Joanie - I know you and I know you’ve probably spent the past five years working your ass off and doing nothing else. Which I appreciate of course, because, you know, here I am, but based on your CD collection (CDs Joan!!! CDs!!! What are you doing!?!? iTunes has existed for nearly 20 years), you haven’t been buying new music. I checked your computer too. You don’t have Spotify or anything (it’s this new streaming service that I don’t understand).
Just so you don’t think I’ve been sitting at home watching Netflix all day, I’ve also been catching up on the last five years of music. Sam and the boys have tried to get me up to speed on all things pop culture but there’s just so much. It’s been a big undertaking and I’m making this a family project now. You and I are both going to start listening to music that’s been released since 2011 (spoiler alert: pop music got gooooood). You need to know what’s going on in the zeitgeist, Joanie. You can’t just listen to Radiohead and The Beach Boys on repeat forever. (don't worry, I got you an actual Christmas present, this is just a bonus).
[LS: As is probably evident from a number of lines in episodes, I'm a bit fixated on what pop culture Mark missed. Four years is a long period of time to catch up regardless and, when you consider how quickly culture moves these days, there is SO much that Mark missed. While Joan would make mixes for Mark and give him book recommendations, I think Mark has always been the person who keeps up with popular culture and then forces it upon Joan. Mark spent weeks and weeks putting this playlist together for his sister - trying to pick songs that represented what pop music is doing now while also staying in line with his own tastes.]
1. “What’d I Miss” - Hamilton
Okay, you may live under a rock when it comes to pop culture, but I’m sure you’ve heard of Hamilton. It seems like a pretty huge deal. We should try to see it when it comes here on tour but I wanted to start the playlist with this song because if there’s anything I’m known for it’s my ability to make self-aware jokes about the grimness of my situation.
[LS: Mark thinks he is extremely funny for making this joke. Joan laughed and smiled along with him but she privately had a bit of a cry later about her brother missing so much.]
2. “Sorry” - Beyonce
Queen B does it again - I’ve put this whole album on your computer (yes I downloaded iTunes for you) because it is straight fire.
3. “Good as Hell” - Lizzo
A new artist to me and to the world in general I think - it seems like she’s about to blow up, which is totally earned.
[LS: I imagine that when Mark first discovered this song, he spent the entire day playing it on repeat and dancing around Joan's apartment.]
4. “How to Be a Heartbreaker” - Marina & the Diamonds
Glad to see Marina is still bringing it. (bet Agent Green feels like the guys in this song 😜)
[LS: Any chance to take a dig at Joan's dating life...]
5. “Cool Kids” - Echosmith
I don’t know how they managed to perfectly encapsulate what it feels like to be in high school but they did. God, aren’t you glad we’re past that stage of our life?
6. “Royals” - Lorde
This chick is SO young and SO talented. There’s buzz that she’s got a new album coming out this year so I’m really excited for that.
[LS: Originally "Green Light" was on this playlist as well but that album came out spring of 2017 and this playlist was canonically made in December 2016/January 2017.]
7. “Style” - Taylor Swift
Last time I checked, Taylor Swift was that massive country star who sang about Romeo and Juliet? What happened? I don’t know why I’m asking you, I know you don’t know. Have you even heard of Taylor Swift? Well, apparently, she’s like, the biggest pop star now and writing total bangers, so that’s cool.
[LS: It was really fun to think about what major things had changed between 2011 and 2017 and Taylor Swift's transition into mainstream pop was definitely a big one. I don't think Mark listened to Swift before, but he was aware of her enough to know 1989 was a departure. Pretty sure he's obsessed with that album now]
8. “Level Up” - Vienna Teng
Okay, to your credit, you did have this CD (again, where do you even buy CDs??) but I actually loaded it onto your computer so you can listen on your phone and stuff. This is my favorite song from the album so far. It’s optimistic.
[LS: I wanted to make a references to music that Joan already listens to (Vienna Teng's "Harbor" is on Joan's character playlist) because Mark would have made a point to listen to new music by Joan's favorite artists.]
9. “Youth” - Daughter
Listening to this hurts if I listen too closely, but it is really pretty.
10. “Once Upon Another Time” - Sara Bareilles
I know you’re sort of indifferent about Bareilles, but this song makes me feel a certain kind of way, you know? And apparently, she wrote a musical, so we should look into that.
11. “The Greatest Bastard” - Damien Rice
Remember my emo poet phase when I only listened to O for a month? Well, Damien Rice wrote a new album and it’s really great. Naturally my favorite song from the new record is one of the saddest. You can take the boy out of his teen years…
[LS: These three tracks - "Youth", "Once Upon Another Time", and "The Greatest Bastard" all speak to an underlying sense of melancholy and restlessness that Mark is feeling. He and Joan aren't great at talking to each other and I think this is Mark subconsciously trying to ask for help or figure something out for himself, but he deflects with humor and vagueness instead of trying to start an actual dialogue about the things they are both struggling through.]
12. “Iron Sky” - Paolo Nutini
Paolo!!! God, this guy is so good. His new album is weird, but this is probably one of the best songs written in the past 5 years and I can say that with confidence because I’m pretty sure I’ve listened to every song that came out in the past 5 years.
[LS: This is one of those times where I just give a character my own opinion. I do really think this is one of the greatest tracks that's come out in the past few years. Paolo has made an appearance on the Sam/Mark playlist and in Episode 40 - Sam sings "Someone Like You" off this same album. Mark and Sam bonded over their love of Paolo and she told him about the new album so he knew to look it up the moment he got back.]
13. “33 “GOD”” - Bon Iver
Another weird album - feels like a big departure for Bon Iver. But guess what? He samples the Paolo song in this!
14. “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” - The Arctic Monkeys
The Arctic Monkeys have been releasing the same song since, like, 2005, but I’m not mad about it. I know this probably makes you think about that time in my sophomore year but you promised you wouldn’t tease me about that anymore so keep your mouth shut.
15. “Don’t Threaten Me With a Good Time” - Panic! at the Disco
Speaking of emo phases, Panic! kept releasing music and brought back the !. I’m sad they didn’t continue with the sound they were developing with Pretty. Odd., but the new stuff is great too. Adam sent this album to me and it is such a good time (pun intended).
[LS: Mark and Adam have been two characters that don't necessarily click with each other - it's been a bit surprising to me, actually - but I think they bonded over this.]
16. “Out on the Town” - fun.
I can’t remember if I ever gave you the first fun. album but it’s the guy from The Format, that band I dragged you to that show of one time the summer before my freshman year of college. Remember? It was that time we got the kielbasa at that weird little stand we would always walk by. Anyway, this album is great.
17. “Kiwi” - Harry Styles
In other surprising Taylor Swift-style twist (and that chick has tons of those apparently - I couldn’t keep up with all the stuff online about her, it looked exhausting), this is a kid from a boy band? I was reading up on him and he was in something called One Direction that was apparently a very big deal for a while. I guess boy bands have changed a lot since the 90s, because this definitely doesn’t sound like The Backstreet Boys. I haven’t listened to any of the One Direction stuff yet, but if it’s anything like this, I’m so in.
[LS: Okay, so this isn't actually on the mix that got released to the general public because this album wasn't actually out by January of 2017! I realized that only after I had made the mix and was crushed. I know Mark would absolutely adore this album and there is something so funny to me that he legitimately missed One Direction's entire career. "What Makes You Beautiful" came out in September 2011, a month after Mark was kidnapped. Even though I wasn't a fan of them until recently, I remember how massive of a thing One Direction was right from the start. I love the thought of someone making a reference to 1D and Mark, a guy in his twenties, having absolutely no clue what they were talking about. Sadly, Mark currently lives in a world where Harry Styles hasn't released his solo album yet, so this track and related commentary from sweet, oblivious Mark had to be nixed.]
18. “John Wayne” - Lady Gaga
The twists and turns keep on coming! Apparently Lady Gaga has gone through every genre since I’ve been gone and done them all really well. This is her doing country and it makes me want to like country.
9. “Warm Blood” - Carly Rae Jepsen
Okay, full disclosure, I did not discover this album on my own. It’s something Damien would play a lot in the car and despite any associations with that, the songs are still really good.
[LS: I remember listening to EMOTION and thinking that Damien would really like it. And then there was some chatter on tumblr of people saying the same thing and I knew I had to make it canon at some point. Also, if you have not yet heard the good gospel of Carly Rae, get on that. I know that a lot of people have hang-ups about her because of the silliness/ubiquity/one-hit-wonder-ness of "Call Me Maybe" but this is honestly one of the best pop albums of the decade. "Call Me Maybe" also came out in September 2011 (the month pop changed forever I guess?) so Mark wouldn't have any of those pre-conceived notions.]
20. “Ain’t It Fun” - Paramore
Paramore still singing the truth after all this time.
[LS: If I think about the lyrics of this song in relation to Mark for too long, my heart starts to hurt.]
21. “Somebody Loves You” - Betty Who
I feel like this gal has some great Robyn vibes going on and this song is just really happy. I think we could both use that.
[LS: I have to end things happy sometimes.]