We are officially at the halfway point of 2016, which means that everyone with a Spotify Premium account and access to pitchfork.com has some sort of list ranking their favorite music releases of the year. I won’t deny that making lists is super super fun, it’s my favorite way to procrastinate and I have a extensive spreadsheet to keep track of every album I’ve listened to this year. But music is made to be heard out in the world, in everyday life. So I matched up some of my favorite songs of 2016 with appropriate activities. Go live it.
Driving with the windows down: “Finish Line / Drown” by Chance the Rapper featuring T-Pain, Kirk Franklin, Eryn Allen Kane & Noname
Driving with the windows down and the volume up is maybe the most quintessential summer activity. The best car jams are easy to sing along to, and nothing is simpler than the “do-do-do-do-do-do-do” that kicks off Chance the Rapper’s “Finish Line / Drown.” Placed towards the end of Coloring Book‘s tracklist, “Finish Line” is triumphant victory lap that also showcases vulnerability, as Chance touches upon his Xanax addiction and relationship with the mother of his daughter. Coloring Book can feel overly sweet, but “Finish Line” is a song that makes me feel like I’m actually getting to know Chance the Superstar. On top of that, the second half of the song, “Drown,” makes the listener feel like they’ve been transported to the grooviest church in America, where the choir sounds lush and everyone is standing and clapping their hands. Put this on when you get handed the aux and everyone in the car will be similarly unified as you all wail “ALL MY DAYS, I PRAYED AND PRAYED” with Minister T-Pain.
Playing basketball: “Lite Spots” by Kaytranada
When I first heard “Lite Spots,” I immediately thought that it would be the perfect soundtrack for one of those commercials where some guys are playing pick-up basketball on a blacktop and they’re jumping way above the rim and then time stops and the camera rotates around before a guy slams it down. It would probably be for Sprite Remix or something. Aside from my weird TV vision, I actually have shot around while listening to Kaytranada’s new album, 99.9%, and it fits the mood. It’s blissfully carefree and meant for sunny weather, perfect for shaking a defender, draining your shot, and smiling about it.
Running: “Cornerstore” by Joey Purp featuring Saba & theMIND
For me, running music has to be captivating above all else, as to not let my mind wander and question why I’m voluntarily running. On “Cornerstore,” Joey Purp and Saba tell stories of lost youth, guns, and violence in Chicago over a lush array of horns. You can hear the pain in Purp’s voice as he practically yells his verse; I find myself hanging onto every word because I can feel the reality of these anecdotes. It’s heart-wrenching song but it’s also extremely motivational. Not because it’s optimistic or preachy, but because it paints a portrait of perseverance.
Cleaning on the weekend: “Drippin'” by Young Thug
I don’t know if this is true for other people, but cleaning my room is one of my favorite times to listen to music. You can turn the volume way up and jam out as you bop around picking up your junk. The alien beat on “Drippin'” is one of the most infectious things I’ve heard all year. I dare you to sit still when the song comes on (it’s impossible). This is a beat that pulses through your body and takes over. After the first few notes kick in, Thugger proceeds to absolutely float on the track, effortlessly weaving in and out of different flows. In no time, you’ll be dancing around and feeling ready to do a backflip off the wall or something.
Biking around the neighborhood: “Everybody Wants to Love You” by Japanese Breakfast
I started riding my bike a lot this year, through some small suburban streets to and from work, passing by colorful houses and kids playing basketball. I would stand up on the pedals and do a slalom in between manholes like I was 12 instead of 22. I always tried to pick the perfect soundtrack to match the scene and the most fitting was “Everybody Wants to Love You,” a song that explodes with joy instantly after the opening guitar riff. The simple chorus is uplifting and reassuring, making age irrelevant because you’re going fast and living in the moment. You’ll probably want to yell the lyrics and dance with your hands in the air, and at the very least you can’t help but feel free.