Indi’s alternative holiday playlist – 2020 – Summary

by | December 21, 2020

2020’s playlist was a return to the standard formula, after the retrospective format I used for 2019’s list. There weren’t a lot of new entries, and many of those were songs that are likely to become overplayed favourites in years to come.

Indi’s alternative holiday playlist 2020:


🍁 = Canadian
= New this year

So what was 2020’s list about? Well, 2020 was a very strange year, wild in its ups and downs. It’s a year that will leave echoes in our society for many years, if not decades to come. It’s not a year that could be called mostly or mostly bad; there were some really good things about it—the revitalization of the Black Lives Matter movement dovetailed into calls to “defund the police”, which, along with the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, sparked discussion internationally about much-needed social and economic reforms, like a universal basic income—and there were some really bad things about it—the police violence that triggered the protests and at the protests themselves, and the pandemic itself. With all the upheaval the year has brought us, I didn’t want this list to be yet another shake-up. I wanted it to feel a little bit familiar, and comfortable, so I didn’t try to do anything inventive, experimental, or wacky. I even made a point of seeking out some new additions that I wouldn’t normally consider “alternative” material, from artists like Carly Rae Jepsen and Meghan Trainor, solely for the comfortable familiarity they bring.

[A photo of Canadian musician Grimes]

So with all that being said, what made Grimes’s “Christmas Song II (grinch)” the choice as the song that best represents 2020 as a whole? Well, there are a couple reasons.

First, there’s the nature of Grimes’s music. Grimes is a peculiar musician. She was never formally trained, and—by her own admission—doesn’t really “get” the standard structures of boilerplate pop music. Instead, she unconsciously absorbs influences from everywhere, and merges them together in a very idiosyncratic way. The result is songs that sort of… sound like everything, in the same sense that chicken supposedly like everything… and yet at the same time, sound like nothing else. I felt that was an interesting way to describe 2020; as a sort of “blender” that took everything that had been building up for the previous decade, mixed it all up, and served it as something that simultaneously felt like more of the same, yet completely unprecedented.

The other reason I liked it as the song best suited to ring out 2020 is because of its casual, free-wheeling, “amateurish” nature. It doesn’t really challenge you the way some of Grimes’s better-known hits do. It’s certainly nowhere near as complex as most of her compositions, which often have many dozens of layers of just vocals on top of each other. And it doesn’t even really make any sense lyrically. It’s just… fun. It’s carefree. It’s people getting together and just… being relaxed and silly and celebrating… which I think is something badly needed at the end of 2020.

Here’s the 2020 list in its entirety:

You can click on the links above one-by-one to listen to the songs, or go back through the list and see the embedded videos. But to make things a little easier, I’ve created a downloadable playlist.

In the past, I’ve tried to create playlists you could just download, open in your favourite media player, and then just sit back and let it play. Unfortunately, the media hosting sites—YouTube in particular—have made this functionally impossible (via tricks like specially-tagged URLs that expire after a day or two, for example). So all I can do is give you a list of links to the pages on the media hosting sites—not links to the videos or audio files themselves—which won’t automatically play in most media players. I know there are some media players that can still work with these links, and if you’re tech-savvy enough you could always write a script to automatically download and play everything in the list. Unfortunately, that’s the best I can do (for now; most likely before long more media players will be able to deal with these kinds of links, and if not someone will probably make a new app that does).

Download playlist file:

Another year, another list, but what a year 2020 was. But as wild as 2020 was, we got through it (well, we will have in a few days, anyway). And if we got through that, we can get through anything, so you can look forward to 2021 coming with another whole new playlist. If you have any suggestions that you’d like to see featured on next year’s list, let me know in the comments.

See you next year!

2 thoughts on “Indi’s alternative holiday playlist – 2020 – Summary

  1. rj

    I’ve done an initial sweep of your playlists and will go back over some of it in the next week. I may have expanded my musical horizons. I already have found some new suggestions. Better write them down though especially after this is over. Have a good one.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.