The Journal’s winter 2020 playlist

Songs for braving the cold, or avoiding it altogether

These cozy songs will help you chase away the winter blues.
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I tried to make this season’s playlist applicable to everyone—I really did. But if you were to take a look at my Spotify history this winter, you’d see that I’ve just been listening to the same three lo-fi acoustic indie albums on repeat while lying in bed and waiting for spring.

My post-holiday winter blues inspired a lot of my music choices this season, but don’t assume that means this playlist will make you feel sad. Melancholy songs can be just as enjoyable as upbeat ones, so I hope this collection of introspective tracks keeps you company throughout the final dreary weeks of winter.

Most of the tracks on this playlist are considered “bedroom pop,” with DIY sound-mixing and unsophisticated equipment. But, just like a disposable film camera, the imperfections in the songs help to make them all the more enjoyable.

So enjoy these intimate, cozy songs the next time you want to sleep the winter blues away or stare out the bus window pretending you’re in a teen movie. You’ve earned it.

“Show Me How” by Men I Trust

Men I Trust is a Canadian band that originated in Montreal in 2014. The group’s grown impressively in the past six years, and they even performed at both Coachella and Lollapalooza last year. Their music can be best described as dreamy indie, and their 2018 single “Show Me How” is no exception to this rule.

This track’s dreamy vocals pair so well with its strong instrumentals that you’ll find yourself nodding along to the slow beat instinctively. The song’s minimal lyrics match its surreal vibes perfectly, too.

The first verse embodies this theme right away, when vocalist and guitarist Emma Proulx sings, “Show me how you care / Tell me how you were loved before / Show me how you smile / Tell me why your hands are cold.”

“Drifting Away” by khai dreams

If I had to pick any song on this playlist to perfectly encapsulate the feeling of nostalgia, it would be “Drifting Away.” From khai dreams’ 2017 album Summer Is Like a Dream, this song is characteristic of the singer-songwriter’s balanced blend of R&B and lo-fi indie vibes, drifting seamlessly between melodic chorus and contemplative prose.

The lyrics, written to the singer’s love interest, capture the  feeling of wanting to freeze a moment in time forever, with lines like, “If it's all just a dream / Then I don't ever want to wake up,” and “Now I just want me and you / To watch the sun set just soak in the view.”

These lyrics are rife with images of summer breezes and fading skies, which are sure to double your longing for warmer weather.

What makes this song so fun are the little instrumental quirks and samples popping up in the background of the song. Once you’ve heard the song a couple times and get past the amazing vocals, you’ll start to notice the twangs and peeps—for lack of better descriptors—that make this song so fun to play on a loop.

“Blueberry Skies” by Audrey Mika

This artist, who started out on YouTube covering artists like Billie Eilish and Ariana Grande, has grown her following in the last few years after beginning to release her own material. “Blueberry Skies” comes from Mika’s 2019 EP Level Up, which the singer revealed in a Paper Magazine interview she produced herself on GarageBand.

Despite the low production value, “Blueberry Skies” still flows beautifully, both in its inspiring lyrics and simple acoustic instrumentals. The song is about personal growth and perseverance, and it really shows, considering Mika made the entire thing herself.

Lyrics like, “Was at an ultimate low point / So grateful that I was put there / Because then I wouldn't be where I am now,” are poetic on their own but truly shine when Mika sings them, the emotion evident in her voice.

“Mindwinder” by Cuco

“Mindwinder,” off 2016 mixtape Wannabewithu by artist Cuco (Omar Banos), which was self-released when Banos was only 16, is one of the sadder songs in this season’s mix. The track may be under two minutes, but it still manages to capture so much emotion in such a short period, describing the singer’s struggles with a failed relationship.

Banos sings, “I poured my feelings / And I thought you felt it / Now nothing's changed / I really regret this.” These lyrics, simple as they are, perfectly encapsulate heartbreak in mere seconds.

The song’s length makes it an interlude in the mixtape, but when listened to as a standalone track, and even played a couple of times on repeat, its sadness is even more apparent. 

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For over an hour of indie bedroom pop, including these four great songs, check out The Queen’s Journal Lifestyle section’s ultimate winter playlist.

 

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