11 Songs For Joy (2016)

11 songs for joy (and the people feeling it)

I’ve spent the past few months chasing happiness. Amidst the triumphant bagel selfies, utterly incredible cultural experiences and time spent with people I love, I’ve also spent this time indulging my avoidant tendencies, using them as an excuse to irrationally continue the very behavior that makes me unhappy.

But I am trying! Maybe I am too negative, or maybe I just have a healthy, balanced outlook on life. Within this era of social media expression, it seems like you have to choose sides between an incessantly chirpy attitude versus a tone that’s drenched in sarcasm and snark… Yet, in reality, we all experience a wide range of emotions, and damnit, we shouldn’t feel “guilty” about expressing a sincere thought.

This playlist is my attempt to 100% embrace the positive aspects of life, no matter how cheesy they make me feel. You might even say that these are my fight songs, my take-back-my-life songs, and I don’t even care if nobody else believes (but you might also roll your eyes while saying that, which is okay).

So without further ado, I present 11 Songs For Joy (And The People Feeling It).

If you’re having trouble with the player above, head over here to listen directly on Spotify. If you don’t have Spotify, I’ll be sharing audio of each song individually on Twitter with the hashtag #SongsForJoy16. And if you don’t have Spotify or Twitter, I guess you can click the links below to listen to each song individually on YouTube?

(The point is, you have options, and I am the best form providing you with them. Please thank me by showering me in awards, retweets and cash money. Preferably all three.)

Gotta Facebook “WOW” button myself for how boring the second half of this introduction is! Here’s the part where I spend an awkwardly long amount of time discussing each song, so get out your pillows and take a nap.

1. AMERIIEOut Loud: Before producer Rich Harrison crafted Beyoncé’s “Crazy In Love” and “Freakum Dress“, he teamed up with Ameriie to achieve both artists’ first major hit, “Why Don’t We Fall In Love“.

They’d move on to create Ameriie’s biggest single “1 Thing“, then reunite more than a decade later for this delicious offering from her latest offering. All I’ve got to say about this is, “Yeah, yeah, yeah-yuh-yeah-yuh, yeah-yuh-yeah-yuh-yeah.”

2. NAO – Happy: Vocally, Nao reminds me a lot of Coko from SWV, paired with the swagger of Michael Jackson. This might be overselling her, but damn, I’ve been sold ever since the first moment I heard “Inhale Exhale“.

This one’s a perfect track for rolling through the neighborhood with the windows down, wind blowing through your hair. Be the cliché you want to see in the world!

3. KAMAIYAHMo Money, Mo Problems: Once upon it time, it seemed like 100s was the second coming of the ’90s hip-hop sound… But, um, where the hell is he now?

Kamaiyah draws inspiration from TLC and Missy Elliott for a delectable throwback vibe, so if you only know her from the hook of that YG song, you better start getting more familiar now. She’s (hopefully) here to stay, here to slay, and sorry (I ain’t sorry) for saying that in the gayest way possible.

4KERO KERO BONITOBreak: Just move very slowly to the beat! KKB’s Sarah Midori Perry gives us Sesame Street for adults, reminding us all to step away from our desks at work, take a deep breath and head outside for some fresh air.

5. BENJAMIN KOLLI’ll Be Good: Remember those complimentary CDs you’d get with any [insert amount here] purchase at Old Navy in the late ’90s? This song reminds me of that in the best way possible.

The accompanying music video is a joyful, body-positive celebration of life, all thanks to thick and lovely dancer Jeremy Morse. That segment where he’s dancing on the overpass is pretty much the embodiment of this playlist’s theme.

6. LOVELYZDear You: Whether you’re well-versed in K-pop or not — and I most certainly am not — you can’t help but be drawn in by the energy of this production. Lyrically, this is all about being vulnerable and putting your heart on the line.  It’s an anxious, but exciting feeling we’ve all experienced at some point or another, romantically or otherwise.

7. SUPER DUPERAngela: Look, I’m aware that purely instrumental tracks aren’t everyone’s favorite, but this is two minutes and fifty-five seconds that will get you so pumped that you’ll dive into a pool and break ten Olympic records at once.

8BRIAN MCKNIGHT + SIXX JOHNKey 2 My Heart: People don’t understand that Brian McKnight is better than he’s ever been. You’ve all heard his major label hits “Anytime” and “Back At One“, but none of you are here for the gospel-infused enthusiasm he’s delivering on his independent records.

Stop acting like you’re too cool for this. Brian McKnight’s had more to offer the world in the last decade than his explicit viral anthem “C.A.T.S.“, and if I’m the only one who recognizes that he’s hitting the climax of his musical career right now, then I guess it’s your loss.

9. GLNumber One: Australian duo GL’s recent release Touch calls to mind Madonna’s 1983 debut album over and over again. The influence, intentional or not, is particularly noticeable on the opening track, “Number One”.

10SWVOn Tonight: Part of my criteria for assembling this playlist revolved around one simple question. Would Michelle Obama dance with me to this song? Honestly, I’m not sure if the answer is “yes” for everything here, but a careful study of the Obamas’ mixes on Spotify makes me think this track would go over well in the White House.

11. FANTASIA + TYE TRIBBETTI Made It: Let’s not act like you didn’t realize this would all end with a victorious “I once was lost, but now I’m found” gospel anthem. Performances like this remind you why Fantasia was, hands down, the most exciting contestant to ever grace the stage on American Idol, and if you’ve got anything to say to the contrary, I’ve got “No Time For It“.