It’s an annual tradition and this year it is GOOD.
It helps that this year was largely spent in England and travelling across Europe which means I had a lot of time for music. Plus some good stuff came out this year so that’s great.
All of the songs can be found in a Spotify playlist at the end of this piece.
So here it is: #COASSounddtrack16.
the girl from ipanema by amy winehouse – my english delight
At the beginning of the year, most of my time was spent getting ready for England which meant that I needed an English soundtrack to go with it. Cue Amy.
Now, it’s pretty clear that I love Amy Winehouse, so obviously she needed to be on it. While this song is not an original, it’s still such a good cover of a jazz classic. I loved it so much that when I eventually came home from Europe, I ended up singing a version at a week-long jazz intensive workshop. So it’s safe to say, this is definitely an important song for me this year.
Favourite Line: Tall and tan and young and lovely the Girl form Ipanema goes walking and when she passes each one she passes goes *sigh*.
moving forward by colony house – the privileged moment
So one of my favourite and earliest memories from Brighton involved a concert that I went to at the invitation of a friend. One of her favourite bands was the opener at this show and she absolutely insisted that we go, which I was happy to do. This particular song meant a great deal to her as it helped her through a very rough season in her life. It was something special to watch her get to experience this song live, knowing how deeply this song had moved her. After the show, the band came out to say hello and sign autographs and it was my turn to insist we go. I shoved our way through, pushed her forward and briefly mentioned our names, taking a step back to watch her tell her story to the band. As the tears fell from her face and the smiles came from the artists, I was struck by the fact that songwriters hope and pray for moments like this – an opportunity to hear how your music has blessed other people. As I listen to this song, it becomes my prayer that the music that I write come to bless and impact people in the same way it did for my sweet friend.
Favourite Line: I found life and I found laughter. In forgiveness, I found rest. On the shoulders of redemption, I found hope when hope was dead.
formation by beyoncé – the black girl anthem
I remember exactly where I was when this some came out. I was chatting with a friend on Skype at about 11pm at night in England and one of my friends was blowing up my phone telling me about this new song.
After a couple of plays it very quickly became a new fave. I was playing it for everyone that would bother to listen to me. It’s powerful and bold, embracing the joys of being a black woman while inspiring others to remember that THEY SLAY. And I do.
Favourite Line: I just might be a black Bill Gates in the making.
no room for doubt by lianne la havas – a dream come true
I can easily say the first time I ever heard this song was the best moment of my England exchange. It had been a dream of mine to go to Royal Albert Hall while I was there and I wanted to see a show. Well, a friend from back home had just told me about this artist and I fell in love with her voice – which meant that when she was performing in London, in Royal Albert Hall, I absolutely had to go. This song was her opening song and it just about brought me to tears. Between sitting in that beautiful room to hearing her gorgeous voice fill the room, it was all just a little too much to handle. But I wouldn’t change a thing.
I’ve included a link to her performing the song live as it’s my favourite way to hear her sing this song. She’s strolling down a street in Paris while singing and it’s just absolutely beautiful.
Favourite Line: We all make mistakes, we do. I learnt from you.
fairytale by lianne la havas – in the clouds over Europe
Being in Europe meant that I did a lot of travelling in between attempts to learn something in school. It also meant that airports and I became very good friends. And since Lianne and I had become very good friends as well (well in my mind anyway), it only made sense to bring her along with me.
One of the reasons this song resonated with me was because I have a very odd relationship with fairytales. I know them but I don’t like them for a variety of reasons – one of the main ones being that women are often portrayed as wimpy and needing a man to save them which is utter crap. However, as a storyteller, I’m fascinated by whimsical and fictional stories that create pictures that resonate with many. The lyrics of this song create a fairytale of a girl from South London yet it’s one where the heroine is brave and bold. Plus between her soothing voice and the pretty guitar picking it just made for a good airplane song that I often kept on repeat as I flew over the clouds, living my own little fairytale.
Favourite Line: It’s plain to see I don’t believe in fairytales. Into the wind she sails, but justice always prevails.
wings by little simz – thanks @johnboyega’s snapchat
Obviously, being in London (or close to it rather) I had to try and tap into the London hip hop & urban music scene. I had friends and housemates teaching me about grime (which is similar yet very different to American rap & hip hop), garage, and other rappers. Enter Little Simz.
Now I learned about her through John Boyega’s snapchat. The Star Wars actor from South London was posting videos of him at a party where Simz was performing. In between clips of him acting silly and enjoying the party, I loved seeing a black woman who was spittin’ rhymes that were saying something. Her flow was straight fire and she was connecting with this small crowd . This is one of my favourite songs of hers but I haven’t heard anything that I haven’t liked from her.
Plus I’m pretty sure this the moment that I decided that John Boyega was a precious and adorable human being. I included the original video here!
Favourite Line: This is my story – naw – this is our story.
rise up by andra day – when Jesus met me when i least expected
Okay, I kinda have to credit my dad for this one. He and told me about her in an email just two weeks before I went to a concert in London where she was the opener. She’s got this cool vintage style and sound, combined with a powerhouse voice. Yet when she sang this song, man. I know for a fact that the Spirit of God entered into that room. His presence was so strong and so heavy, it was undeniable. At the time, I hadn’t been to church in a while and I was struggling a little bit as a result. Yet in that moment I felt so refreshed and restored – and I hadn’t expected it at all. Even now when I hear this song, I’m taken back to that moment when Jesus met me when I least expected.
Favourite Line: I’ll rise up, I’ll rise unafraid, I’ll rise up. And I’ll do it a thousand times again.
all we got by chance the rapper – southside swagger
CHANO. This South Side child makes me so happy. I can’t listen to this album and not be happy and joyful. The opening song on the mixtape sets such a good tone for the rest of the record, reminding that at the end of the day, music is all we got. The horns are PRIME and it’s just exciting and happy and I love it. Thanks Chancellor.
Here’s a live version from BBC Radio 1 that is also spectacular.
Favourite Line: And that don’t take nothing away, cause at the end of the day, music is all we got.
don’t touch my hair by solange – the song i wish i’d written
I’m gonna spare the rant and keep this short & simple:
Dear Strangers (especially White Strangers),
Don’t Touch My Hair.
Favourite Line: Don’t touch my hair, when it’s the feelings I wear.
day to day by the robert glasper experiment – get me an afro wig
Now I almost flew to France to see this guy but the timing just didn’t work out and I’m sad. However, the Experiment put out a new record and I dig it. This song in particular has a disco feel to it while still using a melodic complexity that I’ve come to expect from Glasper. I really just want to go to a roller rink and skate while this song plays really really loudly. It’s fun and upbeat and makes for a good party song.
Favourite Line: I’m living day to day, show me the way to your heart.
bonus: ultralight beam by kanye west – cause kanye, chance, & a dope choir
Normally, I only do 10 songs but I’m adding an extra because this song is just really good. The way the song builds up and rises and falls is just perfect. The choir arrangements are tight and of course my boy Chance.
Favourite Line: When they come for you, I will shield your name. I will field their questions, I will feel your pain.
So this is it. The final post of 2016. It’s been a heck of a year, filled with fulfilled dreams, new friends, and crazy adventures. As we head into this new year with anticipation, may we come to find peace and harmony both for ourselves but for the crazy world we live in.
Until Next Year,
Peace & Harmonies