Erin P.S. Zimmerman has not only the memory of an elephant and the rhythm of one of Destiny’s children, but she’s the twin sister of our Editor, so she’s an absolute magnet for pop culture. She took a side road and grabbed us a large quantity of songs for a playlist that easily covers the entire decade. We’re sure it was inspired by her Spotify plays, as well as a deep dive into each year and her own iTunes library. But this girl’s got some gems. So read em, listen to em, and celebrate 2020 with the sounds of the past!
Dick in a Box – Lonely Island ft Justin Timberlake One of the first times I realized that my mom has a wicked dirty sense of humor. In 2011, we requested this one at a piano bar “for our mom”. They pulled her on stage to sing and dance…and boy, did she!
I’m on a Boat – The Lonely Island Everyone seemed to know this one, and it brought us all togethe
Water Landing – Third Eye Blind Favorite TEB song. My new bf at the time – now my husband – made me a mix CD when we started dating, and this was the first song.
Boom Boom Pow – The Black Eyed Peas “You’re so two thousand and LATE!” – Also, my sorority formal date’s “THIS IS MY JAM!”
Gives You Hell – The All-American Rejects Our anthem for all the bullshit left behind in high school.
Use Somebody – Kings of Leon Favorite moment of my study abroad trip to London: a packed room at a bar singing this to a live band playing a cover.
Party in the USA – Miley Cyrus There is no physical possibility she could walk off the plane at LAX, hop in her cab and look to the right to see the Hollywood sign.
Battlefield – Jordin Sparks Why DOES love always feel like a battlefield?
Fireflies – Owl City Why did we like this one so much??
I Love College – Asher Roth This is the given on the soundtrack of someone who was in college in 2009 or any year after.
Breakeven – The Script This introduced me to The Script. Which became part of the soundtrack to my summer.
Lines, Vines, and Trying Times – Jonas Brothers YES, this is the whole album. Because I loved about 4/5ths of it. And it was the magical soundtrack to exploring London and Los Angeles.
Cooler Than Me – Mike Posner Someone told me they thought of me every time they hear this song because I probably think I’m cooler than them. I am.
Billionaire – Travie McCoy ft Bruno Mars Heard this one for the first time driving around Los Angeles with some friends. And I could picture myself as a billionaire VERY clearly – and still do every time I hear it!
Club Can’t Handle Me – Flo Rida ft. David Guetta Always blasted in my dorm with my roommates. Always never at the club…because it can’t handle me right now.
Whataya Want from Me – Adam Lambert I felt like I had his vocal range. Spoiler alert: I didn’t. Also: what I sang in my head every time someone from high school reached out to me…
If I Die Young – The Band Perry My co-worker’s young daughter loved this song. And creepily sang every word as she stared deep into my eyes. I lived to tell the tale.
Shout It Out – Hanson Yes, it’s another boy band album. I truly love all of the upbeat music on this, and it’s great for running through the sprinklers and then enjoying a bomb pop on a summer day (or upbeat music for your NYE)!
Under the Mistletoe – Justin Bieber My sister received a video invitation to a Christmas party in Manhattan, New York that featured this song. And it was original and funny and I can’t help but love the song now.
Rolling in the Deep – Adele Power ballad and my introduction to Adele [insert heart eyes]
Party Rock Anthem – LMFAO My little bro learned the dance. We made the gold box head from the video for him. This was his anthem.
Raise Your Glass – P!nk Underdogs. Weirdos. Dirty little freaks. I’ve never felt so seen…
F**kin’ Perfect – P!nk NOW I feel seen.
Look At Me Now – Chris Brown ft Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes I spent an entire week vacationing in San Diego practicing rapping to Busta’s verse. I got most of it, performed it at my 21st birthday party, and retired from the rap game.
Good Life – OneRepublic Upbeat. Meaningful. Nostalgic. Perfect for a party!
Pretty Girl Rock – Keri Hilson Because, of course.
Jessie J’s entire album: Who You Are Spent the summer – and fall and winter and spring – driving around with my twin sis rockin’ out to this one! Daddio’s favorite is Price Tag
Threw it on the Ground – The Lonely Island Makes me giggle. Referenced often to this day.
Somebody That I Used to Know – Gotye Just one of those songs from 2012 that defined the year…because it was played non-stop on every radio station. So, everyone knows it.
We Are Young – Fun Another one of those anthems for people of all ages about going out and painting the town red – or setting it on fire, whatever
Ni**as in Paris – Jay Z and Kanye West A fun one that made at least SOMETHING in Blades of Glory funny.
Birthday Cake – Rihanna ft Chris Brown Super weird collaboration following his assaulting her and the romantic breakup that followed 3 years prior…but a super catchy – albeit sometimes annoying – track.
Thrift Shop – Macklemore and Ryan Lewis Who didn’t love this song, and then become a complete thrift shop junkie? It took me years to get back to thrifting and getting anything good!
Flawless – Beyonce Empowerment anthem OF THE DECADE. And, most days? I DID wake up like this.
Mirrors – Justin Timberlake Cried. Sang it with the windows down driving up the 101. Made my bridal party do a dance to it. There is video evidence.
Royals – Lorde I had somehow forgotten this song. It played in perpetuity from 2013-the KC Royals 2015 World Series Championship. Now I can’t get it out of my head…
Wrecking Ball – Miley Cyrus An ode to Miley’s breakup, breakdown and ripping off the bandaid that was her Disney persona. And you, too, can get a skin for your MacBook that turns your Apple logo into the wrecking ball in question.
Girl on Fire – Alicia Keys ANOTHER empowerment anthem? We will take all of them we can get!
You and I – John Legend Hell, really I just mean all of the album “Love in the Future”. Best of 2013.
Happy – Pharrell Williams Who doesn’t want a feel-good song to take you from down in the dumps, to dancing on the hood of your car? Or the bar? Or the table or the street?
All of Me – John Legend Bawled. Became first dance at wedding. Years later, I told John Legend to his face that he only makes music to purposefully make me cry. And he guaranteed tears at his concert. And he delivered. Damn him.
Turn Down for What – DJ Snake and Lil Jon Only video I took at my wedding: Dance off in the foreground between 5 VERY white boys to this song. In the background? Family friend Russian kicking my 9-year-old niece into 2016.
Chandelier – Sia I DO want to swing from the chandeli-here!
The Man – Aloe Blacc Best basketball warm up song. Best slideshow music for the graduating seniors of the St. Pius X high school basketball team.
Partition – Beyonce This one just has me feelin’ myself, no matter what mood I was in before! In fact, I’m going to go listen to it, now!
See You Again – Wiz Khalifa ft Charlie Puth First death of a friend my age. This played on a slideshow. He’s all I think of when I hear it and I cry. Which means I cried while watching Fast and the Furious. But not because of Fast and the Furious.
Take Me to Church – Hozier The year I really STOPPED going to church. But his voice more than made up for it!
Elastic Heart – Sia Two words: Shia. Labeouf.
Outlaws – Alessia Cara I felt like this was the anthem for myself and my fellow entrepreneurs as we retreated in the mountains and built our businesses and white-water rafted and had a jolly ole time.
House Party – Sam Hunt How the twin and I have always lived our lives: entertaining from the comfort of our own homes.
Love Yourself – Justin Bieber
Sorry – Justin Bieber OK, let’s be honest. The whole damn album. I’m not embarrassed. I danced my way through 2016 to JB.
Work from Home – Fifth Harmony I had just started working from home as a full-time freelancer when this one came out. So, it was constantly in my head – and is a fun one to dance to, as well!
Just Like Fire – P!nk Apparently, I am drawn to fire. I believe it’s the Aries in me…
One Call Away – Charlie Puth Sister broke up with her boyfriend. I rallied the troops and had friends and family from across the US lip sync on video and put it together as a breakup gift. And a perpetual reminder.
Sit Still, Look Pretty – Daya Calling society in to question. While being catchy and easy to dance to? Yes, please and thank you! Because smashing the patriarchy can and should feel a hell of a lot more fun!
Lost Boy – Ruth B Haunting, gender-bending, put into question how we see ourselves vs. how we are seen.
I know, deep, right?
HUMBLE – Kendrick Lamar I saw this one as a challenge for me to be less humble and take up space, while also singing along loudly in the direction of folx who need to sit the f*** down, shut up and listen.
Say You Won’t Let Go – James Arthur Does anyone else see Jane and Rafael from Jane the Virgin when they listen to this song? No? Just me?
Redbone – Childish Gambino A range and style no one expected, but everyone needed.
Slow Hands – Niall Horan Sexy from a former One Directioner…I should have seen it coming.
Sorry Not Sorry – Demi Lovato Hate the saying. LOVE the song.
DNA – Kendrick Lamar The BEST song to lift heavy weights and smash a bag around to! TRY to tell me differently!
Better Life – P!nk Sad and beautiful. It helps me to stop and take inventory and answer P!nk’s question for myself.
Younger Now – Miley Cyrus How I feel with each passing year…
Bastards – Kesha First song on her 2017 album. “Don’t let the bastards get you down” (America’s official slogan since, what, 2016?)
Everybody Lost Somebody – Bleachers Bleachers makes depression fun by helping folx find commonalities in one another. YOU are not alone!
Finesse – Bruno Mars and Cardi B LOVE the throwback late 80s/early 90s sound. MORE PLEASE!
All The Stars – Kendrick Lamar & SZA Black Panther. Entire Marvel/Disney soundtrack produced by Kendrick Lamar. My mom is friends with SZA’s mom.
This is America – Childish Gambino Calling us out. Poignant. This IS America. Always and still.
God is a Woman – Ariana Grande Finally. Someone got it right.
Shape of You – Ed Sheeran I’m still trying to hate it. But every time it comes on – and it still does a LOT – my foot just gets a’tappin’!
Thank U, Next – Ariana Grande I find myself singing this at my husband of 5+ years. Gotta keep um on their toes!
Hey Look Ma, I Made It – Pan!c at the Disco Haven’t heard much from Pan!c since the mid 2000s…and now they are back and better than ever! In fact: theirs was my favorite show of 2019 (and Elizabeth’s! Check out her review here: http://imperfectfifth.com/elizabeths-favorite-shows-of-2019-dont-threaten-me-with-a-good-time/)
7 Rings – Ariana Grande Sound of Music is my favorite. And so are my bitches (though, I don’t have 6 of them…probably)
Old Town Road – Lil Nas X ft Billy Ray Cyrus Lil Nas X became a role model, THEN came out (and became an even BIGGER role model), all while trolling us with this annoyingly catchy – but really bad – anthem of 2019.
Bad Guy – Billie Eilish Hate to say it…I love it. Because, well, I don’t always want to be the nice guy!
I Don’t Care – Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber This is literally how I feel about everyone and everything. Except for my family. Sometimes. Other times, it’s exactly how I feel about all humans except myself.
Homecoming: The Live Album – Beyonce Watching it live. Listening to it in its entirety. Tears to my eyes and over a decade of music and emotions.
This is a playlist blending my R&B influences. It may not show very much in my own music but I’m a huge R&B fan. Most of the vocal melodies I hear in my head stem from R&B artists, (it doesn’t mean I can actually sing them though!). This is a mixture of old and modern R&B songs and shows how my nostalgia can go down a rabbit hole of music. Music has the ability to make you feel very many different ways, but I think creating and retaining memories is one of the most vital reason we listen to music.
Bonnaroo 2019 — if you couldn’t tell already, from every post we’ve had or every gushy memory we’ve shared — was one for the books. Between sets from some incredible artists — Childish Gambino, The Lonely Island, PRINCESS, Bishop Briggs, Juice Wrld, Gucci Mane, Post Malone, Phish, and more — were sun kissed memories made of magic. High fives, glitter all around, and self love the topic of the event, there wasn’t an aspect of Bonnaroo that went unappreciated. See the people of Bonnaroo below!
With a synthy R&B sound, Atlanta native Zaia is paving his own way, all while being compared to the likes of Childish Gambino and Kid Cudi. While you can feel the elements he has inherited from the previously mentioned mega stars, Zaia is able to curate a unique tone that is put on display in his new single “BLUE”.
“BLUE” gives the listener everything they could want in a synth funk centric R&B track. The pulse thumping drum machine, smooth vocals, and a touch of electric guitar create the ultimate vibe out song. Some say that vocals are just another instrument, and Zaia’s voice is perfectly lain over the beat with a smoothness that rivals the greats. If the single wasn’t enough, it is accompanied by a trippy visual that sees Zaia in a hazy/colorful house, stumbling around while singing the words. It is the complete embodiment of what the single means to Zaia and the listener.
Zaia has already established himself in such a short period of time, but this is only the beginning for the 20 year old artist. You can keep up with Zaia on all streaming platforms.
When you think you’ve read all the end of year lists you can take, we’re still stringing our (very important) short ones out, to make sure there’s plenty of new music discovery at your fingertips throughout the month! 2018 was a year of insane amounts of music coverage, a bevy of incredible artists to choose from, and a really incredible list of new faces to dive into. While we don’t keep track of new artists vs. veterans, we would like to highlight some of our favorite vocalists of the moment with you. Trust us — this was a really hard decision process, which is why it took us a little longer to get it to post. We wanted to highlight people that both entertain like the most insane, and who we believe truly deserve the spotlight for it as well. You might not agree, but this may lead you on a tangent of music discovery, and we’re all for that. Without further ado, check out our Top 7 Male Vocalists of 2018 below!
by meredith schneider
Holy White Hounds is a group of guys we have been following for a while. Hailing from Des Moines, IA, the foursome emerges more triumphant and in-your-face with each new track, paving the way for their most recent full-length release – Say It With Your Mouth – which will make its debut on December 22nd. And don’t let their gritty attitudes and rough exterior fool you. Ambrose, Brent, James, and Seth are full of heart, a force in motion when they’re together, and really know how to relate to their audience. (While also making fun of them. But it’s charming, and we’re totally into it.) That, coupled with those edgy vocals, and we’ve got a rock band that just won’t quit! (Thankfully. Please don’t? We need you.)
We may have been a little late to the game on this one, but pop/r&b singer/songwriter Dermot Kennedy is the Dubliner of everyone’s dreams. We were wandering SXSW this year when our friends at PlaylistPlay coerced us into popping into a church to listen to one of their favorite musicians. Honestly, we can’t think of a better way to first experience the insanely beautiful vocals Kennedy provides. His soundscapes are freeing, intense and wonderful in their disposition. If you don’t trust us, take a listen to his debut EP Doves & Ravens, or his most recent single “Power Over Me”, which was released in October.
by meredith schneider
Atlanta, Georgia-based Algiers absolutely astonished us at Sasquatch Music Festival this year. Lead singer Franklin James Fisher approached the stage with a Jimi Hendrix flare, and vocals that just do not quit. There is an enticing, soulful energy to their sound, with just a hint of reverb and incredible vintage influence that keeps us coming back for more. We can’t wait to hear their follow-up to 2017’s The Underside of Power, but are totally keen on waiting patiently for their next stunner full-length.
You’ve heard of him. We’re not introducing this powerhouse to anyone, and we feel pretty darn good about that fact. Childish Gambino – aka the triple threat of everyone’s dreams – hits our list this year, if not only for his wildly eye-opening video for “This Is America“. We’ve been super into all of his work over the years, and our hearts swoon with each new line he spins, opening our eyes to an array of important – and often overlooked – issues. The man is an absolute enigma, and perhaps that’s what keeps us coming back for more time and time again.
by meredith schneider
We know we’ve harped on how incredible Judah & The Lion is, and now is not the time to stop. On December 12th, the (now) trio – who is joined by a rotating cast of instrumentalists and backup vocalists for their performances – released two singles, titled “Pep Talk” and “Quarter-Life Crisis”, landing themselves back on our radar. Check it out, and then dive into their catalogue if you haven’t already. Their music will throw you into that good mood you’ve been craving.
Lionman – who we first experienced in May when he released the visual for his single “Don’t You Dare”. His vocals are directly associated with the term “smooth as honey”, and we’re drawn in from the first line. His hair is absolutely divine, His latest single “In My Letter” has a softer sound to it, and a rhythm that reminds us of some of our favorite OG Usher songs. This artist is definitely one to watch.
If you’re into soulful, robust vocals that establish a mood, and somehow manage to get everyone in their vicinity to “feel the same way,” then Michael Kight is the way to go. In May, we had some thoughts on his track “Clear“, and still maintain that he was impressive on every level of musicianship. We count him as one of our favorite discoveries of the year, and look forward to more from him in the future!
It’s a playlist of all our influences & our favorite artists that inspire us. All these artists have contributed to our sound in some way, and each song is on this playlist is very important to us. These are artists and songs that molded Black And Blue as a group and our sound.
Last year, I got the insane pleasure of hanging out with Austin-based rock outfit The Cuckoos at SXSW. This year, they’re taking immense strides into the forefront of the industry, nabbing attention from some of the hottest music outlets in the world. Their brand of rock gives off this soulful, vintage vibe, while their style and attitudes reflect that same laid back comfort that has gone missing from so much of our modern music.
Don’t believe me? Check out their latest track “Heartbreak Paradise” below, then sidle on down to a playlist the quartet curated exclusively for Imperfect Fifth, which includes a look into their inspiration and taste. (Descriptions provided by Kenneth Frost.)
Heartbreak Paradise – TheCuckoos
Just a little shameless self promotion. This is our new song we just released on Valentine’s Day.
The Dude – Quincy Jones
This is just a funky, feel-good track with a little bit of rap, some horns, and Mr. Quincy Jones layin’ it down.
Uptown – Prince
I love the production of this record– Super funky and raw sounding. This song has some of my favorite lyrics as well.
Do I Make You Feel Shy? – Connan Mockasin
I’ve been listening to a lot of Connan Mockasin lately. I love the lyrics and the simplicity of this track. It’s very catchy and he always puts off such a watery, seductive vibe with his music which I really dig. It’s romantic.
Dinosaur Carebears – Ariel Pink
My favorite example of a song that makes you feel like you’re on drugs without actually being on them. It’s pretty much a 3-part psychedelic jam that goes into this weird ‘toy train from hell’ sounding bit before mellowing out into a pretty cosmic sounding groove.
Stay – Maurice Williams and The Zodiacs
It’s a lovey dovey old school tune with great falsetto vocals. It’s only about a minute and a half, so it makes you want to play it on repeat.
Redbone – Childish Gambino
This is probably my favorite track of 2017. Gambino made a dope funky 70s funkadelic Prince-y sounding pop song with some heart and it did really well. So not only do I dig the song, but I also feel like it was pretty ballsy and cool of him to do that style of music and also make it on to pop radio. It reminds me of the next few songs.
Do Me Baby – Prince
Another Prince tune. Super slow, super romantic. Great lyrics and dynamics. It has this bass pop that just gets me every time. Gambino did it in Redbone too. Both of those really influences TheCuckoos‘ song, Heartbreak Paradise.
I’d Rather Be With You – Bootsy Collins
I Wanna Roll With You – Connan Mockasin
Another Connan song. The intro is genius and I love the backup vocals on this track.
Orange County Suite – The Doors
A kind of deep cut. Morrison wrote and recorded a version of himself singing and playing this song on piano before he passed. It wasn’t released until the remaining members of the doors recorded the instrumentals to the tracks. I found it on an old bootleg record, but I think they put it out with a deluxe L.A. Woman and on a compilation too. One of their most haunting songs and a personal favorite of mine.
Billie Jean – Michael Jackson
Bass Line. Production. Music Video. Moonwalk.
Ego Tripping Out – Marvin Gaye
Marvin Gaye getting funky as hell and telling everybody why he’s the best.
Mary Jane – Rick James
Rick James was cool as shit. The clavinet at the end is gnarly.
China Girl – Iggy Pop
I love ‘The Idiot’. To me this track is just melancholy gothic post punky perfection. Iggy’s screams are godlike.
Something About That Woman – Lakeside
One of my favorite songs. The guitars, the bass, the synths, the vocals. Everything is so tight.
The Wedding List – Kate Bush
The first song from Kate Bush I heard. She’s one of my biggest influences and I love her music dearly.
True Blue – Dirty Beaches
Sounds like Dirty Beaches doing The Ronettes. I feel like I’ve really been influenced by Dirty Beaches’ vocal style.
A Little Bit Funky – TheCuckoos
Us again 😉 I feel like this was the first song of ours we got people to dance to and that makes me proud.
This Night Has Opened My Eyes – The Smiths
What’s there to say? The Smiths are cooler than cool. I like the moody stuff.
Little Dark Age – MGMT
Their new track and album are dope. I dig where they’re going with this new record and I’ve been listening to this a lot lately.
Keep On Lying – Tame Impala
Probably my favorite Tame Impala song. The guitars and keys just put you in a trance. They’re one of the reasons why I started making music.
Into The Groove – Madonna
Keyboard lick (ugh). How could you not dance? Just an all around banger from the moment you put it on.
Childish Gambino (given name: Donald Glover) has my heart for so many reasons. And I don’t mean romantically.
He has been operating on his own terms professionally for as far back as I can remember. A perfect example of this? When, in his early twenties, he left the writing staff of the wildly successful “30 Rock” to pursue other projects – much to his parents’ chagrin. This pattern – if you can call it that – has continued. From 30 Rock, to Community, to rapping as Childish Gambino, to Magic Mike XXL, to Atlanta (his brainchild, which he also happens to write, direct, and star in). Each venture is more unpredictable than the last.
And now, his most recent – and much anticipated – Gambino album, Awaken, My Love! is out for us to devour (released Dec. 2). But, guess what? Though he isn’t shedding the persona, he has moved into a completely different genre of music – but, we shouldn’t be that surprised…right?
I was certainly surprised. In fact, I was thrilled when I heard just a couple of weeks before that he would be releasing new music! Donald Glover has kept audiences on their toes since day 1. Heck, he even told media that he may never rap as Childish Gambino again. And, maybe he won’t. But this experimental, genre-bending album he dropped last Friday…it’s all I ever needed that I never event knew I wanted!!
Midday last Friday, I hit DOWNLOAD on Google Play, drew a bath, and lit some candles. The minute I hit PLAY, my ears delighted in smooth vocals, soulful instrumentals, and a relaxing – yet, somehow funky – listening experience. This was a total departure from past Gambino, but maybe not from the REAL Donald Glover.
Pop/funk, bass-full, with a 70s feel…much of it reminiscent of THE Prince! I was a little off-put by the very experimental vocals and repetitiveness of the track, “California,” but the rest of the album totally made up for that. Especially “Zombies,” and my absolute favorite, “Redbone.”
Awaken, My Love! is perfect for dancing the night away at a disco, as background music for creative work, the soundtrack to a hot tub session, or maybe even a retro-style swinger’s party (if that’s how you choose to roll). This may be different from anything else he has ever done. But believe you me: It has the same soul and lyrical prowess you would expect from The Gambino. If you loved him before, you will continue to love him.
And if you didn’t? Well, it’s time you hopped on this bandwagon with the rest of us.