Click here for a Spotify playlist featuring the 101 songs that made me happiest this year. Those who know me well know my predilection for sad English ladies with their keyboards, but this year five of my personal top 20 songs are in Spanish, a language I don’t speak particularly well. There’s also one in Welsh and one in Finnish.
25. GIRLI, Girl I Met On The Internet
24. Miranda Lambert, Things That Break
23. St. Lucia, Dancing On Glass
22. Joy Formidable, The Last Thing On My Mind
21. KCPK ft. STS, Who Wants It?
20. Kiiara, Gold
19. Gwenno, Fratolish Hiang Perpeshki
18. Becky G, Mangú
17. Carly Rae Jepsen, Cry
16. Petula Clark, Sacrifice My Heart
15. Pup, DVP
14. Bomba Estéreo, Soy Yo
13. The xx, On Hold
12. Gemma Ray, We Do War
11. Chisu, Tuu Mua Vastaan
10. Beth Orton, Moon
9. Stylo G & Jacob Plant, Bike Engine
8. Chamanas, Dulce Mal
7. Rihanna, Woo
6. Mula, No Hay Manera
5. Alicia Keys, In Common
4. Kate Jackson, Metropolis
3. Emeli Sandé, Hurts
2. Lissie, Ojai
1. Alex Anwandter, Siempre Es Viernes In Mi Corazón
Chilean pop star Alex Anwandter had a big year, as he released his second solo album in addition to directing his first feature-length film. His debut feature You’ll Never Be Alone is a drama about a factory worker fundraising to pay the bills after his son was injured in a gaybashing incident.
Anwandter is queer and loud and every few years he makes a few serious disco bangers, like 2011’s lovely-sounding “¿Cómo Puedes Vivir Contigo Mismo?” (“How Can You Live With Yourself”) and this year’s “Siempre Es Viernes en Mi Corazón” (“It’s Always Friday In My Heart”). The song came out way back in January, while the self-directed, Latin Grammy-nominated video followed in the spring. Spotify tells me it’s the song that I’ve listened to the most this year, and I can’t really imagine anything else worthy enough to get my Song of the Year pick.
If you don’t speak Spanish you might dismiss “Siempre Es Viernes en Mi Corazón” as party filler, a retro-ish disco anthem with a not-quite-soaring synthesized string section. But lyrically the song’s a lot darker than that, a call for complete annihilation of both Latin machismo and the Catholic church.
In the video he’s working in a nuclear power plant, but Anwandter’s Friday isn’t the normal happy pay day that you’re used to hearing about from the Easybeats or Bruce Springsteen or Johnny Kemp. “All the time I feel like I’m dying and on Friday I can die,” the song concludes. Well then.
I could write whole essays about dance floors as safe spaces for queers – although plenty of people have done that already – and about the importance of disco to gay male identity. On a far more pedestrian level I could just talk about how in the past few years I’ve settled on foreign language pop as my go-to workday music – bouncy enough to keep me going but not too lyrically distracting. Instead, I’ll just say that I hope Mr. Anwandter doesn’t wait five whole years again to release his next album.