My Favorite Songs Of 2023

Five years after then president of The Recording Academy proclaimed that women need to step up, the ladies have responded with “How’s this, jerkface?” Women dominate this year’s Grammy nominations. More importantly, all but two of the top 20 songs on my year-end list are led by female artists (with one guy showing up to provide guest vocals). That’s a record, I think, but don’t quote me on that. I’m too lazy to check. I don’t have a deep analysis for this phenomenon, but I do have a deep appreciation for the talent and diversity of these women (not that women have ever been underrepresented in my annual tallies). The highest placing male acts on my 2023 list are none other than The Rolling Stones and The Beatles. Yes, you read that right. The legends are back, and they still can show the young-uns how it’s done. With their song “Angry,” The Rolling Stones have achieved a remarkable feat: the longest span from first appearance to most recent appearance in my year-end surveys. In 1981, my first year of making such lists, the group placed with “Start Me Up.” The 80s are also well represented by Kylie Minogue and Madonna, each of whom made a triumphant return to my list after long absences. Welcome back, ladies! And last but not least, let’s give a round of applause to Megan Thee Stallion, who has been in my top five for five years in a row. That’s a record, I think, but don’t quote me on that. I’m too lazy to check. Now, without further ado, here is my list of the best songs of 2023. Enjoy!

  1. Ice Cream Man. – RAYE
  2. vampire – Olivia Rodrigo
  3. Kill Bill – SZA
  4. Bongos – Cardi B feat. Megan Thee Stallion
  5. Not Strong Enough – boygenius
  6. Flowers – Miley Cyrus
  7. Escapism. – RAYE & 070 Shake
  8. Paint the Town Red – Doja Cat
  9. Lipstick Lover – Janelle Monáe
  10. Nobody Gets Me – SZA
  11. Dance the Night – Dua Lipa
  12. Shirt – SZA
  13. AMERICA HAS A PROBLEM – Beyoncé feat. Kendrick Lamar
  14. What Was I Made For? – Billie Eilish
  15. Padam Padam – Kylie Minogue
  16. Cobra – Megan Thee Stallion
  17. Brenda Put Your Bra On – Ashley McBryde, Caylee Hammack & Pillbox Patti
  18. Angry – The Rolling Stones
  19. Now and Then – The Beatles
  20. Cool About It – boygenius
  21. RATATA – Skrillex, Missy Elliott & Mr. Oizo
  22. Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd – Lana Del Rey
  23. Calm Down – Rema with Selena Gomez
  24. Gorilla – Little Simz
  25. Seven – Jung Kook feat. Latto
  26. My Love Mine All Mine – Mitski
  27. bad idea right? – Olivia Rodrigo
  28. Jaded – Miley Cyrus
  29. Tropic Morning News – The National
  30. Someday At Christmas – Lizzo
  31. Used To Be Young – Miley Cyrus
  32. Pretty Girls Walk – Big Boss Vette
  33. River – Miley Cyrus
  34. Light On In The Kitchen – Ashley McBryde
  35. Out Alpha the Alpha – Megan Thee Stallion
  36. Bubblegum – Dawn Richard
  37. Rush – Troye Sivan
  38. It’s Not Just Me, It’s Everybody – Weyes Blood
  39. Weightless – Arlo Parks
  40. Psychos – Jenny Lewis
  41. The Sea – Romy
  42. Lil Boo Thang – Paul Russell
  43. Popular – The Weeknd & Madonna feat. Playboi Carti
  44. The Narcissist – Blur
  45. (It Goes Like) Nanana – Peggy Gou
  46. Tukoh Taka – Nicki Minaj, Maluma and Myriam Fares
  47. Freak Me Now – Jessie Ware
  48. Standing Next To You – Jung Kook
  49. Eyez – The Arcs
  50. What Now – Brittany Howard
  51. Thinking About You – Beck
  52. Wall of Eyes – The Smile
  53. Good Lookin’ – Dixon Dallas
  54. Girl Like Me – Dove Cameron
  55. Wild Flower – RM with youjeen
  56. Helmet – Steve Lacy
  57. Everybody’s Got to Learn – First Aid Kit
  58. Flip a Switch. – RAYE feat. Coi Leray
  59. Nothing Left To Lose – Everything But The Girl
  60. Say Yes To Heaven – Lana Del Rey
  61. Moonlight – Kali Uchis
  62. Bending Hectic – The Smile
  63. In My Head – The Lemon Twigs
  64. Snooze – SZA
  65. Attention – Doja Cat
  66. get him back! – Olivia Rodrigo
  67. Will Anybody Ever Love Me? – Sufjan Stevens
  68. Tux (Your Body Fills Me, Boo) – US Girls
  69. Lottery – Latto feat. LU KALA
  70. Bug Like an Angel – Mitski
  71. The Hands – serpentwithfeet
  72. A day in the water – Christine & the Queens
  73. Drummer Boy – Titus Andronicus
  74. Little Things – Jorja Smith
  75. Daydreaming – Harry Styles
  76. True Love – Christine & the Queens & 070 Shake
  77. Evicted – Wilco
  78. Got Me Started – Troye Sivan
  79. Eye For An Eye – Rina Sawayama
  80. Water Slide – Janelle Monáe
  81. Single Soon – Selena Gomez
  82. Odyssey – Beck & Phoenix
  83. I Don’t Know What You See In Me – Belle & Sebastian
  84. Seem an I – PJ Harvey
  85. Begin Again – Jessie Ware
  86. One of Your Girls – Troye Sivan

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#79: Janet Jackson – Rhythm Nation 1814 (1989)

Throughout the next however many months I’ll be counting down my 100 favorite albums, because why not. I’m up to number seventy-nine.

escapade (ĕs’kə-pād) n. An adventure, tinged with a hint of danger.

In 2006, I booked a two week vacation to a place I’ve wanted to visit for a long time – Australia, the land that gave us Mel Gibson, Crocodile Dundee and Savage Garden. My desire to go there probably started when I learned that my childhood/teenhood/early adulthood crush, Olivia Newton-John, lived there from age five.

I was traveling alone, as I usually do. I like the freedom of being able to do what I want and go where I wish to go on my schedule. Plus, I don’t have any friends. Well, I have some friends, but they are either married, broke, or not friends in a “I want to spend time with you” way. And while I like deciding where to go, what to do, and when to do it without needing to compromise, negotiate, or argue with anyone, I often wish I had someone with whom I can share my experiences. Someone to take pictures of me in front of landmarks, someone with whom I can dance during excursions to each foreign city’s clubs, someone with whom I can share meals, and by share I mean sit at the table with me and order their own appetizer and main course and dessert for I order what I order because I plan on eating it and if you wish to know what it tastes like order your own. Because of my shyness I have difficulty meeting such people.

On the flight from LA, I had the misfortune of sitting behind a woman who became furious when I placed my carry-on bag under her seat. “Move your bag. That is my space.”

“Actually, no. The flight attendant just announced that we are to stow our carry-on items beneath the seat in front of us.”

“Listen, asshole, I paid for this seat. You don’t get to encroach on my space. I own my home in Hancock Park. You think you’re allowed to set up a tent on my front lawn? Uh uh, mister. That’s not how it works.”

I nonchalantly pulled out a book and proceeded to start reading, hoping my not engaging further with her would magically smooth things over. Oddly, my disengagement failed to work its calming wonders. She figured if I’m going to violate her space, then she’s going to violate mine, and for the duration of the flight, she expressed her displeasure by throwing her trash at me.

You might think that I would have said something to her, or at least to the flight attendant. But why make waves? Why rock the boat, or plane, as it were? She and I are going to be together for the next 17 hours, and it’s not as though I sustained injuries from the crumpled up napkins, empty soda cans, peanut wrappers, or half-eaten tuna sandwich. I felt bad for her. She was, to use the clinical vernacular, cuckoo bananas. Somewhere her life took a wrong turn. Maybe she was bullied at school. Maybe she was kidnapped and held captive in a tool shed for 18 months. I don’t know her backstory. What did she do for a living?, I wondered. Probably customer service for Anthem Blue Cross. Don’t get me started.

I decided to be compassionate and understanding. After all, I’m not perfect either. I have my own flaws and quirks. As you can see, I’m too nice. For another thing, when I’m in a situation that frightens me, my imagination spirals into admittedly far-fetched paranoid reveries. Also, I ought to clip my toenails more frequently. I share that in case you’re considering the role of my travel companion.

When I finally arrived in Sydney, I couldn’t wait to explore the city and see what it had to offer. But as I walked around, I felt a sense of déjà vu. The streets were lined with the same chain stores that I saw back home: Starbucks, McDonald’s, The Gap, etc. Where was the Australian culture? Where was the uniqueness? This was like LA with better accents. Even their currency is called dollars. There were some non-chain restaurants that served kangaroo and ostrich, but fuck if I’m going to eat either of those animals. I feel very strongly that one should avoid contributing to the suffering and killing of animals that are raised and slaughtered for meat, and I oppose the use of antibiotics, hormones, and other chemicals in animal farming. And yes, I am a carnivore who eats meat from cows and chickens and pigs and turkeys, but I have the good taste to feel guilty about doing so when I think about it. And I seldom think about it. ‘Cause it makes me feel guilty.

On my first full day in Australia I visited the Sydney Zoo, where I was awed by the diversity of animals on display, from the towering giraffes to the tiny platypus. However, I couldn’t help but feel sad that these magnificent creatures were confined for our entertainment. The animals looked so listless and depressed in their cages. They belonged in the wild, doing their animal thing, roaming free and having fun and living life like they were meant to.

Some of the people who came to see them were jerks, throwing things at the animals, making loud noises and raising a ruckus like they’re at a Texas school board meeting. One guy shouted at a lion “Hey – are you a big cat or a little pussy?” I wanted to see the lion pounce on that guy and destroy him like a marionette in a hurricane, and then ask “Any more questions from you asshats?”. That’d be worth the price of admission. In fact, I’d pay extra to see that. But what if the animals can’t differentiate one human from another? Or what if they think I carpooled to the zoo with those asshats? Then they’d slay me, and I don’t want that. I want to return to L.A. at some point. I bought a round trip air ticket. I’d hate to have wasted that money.

By that point in my life I harbored a fear of all animals, except cats and kangaroos. Cats, thanks to our two family pets during my teenage years. The worst you could say about the white cat, Dr. Jekyll, was that he was a dimwit who spent hours perched on a kitchen chair looking out a window completely obscured by a shrub and who never got the hang of using the litter box properly, as having only his front paws in didn’t achieve the desired goal. His brother, a grey cat named Mr. Hyde, was brighter, but that’s like saying food tastes better than a nerf football. Kangaroos were fine by me because when I was very young there was a TV show called Skippy, The Bush Kangaroo, a live action series about a kangaroo named Zelda Markowitz. Just kidding. The roo’s name was Skippy, and she did things like bring in the mail, operate the radio and play the drums in a pop group called The Executives. Any animal that can play drums gets a pass in my book. (By the way, I‘d be all in for a show about a kangaroo named Zelda Markowitz.)

All those years I had the impression that kangaroos were cute and sweet and would make great pets, but the check-in clerk at the hotel I was staying in disabused me of that idea.

“Welcome to Sydney, mate! I hope you enjoy your stay. But I have to warn you about very dangerous creatures – the kangaroos. They’re unpredictable, vicious and deadly. They have sharp claws and teeth that can rip through flesh and bone. And they have a temper that can rival a bull.”

“Good to know. I’ll –“

“They’re responsible for hundreds of injuries and deaths yearly. They attack people, pets, cars, bikes – anything. If you get too close, you are asking for trouble.”

“Thank you! I had no idea! I – “

“Do not approach a kangaroo. Keep your distance. No feeding. No petting. No selfies. No eye contact. No sudden movements. No loud noises. If you see a kangaroo coming towards you, run for your life. They are the scourge of Australia. They are the spawn of Satan. They are the devil’s hopscotchers. You’re in room 312. Here’s your key. The elevators are down the hall to your left. Enjoy Sydney!”

My fear of animals began at age 12, when Gustav, the German Shepherd belonging to The Epsteins next door, jumped the eight-foot high fence separating our properties, knocked me to the ground, and used my leg as a chew toy. My parents were on our driveway and didn’t respond to my screams until I hobbled over to them and they saw the tear in my jeans and blood on my leg. Then they sprang into action immediately, my dad dragging me to The Epsteins’ front door and berating Mr. Epstein, after which my dad and mom took me to the hospital. My fear of that dog spread to all dogs, no matter their size, and very soon to all other animals, except the aforementioned cats and kangaroos.

Scary animals abound in Los Angeles. It’s not uncommon to see coyotes, foxes and skunks stroll the streets like self-important Tik Tok stars. My friend Anthony is a hair stylist in West Hollywood. A squirrel would watch Anthony and his fellow stylists through the shop window, perhaps contemplating a new ‘do, as she’s had the same one since birth. While squirrels pretty much eat whatever they can find, Anthony and his crew treated this squirrel to imported Brazilian nuts from Sprouts. One day as I was getting my hair did, there it was. The squirrel. And it was the biggest squirrel I had ever seen in my life. It was the Lizzo of squirrels. Unlike Lizzo the performer, who brings joy to me and millions of others who don’t work for her, I felt abject terror when confronted with this squirrel. Turns out I’m 100% that wuss.

Leaving the salon, Lizzo stalked me, making a weird chittering noise that sounded like a cross between a laugh and a scream. Clearly she was threatening me. She wanted to eat my nuts, not knowing that not all humans who come and go from Anthony’s salon walk around with snacks from Sprouts.

Panic surged. My car was parked around the corner. I sped up, Lizzo hot on my trail. “I have no food! I swear! I beg of you!” I arrived at my car and hurried in, shaken but squirrel-bite free. As I drove away, I saw Lizzo jump into an Uber and follow me.

What I said in that last sentence didn’t happen. My overactive paranoid imagination strikes again.

My memorable encounter with Lizzo reminded me of the next stop on my Australia itinerary – a city named Cairns. Unlike the bustling streets of Sydney, Cairns offered a different experience. With its quieter demeanor, it lacked the extensive shopping and nightlife scenes of that other city. However, what Cairns did have was an intriguing indoor attraction, beckoning visitors with promises that included:

  • A unique opportunity to experience the rainforest without having to leave the city
  • A chance to see a variety of tropical plants and animals
  • A fun and relaxing day out

Did I experience a rainforest? Yes. Did I see tropical plants and animals? Yes. Was it a fun and relaxing day? I’ll narrate my self-guided walk and you decide.

The air in the simulation rainforest is hot and humid, and filled with the screeches and blares of various birds. Parrots squawk at each other as if they are arguing over the best way to make a human feel uncomfortable. A large white bird is piercing me with its beady-eyed stare, snapping its beak at me. Fuck.

I see a slumbering koala family in a tree. So cute and cuddly and – WAIT! Look at those claws. They’re longer than my toenails! Those claws could easily engrave my torso with a personalized signature. The awakening koala just shot me a look as if to say “You’re my bitch now.” Fuck.

As I continued, the white bird advanced from entrance to perch, maintaining a focused gaze. The relentless pursuit was clearly personal. Fuck.

There’s a bat hanging upside down in a tree, asleep. Thankfully my proximity to such a creature is rare. I should capture this moment. I swap the lens on my camera. I adjust the settings. I frame the shot. Just as I press the shutter, the bat spreads his wings and unleashes a demonic scream almost as chilling as my friend Jesse’s karaoke rendition of The Temptations’ “My Girl,” and that’s saying something. It was the most terrifying, spine-tingling, hair-raising thing I’ve ever witnessed in my life, until I encountered this bat. Fuck.

Oh, look. A python. This is scarier than A Nightmare on Elm Street or The Exorcist or the movie version of Cats. That starred James Corden. Fuck.

The white bird remains my shadow. Despite my physical stature in comparison to his, my heart is racing, for this is his territory. I’m a native New Yorker who has walked across Manhattan at 4 AM and felt perfectly safe, talking my way out of several attempted muggings. There, my survival instincts kick in. Here, however, I’m out of my element, outmatched by the bird’s rainforest prowess, and he has plans that seem to extend beyond swiping my Australian dollars.

Now would be a great time to have a friend as a travel companion, to save me from the bird or to stand as a witness to my avian-related downfall. I imagine my friend picking the bird out of a police lineup. A courtroom farce unfolds in my mind. The judge, who in the movie version of my life will be played by Cate Blanchett, sentences the bird to spend the rest of its days in confinement at the Sydney Zoo.

Dripping with sweat and overwhelmed by my surreal musings about the Australian criminal justice system, I conclude my rainforest escapade. I expect the bird to follow me out the exit, yet he remains, devoted to tormenting other unsuspecting tourists, because he’s a true connoisseur of sadistic entertainment. He probably enjoyed the movie version of Cats.





The following day I took an excursion to the Great Barrier Reef. Famed as one of the most beautiful places on earth, full of stunning scenery and home to an array of marine life, I was excited to see it.

I splurged on an underwater camera back in LA in preparation for this very day. I strapped on my snorkel mask and jumped into the water, eager to explore the reef and take pictures of all the cool stuff.

And then I saw them. They were coming towards me, and they looked determined.

Who are “they?” Imagine a scene reminiscent of the movie Jaws, but instead of a solitary shark, envision a multitude of sharks. Now substitute sharks with minnows and you’ll see what I was facing, though I want you to mostly focus on the staggering quantity of fish, not their individual size, for there is strength in numbers. Some could hold my legs, others my arms, while some would pummel me and some would nibble my nipples. Per the orders of their leader, Bernardo, they would take me and put me in an enclosed area for other fish to visit and gawk at me. What kind of life is that? I need my freedom! What should I do? Could I scare the fish? It’s not like I had hidden in my wetsuit a lemon caper butter sauce. “Back off, bishes, or you’ll be sautéing in this!” Like I have any idea how to sauté anything! I could try sweet-talking the fish. “Ooh, your fins are so iridescent and beautiful! Ooh, you’re such great swimmers! Ooh, you look like Brad Pitt. All of you!” But I had a snorkel in my mouth, so my compliments would sound like “Oor ar ar arar ar ar ar brr oor,” which only sounds flattering when said with an Australian accent. As I share this with you, I know full well I seem cuckoo bananas, yet in the moment my fear felt very real.

Prior to the piscine invasion, I got some good pics of coral and stationary objects. Alas, I didn’t get to photograph the fish gang’s dramatic advance on camera, a shot that would validate my reaction. But I had bigger fish to fry (sorry), namely my survival.

 (When I was in Switzerland I heard a loud rumble and looked up to see an avalanche heading right towards me. That I photographed before running for shelter. Another story for another time.)

See that blue fish? Imagine scores of fish just like it coming toward you. Pretty frightening, isn’t it?

The next and final destination on my Australian vacation was the city of Melbourne, where Olivia Newton-John grew up, which wasn’t too different from Sydney, which wasn’t too different from Los Angeles. I wasn’t chased by any wildlife there, though I did see a kangaroo standing at a bus stop, like he was waiting for the 109 to take him downtown so he wouldn’t be late for his drum lesson. I thought about taking a photo, but then he glared at me, his eyes saying “I know I’m a strict herbivore but this is my cheat day.”  I decided to not provoke him. I wanted to make it out of that country intact. And I did.

Despite the scary animals and the unexciting shopping, I had a great time in Australia. The stunning beaches, the iconic Sydney Opera House, the gorgeous botanical gardens, the serene Chinese Garden of Friendship, the celebratory Mardi Gras festival – all spectacular. And the museums were outstanding. I especially enjoyed the Aboriginal Art Museum, the Kylie Minogue costume exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum, the museum with the exhibit of a stuffed animal monkey laying on a psychiatrist couch, and the museum that displayed a skeleton on a Peloton (or whatever brand of exercise bike was in vogue then) and another human skeleton atop a dinosaur skeleton, riding it like a bucking bronco, but not like in a crazy Creationist museum way but rather in a manner that says “we’re really baked right now.” All in all, a worthwhile vacation, notwithstanding my escapades at the Great Barrier Reef and indoor rainforest simulation.


When Janet Jackson sings of taking you on an escapade, it doesn’t involve murderous fish or terrorist birds or homicidal kangaroos. Hers is more cheery.

“Escapade” was the third of a record-breaking seven US top-five pop singles taken from Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814 album. The song is fun and playful, the singer inviting us to join her on a fantasy adventure in a place with no menacing birds, where we can forget our troubles and that intimidating fish exist and have a good time without worrying about dangerous kangaroos. But while “Escapade” is a light-hearted tune, other songs on the album deal with weightier themes.

In 1989, when the album was released, the United States was facing a lot of problems: racism, poverty, violence, ignorance, AIDS, crack, Bernie Goetz, Milli Vanilli. It was a dark and turbulent time.

The song “Rhythm Nation” is an anthem calling for unity and solidarity among people from all walks of life, though I’m sure Janet would back me up on excluding from this solidarity asshats who taunt animals at the zoo. To the singer, it was a national anthem for the 1990s, supplanting the slightly less funky existing national anthem of the U.S., written by Francis Scott Key in…1814.

The cut “State of the World” discusses poverty, homelessness, crime and drug use. In “Livin’ in the World (They Didn’t Make),” Jackson laments children being taught to hate. In “The Knowledge,” Janet urges us to educate ourselves and take charge of our lives, reminding us that education is the key to overcoming ignorance and building a brighter future. When that song ends, Janet says “Get the point? Good. Let’s dance.” (As if I need encouragement! Serious topics does not mean not danceable. Sorry, Miss Jackson.)

What follows are more of the album’s hits: the aforementioned “Escapade,” “Love Will Never Do (Without You),” “Black Cat,” “Alright,” and the slow dance ”Come Back To Me.” These songs showcase Jackson’s versatility as an artist, as well as her talent as a producer, and songwriter, having co-written and co-produced every song on the album.

Rhythm Nation 1814 was a critical and commercial success, scoring nine Grammy nominations (nine more than my friend Jesse will ever get!), including Jackson’s historic nomination for Producer of the Year, the first for a woman. It sold over 12 million copies worldwide and spawned a world tour that broke attendance records.

Jackson, a pop star, used her platform to inspire and challenge us with catchy yet meaningful songs that got us dancing. In pop music, songs addressing real-world issues aren’t commonplace, but Jackson showed that it’s possible to create music that’s both fun and purposeful, a draw that could only be stronger if on drums she had a kangaroo.

The first single released from Rhythm Nation 1814 was “Miss You Much,” in which Janet sings “I’m not the kinda girl who likes to be alone.” Nor am I, but that’s the hand I’ve been dealt, so on my own, I face this scary world, with its violence and hatred and poverty and fish gangs and unhinged plane passengers and squirrels the size of Lizzo. The alternative would be staying home, allowing loneliness and my fears to keep me from going out and exploring all this world has to offer. There’s a lot of life out there, and I intend to experience it. Unlike the caged animals I saw at the zoo, I’m free to roam about and have fun and that’s what I intended to do as long as I was living. There is nothing so scary that it could keep me interacting with all forms of life.

And then the pandemic hit. Another story for another time.

There’s more Janet Jackson to come on this list.

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My Top Songs Of 2022

Congratulations to Megan Thee Stallion, who has placed a song in my year end top five every year since 2019. Her “Her” is my number two song of ’22, kept from number one by Beyoncé, who guested on the remix of MTS’s “Savage,” my number 4 song of 2020. 2022 was a year that left me wanting, so my top 100 has 92 songs. Here they are:

  1. BREAK MY SOUL – Beyoncé
  2. Her – Megan Thee Stallion
  3. About Damn Time – Lizzo
  4. As It Was – Harry Styles
  5. This Hell – Rina Sawayama
  6. Coconuts – Kim Petras
  7. Goodbye Mr. Blue – Father John Misty
  8. Wild – Spoon
  9. Sacrifice – The Weeknd
  10. All the Good Times – Angel Olsen
  11. BILLIE EILISH. – Armani White
  12. Measure of a Man – FKA twigs feat. Central Cee
  13. Meet Me at Our Spot – THE ANXIETY, WILLOW & Tyler Cole
  14. Burning – the Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  15. CUFF IT – Beyoncé
  16. TV – Billie Eilish
  17. If I Was a Cowboy – Miranda Lambert
  18. Mistakes – Sharon Van Etten
  19. I Hate U – SZA
  20. Simulation Swarm – Big Thief
  21. Big Energy – Latto
  22. The Smoke – The Smile
  23. Bad Habit – Steve Lacy
  24. Boyfriend – Dove Cameron
  25. Hideous – Oliver Sim feat. Jimmy Somerville
  26. Gasoline – The Weeknd
  27. edamame – bbno$ feat. Rich Brown
  28. Lift Me Up – Rihanna
  29. Slide Tackle – Japanese Breakfast
  30. Don’t Let the Light Go Out – Panic! At the Disco
  31. MORE – j-hope
  32. Pressurelicious – Megan Thee Stallion feat. Future
  33. MAGIC – Vince Staples and Mustard
  34. Late Night Talking – Harry Styles
  35. Once Twice Melody – Beach House
  36. Edge of the Edge – Panda Bear and Sonic Boom
  37. Music for a Sushi Restaurant – Harry Styles
  38. Out of Time – The Weeknd
  39. Do I Love You (Indeed I Do) – Bruce Springsteen
  40. Another day in America – Kali Uchis & Ozuna
  41. Out of My Head – First Aid Kit
  42. Lost Track – HAIM
  43. Tonight – Phoenix feat. Ezra Koenig
  44. Beach House – Carly Ray Jepsen
  45. Tomorrow – Waxahatchee
  46. Funny Girl – Father John Misty
  47. Softly – Arlo Parks
  48. EDGING – Blink-182
  49. Cash In, Cash Out – Pharrell Williams feat. 21 Savage & Tyler, The Creator
  50. Falling Apart (Right Now) – Wilco
  51. Father Time – Kendrick Lamar feat. Sampha
  52. camera roll – Kacey Musgraves
  53. My Babe – Spoon
  54. Popular – M.I.A.
  55. Silent Hill – Kendrick Lamar with Kodak Black
  56. The Lightning – Arcade Fire
  57. The 30th – Billie Eilish
  58. The Curse of the Blackened Eye – Orville Peck                                                           
  59. Fractals – Beth Orton
  60. Should’ve Been Me – Mitski
  61. Ur Mum – Wet Leg
  62. Catch Me in the Air – Rina Sawayama
  63. new body rhumba – LCD Soundsystem
  64. Megan’s Piano – Megan Thee Stallion
  65. Sweetest Pie – Megan Thee Stallion & Dua Lipa
  66. Die Hard – Kendrick Lamar feat. Blxst and Amanda Reifer
  67. The Ick – Panic Shack
  68. Get Inspired – Genesis Owusu
  69. Cheat Codes – Danger Mouse & Black Thought
  70. Postman – Toro y Moi
  71. The Only Heartbreaker – Mitski
  72. hollaback bitch – Mura Masa with Channel Tres & Shygirl
  73. Male Fantasy – Billie Eilish
  74. Stay Soft – Mitski
  75. Fruit – Oliver Sim
  76. Run the Credits – Oliver Sim
  77. B-Side – Khruangbin & Leon Bridges
  78. Down – Hot Chip
  79. Can I Get It – Adele
  80. No Decent Shoes for Rain – Dry Cleaning
  81. Unconditional I – Arcade Fire
  82. Fleez – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  83. N95 – Kendrick Lamar
  84. Angelica – Wet Leg
  85. Rich Spirit – Kendrick Lamar
  86. 2 Be Loved (Am I Ready) – Lizzo
  87. One Right Now – Post Malone with The Weeknd
  88. Bam Bam – Camila Cabello feat. Ed Sheeran
  89. Love Me More – Mitski
  90. Change – The War on Drugs
  91. Strange – Miranda Lambert
  92. High Priestess – Santigold

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My Top 100 Songs Of 2021

Prince, Elvis Costello, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Kool & the Gang. It must be my list of favorite songs of 198-, uh, 2021. The aforementioned veterans rub elbows with Dua Lipa, Megan Thee Stallion, Cardi B, Wet Leg, serpentwithfeet, Lil Nas X, Billie Eilish, The Weeknd, The Avalanches, Adele and Little Simz.

Here are my top 100 songs of 2021:

  1. Same Size Shoe – serpentwithfeet        
  2. Love Again – Dua Lipa                                
  3. Body – Megan Thee Stallion                    
  4. Black Like Me – Mickey Guyton             
  5. Easy On Me – Adele                                   
  6. Thot Shit – Megan Thee Stallion            
  7. Up – Cardi B                                                   
  8. Save Your Tears – The Weeknd             
  9. Good Days – SZA                                          
  10. Under the Table – Fiona Apple              
  11. Wet Dream – Wet Leg                               
  12. Rumors – Lizzo & Cardi B                           
  13. Find My Way – Paul McCartney             
  14. Levitating – Dua Lipa feat. DaBaby        
  15. Chaise Longue – Wet Leg                         
  16. I Love You, I Hate You – Little Simz       
  17. Best Friend – Saweetie feat. Doja Cat 
  18. Brando – Lucy Dacus                                   
  19. So I Lie – Miguel                                           
  20. We Go On – the Avalanches feat. Cola Boyyy & Mick Jones                                
  21. Twerkulator – City Girls                             
  22. MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name) – Lil Nas X                                                          
  23. Butter – BTS                                                   
  24. Cold Heart – Elton John & Dua Lipa       
  25. Therefore I Am – Billie Eilish                    
  26. Your Power – Billie Eilish                           
  27. INDUSTRY BABY – Lil Nas X feat. Jack Harlow                                                             
  28. Point and Kill – Little Simz feat. Obongjayar                                                                
  29. Scratchcard Lanyard – Dry Cleaning      
  30. Security – Amyl and the Sniffers           
  31. Puppy and a Truck – Jenny Lewis          
  32. Don’t Judge Me – FKA twigs, Headie One, Fred again…                                        
  33. Pursuit of Happiness – Kool & the Gang                                                                       
  34. Savage Good Boy – Japanese Breakfast                                                                       
  35. Pay Your Way in Pain – St. Vincent       
  36. ARE YOU WITH THAT? – Vince Staples
  37. Hot Summer – Prince                                 
  38. Diamond Studded Shoes – Yola             
  39. Solar Power – Lorde                                   
  40. chinatown – Bleachers feat. Bruce Springsteen                                                        
  41. The Divine Chord – the Avalanches feat. MGMT & Johnny Marr                       
  42. Don’t Go Yet – Camila Cabello                
  43. Strong Feelings – Dry Cleaning               
  44. Rainforest – Noname                                 
  45. Working for the Knife – Mitski               
  46. Take My Breath – The Weeknd             
  47. Boomerang – Yebba                                   
  48. ooh la la – Run the Jewels feat. Santa Fe Klan & Mexican Institute of Sound                                       
  49. Candypaint – Joey Purp                            
  50. Free from Gravity – Django Django      
  51. Spanish Doors – Liz Phair                          
  52. Roaring 20s – Flo Milli                                 
  53. Rhetorical Figure – John Grant               
  54. THAT’S WHAT I WANT – Lil Nas X           
  55. The Doll – Audiobooks                               
  56. Strange – Celeste                                        
  57. WUSYANAME – Tyler, the Creator feat. YoungBoy Never Broke Again & Ty Dolla $ign                    
  58. White Dress – Lana Del Rey                     
  59. family ties – Baby Keem & Kendrick Lamar                                                                 
  60. Starlight – Yola                                              
  61. The Melting of the Sun – St. Vincent   
  62. Pick up Your Feelings – Jazmine Sullivan                                                                      
  63. I am not a woman, I’m a god – Halsey 
  64. Hertz – Amyl and the Sniffers                 
  65. Please – Jessie Ware                                  
  66. The Adults Are Talking – the Strokes   
  67. Got Me – Laura Mvula                               
  68. We’re Good – Dua Lipa                             
  69. Kiss Me More – Doja Cat feat. SZA       
  70. I Don’t Live Here Anymore – The War on Drugs feat. Lucius                                
  71. Magnificent Hurt – Elvis Costello & The Imposters                                                  
  72. 34+35 – Ariana Grande feat. Doja Cat & Megan Thee Stallion                             
  73. Just One Sec – the Antlers                       
  74. Love Is Back – Celeste                                
  75. Let Me Love You Like a Woman – Lana Del Rey                                                         
  76. Down – St. Vincent                                     
  77. Amoeba – Clairo                                           
  78. Don’t Forget Your Neighborhood – Cola Boyy feat. The Avalanches                
  79. All My Favorite Songs – Weezer            
  80. Sober & Skinny – Brittney Spencer       
  81. Unblu – Jenny Lewis/Serengeti             
  82. Living Proof – The War on Drugs            
  83. Prisoner – Miley Cyrus feat. Dua Lipa  
  84. NDA – Billie Eilish                                          
  85. In His Arms – Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert, Jon Randall                                     
  86. Walking at a Downtown Pace – Parquet Courts                                                        
  87. Lost Cause – Billie Eilish                             
  88. Dancing with the Devil – Demi Lovato 
  89. Hope – Arlo Parks                                        
  90. Oh My God – Adele                                    
  91. My Path – Raphael Saadiq                        
  92. Unsmart Lady – Dry Cleaning                  
  93. t r a n s p a r e n t s o u l – Willow feat. Travis Barker                                                
  94. Reason to Believe – Vagabon feat. Courtney Barnett                                            
  95. Paprika – Japanese Breakfast                 
  96. Thumbs – Lucy Dacus                                 
  97. Happier Than Ever – Billie Eilish              
  98. Be Sweet – Japanese Breakfast             
  99. Hurt – Arlo Parks                                          
  100. More Life – Cordae feat. Q-Tip

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Forty Years Of Glenn’s Ten

In 1980, my friend Lydia, who preferred I call her Candice, gave me a diary for Hanukkah, which I prefer to spell Chanukah. Adorning the cover of the diary was a drawing of Paddington Bear, about whom I knew nothing except he appeared to go out wearing only a coat and a hat with the price tag still on it, an ursine Minnie Pearl who reminded me of that guy I saw in Times Square five years earlier. My parents had taken me to see Broadway’s The Magic Show starring Doug Henning for my eleventh birthday. On our walk from the restaurant to the theater we passed a man with no pants sitting on a mailbox shouting about “the system.” I sensed that man made a wrong turn at some point in his life.

I’d never kept a diary, but not being one to throw away a gift, I gave it a try. “January 1. I woke up at noon. Had bacon for lunch. New England clam chowder for dinner.” I cherish that memory of my most festive New Year’s Day ever.

On January 10 I listed my ten favorite current songs:

That constituted the beginning of a habit I’ve upheld every Saturday since. This week Glenn’s Ten begins its 41st year.

Despite the initial Glenn’s Ten consisting solely of national top 40 hits that one could hear on Casey Kasem’s countdown way too early on Sunday mornings, the other kids in school never talked about them. My fellow seniors at New Jersey’s Saddle River Country Day School talked about the greatness of The Doors, Led Zeppelin and The Grateful Dead, but never discussed the brilliance of Eddie Rabbitt employing alternating finger snaps and hand claps to mimic raindrops hitting the ground in “I Love a Rainy Night.” Led Zeppelin didn’t do that in “Fool in the Rain.” The Dead didn’t do that in “Box of Rain.” The Doors’ “Riders on the Storm?” Nope. It was Eddie Flippin’ Rabbitt, and there’s more precipitation from whence that came. My favorite rock and roll singer during my high school days, Barry Manilow, connected with me on “I Made It Through The Rain.” Whereas Mr. Rabbitt sang about his passion for actual rain, Barry “The Man” Manilow’s rain was a metaphor for adversity and everyday struggles. High school’s social scene was a struggle for me. Already shy and introverted, my fondness for the most popular music of the day exacerbated my feeling of not belonging, which is ironic, don’t you think?

From the late summer 1981 to spring 1985 I attended Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. Shy me made a few friends there, such as Kathy, who was my platonic date for the school dances. I so enjoyed dancing, and our college years were a furtive time for dance music, with the release of Michael Jackson’s Thriller and the rise of Madonna and Prince, plus all those new wave bands hailing from the UK. Kathy was especially taken with them. She studied in London one semester, and when she returned to the States she gifted me a mixtape of the music she discovered abroad. I was particularly taken with The Smiths, whose singer, Morrissey, recognized what I was feeling. (We didn’t yet know about his racist leanings.) The Smiths weren’t well-known in the United States. I recall Interview magazine’s Glenn O’Brien writing that the only people in the US who heard of The Smiths were some “pretentious yuppies at Brandeis.” I’m famous!

In the spring of 1985, The Smiths released their single “How Soon Is Now?,” with its lyrics:

There’s a club if you’d like to go
You could meet somebody who really loves you
So you go and you stand on your own
And you leave on your own
And you go home and you cry
And you want to die

It was like he read my diary, if my diary was more than song lists. I desired a girlfriend so badly, but my shyness prevented me from asking girls out, and on the one or two occasions where I mustered the courage, I was rejected.

When you say it’s gonna happen now
When exactly do you mean?
See I’ve already waited too long
And all my hope is gone.

A few months after graduation I landed a job in the Accounting department of CBS Records. Me at a record company! The record company that distributed Michael Jackson and Cyndi Lauper and Bruce Springsteen and Barbra Streisand and flippin’ Deniece Williams! I got the job through my skills and know how – I’m a math geek and great with numbers. Let’s hear it for this boy!

By the way, as you’re looking at my top ten lists, the column on the right is the position that song held the previous week. Under “Average” I list the songs that dropped out of Glenn’s Ten that week. The parenthetical lists that song’s peak Glenn’s Ten position, the number of weeks at that position, and the total number of weeks in Glenn’s Ten. The number to the right of that is the sum of every position held by the song, plus 11 for every week of the year the song was not in Glenn’s Ten, which number I then use in December each year to compute my tally of my favorite songs of the year. That’s the skills and know how that got me my job. Math geek!

I’m gay. My first clue was that I had been attracted to men with muscular physiques for several years, though I attributed that to envy, as I was so skinny. It turns out it was more than envy. I admitted that to myself in 1988, and from then on I was open about it. Interestingly, none of the artists in the Glenn’s Ten of January 9, 1988 were openly gay publicly. Nope, not him. Nor him. Nor him. I’m still not sure about him; do you know?

In other big news, in 1988 I moved from the suburbs of New Jersey into Manhattan. Just two years earlier I couldn’t envisage me living in the big city, with all its noise and activity and men donning only a coat and a hat. Now I loved this concrete jungle where dreams are made of. Let’s hear it for New York New York New York.

In even bigger news, I changed the verbiage denoting the scores of songs that fell from Glenn’s Ten from “Average” to the more accurate “Total.” What a year! Break out the bacon and chowder and make way for 1989!

I met Tommy in 1989 at a dance at NYC’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center. I went with my friend Frank, who knew the friend with whom Tommy went, so while those two were catching up on the dance floor, I was dancing with Tommy. We became a couple. We’d go out dancing every other weekend. I can still picture him throwing his hands in the air during the chorus of Black Box’s “Everybody Everybody,” when they sang “everybody” for the fourth and eighth times. Or perhaps that was me with my hands in the air. I get us confused. Like Tommy’s mother said to him after meeting me, “He’s like a Jewish version of you.” (Does that make me a self-hating narcissist?)

I broke up with the gentile version of me. Tommy was and is a good guy, though I was missing the massive amount of support I required to counter my insecurity. It was that insecurity that kept me with him for three-plus years, as I thought I’d never encounter another guy as cute or who possesses all of Tommy’s positive qualities who felt the same about me. Eventually I realized I was cheating myself and broke it off to discover where life takes me.

Career-wise, I moved from CBS Records’ (now Sony Music’s) Accounting department into the division of the company that licenses their music. Brought in to manage their accounting functions, I asked my boss if he could teach me about licensing (negotiating deals for music to be used pretty much anywhere music is used – on albums, in movies, playing above your head at the Piggly Wiggly, etc. That greeting card your mother sent you that plays “We Are Family” when you open it? You’re welcome.).

I learned a lot, and when a position opened up in the International Licensing department, I applied for and got it. The job included several trips to Europe to meet with and do presentations for Sony’s affiliates.

I was still shy. I was still introverted. I also was a perfectionist who needed to master his job. I had to conquer my shyness. I had tried therapy in the past, but it didn’t work for me. My therapist would assign me homework – “Go to a bar or a club and say hello to someone. Just hello.” “Hello, therapist! I’m here because the thought of saying hello to a stranger is mortifying.” He may as well have told me to wrestle an alligator. Afraid of needles, I’d let the dentist drill cavities without first injecting me with Novocaine. That I could handle. Talking to a stranger was too painful. This demanded radical action.

When people got to know me they’d tell me I’m funny. That’s it! I’ll become a stand-up comedian. I’ll be on stage in front of strangers, expressing my thoughts, and they’ll have to listen to me, because I have a spotlight and a mic. I took courses at The New School and the American Comedy Institute. I studied improvisation at HB Studios. I made my stand-up debut at a meeting for singles at the Jewish Community Center on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. I think the only one who scored that night was me. I got laughs. I got more bookings. Over time I won comedy contests. I was favorably reviewed in several publications, with Backstage newspaper featuring me in a front page story. Within a few years I performed for a sold-out crowd at NYC’s famed Caroline’s on Broadway. During my years of performing stand-up comedy only one audience heckled me – a group of senior citizens during a fundraiser for a Catholic hospital. The only ones there who appreciated my “Glenn’s Tips For Meeting Guys” routine was a table of nuns and priests, one of whom was taking notes, I swear to whomever he believes in. That gig aside, stand-up boosted my self-confidence.

I met with Sony’s affiliates. I did presentations. I made them educational and fun. I enjoyed doing them. At a conference in Athens, my fellow employees awarded no-longer-as-shy me a bottle of ouzo for my mastery of Greek dancing, which I think had less to do with my dancing than it did with the consumption of ouzo by the judges. Still, I welcomed the recognition. To this day I have that bottle. I don’t drink yet I’m not one to throw away a gift.

In the fall of 1996, I was dating Dr. Leonid, a nice-looking Russian dentist I met through a personal ad he placed. I liked him, though I knew he wasn’t “the one.” And he knew that I knew that he wasn’t “the one,” though I was “the one” to him, a sentiment he drove into me by singing along to Madonna’s “You Must Love Me” from the Evita soundtrack while we were baking the potato.

My #1 song was BLACKstreet’s “No Diggity.” When the CD single was released, I went to buy it at Nobody Beats the Wiz in Union Square. On my walk over I thought “I wonder if that cute salesguy who was there on Father’s Day still works there.” As I approached the top floor, where the CDs were sold, my eyes locked with that salesguy. No-longer-as-shy-yet-still-very-shy me immediately looked away and headed to the section for CD singles. “May I help you?” I heard from behind me. That’s how I met Michael. We chatted for several minutes about the music we liked, a conversation I found far more pleasant than having a cavity filled. Nobody Beats The Wiz didn’t have “No Diggity” in stock, so I left with “Macarena Christmas” and Michael’s phone number.

Michael and I went on our first date the following Friday, when he revealed that he kept a weekly list of his favorite songs. What kind of wackadoo does that? I liked him. Dr. Leonid, who was away on vacation when Michael and I went out, called me the moment he was back (This was in the pre-cell phone days), and I broke the news to him. He didn’t take it well. “Who is he?” “His name is Michael.” “How old is he?” “He’s 23.” “Where does he work?” “At a store.” “What store?” “I’m not going to tell you where he works.” “I feel like someone stabbed me in the heart!” A popular song on the radio at that time was Toni Braxton’s “Un-break My Heart.” If Dr. Leonid maintained a top ten, that record would have then jumped to #1 with a bullet. Needing a copy of this song that so adequately expressed what he was feeling, he went to Nobody Beats The Wiz in Union Square. While looking for it, a voice from behind him asked “May I help you?” Dr. Leonid turned and saw the salesguy’s name tag. Michael. “How old are you?” Dr. Leonid asked. “23,” the salesguy replied. They made plans to go on a date.

They never did go on that date. Dr. Leonid relayed the story to me a week later when we met up for dinner, revealing that he asked out Michael merely to hurt me and make me upset. I wasn’t upset. I thought it was hilarious. That made Dr. Leonid upset. As far as I was concerned, Michael could see who he wants. He doesn’t belong to me. I was happy that someone as attractive as him would even date me. I recognize that sounds like low self-esteem talking, but that’s only because it’s low self-esteem talking.

I only saw Dr. Leonid once more after that, a few years later at a cabaret show. The friend who invited me also invited another friend of his, who it turns out was Dr. Leonid’s then boyfriend. Dr. Leonid lit up when he saw me and we caught up for a few minutes. His boyfriend did not care for the obvious affection Dr. Leonid still felt for me. They departed before the performance started and broke up the next day.

Michael and I have long since stopped seeing each other, though we still discuss music and share our lists.

Speaking of …

My four years working in Sony Music’s International division were the longest I’d gone without a promotion in my 14 years at the company. I reckoned this was the end of the line of my career. I could remain there and suck it up or end up in Times Square wearing only a coat and a hat with the price tag still on it. Neither was optimal. Enter Macy Gray.

Don’t let the days of your life pass you by
You got to get up, get out and do somethin’
How will you make it if you never even try?

A woman with whom I was working on a license deal invited me to a dinner party. I did as Macy Gray suggested and pressured myself to go. While there I asked folks if they knew of any record company that is hiring. “I think Zomba is.” Zomba was the home of Backstreet Boys, A Tribe Called Quest, and a young performer who at that moment was enjoying her first hit – Britney Spears. I sent my resume to a former Sony employee who was now at Zomba. She passed it on to her boss. Her boss called me. “We just created a new head of licensing position and you’re exactly who we’re looking for.” And so, off I went. My optimism returned. And to think, all I had to do was put myself out there and talk to people. I learned a valuable life lesson: always listen to Macy Gray.

My four years at Zomba were great. I got promoted two years into it, and under my leadership, the company’s licensing revenue increased 400%. A few other companies reached out to me to get me to jump ship over to them. One was Warner Music Group. An executive from Warner asked me “how much would it take for you to relocate to LA and be our Vice President of Domestic and International Licensing and Contract Administration in our Rhino Records division?” LA, with their traffic and smog and healthy dining? Yuck! I proposed a salary 60% more than I was presently making. The executive called back two days later. “Your salary was approved.” At the same time, my boss at Zomba told me “You are now in charge of film and TV licensing for every BMG label – Jive, RCA, Arista, etc.” BMG had purchased Zomba some months earlier. BMG was unable to match the Warner salary, and thus, I said goodbye to New York and Bobi, the handsome Dutch soccer player I was dating, and off I went to breathe in smog while sitting in traffic and munching on a carrot stick. I made it. The week I started at Warner, Zomba recording artist Justin Timberlake fell out of Glenn’s Ten, and Warner recording artist The Streets was #1. Could this be a sign? Don‘t be stupid.

Most of my years at Rhino/Warner were good. Under my leadership the licensing team had several record-breaking fiscal quarters. Rhino’s General Manager/later President told me on several occasions “I don’t know how you do it. Sales continue to decline, yet licensing revenue keeps going up.” I’ll tell you how I did it. I know how to negotiate lucrative deals and I hired and developed good teams. The rise in licensing revenue year over year wasn’t enough to compensate for Rhino’s declining sales, and every year we had layoffs. In September of 2013, one month shy of my fiftieth birthday, I found myself an out of work bitch. (See what I did there!) Rhino’s former GM/now President told me “Licensing receipts are declining.” No shock, Charlotte! That’s what happens when you prune a staff of 27 down to a staff of four. I’m outstanding at my job but I ain’t Doug Henning!

While being laid off is rude and insulting, the reality is I was ready to leave. In my last year at Rhino they had me reporting into a different senior vice present. This SVP would yell at me (and other employees), cuss at me, and blame me for some poor licensing deals made by an outside party he hired, deals he failed to review and that had no oversight by me or anyone on my team. I now recognize that his conduct likely stemmed from his own insecurities. People deal with their insecurities in different ways. I turned mine inwards. My boss lashed at people and didn’t accept responsibility for his mistakes. I understand. I have sympathy. Still, what an asshole!

My friend Martin urged me to quit. I was stressed. I was unhappy. At this point in my career, I had proven my abilities and had 27 years of stellar employee reviews to back me up. As soon as I exited that meeting with the company’s president and Human Resources I went to my office and immediately texted my friend Martin: “My birthday present came early this year.”

This was the first time since I started at CBS Records in 1985 that I found myself without a job.

Not only was I unemployed; I also was single. I went on a fair amount of dates when I got to LA. Early on I met a great guy named Carlo. We went out a few times and seemed to click. We decided to be a couple. I haven’t seen him since we made that decision. I hope he wasn’t kidnapped or killed wrestling an alligator or in a home invasion. None of those possibilities occurred to me until today. Hopefully he’s alive and well and merely decided he doesn’t like me and chose to ghost me. What an assh—no. He’s a good person. I don’t know where he went, though I sincerely hope he’s happy and doing well wherever he is. I wish that for everyone I’ve ever dated.

Only three of the song’s in this week’s Glenn’s Ten are in the national top 40. One is my #1, Megan Thee Stallion’s “Body.” I discovered a group of friends who share my love of it, and we fan boy over the cleverness of Ms. Stallion’s lyrics, to wit, “saucy like a barbecue but you won’t get your baby back.” If that doesn’t win M.T. Stallion the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry then their voting process is shoddy oddy oddy oddy oddy oddy oddy oddy oddy oddy oddy oddy oddy oddy oddy.

Over the 40 years I’ve been writing down my favorite songs of the week, my tastes have evolved, though what gravitates me toward certain songs hasn’t. Over the 40 years I’ve evolved, though I retain many core traits. I’m still an introvert. I still consider saying hello to a stranger terrifying and painful (though I do now let the dentist shoot me up with Novocaine before drilling.) While the past year of living through a pandemic has caused my anxiety to spike, the bright spot I find in it is I no longer have to come up with excuses to avoid social gatherings. As my friend Angel said, “It’s like you’ve been practicing for the stay at home mandate your entire life.”

Speaking of man dates, a love life doesn’t exist for me. I went out with a few good guys my first seven years in LA, including the aforementioned Carlo, as well as the gorgeous bodybuilder attorney and the adorable high end furniture salesperson with the rash, though at some point I gave up. I’ve gone on only one date in the last ten years, though four guys went on dates with me due to miscommunications. It seems a relationship isn’t in the cards for me. I’m too old. I’m not fit enough. If that sounds like low self-esteem talking, that’s because self-esteem is a journey, not a destination. I still have work to do on myself, though there has been progress over the years. I now like myself enough to relish solitary time and not spend it pining for a boyfriend, though who doesn’t like a baked potato?

But hey, anything can happen. Forty years ago, I didn’t conceive I’d have a successful career in the music business. I didn’t think I’d feel comfortable speaking to hundreds of people. There may exist someone out there for a funny, smart, music-obsessed math geek. Until he shows up, I’ll continue doing what I do and await further instructions from Macy Gray.

I still often feel I don’t belong, though I found a group of guys who also feel like they don’t belong, so we “don’t belong” together. I suppose that’s the primary difference between 17-year-old Glenn and 57-year-old Glenn: my shyness and feelings of otherness are not frightening or debilitating. They simply are there, and while I wish I didn’t feel these feelings, I do and life goes on. I’m less insecure. I made it through the rain.

My initial plan after departing Rhino was to decompress for two weeks and then search for a job. That plan was quickly nixed when I realized after two weeks not working that I was the most relaxed I had ever felt. I looked at a job posting for a VP of Licensing position at another major record company and found my stomach turned. I don’t want to run the licensing department at a big company anymore, but what to do? It didn’t make sense to work for 28 years straight and then relax for only two weeks. I extended my break and set to work on myself, exploring what makes me happy, which, aside from listening to music, is being creative. I attended more improv classes and writing classes and joined two public speaking clubs. As evidenced previously by the joy I took in performing stand-up comedy and doing business presentations, I enjoyed public speaking. Maybe there’s a fresh career there. What would I talk about? I don’t think I’ll secure many bookings discussing the brilliance of Eddie Rabbitt (but seriously, those alternating finger snaps and hand claps!). I guided my staff to great success, so perhaps I’ll talk about leadership. My staff was made up of men and women of varying ages, races, nationalities, sexual orientations and religious beliefs. When I exited Rhino, its senior management was all men, all white, all straight, all cisgender, and all in their forties. Well, one guy was in his fifties; he got laid off the week after me. I decided to pursue corporate speaking about the value of diversity to organizations and how it’s not only the right thing to do morally; it’s also the right thing to do fiscally. It’s taken me awhile to get it going – I’m still working on my perfectionist tendencies – but I anticipate my diversity book and online course to launch this year, and I’m confident they’ll perform well. Not over-the-moon confident, but reasonably confident. If they don’t work, I’ll attempt something else. I’m smart. I’m resourceful. I’m still evolving. I’m not ready to head to Times Square and sit on a mailbox wearing nothing but a coat and a hat with the price tag still on it.

Forty years of Glenn’s Tens

Today’s playlist consists of my top song from every year I’ve been doing Glenn’s Ten, courtesy of my math skills:

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Top 105 Songs Of 2019

My favorite song of 2019 came out in 2016. Like most people, I slept on Lizzo’s “Good as Hell” upon its initial release three years ago. I also slept on her “Truth Hurts,” my #4 song of 2019, when it was released in 2017. Lizzo’s first track to make Glenn’s Ten was “Boys,” which hit #1 in July 2018, just two months before my favorite 2019 artist after Lizzo, Billie Eilish, made her Glenn’s Ten debut with “You Should See Me in a Crown.” Eilish’s “Bad Guy” is my #3 song of this year, breaking up Lizzo’s hold on the top four. L-to-the-izzo’s “Juice,” my #2 song of 2019, debuted on Glenn’s Ten on January 12, kicking off 49 consecutive weeks with at least one Lizzo track in my top ten, 22 of those weeks at #1. I’m sure both of those are records, something I would confirm if I weren’t too lazy to look it up.

At #5 for the year sits the only artist in my year end top ten who made their Glenn’s Ten debut in 2019, Megan Thee Stallion. (Megan’s her real first name; Thee is not her actual middle name and Stallion is not on her birth certificate. I’m a Megan Thee Stallion truther.) On that hit, “Hot Girl Summer,” Megan T. Stallion is assisted by Nicki Minaj, who is also at #55 with a solo number, and Ty Dolla $ign (Ty is short for Tyrone, his real first name; Dolla is not his actual middle name and $ign is not on his birth certificate. I’m a Ty Dolla $ign truther.), who is also at #100 assisting Kehlani. If you need assistance, call Ty D. $ign.

The remainder of the top ten boasts career bests for 21 Savage, Ariana Grande, Teyana Taylor, and Vince Staples, plus the first Glenn’s Ten entry for Vampire Weekend since 2013. Other Glenn’s Ten veterans making appearances this year include Bruce Springsteen, Liz Phair, Beck, Missy Elliott, Morrissey, Beyoncé, Rufus Wainwright, Smokey Robinson (yes, Smokey Robinson!), and Belle & Sebastian. Recent favorites such as Courtney Barnett, Cardi B, Grimes, Christine and the Queens, Robyn, Miranda Lambert, 21 Savage, BROCKHAMPTON, First Aid Kit, Chance the Rapper, Angel Olsen, The National and Kacey Musgraves are represented as well.

Enough blather. Here is my top 105 songs (5 by Lizzo, 100 by others, though one of those others with an assist from Lizzo) of 2019:

  1. Good as Hell – Lizzo
  2. Juice – Lizzo
  3. bad guy – Billie Eilish
  4. Truth Hurts – Lizzo
  5. Hot Girl Summer – Megan Thee Stallion featuring Nicki Minaj and Ty Dolla $ign
  6. WTP – Teyana Taylor
  7. FUN. – Vince Staples
  8. thank u, next – Ariana Grande
  9. Harmony Hall – Vampire Weekend
  10. A Lot – 21 Savage
  11. bury a friend – Billie Eilish
  12. Land of the Free – the Killers
  13. Before I Let Go – Beyoncé
  14. Keep the Change – Mattiel
  15. Blame It on Your Love – Charli XCX featuring Lizzo
  16. Drogba (Joanna) – Afro B
  17. Hot Shower – Chance the Rapper featuring MadeinTYO & DaBaby
  18. Rainbow – Kacey Musgraves
  19. Wedding Bell Blues – Morrissey
  20. Trip – Ella Mai
  21. Tempo – Lizzo featuring Missy Elliott
  22. Almeda – Solange
  23. Melody of Love – Hot Chip
  24. Anybody – Burna Boy
  25. Young Republicans – Lower Dens
  26. Motivation – Normani
  27. Throw It Back – Missy Elliott
  28. People – The 1975
  29. Rylan – The National
  30. Doin’ Time – Lana Del Rey
  32. Hello Sunshine – Bruce Springsteen
  33. Summer Girl – HAIM
  34. Good Side – Liz Phair
  35. Saw Lightning – Beck
  36. Fukk Sleep – A$AP Rocky featuring FKA twigs
  37. It’s Not Living (If It’s Not with You) – The 1975
  38. Binz – Solange
  39. Something Keeps Calling – Raphael Saadiq featuring Rob Bacon
  40. This Life – Vampire Weekend
  41. wish you were gay – Billie Eilish
  42. My Type – Saweetie
  43. Sing Along – Sturgill Simpson
  44. Now I’m In It – HAIM
  45. Oh What a World – Kacey Musgraves
  46. Lark – Angel Olsen
  47. Sister Buddha – Belle & Sebastian
  48. Uneventful Days – Beck
  49. I’ve Been Waiting – Lil Peep & ILoveMakonnen featuring Fall Out Boy
  50. Love Yourself  – Sufjan Stevens
  51. Nothing Breaks Like a Heart – Mark Ronson featuring Miley Cyrus
  52. Drip Too Hard – Lil Baby featuring Gunna
  53. Ibtihaj – Rapsody featuring D’Angelo & GZA
  54. Cuz I Love You – Lizzo
  55. Megatron – Nicki Minaj
  56. It All Comes out in the Wash – Miranda Lambert
  57. Sunflower – Vampire Weekend featuring Steve Lacy
  58. Blaxploitation – Noname
  59. Hurry on Home – Sleater-Kinney
  60. Western Stars – Bruce Springsteen
  61. Seventeen – Sharon Van Etten
  62. Crazy Classic Life – Janelle Monae
  63. Unshaken – D’Angelo
  64. 7 Rings – Ariana Grande
  65. Way Too Pretty for Prison – Miranda Lambert with Maren Morris
  66. Hey Brother (Do Unto Others) – The Family Daptone
  67. Earth – Lil Dicky
  68. Make It Better – Anderson .Paak featuring Smokey Robinson
  69. Lo/Hi – the Black Keys
  70. Tarantula – Beck
  71. all the good girls go to hell – Billie Eilish
  72. Trouble in Paradise – Rufus Wainwright
  73. The greatest – Lana Del Rey
  74. Ordinary Pleasure – Toro y Moi
  75. Twerk – City Girls featuring Cardi B
  76. Ever Again – Robyn
  77. BLACKJACK – Aminé
  78. Red Bull and Hennessy – Jenny Lewis
  80. Money – Cardi B
  81. Brown Skin Girl – Beyoncé, SAINt JHN, WizKid and Blue Ivy
  82. Fucking Crazy – Robert Ellis
  83. Eye in the Wall – Perfume Genius
  84. sad day – FKA twigs
  85. Between the Lines – Robyn
  86. Nothing Is Safe – clipping.
  87. Redesigning Women – the Highwomen
  88. Tell Me (Doko Mien) – Ibibio Sound Machine
  89. Sofia – Clairo
  90. With My Whole Heart – Sufjan Stevens
  91. Go – the Black Keys
  92. Turn the Light – Karen O and Danger Mouse
  93. Fortune – Wye Oak
  94. holy terrain – FKA twigs featuring Future
  95. Young Enough – Charly Bliss
  96. Everybody Here Hates You – Courtney Barnett
  97. Gone – Charli XCX featuring Christine and the Queens
  98. Everyday – Weyes Blood
  99. Capacity – Charly Bliss
  100. Nights Like This – Kehlani featuring Ty Dolla $ign
  101. No Bullets Spent – Spoon
  102. Gonna Love Me – Teyana Taylor feat. Ghostface Killa, Method Man & Raekwon
  103. My Name Is Dark – Grimes
  104. Sociopath – Pusha T featuring Kash Doll
  105. Strange Beauty – First Aid Kit

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