1. “Pristine” – Snail Mail
“Pristine” is the standout song from Snail Mail, the solo project of singer-songwriter Lindsey Jordan. On the track from her album Lush, she sings about the love she feels, but also the insecurity. In the chorus of the song, she asks if her lover likes her for who she is, but soon after claims she’ll never love anyone else. The softly strummed guitar accompanied by her drawled vocals creates a beautiful song with a beautiful message.
2. “Thinking About You” – Frank Ocean
“Thinking About You” is one of critically acclaimed R&B singer Frank Ocean’s most popular songs, as well as one of his best. Starting with violin to set the tone, the song quickly transitions into his melodic singing over a beat that is best described as wavy. Ocean sings about, well, thinking about his love. Pondering if they still think about them, and saying that he wants a forever with them.
3. “Before The World Was Big” – Girlpool
This song inspires odd feelings. It starts with a few high pitched notes before the guitar loop that provides the base for the song comes on. Almost immediately after that, the duo start almost yell-singing about the melancholy of realizing how much you and your surroundings have changed since your childhood. It’s both nostalgic and odd, remembering the way things were. The chorus, addressed to some friend or sibling, drives in how the world feels so much bigger than it used to, a sentiment that most, if not all of us, recognize.
4. “Marlboro Nights” – Lonely God
This song doesn’t convey the somber undertones and worries that many songs on this list do. Instead, Lonely God sings about the joy of thinking about someone you love. While it’s a short song, he still invokes the familiarity of staying up late thinking about that special someone, and the strum of his guitar only makes it all the more cheerful and jubilant.
5. “The Ugly Truth, Pt. 1” – BBY GOYARD
BBY GOYARD’s sound can only be described as weird. Trap beats accompanied by a sped up voice, and the cacophony of sounds at the beginning of most of his tracks create a unique listening experience. On “The Ugly Truth,” he sings about needing to get away from a toxic relationship, and someone who seems not to care as much as they seem to. The distortion in his voice as he says he needs to get “away from you” shows an unsureness in whether he’s making the right choice, which very commonly happens in situations where a partner is being “toxic” or abusive.
6. “GONE GONE/THANK YOU” – Tyler the Creator
On “GONE GONE,” Tyler seems to have gone through a breakup that stays on the back of his mind. CeeLo Green’s layered vocals on the chorus make it all the more impactful, and in the verses, Tyler reminds his lost love that the “she” he’s gone to could never compete with him. However, he says, he’s not bitter. Halfway through the song, he switches from musing about what his ex did wrong, to thanking them for the time they spent together with him.
7. “Prom Dress” – mxmtoon
Mxmtoon’s hit single “Prom Dress” got its start on TikTok. The song opens with mxmtoon wondering if she missed out on things during her time in high school. In an interview, she said she felt she missed the “quintessential high school experience,” and the contrast between the peppy backing track and her lyrics about “crying in her prom dress” as well as her experience of not living up to what she had expected. She wants to escape from her situation, but she can’t.
8. “Animal” – Sir Chloe
This song is more about rejection than love. Sir Chloe sings about how she just doesn’t feel right being with a person. She tried, but something about it just feels wrong. The person is clearly angry, calling her a fool. The animal in this song is her, reacting upon her deeper instincts to realize something just doesn’t feel righ
9. “Raingurl” – Yaeji
Finishing off the playlist, we have Korean-American artist Yaeji’s language blending, bass-thumping party song. Her vocals are mesmerizing over the melodies, and when the beat drops it only gets better. She calls out to “make it rain” while she’s partying and just gives the impression of a fun, careless, time.