I listen to music all the time. When I’m working on Day Job, writing the next thing that’ll make nerds frothy mad at me (because I’m right), or even now as I rewatch Love O2O for the millionth time, I’ve always got music playing somewhere. Last year, I did a similar list and I wanted to start a tradition by uh… keeping that energy.
Artist: Megan Thee Stallion
What Had Me Hooked: I love Megan Thee Stallion. I shamelessly and publicly have called her “my baby” when talking about her. I adore so much of what Megan does, how she carries herself, and how hard she leans in to having fun and being herself. “Body”, the lead single from her first studio album Good News, is a fun and sexy song where Megan and a bunch of beautiful dancers and celebrities basically celebrate their fine physiques. Every time I hear this song on one of my playlists, I have to dance!!
Title: March March
Artist: The Chicks
What Had Me Hooked: I’ve been a fan of The Chicks since I was a tween. I was obsessed with their clear strong voices and the conviction the group had in the face of adversity and straight up nonsense. When they came out with “March March”, I literally dropped everything to watch it. A powerful protest song released at the height of the Black Lives Matter protests after George Floyd’s murder, this is a song points out the ongoing issues in the US and urges listeners to use their voice to make a change. (I also like that the music video shows the modern history of protest in the US!)
Title: 9 Lives
What Had Me Hooked: Hyolyn is a goddess. Truly. I first heard “9 Lives” early in the summer when she performed it on mnet’s GOOD GIRL, and I knew I was listening to something special. Hyolyn is a powerful vocalist and this song pleading with her current love to be the one and not leave or harm her like the ones in the past will give you goosebumps.
What Had Me Hooked: Don’t get it twisted now, I loved “Life Goes On” and you should too. However, every single time I listened to “Dynamite”, I got up and danced. I couldn’t help myself. The guys have talked about how this song was supposed to serve as a cheery song to energize their fans (a paraphrase on my part), and for me, it really has. I hear it and I have to get up and move.
Artist: Flo Milli
What Had Me Hooked: Flo Milli is so dang cute that I can hardly stand looking at her. I love “Weak” because Flo Milli has ZERO patience for weak ass dudes who need to prove they’re worthy of her. I’ve been using where she says “these niggas weak” as a reaction image when I need to talk about how weak racists in fandom have proven themselves to be across 2020 and I am so so grateful for it.
Title: Open Mind
What Had Me Hooked: Honestly, I would probably commit a crime for Wonho if he asked me to. “Losing You” was his sad and sweet debut following All Of The Shit in 2019 and that made me weep, but then he came out with “Open Mind” for his debut and it was just so hornt that I cannot stop screaming when I watch it. However what’s super wild to me is that apparently in a recent live he did, he said that he was going to roll out something even sexier because this isn’t it? This is apparently him being cute? What a stressful brick wall of a man…
Title: +5 STAR+
What Had Me Hooked: I love CL. I was a huge 2NE1 fan back in the day and I hated that once the group was donezo, YG was determined to waste CL like he does every single female artist that’s signed with him. Thankfully, CL is on her own and away from YG and has filled her time putting out gorgeous music. +5 Star+ is one of her most recent releases and the video has “We Found Love” energy that I can’t get enough of. With +5 Star+, CL reminds you that she is a force to be reckoned with with her fantastic voice, great energy, and super stylish visuals. I got so hype for her upcoming release that I only shed a single thug tear when she announced that she was pushing back the album to early 2021 in order to perfect it.
Title: Love Overboard
Artist: Gladys Knight
What Had Me Hooked: In the A Different World episode “Three Girls Three”, the plot line revolves around Gladys coming to Hillman college and holding a competition for a background singer for a show she’s doing at the school. Even though characters Whitley and Jaleesa are burned and betrayed by the young opera singer who wants to center herself and become a star, the end of the episode shows a fantasy sequence where the two young women get to sing backup for Gladys. I’ve been watching the series over because it’s fantastic, and I keep going back just to watch that moment in the episode. If you do nothing else, please watch that moment.
What Had Me Hooked: I always listen to EXO-K’s 2012 debut Mama when I’m in a bad mood. Considering the shape of 2020, trust me when I say that I really listened to this song a lot. It’s not like Mama is a particularly sad song, mind you. However, for some reason it triggers the same space in my brain that Adema’s Giving In and Silent Hill’s Room Of Angel do for me. I can’t explain why but it’s this weird cross between comfort and dread and it just… works for me. A lot.
Title: I Can’t Stop Me
What Had Me Hooked: Honestly, Twice is my girl group. They stay putting out really fun hits and their B-sides are remarkable for how they still manage to hold your attention. (I’m still not over the Feel Special EP from last year. That’s how good the whole thing was.) With “I Can’t Stop Me”, Twice dabbles in synthwave and makes me crave an retro future (shhh) short film from it. Also, at this point I think I’ve seen every single stage they’ve done for this song because it’s that good.
Artist: Bell Biv Devoe
What Had Me Hooked: Like “Love Overboard”, I’m back on Bell Biv Devoe bullshit because of 2020 causing me to resort to old school media. Sometimes you just need to croon about a woman with a bad reputation to get in the right headspace to deal with another one of 2020’s weird ass curve balls, ya feel?
Title: Trumpet Creeper
Artist: Ahn Ye Eun
What Had Me Hooked: With a very spooky original video – age restricted on YouTube so you’ll have to watch it there – Ahn Ye Eun’s “Trumpet Creeper” is an unsettling and stunning song that blends pansori (a form of musical storytelling from Korea) with a truly disturbing horror concept that leaves you shaking. I want more horror concepts from artists, but god does “Trumpet Creeper” raise my expectations to new heights. I could listen to this song on repeat for ages… but maybe I’ll hold off on watching the video at night.
Artist: RM and Wale
What Had Me Hooked: I actually started listening to this song again on repeat back at the beginning of June when idols and rappers were doing their best to show (and in some cases… pretend) that they cared about BLM back at the end of May/beginning of June… and some fans in my primary fandom could not hold off on their internalized antiblackness.
I remember seeing one fan conversation where the fans said that “now mfs want to demand for them to speak about this issue they probably don’t even know about” before we knew that BTS had donated and a few days before they’d posted that tweet about BLM and showed support… and I was literally like “I’m sorry but ‘Change’ is three years old and it is explicitly about racism including the situations that BLM is about”. Because it angered me so much that here I am, newer ARMY and trying to make sure I know everything I can so when I do need to make criticism I come to it fully informed, and these folks who’ve been in fandom longer were publicly like “so no Korean knows what BLM is and they have no reason to and also I am sadder for them than I am Black people being gunned down by cops”.
Anyway, I started to stream this song again starting at that point because it was a nice reminder that Namjoon appears to be better and more aware than a lot of my co-fans think he is. It’s also just… a nice song that gives me hope for more of the cultural exchange and communication that I want.
Artist: Lee Hi
What Had Me Hooked: Lee Hi has the voice of an angel fallen down to earth and that’s part of what works about the concept for this video. “HOLO” is Lee Hi’s first release with AOMG after leaving the YG Entertainment dungeons (and seriously, it’s a sign that YG does not do shit to hold on to the strong female performers they have) and it is so so good. This song feels like a hug from someone that loves you deeply… just before they tell you that they have to leave for a while.
Artist: Agust D
What Had Me Hooked: You know, I still can’t get over that 2020 is the year that brought us D-2? “Daechwita” is so fucking good, y’all. I just cannot get over this song. Yoongi’s ventures as Agust D are always sharp in a way that I need in my life always. D-2 was an experience and a half, easily one of the best albums I’ve listened to in 2020, and how could it be anything else considering the lead single? “Daechwita” is a devastating diss track aimed at the haters who still don’t get that they’re not on his level now and won’t be any time soon. It’s rough, it’s rude, and it’s everything I want in his music actually.
Also the music video is GORGEOUS!
Title: Make It Better
Artist: Anderson .Paak featuring Smokey Robinson
What Had Me Hooked: This is the song that made me an Anderson .Paak fan. So I’m late to the game, but I intend to keep playing. This song is so good and his voice is just delicious. I want to bask in him. The week I started listening to this song, I played the video over dozens of times just because I could not get enough of it. Gosh!
Title: silly love
Artist: gani, NASON, KDNA
What Had Me Hooked: MEEMS AND I LOVE THIS SONG! In the Before Times of the Pandemic (so like… the weekend after it came out), we basically listened to it on repeat while doing our respective tasks! It’s a sweet and soft love song that tugs at the heart and the music video is cute as hell. Honestly, I found myself being a huge fan of the producer from this song alone. One song and I’m like “okay, what else have you done and how can I get it in my ears” and when it comes to Korean pop/R&B/hip hop, it usually takes a little longer… But this was an instant love for me!
Artist: Cardi B featuring Megan Thee Stallion
What Had Me Hooked: This is the most NSFW lyric video I have ever seen in my life.
Anyway, WAP honestly might actually be my favorite song of 2020? Filthy, fucky, and fun, this collab between Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion is literally always on in our apartment. I don’t dare to dance to it as my twerking abilities are… nonexistent, but I know all the words and can mostly keep up at this point! I love how much enjoyment my friends have gotten out of this song and if it doesn’t sweep the 2021 awards show circuit, I will be most vexed.
Artist: Jvcki Wai, Coogie, Paloalto, The Quiett, Bassagong
What Had Me Hooked: I’ve spent 2020 having a quiet, almost hysterical thing for The Quiett. I will not explain any of it, of course, but part of why I’ve had this collab on my frequent rewatches across 2020 is that I just really love this dude. I’ll unpack the full video in a future Music Video Anatomy because there’s a lot going on here visually that I like, but it’s just a super catchy song and I loved singing along to Jvcki Wai’s chorus (?)!
Title: tell me tell me
Artist: m-flo loves eill, Sik-K, and Taichi Mukai
What Had Me Hooked: I’ve been listening to m-flo ever since I was a high schooler. At this point, they’re almost tied with Miyavi for longevity in my listening life – and I’ve been listening to him since I was like 14/15. When I saw that they were going to be putting out a new installment in their collaborative “m-flo loves” series, I was on the edge of going fully feral. While I’m not familiar with eill or Taichi Mukai, I am familiar with (and have lightly roasted) Sik-K. He’s a good rapper, mind you, so I was able to get hyped for his presence and really, this is a good song to showcase a side of him I don’t know we get to see in his other work? “tell me tell me” is such a bright and fun song and I think it’s the perfect gateway to m-flo’s music! Their “m-flo loves” series introduced me to so many artists that I still love and listen to and it’d be great if y’all got into them too!
Okay, enough about me: what did y’all listen to in 2020? Drop me some links or artist names below!