The Music Club, 2020

Entry 17: The best songs of the year, in one playlist.

Bad Bunny, Megan Thee Stallion, Phoebe Bridgers, and Perfume Genius
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Victor Chavez/Getty Images for Spotify, Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for EA Sports Bowl at Bud Light Super Bowl Music Fest, Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Tibet House, and Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Coachella.

In Slate’s annual Music Club, Slate music critic Carl Wilson emails with fellow critics—this year, Rolling Stone staff writer Brittany Spanos, New York Times contributor Lindsay Zoladz, and special guests Ann Powers, Jack Hamilton, Chris Molanphy, and Julyssa Lopez—about the year in music.

Dear Brittany, Lindsay, Chris, Julyssa, Ann, and Jack,

My deepest thanks to you Music Club aces for your wise and eloquent help processing the sounds and circumstances of this unprocessable year. I’d say you’re all stars, but as Good Sad Happy Bad sings, in truth, “you’re more like the sun.” You were here when I needed some. With the solstice just behind us, we can look forward to getting more of that light, incrementally, day by day, going into the new year. Here’s hoping that the metaphor holds.


It’s still going to be a long tough winter, of course. So as one more resource for weathering it, I’ve made a Spotify playlist of many of the artists and songs that have come up in our conversations this week, as well as my own initial best-of-2020 post, and a few other random things that leapt to mind. It’s 165 tracks, approaching 11 hours of music, and I hope readers will use it, as well as all your thoughts in this series, as a jumping-off point for exploration and discovery.

I can’t wait until we can see one another again—or, in the cases of our new participants Brittany and Julyssa, meet in person for the first time. I want to play Lego aircrafts with Jack, the last person who hosted me on a trip, at his Charlottesville home at almost this time in 2019. I’m aching to see Ann, whose house in Nashville I was planning to visit this year until that became impossible. And I long to be with the rest of you at gatherings and shows, listening to and talking about the music that brings us together.


One of the artists we lost this year was the British icon Vera Lynn, who died at the incredible age of 103 in June. She couldn’t have known when she recorded it in her early 20s, at the dawn of the Second World War, but her life proved her largely justified in her faith when she sang, “We’ll meet again, who knows where, who knows when/ But I know we’ll meet again some sunny day.” Let’s try to trust that ours will, too. Meanwhile, please stay safe, everyone.

Your ever-admiring colleague,


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