Story Corps

living rooms. We found ways to thrive. Lars Gotrich/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Lars Gotrich/NPR

We danced in kitchens, took long drives, caught up in backyards or on video chat, watched weddings from our living rooms. We found ways to thrive.

Lars Gotrich/NPR

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When the world needed roséwave most, it vanished. We're not ones to shy away from or discourage drama, but when that tweet — paraphrased here for, you guessed it, dramatic effect — hit the feed, we got in our feelings. For those not already steeped in its pinkish hues, our annual roséwave summer playlist series aims to capture the spirit of the season: it's about your best life, your messy life, a light breeze on a sweaty day, a "thanks-it-has-pockets" dress. It's music and a mood that's supposed to feel good, typically accompanied by a glass of rosé (or a fruity seltzer, or a cold brew, or both), but doesn't shy away from e•mo•tion.

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But little felt good this year. I don't need to list it all, but between watching the pandemic unfold, super-spreader events carry on, fires turn the American west coast and Australian skies red, floods down South, state-sanctioned police violence against Black folks, music venues go dark, a seemingly-unending election... it breaks you down into pieces that struggle to find the whole. Purpose changes in these moments – or at least it should – so celebrating pop songs that soundtrack summer picnics or lighthearted, late-night debauchery never felt quite right.

And yet, we danced in kitchens, took long drives, caught up in backyards or on video chat, watched weddings from our living rooms, grew closer to families blood or chosen, built mutual aid networks, honed or took up new hobbies, rallied for racial justice. We found ways to thrive.

In times like 2020, your relationship to music changes. Songs about dancing with friends and flings and just, like, touching each other with a light caress or a hug that awakens your spirit — it just hits different. In her deeply moving year-end essay, Ann Powers shares this wisdom: "The best songs about change, about a better tomorrow, always have some sadness in them, because there's still that gap between what the future offers and whatever mess you're in right now."

Across a spectrum of sounds — be it pop, disco, country, reggaeton, R&B, dance music — I've also found this to be true: that great (or even silly) pop songs often come from a place of grief or overcoming, a yearning to be outside yourself or even your state of being. Pop music can be an escape, but at its heart thumping in dance-floor time, the most intimate pop music meets us where we are.

So in the final days of 2020, consider Lost Summer not only aspirational for what could be, but also aware of what has been. We ache, but we also learn from history. This six-hour playlist spans decades, but also leans heavily on great songs from this year. On Lost Summer, we present a new roséwave anthem (Mickey Guyton's "Rosé"), Kylie Minogue finding her way in an endless summer ("Say Something"), HAIM lost in thought ("Now I'm In It"), Grace Jones "sick and tired of all this bulls***," Rico Nasty feelin' herself ("Own It"), Bad Bunny saying hi to his ex-lover's mom ("Si Veo A Tu Mamá"), Alannah Myles slinging a "new religion that'll bring ya to your knees" ("Black Velvet"), Waxahatchee's big 2020 mood ("Can't Do Much"), Cam's steamy "Till There's Nothing Left," Minnie Riperton's butterfly-kissed nostalgia ("Memory Lane"), Gyptian's snuggly Patois ("Hold Yuh") and Jayda G's "Both of Us," a sun-streaked groove that sweetly dreams for everyone: "I just want to be with you."

Thanks to Louder Than A Riot host Sidney Madden and NPR Music contributor Cyrena Touros for their playlist contributions, and to my ride-or-die roséwave guardians, Lyndsey McKenna and Marissa Lorusso: we are mighty, we are strong, we are sensitive.

All Songs Considered

Jun 08, 2021

Roséwave: Back 2 Basic

Enlarge this image It's not a genre; it's a lifestyle. Kara Frame/NPR hide captiontoggle caption Kara
Jun 29, 2020

Heat Check: Underrated And Elevating

Enlarge this image cupcakKe switches her flow up so many times that "Discounts" is a raunchy and hilarious three-minute shopper bargain.
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Jun 15, 2020

Heat Check: Bigger Picture

Enlarge this image Lil Baby's "The Bigger Picture" is a conscious trap anthem for the Black Lives Matter movement. Matthew Geovany
Jun 08, 2020

Meet The 2020 Tiny Desk Contest Community

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May 31, 2020

Heat Check: 'Black Joy Is Radical'

Enlarge this image Nubya Garcia's latest single "Pace" is all about diving into the many layers of joy. Adama Jalloh/Courtesy of
May 25, 2020

Heat Check: Got A Big Ego

Enlarge this image Amaarae cuts it up better than a moon-walking Samurai on "Body Count." Philip Boakye/Courtesy of the artist hide
May 03, 2020

Heat Check: Hippocampus Two-Steps

Enlarge this image Dreya Mac spits bars at a level far beyond a novice on her debut track "Skippin." Clara Setian/Courtesy
Apr 26, 2020

Heat Check: Shake Your Senses

Enlarge this image Rooted in languid rhythm, Octavian's "Poison" featuring Santi with OBONGJAYAR sounds like nothing else out. Crowns & Owls/Courtesy…
Apr 19, 2020

Heat Check: Double My W's

Enlarge this image Kenny Mason unveils his debut project Angelic Hoodrat with a cool-under-pressure, low-lid resolve. Nasser Boulaich/Courtesy of the…
Apr 12, 2020

Heat Check: Money In My Hand

Enlarge this image Don't play with Kari Faux. Play with your kids. Quil Lemons /Courtesy of the artist hide captiontoggle caption Quil
Apr 05, 2020

Heat Check: I Feel Void

Enlarge this image Empress Of's "Void" feels like a euphoric cross-genre culture clash, a dance party in a summer storm. Dorian Lopez/Courtesy
Mar 29, 2020

Heat Check: Teleport And Transform

Enlarge this image Bongeziwe Mabandla's "masiziyekelele" sends you racing through the streets of Johannesburg. Justice Mukheli/Courtesy of the artist…
Mar 22, 2020

Heat Check: Make It Make Sense

Enlarge this image Alex Isley's "Gone" perfects the art of subtle, fear-inducing seduction. Lauren Desberg /Courtesy of the artist hide captiontoggle…
Mar 08, 2020

Heat Check: Homecoming

Enlarge this image The laboriously-delayed Eternal Atake finally delivered big time for Lil Uzi Vert fans. Erika Goldring/FilmMagic/Getty Images hide…
Feb 23, 2020

Heat Check: Caught Up And Curious

Enlarge this image Linda Diaz's "Magic" swirls in the watercolor pools of a quirky, young love. Jonah Zorn Koplin/Courtesy of the artist
Feb 17, 2020

Heat Check: Répéter, Répéter

Enlarge this image Arlo Parks' "Eugene" spins a stinging reminder of getting left for convention. Charlie Cummings/Courtesy of the artist hide…
Feb 09, 2020

Heat Check: Going All Out

Enlarge this image Victoria Monét melds fantasy with reality for her latest, "Moment." Dana Trippe/Courtesy of the artist hide captiontoggle caption…
Feb 03, 2020

The Tiny Desk Contest Is Back For 2020

YouTube In the past year, we've had some pretty big names come perform at the Tiny Desk: Lizzo, Jimmy Eat World and Taylor Swift, to name a few.
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Dec 17, 2019

Bob Boilen's Top 20 Albums For 2019

Big Thief released two of Bob Boilen's favorite albums in 2019: U.F.O.F. and Two Hands. Michael Buishas hide captiontoggle caption Michael Buishas
Dec 16, 2019

Heat Check: Favorite Discoveries Of 2019

Enlarge this image Kirby, Odunsi (The Engine) and Hope Tala Courtney Loo & David Karp/Folarin Omolayole/Freddie Stisted/Courtesy of the artists hide…
Dec 01, 2019

Heat Check: Ode To The Cap

Enlarge this image Kilo Kish's glitchy, pithy "SPARK" sets fire to procrastination, pushing you to keep creating. Kish Robinson/Courtesy of the artist
Nov 17, 2019

Poll: Your Favorite Songs Of The 2010s

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Nov 17, 2019

Heat Check: Charge The Haters Interest

Enlarge this image Denzel Curry's Super Saiyan energy offsets Glass Animals' eerie, horn-submerged production on "Tokyo Drifting." Elliot Arndt…
Nov 10, 2019

Heat Check: Lived-In R&B, Rap And Ragga

Enlarge this image With rich, cascading runs, Ayoni's "September" is a stand-out on this week's Heat Check. Caleb Griffin/Courtesy of the artist
Nov 10, 2019

Heat Check: Lived-In R&B, Rap And Ragga

Enlarge this image With rich, cascading runs, Ayoni's "September" is a stand-out on this week's Heat Check. Caleb Griffin/Courtesy of the artist
Oct 20, 2019

Heat Check: Getting Lost, Giving In

Enlarge this image TeaMarrr's mesmerizing new single "Kinda Love" is the type of daydream to put into action. Tyren Redd/Courtesy of the
Oct 06, 2019

Heat Check: Songs That Let It All Out

Enlarge this image The Pendletons provide a jazzy, dancing-in-your-living-room soundtrack to self-care. Ivan Noble/Courtesy of the artist hide…
Sep 29, 2019

Heat Check: Euphoric Shuffle Play

Enlarge this image Daniela Andrade's "Ayayai" (single artwork pictured here) shows off the artist's linguistic versatility. Yi-Shuan Lee/Courtesy of…
Sep 15, 2019

Heat Check: Future Nostalgia

Enlarge this image KIRBY's "Kool Aid" injects just the right doses of doo-wop and soul. Courtney Loo & David Karp/Courtesy of the
Sep 02, 2019

Heat Check: Friends Of Friends Of Friends

Enlarge this image Sudan Archives' "Confessions" is included in this week's Heat Check. Alex Black/Courtesy of the artist hide captiontoggle caption…

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