Social Isolation Disco

PLAYLIST: 30 prime slices of escapist pop to soundtrack your quarantine party. Six feet apart, please!

Social Isolation Disco

PLAYLIST: 30 prime slices of escapist pop to soundtrack your quarantine party. 6 feet apart, please!

Within my personal friend group, I have gained a bit of a reputation for making playlists.  Now, of course, I get to victimize the entire internet with that particular skill.  Historically, though, my closest friends have had to bear the weight of my musical list-making.

Last week, one of my friends reached out to me to create a quarantine playlist for her so that she would, as she put it, “Listen to anything other than superhero soundtracks, please, for the love of god”.  Although I support listening to superhero soundtracks, I was happy to oblige.  There is a non-zero chance that she asked for a playlist just to mercifully give me something to do, but…. that’s a rabbit hole I am not willing to go down.

Cover design by Andrew Henderson

The thing is, I sort of think the playlist I made for her slaps.  It’s 30 songs of modern, escapist pop, ranging from absolute bangers like ‘Tantrum’ by Ashnikko to chill vibes like ‘Too Late’ by Washed Out.  In terms of cohesion, it shouldn’t work.  On paper, it doesn’t.  But in practice, I stand by it.  So, I’m sharing it here with the whole world.  Because the world needs escapist pop now more than ever, and also because I’m a hopeless narcissist when it comes to my taste in music.

Washed Out

A few songs are specifically quarantine/social isolation themed: ‘claws’ by Charli XCX (who’s quarantine-themed album is out 5/15), ‘I’m Bored’ by Betta Lemme and ‘My House’ by Kitten.  But all are great slices of music that run the gamut of modern pop music.  I think it’s great.  I hope you do too.

So, enjoy this playlist, Social Isolation Disco, below.

Social Isolation Disco TrackList

  1. Joan of Arc on the Dance Floor – Aly & AJ Non-album single
  2. Malibu – Kim Petras Non-album single
  3. Love Again – Dua Lipa Future Nostalgia
  4. La vita nuova – Christine and the Queens feat. Caroline Polachek La vita nuova
  5. Over Yet – Hayley Williams Petals for Armor
  6. Super Duper Party People – Allie X Cape God
  7. Nonbinary – Arca KiCk i
  8. Gay Street Fighter – Keiynan Lonsdale Non-album single
  9. Tantrum – Ashnikko Non-album single
  10. claws – Charli XCX how i’m feeling now
  11. Damn Daniel – Bree Runway feat. Yung Baby Tate Non-album single
  12. Shoulda Known Better – Nasty Cherry Non-album single
  13. If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know) – The 1975 Notes on a Conditional Form
  14. I Love Me (Travis Barker Remix) – Demi Lovato Non-album single
  15. Daydream – The Aces Non-album single
  16. On the Floor (Initial Talk Remix) – Perfume Genius Non-album single
  17. No Pude – Lido Pimienta Miss Colombia
  18. i like the devil – Purity Ring WOMB
  19. Guilty Conscience – 070 Shake Modus Vivendi
  20. I’m Bored – Betta Lemme Non-album single
  21. Sucker for Punishment – Alex Lahey Non-album single
  22. Ripe – Banoffee feat. CupcakKe Look at us Now, Dad
  23. Stay Tonight – CHUNG HA Non-album single
  24. Dare (AM) – Namasenda Non-album single
  25. Too Late – Washed out Non-album single
  26. My House – Kitten Non-album single
  27. Save a Kiss – Jessie Ware Non-album single
  28. Two Minute Noodles – Aria Wood Non-album single
  29. Take Yourself Home – Troye Sivan Non-album single
  30. Chosen Family – Rina Sawayama SAWAYAMA

101 Top Tracks: 2019

PLAYLIST: These are my picks for the 101 Top Tracks of 2019. Yes, I know it’s April 2020. Thank you. Shh.

PLAYLIST: These are my picks for the 101 Top Tracks of 2019. Yes, I know it's April 2020. Thank you. Shh.

At the end of every year, I curate a list of my personal picks for the 101 Top Tracks of the year.  Obviously, we are halfway through 2020, so it makes no sense to publish that list now, but I am doing it anyway.  The world is in chaos, and everyone needs good music.

Not every artist on this playlist is a member of the LGBTQIA+ family (although many are), this is just a list of 101 damn good songs to hopefully cheer you up in the coming days.

If you really feel like going back to ancient history, check out this list of recommended tracks from 2018 as well.

Andrew Henderson’s 101 Top Tracks of 2019:

  1. OH DANG DANG – Kopps Non-album single
  2. Get Around It – Midi Matilda Non-album single
  3. I Don’t Wanna Know – Charli XCX Charli
  4. Gimme – BANKS III
  5. fallen alien – FKA Twigs MAGDALENE
  6. Gone – TR/ST The Destroyer Vol. 1
  7. Jerome – Lizzo Cuz I Love You
  8. The One – Betty Who Betty
  9. Picture Me Better – Weyes Blood Titanic Rising
  10. Orange Trees – MARINA Love + Fear
  11. 800 db cloud – 100 gecs 1000 gecs
  12. Rich, White, Straight Men – Kesha Non-album single
  13. Queen of the Rodeo – Orville Peck Pony
  14. Blood of the Fang – clipping. There Existed an Addiction to Blood
  15. Borderline – Florrie Non-album single
  16. bad idea – Ariana Grande thank u, next
  17. Pang – Caroline Polachek Pang
  18. Talk – Two Door Cinema Club False Alarm
  19. Play – Betta Lemme Non-album single
  20. Love Goes On – Hannah Diamond Reflections
  21. Slide Away – Miley Cyrus Non-album single
  22. Borderline – Tame Impala The Slow Rush
  23. Hit the Back – King Princess Cheap Queen
  24. Lightning – Bag Raiders feat. The Kite String Tangle Horizons 
  25. Taste – Donatachi feat. Genes Taste
  26. Do Me – Kim Petras Clarity
  27. Devil is a Lie – Adia Victoria Silences
  28. Adam & Steve – Dorian Electra Flamboyant
  29. New Love Cassette – Angel Olsen All Mirrors
  30. Everything He Needs – Carly Rae Jepsen Dedicated
  31. Love Me Wrong – Allie X feat. Troye Sivan Cape God
  32. The Other Side – Drab Majesty Modern Mirror
  33. Concrete Angel – Hannah Diamond Reflections
  34. Dear Jealousy – MIKA My Name is Michael Holbrook
  35. money machine – 100 gecs 1000 gecs
  36. What Are We Going to Do About the Rich? – Pet Shop Boys Agenda
  37. Old Town Road (Remix) – Lil Nas X, Billy Ray Cyrus 7
  38. Serbia Drums – !!! Wallop
  39. WET – COBRAH Icon
  40. sad day – FKA Twigs MAGDALENE
  41. BITE ME – Kilo Kish Redux
  42. Downhill Lullaby – Sky Ferreira Non-album single
  43. Divine Goldmine – Lou Asril Louasril
  44. Tuesday – Malibu Ken Malibu Ken
  45. Click (No Boys Remix) – Charli XCX feat. Kim Petras & Slayyyter Non-album single
  46. I Want to Live with You – Alex Lahey The Best Luck Club
  47. Sympathy – Vampire Weekend Father of the Bride
  48. Heavenly – Cigarettes After Sex Cry
  49. Prophet – King Princess Cheap Queen
  50. Norman fucking Rockwell – Lana Del Rey Norman Fucking Rockwell!
  51. Sanremo – MIKA My Name is Michael Holbrook
  52. Juice – Lizzo Cuz I Love You
  53. Parachute – Caroline Polachek Pang
  54. Whiplash – Theophilus London feat. Tame Impala Bebey
  55. Want You in My Room – Carly Rae Jepsen Dedicated
  56. Lifeline – A.G. Cook Non-album single
  57. Enjoy Your Life – MARINA Love + Fear
  58. White Mercedes – Charli XCX Charli
  59. Movies – Weyes Blood Titanic Rising
  60. Obsession – Joywave Possession
  61. Goodbye Honeymoon Phase – Kitten Goodbye Honeymoon Phase
  62. God Must Be Doing Cocaine – Charlotte Lawrence Non-album single
  63. 626 Bedford Avenue – The Drums Brutalism
  64. Black Magic – Backxwash God Has Nothing to Do With This, Leave Him Out of It
  65. Ice Cream – MIKA My name is Michael Holbrook
  66. Bad Vibes – K.Flay Solutions
  67. when the party’s over – Billie Eilish WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?
  68. So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings – Caroline Polachek Pang
  69. Psycho – slowthai, Denzel Curry Non-album single
  70. STFU! – Rina Sawayama SAWAYAMA
  71. Patience – Tame Impala Non-album single
  72. stupid horse – 100 gecs 1000 gecs
  73. Cross You Out – Charli XCX feat. Sky Ferierra Charli
  74. Fuck it I love you – Lana Del Rey Norman Fucking Rockwell!
  75. High Beams – Flume feat. HWLS & slowthai Hi This is Flume
  76. Haunted House – Sir Babygirl Crush on Me
  77. Friday’s No Fun Anymore – Kitten Goodbye Honeymoon Phase
  78. Julien – Carly Rae Jepsen Dedicated
  79. Tokyo – White Lies Five V2
  80. Unconditional – Touch Sensitive feat. Kitten Non-album single
  81. Fresh Laundry – Allie X Cape God
  82. Sea at Night – GFOTY If You Think I’m a Bitch, You Should Meet GFOTY
  83. Pretty Please – Allan Rayman Christian
  84. Boy – The Asteroids Galaxy Tour Non-album Single
  85. Hope to Die – Orville Peck Pony
  86. PrettyGirlz – WILLOW WILLOW
  87. Caroline Shut Up – Caroline Polachek Pang
  88. Young Republicans – Lower Dens The Competition
  89. Flamboyant – Dorian Electra Flamboyant
  90. Like a Kennedy – Joywave Possession
  91. mary magdalene – FKA Twigs MAGDALENE
  92. 2099 – Charli XCX feat. Troye Sivan Charli
  93. Harmony Hall – Vampire Weekend Father of the Bride
  94. The greatest – Lana Del Rey Norman Fucking Rockwell!
  95. Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself – Alex Lahey The Best Luck Club
  96. fReAkY 4 Life – Dorian Electra Flamboyant
  97. cellophane – FKA Twigs MAGDALENE
  98. Door – Caroline Polachek Pang
  99. Jailbreak the Tesla – Injury Reserve feat. Aminé Injury Reserve
  100. All Mirrors – Angel Olsen All Mirrors
  101. Gone – Charli XCX feat. Christine and The Queens Charli
Cover: FKA Twigs from the 'Cellophane' music video. Design by Andrew Henderson.

After listening to my list, be sure to pop on down to the comments and let me know what your favorite songs of 2019 were.  What did I miss on this list?  What did I include that I shouldn’t have?

Troye Sivan – Take Yourself Home

TRACK REVIEW: Troye’s new single is better, bigger and more exciting than anything else he’s ever done.

TRACK REVIEW: Troye's new single is better, bigger and more exciting than anything else he's ever done.

With the exception of a couple of collaborations with Charli XCX and Allie X last year, ‘Take Yourself Home’ is the first new music that Troye Sivan has released since 2018.  But what a way to end a multi-year wait.  ‘Take Yourself Home’ is easily the most ambitious song Troye has ever released, spending most of its 4-minute-plus runtime slowly building towards its explosive final act.  That Troye and co. are able to weave a genuinely catchy and anthemic chorus into the mix without losing the sense of tension and build is pretty incredible.  However, the clear star here is the wild production work from Oscar Görres.  Görres has worked with a number of high-profile pop artists including Britney Spears, Hilary Duff, Taylor Swift, and MARINA.  He also produced a couple of tracks for Troye’s 2018 album Bloom.  ‘Take Yourself Home’ is his new best work, though, and the track cements Troye’s upcoming third album as one to definitely be excited for.

Give a listen to ‘Take Yourself Home’ below, and let me know what you think in the comments.

Charli XCX is ‘the pop star of the future’

FEATURE: Charli XCX is the ‘pop star of the future’… and she has the digital marketing strategy to prove it.

FEATURE: Charli XCX is 'the pop star of the future'... and she has the digital marketing strategy to prove it.

This feature originally ran on Andrew Henderson’s personal blog on October 9, 2019.

Haven’t you heard?  Charli XCX is the pop star of the future.

So many publications have made this claim over the last few months, it’s almost becoming a joke.  In fact, the claim became so prevalent that The Atlantic published an entire article refuting the idea.  The Atlantic aside, everyone seems to agree that XCX is “the next big thing” in pop music, and there are lots of theories around why.  While most articles cite her futuristic glitch-pop sound, others discuss her avant-garde fashion choices or sci-fi lite music videos.  Those facets of XCX’s artistry are deserving of the attention they are getting, but the array of think pieces devoted to XCX’s supposed futurism are missing a key element:  the forward-thinking nature of Charli XCX, the brand and business.

Art is subjective, but sales are not, and music marketing is a growing industry.  According to Forbes, the music industry saw a more-than-10% increase in revenue from 2017 to 2018 and schools like Berklee and the University of Southern California have begun offering courses in music marketing.

It’s not just music marketing that has exploded recently, either.

“Music has changed more in the last five years than in the last 50,” wrote brand strategist Nidhi Dave in her article 22 Digital Marketing Trends You Can’t Ignore Going Into 2020. (2020 is the future, see?  Dave’s article will be the primary source on current marketing trend analysis for this essay).

Charli XCX and her team took advantage of this trend and rolled out a thoroughly modern digital marketing campaign ahead of the release of her third studio album, Charli.  In order to understand the progressive nature of the Charli release campaign, though, one first needs to take a moment to look backwards.

Charli XCX has a checkered history with promoting her music by traditional means, such as TV appearances and magazine ads.  Promotional efforts for a now-cancelled album, including a performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! was poorly received by the general public in 2016/2017.

This, paired with a security breach that leaked many of the unreleased songs online, resulted in the entire album being scrapped.  With the exception of a few (frankly excellent) singles quietly published throughout 2017 and 2018, most of that album never saw the light of day.  It hasn’t been all bad news, though.  In 2017, Sandbox listed the release strategy for her single ‘Boys’ as one of the top music marketing campaigns of the year.  With a history of mixed results, though, XCX and co. would need to try something different the next time around.

In early 2019, Charli XCX announced work on a new album, and immediately a huge, primarily web-based marketing campaign began.  The majority of this campaign took place on Instagram and Twitter, with sponsored posts being shown to people who have engaged with her content before, or who fit the target demographics of her audience (primarily gen-z, Europeans and the LGBT community).

Personalized advertising, using AI-assisted ad targeting is becoming more and more commonplace.  Nidhi Dave explains it like this: “AI can analyze consumer behavior and search patterns and use data from social media platforms and blog posts to help businesses understand how customers find their products and services”.  She says that by 2020, 60% of businesses will be using artificial intelligence in increase profits.  In addition, an Epsilon survey found that 90% of surveyed consumers said they find the idea of personalized ad targeting “appealing” as opposed to generic ad blasts.

Leading up the album, most of Charli XCX’s targeted ads focused on creating excitement for the new album, but following the record’s release in September, the focus of these promotional materials has switched to be about the following tour, new videos or merchandise options. There are now sponsored ads geotagged to specific areas, promoting those specific stops of her tour.  Most of these ads (both for the album and the tour) featured video of her performing, or animated versions of the album artwork with clips of her songs playing in the background.  A survey conducted by marketing software development company HubSpot found that over two-thirds of consumers preferred to discover new products or services via a short video than through any other source.

In addition to the sponsored content, XCX has been posting an almost nonstop stream of shareable content and live videos to her personal Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts.  Most of the live videos are behind the scenes videos of her working on music videos or at concerts, or even just her in her hotel room talking about how excited she is about the album and tour.  According to product designer and digital marketer Alexander Bickov, social media stories are one of the top tools for digital marketers due to their cost-effectiveness, ease of engagement with consumers, and access to a younger audience.

In terms of shareable content marketing, XCX is posting lots of memes about her and the album that fans send her to her own account, as well as funny outtakes from the album art photoshoots etc.  According to Julia McCoy at the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing overall and is as much as three times as effective, and Cision PR Newswire reported on a study which claimed user-generated content may influence purchasing decisions for as much as 90% of consumers.  Of course, all of these fun posts are fully shoppable, with users being able to click or swipe from the post to purchase pages for concert tickets, album sales, or links to her music on streaming services.

In addition to content marketing, XCX has been using a music-based form of influencer marketing.  According to Dave, influencer marketing is a system of social media marketing that uses thought-leaders like celebrities or individuals with large social media followings to bring awareness of a brand to a larger audience.  Charli XCX has brought this mentality not just to her marketing, but to her product itself.  Her new album features collaborations with many other alt-pop and electronic artists, who then are also promoting the album on their social media pages.  She also partnered with visual artist Ines Alpha on the artwork for the album and its associated singles.

XCX has resisted the idea that her collaborative efforts exist just for marketing purposes, though.

“For so long, collaboration has been a marketing tool to gain the benefit of both fanbases,” she said in an interview with Celebretainment.  “My collaborations are genuine and personal.”

This ethos may be reflected in the music itself, but the marketing impact remains the same.  Across fifteen tracks, there are thirteen featured artists, all of whom are doing cross-promotion on their own socials to their own fanbases.

All of these digital marketing tactics are in addition to more traditional means of music marketing like scheduled television appearances interviews with radio shows and magazines.

This means that she is addressing her potential audience through the web, television, radio and print advertising simultaneously.  Multi-channel marketing has been a staple of the marketing industry long before the rise of digital-first advertising, but now more than ever, it is necessary to be on the cutting edge of new trends, technologies and strategies to stay on top.

Charli XCX and her team have created a marketing campaign unlike anything they have done before, showing that they have learned from their mistakes and have found how to best reach her unique audience through multiple forms of digital marketing.  The future of music marketing is here now, and she is ready for it.