Best of 2020…So Far

swaggie maggie quarantine edition

this week has been a long year

It’s hard to remember that we’re actually at the beginning of 2020. The absolute craziness of this year has caused the first few months to feel like multiple years instead of weeks. We started the year with terrible wildfires, #worldwar3 trending on twitter, and now COVID-19. It’s not the best start to 2020. It’s easy to get caught up in the stress of the world, but I want to remind everyone that good things are still happening.

Even while it feels like the world is falling apart, there are many things to be happy about. The sun is shining where I live, I’m home with my family, and I have a wonderful job with wonderful coworkers that will be waiting for me when the dust settles. There is also a lot of new music that has already been released in 2020! Here are a few of my favorite songs of 2020 so far.

the 1975: me & you together song

This wouldn’t be an article on Swaggie Maggie if I didn’t mention my love for The 1975. Their newest album Notes On A Conditional Form is set to release on April 24th, and this single has gotten me so excited for it to finally be here! “Me & You Together Song” is a song I’d want to listen to in my car at night during the summer. It’s breezy and youthful with punk undertones and a poppy melody. This is the kind of song that makes me think of summer love and sunsets. If this is what I have to look forward to on the rest of the new album, I’ll be one happy girl!

The Killers: Caution

I’ve been waiting for new music from The Killers since I saw them live back in 2018. Their stage presence and pure talent made me fall deeper in love with their music and become a super-fan. Their upcoming album “Imploding The Mirage” is sure to be a musical masterpiece, much like their other albums have been. The band throws “Caution” to the wind as this upbeat cry of restlessness and storytelling.

all time low: getaway green

In this time of uncertainty, it’s always nice to find something that is familiar yet new and exciting at the same time. Enter All Time Low’s new song “Getaway Green.” The band has blessed 2020 with something we all need: a classic pop-punk song. It’s upbeat, gritty, and tons of fun to sing along with. It reminds me of long summer days and working hard.

the weeknd: in your eyes

I’ve always been a casual fan of The Weeknd. His music has been a staple in the soundtrack of my life pretty much since he hopped onto the scene. It always seems like one of his songs ends up being important in my life, even though I’ve never actively sought out music by him to listen to. His latest album After Hours caught my eyes because of all of the hype I’d been seeing about it through work. The first song I decided to listen to was “In Your Eyes” and I was HOOKED. It’s sexy, groovy, and both so typically The Weeknd as well as so new.

haim: the steps

While the HAIM sisters have unfortunately had to postpone the release of their new album Women in Music Part III until summer, they’ve still given us an EP to tide us over! The Steps is a perfectly balanced EP with only 4 songs. It includes “Summer Girl” and “Now I’m In It,” two of my favorite songs to blast in my car. They’re typical HAIM, but truly so good. Plain and simple.

2020 vision but for music

There have been so many new songs and albums released in 2020 so far, and it makes me excited to see what the rest of the year has in store for us! No matter how crazy things get or how stressful life is, there’s always new and old music to turn to.

-Swaggie Maggie

Advertisements

Let’s Stream Live Music

swaggie maggie: quarantine edition

The age of live stream. It’s a way of life at this point. Especially when we’re all quarantined within our own homes. There’s no secret, we’re dealing with a global pandemic, unlike anything we’ve ever lived through. It’s scary and stressful. Fake news and scare tactics are abundant. We’re all stuck inside to stop the spread of COVID-19. For many of us, this is uncharted territory. In times of uncertainty or anxiety, I always turn to music for an escape.

Personally, my favorite way to consume music is live. That’s why I found a career in the live music industry. But going to a concert isn’t something I can do right now. Everyone is looking for ways to consume live music from the comfort of their couch. It’s also obvious to me that musicians and artists are looking for ways to provide music, art, and comedy with their fans who need it. That’s where streamable concerts come in.

Instagram live Stream

Many artists are turning to Instagram Live as a way to connect with their fans. Some are using the platform to stream concerts or acoustic sets. Others are using it in more of a Q and A or talk show setting. I’m a big fan of John Mayer’s “Current Mood” series and I’ve been enjoying watching Miley Cyrus’ “Bright Minded” as well.

As far as live concerts on Instagram go, there have been many that I’ve loved watching. John Legend’s piano set with Chrissy Teigen was both funny and sweet. The perfect balance of entertainment in a stressful time. Legend partnered with WHO and Global Citizen to contribute to their #TogetherAtHome campaign which promotes a sense of community even though we are all staying home and practicing social distancing.

npr Music’s Tiny desk concert

One of my favorite things to stream (even before this craziness) is NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Concert. These concerts are short and sweet, but they definitely pack a punch. They’re heartfelt and intimate. It’s like watching the biggest artist perform just for you. I really enjoy seeing which songs artists choose to include in their concerts because there are so many to choose from. You really get a sense of which songs they love performing. Here are a few of my favorite Tiny Desk Concerts.

Technically this isn’t a Tiny Desk Concert, but Hobo Johnson’s entry for the Tiny Desk Contest is one of my favorite live performances to watch period.

Stream

wgbh music

This Boston radio station is an incredible resource for live music lovers. I have watched multiple concerts on their YouTube channel and have felt like I was actually there at the show! Their channel features a series called “Front Row Boston” which provides fans with high quality, full concert videos to stream. If you’re looking to watch something longer than an Instagram hangout or a Tiny Desk Concert, head to WGBH Music on YouTube to stream countless concerts!

concert memories

My last suggestion depends on how many concert videos you have saved from your favorite shows you’ve been to. Sure, they take up a ton of space on your phone, and nobody really cares about watching them on your story, but this is the PERFECT time to re-watch them yourself. You can re-live your happy memories of seeing your favorite band live. You might be surprised by what you decided to take video of during a show. I love looking through videos I’ve taken at concerts and remembering how happy I was to be in the room with my favorite musicians.

I hope these suggestions inspire you to find more ways to consume live music, even while we are all stressed out at home.

-Swaggie Maggie

 

How To Make the Perfect Playlist

Swaggie Maggie: quarantine edition

It’s official. We’re all stuck in our homes until further notice and there’s nothing to do. We all are experiencing the same thing. You wake up, drink a cup of coffee with breakfast, waste your day on the internet, eat dinner, drink some wine, and go to sleep. The next day is the same. And so is the next day. I’m going to challenge myself to change my routine and I hope you will too. On the blog, I’m planning on writing something every day. These could be opinion pieces, how-tos, a playlist, or throwback memories. Honestly, the options are endless.

This first post is dedicated to helping you create the perfect playlist. I make playlists constantly. They become the soundtrack of my seasons and they help me process my emotions when things in my life get crazy. Consider this your all-inclusive, step-by-step guide in creating a playlist. By using this formula, you’ll be able to create the perfect mix of songs for any occasion.

Quarantine and chill

First things first; name your playlist. For this playlist, I’m going to name it “Quarantine and Chill”. I like to create a name that makes me smile when I look at it and that is related to what the playlist is actually about. For example, a spring playlist would be called “Spring has Sprung” or simply “Spring.” A playlist about falling in love could be named “Falling” or “My Heart Went Oops.” You get the idea. My friend Olivia made a quarantine playlist called “Quarantunes” and its genius. So pick a name and move on to step two.

The Playlist

Now comes the fun part! It’s time to choose which songs should go into your playlist. Here’s how I do it. I start with a song that I have been listening to on repeat for the past few days or weeks. I know that it’s what I want to hear so it’s the first thing song on the playlist.

For the second song, pick something that makes you feel nostalgic. This could be a song that you loved in the past or a song that makes you think of simpler times. This one should be personal for you. When I’m feeling nostalgic, my brain floods with memories and I feel a little wistful and romantic. For my nostalgic song, I’m picking “America” by Simon and Garfunkel because it reminds me of travel and freedom.

The next song should be something that literally pertains to what you’re making the playlist about. So for my third song, I’ll choose something that is about staying inside, being alone, and taking one for the team.

Now, pick a song that always makes you smile when you hear it. This can be any song, it just has to make you smile. And not a little grin, a big, stupid, full-face smile that’s plastered there the whole time the song is on. You know what I’m talking about. If you have to think about this one for a little while that’s okay because the point is to have something in the playlist that makes you truly joyful while you’re listening to it. For this playlist, my happy song is “I Think He Knows” by Taylor Swift. I’ve been obsessed with Lover since it came out and this song just gets me to smile every single time I hear it. And, if you know me, you know I’m a huge Taylor Swift fan so I have to have one of her songs on this playlist!

Throwback vs. nostalgic

Okay, so for the fifth song you should pick a throwback song. This could get a little confusing because it is not the same as your nostalgic song. While most throwback songs are nostalgic, not all nostalgic songs have to be throwbacks. A throwback song should take your mind to an exact moment of your life when you hear it. This song should be something you used to listen to constantly or something that reminds you of a specific time or experience.

Now it’s time to slow the playlist down a little bit. This song should be calming and mellow. It should make you feel at ease. The benefit of choosing to put a smooth song in the  middle of your playlist is that it will give you a chance to just lie down and listen to the music for a few minutes. A lot of times, when I’m listening to music I can’t help but start dancing if it has an upbeat tempo, so including a calm song creates a nice contrast.

For the seventh song, you should choose a song that you genuinely just want to listen to. Like if you were going to play a song right now, you’d probably choose this song. This will make you more likely to press play on this playlist when you have the opportunity to.

Now, pick another situational song. You want the playlist to be a bit thematic. You should think of another song that is relatable and adds to the entire mix by being relevant.

For the ninth song, pick something that makes you feel invincible. You know the songs that make the hairs on your arms and on the back of your neck stand up? And you get butterflies? And sometimes you tear up a little bit?

Time for a dance break! Pick a song that makes you want to get up and dance every single time you hear it. Because this song makes your toes start tapping and you can’t help but move.

Bonus Songs

After about ten songs, you can start either repeating the process above or doing some freestyle within the playlist. I usually like to add a song that makes me cry, a song I know all the lyrics to, and a song that I haven’t listened to in a long time. You can make your playlists as long or as short as you prefer, but I like to keep them at about 10-20 songs.

Enjoy the playlist

Finally, it’s time to enjoy the playlist you’ve created! Crank the volume all the way up and let the sounds and lyrics and rhythm touch your body and soul. Dance like nobody’s watching, sing at the top of your lungs and cry if you feel like it (I promise, it’s healthy). I hope you like this Quarantine and Chill playlist, I certainly do. Now you can create the perfect playlist for any situation or experience without any hesitation. Have fun!

-Swaggie Maggie