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Noots Letter: Write A List Of Things To Look Forward To
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Last year, December’s Noots Letter featured a very detailed and extensive look back on 2021, tracking momentous musical events from every month of the year. This year, I shan’t be doing that again! Partly because I am running out of time and mostly because I missed half the year in pop culture, because I was on a boat (have you heard?).
But I think that was for the best ultimately! 2022 was a year that finally felt a little more like getting back to normal, meaning we weren’t all sitting around on our phones watching silly little videos. Instead we were out living our silly little lives! We learned a lot, grew a lot, and thought a lot about Florence Pugh’s purple set. My understanding of music history and songwriting improved, as did my record collection—thanks to Juneau’s Downtown Disc, Charlotte’s Sleepy Poet, and Brooklyn’s Legacy Records—and for that I am grateful.
For the people who are still watching TikTok and don’t want to read all this, here’s some fast favorites of 2022: Favorite cover. Favorite dance. The same thing but in French. Favorite street interview response. Favorite meme. Favorite worst song mix. And the year in review of sounds.
But something that I love about me is that I am an Enneagram #5, which means I love doing research. So here are some more things that were big in 2022:
Sped up songs. If last year was slowed & riverbed remixes, this year was hyperspeed. The trend originated from nightcore, which has been around since the early 2000s, and has since turned any and every ballad into a danceable TikTok soundbite. Usually a DIY process, an unrelated producer kicks up the tempo and pitch to 150+ BPM. However, it’s become so mainstream that now artists themselves are releasing sped-up versions in tandem with their original versions. Whether or not it’s contributing to our collective lack of attentiveness, it’s a delight to know that even the most depressive tracks can be repurposed into something manic.
Global music. Huge year for Bad Bunny, one of the top streamed artists in the world and the first ever non-English-speaking artist to achieve this level of success. Barcelona-born Rosalía saw a similar rise to big time fame with Motomami. Italy’s Måneskin won Eurovision last year and captivated listeners with their rendition of “Beggin’”. Among more niche finds, I absolutely fell in love with Silvana Estrada’s debut solo album Marchita. Leyla McCalla connected with her Haitian heritage with the delightful Breaking The Thermometer. French favorites La Femme also crossed over into Spanish territory with their new album Teatro Lucido this year. It’s easy to blow off music in foreign languages because “I don’t know what they’re saying” but hey, we claim to love the Cocteau Twins and have never understood a single lyric either!
Old tunes. Huge year for old tunes especially for me, who famously had Def Leppard in the Top 5 of her Spotify Wrapped. This summer was dominated by Kate Bush’s 1985 “Running Up That Hill” and guitarists were practicing “Master of Puppets”, both thanks to Stranger Things. Netflix’s Wednesday also popularized “Goo Goo Muck” by The Cramps (1981) and brought back a sped-up version of Gaga’s “Bloody Mary”. Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis film forced every pop star to release their own ~2022~ renditions of his mid-century hits. The girlies fell to their knees at some German guys covering Suzanne Vega’s “Tom’s Diner”, originally written in 1982. And one of the biggest TikTok sounds was all the way from the 1800s! And they say classical music is a dying art form…
Things that were, well, big. Some tracks almost blew up too much, monopolizing the airwaves. “As It Was”? I don’t wanna talk about the way that it was anymore, Harry! People are still losing their mind over Midnights and, even worse, still posting about it on their public Instagram story. Grow up! Meaghan Trainor had a random resurgence and “Made You [Listen]” to a very unrelatable chorus. And Big Internet really ruined corn for me by exploiting the heck out of that sweet Corn kid. He’s adorable, don't get me wrong—but corn is nondigestible!
The only music that society will seemingly never tire of is Beyonce’s Renaissance (linked article notes how it’s basically her first audio-only release of the past few years). And that’s because we love a disco homage! Admit it! This album was so big that it continues to top every single list from every major publication and also continues make me shake my lil butt. Good for her!
Lawsuits. Megan Thee Stallion withstood a tumultuous and highly public case in which the shooter was just found guilty. This year, T*yl*r Sw*ft was still debating over “Shake It Off”, and her Ticketmaster prices were bringing 30 year-olds to tears. Allegations were brought against Dua Lipa’s “Levitating” which, to be fair, does sound like a lot of other songs. Isn’t that kinda the point, though? Technically there’s no legal trouble here (yet), but Adam Levine landed himself in hot water for some apparently scandalous DM’s. Defamation charges to come, or we believing women on this one?
Stars as human people? Newly free woman Britney Spears got married. Rihanna became pregnant, endured this pregnancy, and then gave birth, as humans do! Taylor got an honorary NYU degree. JLo & Ben get back together like it’s 2002. Nick Cannon continued to overpopulate the world. Selena Gomez got real about her health. Guy who sang “Miami” had a little onstage outburst. Oopsie!
Legendary live performances. Joni Mitchell returned to the stage for the first time in 22 years this summer at Newport Folk Festival. Now, she’s announced another show with Brandi Carlile next summer at the Gorge in Washington. The 2022 Super Bowl Halftime Show featured six of rap’s biggest artists (plus sweetie Anderson .Paak on drums), and subsequently made us realize we were The Old People. Glastonbury had an iconic lineup and pulled out all the stops, especially for 80 year-old Paul McCartney. This fall’s When We Were Young festival brought attendees back to the angsty throes of the Warped Tour era. Foo Fighters paid tribute to drummer Taylor Hawkins and were joined by teenage son Shane on “My Hero”. Lizzo played James Madison’s 200 year-old flute at the Library of Congress. Elton John (whose birth name I recently learned was REGINALD DWIGHT ARE YOU KIDDING ME) played his last US venue on the Farewell Yellowbrick Road Tour. Also, he looked like a Roomba.
Women in R&B. This one is like duh because black women invented music, but we cannot stress enough the momentous nature of SZA’s S.O.S. She ended 2022 on the most exceptional note with this December album release, which debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. She broke single-day streaming records for an R&B album, and twenty-something songs made it to the Billboard Hot 100. In addition, major end-of-year-lists are absolutely dominated by artists like Amber Mark, FKA Twigs, Ari Lennox, Ravyn Lenae, Sudan Archives, Yaya Bey, Raveena, and many more.
Musical theatre making national news to people other than me. Okay, this may be a skewed perception because the algorithm feeds me Broadway content because it knows I used to cry at Glee!. But Rachel Berry a.k.a. Lea Michelle pulled the rug out from underneath Beanie Feldstein and made an iconic return to Broadway in Funny Girl. Lea also revealed she’s not afraid of lamps in HBO’s Spring Awakening special. Former Book of Mormon cast member, Dylan Mulvaney, became so viral with her “Days of Girlhood” Series that she was invited to the White House. Native North Carolinian and former Jimmy Awards Winner Renee Rapp released her debut EP, shot to new heights of fame with Sex Lives of College Girls, got cast in the Mean Girls Musical movie, and caught the eye of thirsty gals everywhere. Phantom of the Opera announced it was closing after 35 years… or not?
Now, in the words of beloved Courtney Barnett, here is a list of Things To Look Forward To:
Next August, Hip Hop turns 50 years old! Media marketers now say that videos will be trending more toward lifestyle content and less toward dances, which is great news for people who can’t dance (me). New albums are forthcoming from Paramore, Lana Del Rey, Shania Twain, and Sam Smith. Rihanna will be making a long-awaited return to the stage with the 2023 Super Bowl Halftime Show. Phoebe Bridgers may or may not be single!
Some very arbitrary predictions for 2023 that I’ve fabricated without any evidence: Weather channel music will become super mainstream. Olivia Rodrigo will star on Broadway, and so will a TikTok famous pet. Amelia Dimoldenberg from Chicken Shop Date will release a rap single. Dua Lipa will bear Jack Harlow’s child and they will not stay together but will co-parent amicably. Spotify will introduce a feature that allows you to share favorite lyrics to your profile or, like, as an away message. Maren Morris will guest star on Yellowstone or one of its million offshoots. Julia Fox will costar in a Lil Nas X music video. Harry Styles will either date a hot man or be cancelled. Noots Letter will be picked up by Rolling Stone. Hehehe jk! I will never sell out.
This is now my second end-of-year post, so I’ll say it again: we’re all a bunch of losers living out our aimless days somewhere in the middle of an unending universe, but you’ve chosen to fill your ears with the vulnerabilities of random songwriters and to me, that is the coolest. Thanks for coming along. <3
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22:22 - All new releases of the year twoty-two. Limit! One song per artist!
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SELECTIONS FROM QUARTER 4 —
Foushee, softCORE: One of my new favorite records of the year, Foushee blends punk and pop in a uniquely contemporary way. She rose to notoriety with features on Steve Lacy’s breakout hit “Bad Habit”, but has since made a name for herself in genre-bending abilities. She joins the likes of WILLOW and Shamir with her gritty, lo-fi, wild sound.
Courtney Marie Andrews, Loose Future: Andrews first caught my attention with her cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “America”, and this new album upholds the same level of space and specificity. At only 32, she already lives somewhere between Lucinda Williams and Sharon Van Etten in her wisdom and ease.
Rubblebucket, Earth Worship: Indie sleaze had a big resurgence this year, so this album fits nicely into that narrative. It’s extremely whimsical in nature, with references to bugs, math, funk, and birthday suits. Although it’s more lighthearted than their previous work, that just means I’m already anticipating taking these to the park next spring.
Honorable mentions for big time favorites who also released new albums this quarter: Alvvays (Blue Rev), Whitmer Thomas (The Older I Get The Funnier I Was), Frankie Cosmos (Inner World Peace), and Weyes Blood (And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow)
~~~~~~~~ HAPPY NEW YEAR SEE U IN ‘23 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!