria and low moments. I experienced everything a human could experience in one night. It was crazy. At the time of this trip I was right in the throws of creating Seeking Thrills and I wasn’t actually looking forward to going as my mind was so elsewhere with writing music that I didn’t know if I had time to be with my friends and do this. But I forced myself to do it, my friends bought me a plane ticket so I couldn’t say no, and I’m so glad they did that. I honestly had one of the most incredible three nights ever and I gathered material to write 24 hours!

The actual music of the song I had been struggling with for quite a long time. I couldn’t really find a direction with it, which was frustrating me because I was throwing everything at it. We even tried slowing it right down thinking maybe this was more of a ballad, then speeding it up. After this weekend the pieces of the puzzle clicked and I felt it should be for dancing, so I changed the bassline into that driving, electro bassline in the song now. That was very much by hearing a lot of techno, house and electro in Berlin. In the end it turned out to be a good song, it’s one I really like on the album.

The rest of the songs had already been established, I knew which ones should go on the record. This new song I knew would probably be good ammunition because by that point we’d already had three singles and I knew that Domino would be asking for another single, so I’m glad I managed to get it all together with ’24 Hours’ because it became the last single which was a really good place to end it on.

The male-sounding speaking voice is actually me through an old vocoder like the one Juan Atkins and others used. During that weekend in Berlin I heard a lot of techno-house from the 80’s, particularly dancemania, Chicago, stuff like Ron Hardy. It was the beginnings of electro, around 1987 where parts of techno met house music. That had spoken word at the top of the house beats. I’m very interested in that fusion. It didn’t stay for so long, because unfortunately Ron Hardy died and noone else plays it out anymore, really. So I thought, ’that’s wicked, I could start the song with that’, like a guiding voice through a journey. Like the voice of the club, if the club could speak. And it worked!”

– Georgia Barnes

#100-#81 | #80-#61 | #60-#41 | #40-#21 | #20-#11 | #10-#2 |#1

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