Autumn 2020 Playlist
Photo by Ashraful Arefin
The weather has finally started to cool down and I have broken out my sweater collection. Nothing brings me as much unbridled joy as autumn.
One of the ways that I get into the spirit of a new season is to make a seasonal playlist. I’ve been doing this for a few years now, and every year without fail the autumn playlist is my favorite.
I have a list of 10 songs that I think everyone should add to their own playlists, for the days where you just want to bundle up in a sweater and feel extra cozy.
cardigan – Taylor Swift
To be honest, you could probably add the entirety of Taylor Swift’s 8th studio album folklore to your playlist and you would be set. I know I’ve been listening to the album on repeat since it came out in July.
cardigan is pretty self explanatory – it’s literally titled cardigan. The song has a simultaneously tragic and comforting feeling, which I think lends to the cooler weather well. Lyrically, there are many themes that satisfy both the cozy feeling that you may be searching for this time of year, as well as some spooky season vibes.
“When I felt like I was an old cardigan under someone’s bed, you put me on and said I was your favorite.”– Taylor Swift
“I knew you’d linger like a tattooed kiss, I knew you’d haunt all of my what-ifs.”– Taylor Swift
Along with the somber piano and the lyrical content, Taylor also came out with a music video for this song. It opens and closes in a cozy, candlelit, isolated cabin, where she pulls her cardigan on for comfort in her time alone. I think in 2020, we all know how it feels to cling to a comfortable item of clothing.
King of Capulet – X Lovers
There is nothing about this song that specifically reminds me of fall, but it’s one of those chill tracks that I enjoy to listen to as I’m getting ready in the morning, warm cup of coffee in hand and the breeze creeping through the windows.
“Isn’t it lovely that I’m in this place with you? Oh isn’t it something? This feeling’s something new.”– X Lovers
The song has a pretty steady beat throughout it, with smooth vocals performed by London Jackson and Jacob Ames. The music video, released in May 2019, features the two boys simply hanging out in the streets of what looks like their small town, one dressed in a sweater and jeans, the other in a t-shirt and athletic pants, with red tinted leaves. Overall, this is just a fun addition to any autumn playlist.
Finally // beautiful stranger – Halsey
Halsey actually has quite a few songs that would fit this playlist well, most of which would fall more into the spooky/creepy area (Haunting, Control, Ghost…. etc.) but I felt that this was an appropriate choice for those seeking some comfort this fall.
Finally // beautiful stranger is a beautiful love song simply describing the feeling of safety in a loving relationship. Halsey herself stated that this was the first pure love song that she has ever written.
“I grab your hand and then we run to the car, singing in the street and playing air guitar.”– Halsey
“We’re dancing in my living room and up come my fists. And I say I’m only playing, but the truth is this. I’ve never seen a mouth that I would kill to kiss and I’m terrified.”– Halsey
The instrumentation of the track is very simple: an acoustic guitar and some light percussion. In the music video, we see two versions of Halsey. The performer, singing in front of a small crowd, and the real Halsey (or Ashley) simply performing a raw, emotional version of the song by herself.
This song makes me feel as if I should be dancing around my kitchen, baking cookies and lighting my pumpkin scented candles.
Cinnamon girl – Lana Del Rey
Lana Del Rey’s entire discography belongs on this list, but I decided to choose my favorite song by the self-proclaimed spooky season queen.
Cinnamon girl, like many of Lana Del Rey’s tracks, details a potentially harmful and toxic relationship that is as addictive as the pills that her love interest is constantly taking. She sings about her insistence to stay in the comfort of this relationship.
Lana alludes to past relationships where she has been hurt and she wants more than anything for this to be the one that loves her rather than harming her.
“There’s things I want to say to you, but I’ll just let you live. Like if you hold me without hurting me, you’ll be the first who ever did.”– Lana Del Rey
The instrumentation is pretty repetitive for the first two thirds of the song, breaking out into a chorus of Lana’s soft vocals, layered over the track, creating a very atmospheric and euphoric sound. Toward the end of the track, the strings are highlighted in the instrumental for almost a minute, and then the beat comes back in to fade it out.
Overall, the track is incredibly comforting, emotional, and will pull you in from the first second.
There’s a Ghost – Fluerie
This song is the definition of haunting. I don’t think I have ever heard a track that encompasses the adjectives cold, haunting, lonely, and disconnected as well as this song does. When I listen to this song with my eyes closed, I see in black and white.
Lyrically, this song is a masterpiece, and it even references Edgar Allen Poe in the third verse.
“There’s a hearbeat under my floorboards charging me guilty and I don’t know why. There’s a black bird over my door singin’ Nevermore.”– Fluerie
In addition to the reference in the lyrics, Fluerie added a heartbeat in the production behind this verse. With the right sound system (headphones, speaker) this aspect of the track can ramp up your own heartbeat in response, literally making you feel that guilt that she is singing about.
Every aspect of the music video feels like late autumn/early winter. Fluerie is walking through what looks like an open expanse of land, very early in the morning, a layer of fog filling the space, fallen autumn leaves scattered on the floor. She is dressed in a long cardigan, her nails painted black. When we see her inside, the lighting is low with candles filling the room. We see the guitar and the strings in glimpses. Towards the end of the video, it starts to snow, so if you feel so inclined… go ahead and add it to your winter playlist as well.
What A Time – Julia Micheals (feat. Niall Horan)
If any song on this list will dig up nostalgia, it’s this one. Not because the song is old (it’s not) and you might be reminiscing on the first time you heard it, but because the lyrical content of this song is all about thinking back on the good memories that you have with a person who used to be in your life.
The song is clearly about a romantic relationship, but you can relate it to anyone or any time in your life that you may miss. Personally, I relate this song to my friends in college because COVID-19 cut our time together short.
“I think of the night in the park, it was getting dark, and we stayed up for hours. What a time, what a time, what a time.”– Julia Michaels
Instrumentally, the track begins simply with an acoustic guitar and Julia’s soft but raw vocals. As the track continues, the percussion picks up, building with the intensity of the emotions in the track. Julia and Niall’s voices blend really well together. This song really does make for the perfect duet. The music video is incredibly emotional (Julia Michaels always has the best acting in her performances) so I highly recommend watching it. However, I actually want to point you to their live performance on James Corden’s Late Late Show. Niall doesn’t make an appearance in the music video, so you actually get to see him here. Also, their chemistry is heartbreaking to watch.
Comfort Crowd – Conan Gray
This track is the host of multiple autumn-y vibes. For starters, Conan Gray has one of the most comforting voices that I have ever listened to. He’s an up-and-coming artist whose debut album Kid Krow came out in March, 2020. His smooth and soothing vocals encompass every track on the album, but they are really highlighted on Comfort Crowd.
There are some aspects of this song that could be considered creepy, from the vocal layering to some of the lyrical content.
“Beggin’ on my knees screamin’ someone come and help me, but by the time they’re here I’ve already hid the body.”– Conan Gray
2020 has been, arguably, one of the most difficult years that we have collectively experienced, and one of the reasons for this is because many of us are struggling with the sense of isolation. Conan sings about his loneliness and simply wanting someone around him for comfort.
“I just needed company now. I just needed someone around. I don’t care what song that we play or mess that we make, just company now. Comfort crowd.”– Conan Gray
The music video is set in what looks like an old victorian house. There’s candlelight. And blood. And he’s wearing a flannel… there’s really not much more I need to say… it’s fall.
Vampire – Dominic Fike
Okay, I think this one is my favorite one that I have added to this playlist because it’s SO FUN. I don’t know if this is one of those songs where there’s an on-the-surface meaning, but then it means something deeper beneath the surface… but I’m pretty sure it’s just about Dominic Fike showing up to a party and realizing that every person there is actually a vampire.
It’s the perfect song to listen to in October as you’re preparing for Halloween.
“I only showed up to tell you that everyone at this party’s a vampire. This ain’t red wine, we’re all food for the bloodsuckers. Movin’ up under the moonlight like the vampires.”– Dominic Fike
At this point, Dominic hasn’t released a music video for this song, but I really hope that he is working on one. I think the beginning of October would be the perfect time to release it.
Surrounded by Heads and Bodies – The 1975
I have been a huge fan of The 1975 for years and when A Brief Inquiry of Online Relationships, their 3rd studio album, dropped in 2018, this track was severely underrated in my opinion.
It is a very slow, very instrumental based track. It’s almost 4 minutes in length, but to me it feels much shorter. It’s one of those songs that’s perfect to put on if you just want to zone out and relax.
Matty Healy, the lead singer of The 1975, stated that he wrote this song inspired by a girl that he was in rehab with. He speaks of Angela (not her real name, for obvious reasons) with a lot of empathy. He stated that “she was such a beautiful, lovely woman” when asked about what she meant to him while writing this song.
“Angela, she wears it like a dress, post-traumatic mess.”– The 1975
This song has no music video, and I don’t believe that the band has ever performed it live. Though many people consider this track a skip, I recommend that you give it a listen. It’s not for everyone, but it will definitely put you in a sort of trance.
Like Real People Do – Hozier
Hozier, in general, has a very dark, atmospheric, autumnal vibe, much like Lana Del Rey, to the point where I could just recommend his entire discography for this playlist. This particular track is one of my favorites, because when I hear it I think of cool, autumn mornings and amber light.
Like Real People Do is a bittersweet love song about the fears of entering into a new relationship. Through metaphors, Hozier sings to his new love, comforting them in their fears and baggage and secrets that they may be bringing from their past relationships.
The lyrics in the beginning of the track allude to his partner trying to dig into his past, because most likely they have had some scarring past relationships. Hozier convinces them that they don’t need to worry, and that they “should just kiss like real people do.”
“I had a thought, dear, however scary about that night, the bugs and the dirt. Why were you digging? What did you bury before those hands pulled me from the earth?– Hozier
The instrumentation is simple throughout the track, just an acoustic guitar and his vocals. Though there is no music video, there is a live performance with Barn on the Farm that is beautiful.
Though I could go on and on about my favorite songs to listen to during my favorite time of year, I’m sure adding about 50 more songs to this list would be a bit overkill.
Really, just listen to this list, folklore, Lana Del Rey, and Hozier, and you’re set.