Songs to Listen to If You're Afraid You're Stuck in the Dark, Dystopian Version of America
    • WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 08, 2017

    • Posted by: Annie Brinich

    It's been a weird year. I can't promise that this playlist will help you teleport to the dimension where America isn't on the brink of nuclear war and where Bowie is still alive. But I can promise that the following songs will either help you work through the feeling of disbelief and sadness, or intensify it tenfold. At the very least, it will validate your feeling of existential unease. I'm not a therapist, okay?

    1. "Get Free" - Lana Del Rey


    When I need music that freaks me out but also makes me want to dance dramatically around my apartment, I turn to Lana Del Rey. Lana did a tribute to Leonard Cohen, an early influence on her music. I hadn't made the connection between the singers until just now, but with the mutual feelings of dark nostalgia in their songs, it makes sense.

    2. "black screen" - LCD Soundsystem


    It's hard not to imagine that LCD Soundsystem was directly influenced by the BBC/Netflix show Black Mirror when writing this song. The dark, sinister synth running through the track sounds like something they'd use to score the show.

    3. "Dystopia (The Earth is One Fire)" - YACHT


    I mean, it's right there in the title. Though this track is a couple of years old, YACHT was getting right to the point, presumably about global warming. Despite the bleak outlook of the lyrics, the song has incredible energy.

    4. "untitled 07 / levitate" - Kendrick Lamar


    For some reason, this Kendrick Lamar song got zero air time, despite having a good beat and typically excellent lyrics. In my opinion, it's the single that sounds most like good kid, m.A.A.d. City in that it's a very dark rumination on substance abuse.

    5. "Electioneering" - Radiohead


    90s Radiohead really knew how to walk that line between distorted and rhythmic, and between a danceable jam and vaguely threatening, haunting song. Electioneering ("to take part actively and energetically in the activities of an election campaign") is sinister in its enthusiasm.

    6. "Pleader" - Alt-J



    It's arguable, but no one seems to be making more polished experimental-but-still-melodic music than Alt-J. If the first part of this song bores you, just give it time. Alt-J manages to incorporate an entire symphony in a pretty astounding, dramatic track.


    7. "Nights" - Frank Ocean



    Before you start wondering why this relatively upbeat Frank Ocean song made it onto a song about Dystopic America, consider the lyrics: "Can't keep being late on me / Know you need the money if you gon' survive the / Every night shit / The every day shit." Also, the absolutely gorgeous last 1:40 of the song.


    8. "Staring at the Sun" - TV on the Radio



    Another throwback song from a few years ago, but a great, moody song about the end of the world.


    9. "Water Me" - FKA Twigs



    Sure, this song is lyrically about being unloved. But the strange ambient sounds FKA Twigs weaves into her music are unreal and deeply creepy. I love it. There's also something hopeful about FKA Twig's airy vocals, and about her singing about her independence.


    10. "You Want It Darker" - Leonard Cohen



    Sorry, did you think I was going to end on a happy note?

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