If you’re reading this, I’d like to congratulate you on surviving the first half of 2020. To say the past six months have been challenging would be putting it mildly. Pandemics and protests are only the start of our troubles. And even though most of us have been spending a whole lot of time at home, we could still use a break from everything. While I can’t sit here and tell you that the world will somehow magically get better and there’s light at the end of this extremely dark tunnel, my hope still remains intact that life will improve sooner rather than later.

If there’s a bright spot in all of this mess, it’s come in the form of music. While we have been unable to enjoy concerts and live performances since March, the recording and releasing of new music has continued mostly unabated. Sure, some vinyl shipments have been delayed and a few artists pushed back their albums with the hope of still having a summer or fall tour to support it, but for the most part the creative wellspring has yet to run dry. Many musicians and bands even have the necessary equipment to record, mix, and master songs from home. Charli XCX’s wonderful album how i’m feeling now is proof it can be done. We might not be able to spend four days at Lollapalooza this summer, but at least we can discover a bunch of albums and songs we want to hear performed live when everything opens back up again.

So even though the world around us continues to be a living nightmare, I hope you’ve been relying on music to help you find some semblance of peace. There’s been A LOT of great material that’s come out in the first half of 2020, and if you don’t believe me then you aren’t looking hard enough! The good news is that I’m here to help. What started as a fun 50-song mid-year playlist quickly ballooned to more than 3x that size, and after making painful cuts to reach a slightly more manageable 120-song playlist, I just couldn’t bring that number down any further without doing a significant disservice to the artists and to you, the listeners. We need music more than ever right now, and my hope is that this playlist brings with it the thrill of discovery and the comfort of some current favorites.

I’d like to think there’s a little something for everyone on this playlist. It starts with a bunch of rock songs. moves into a little Latinx territory, dives head first into some hip hop and R&B, followed by pop and electronic, then folk, a touch of alt-country, and closes out with synth-pop, soft rock, jazz(-ish), and the generally ambient and unclassifiable. While you could just press play at the top and listen through all 7.5 hours, I might recommend jumping around a bit by picking a song/artist you’re already familiar with and then moving forward from there. The entire thing is organized to have a strong flow, with similar styles and energy clustered together, so if you like one song there’s a good chance you’ll also like the one before and after it.

Chicago also has very strong representation on this playlist, so please be on the look out for the following names: Melkbelly, Ganser, Deeper, Ratboys, Ohmme, Beach Bunny, Varsity, cupcakKe, Psalm One, Noname, Ric Wilson, NNAMDI, V.V. Lightbody, Cold Beaches, Dehd, Tasha, and Jackie Lynn. They’re all artists worthy of your time and support! And if you’re on the hunt for a few new folks to discover with big things still ahead of them in 2020 and beyond, allow me to make some recommendations: Dogleg, Porridge Radio, Squid, Angelica Garcia, Little Simz, R.A.P. Ferreira, Arlo Parks, SAULT, Magdalena Bay, India Jordan, Trace Mountains, MUNYA, Sorry, Activity, Winter, Nation of Language, and Tara Clerkin Trio.

Please enjoy this playlist while lounging around at home or out at a (small, socially distanced) gathering with friends this summer. May you come to love these songs as much as I came to love picking them all out for you. Stay safe, stay strong, wash your hands, wear a mask, and let’s make the second half of 2020 the exact opposite of the first half.

Because this embed from Spotify will only display a maximum of 100 songs, please follow this link to view the entire playlist in Spotify. Alternatively, you can hear all of these songs on YouTube by clicking on their individual titles below.

The 1975 – People
IDLES – Mr. Motivator
The Beths – I’m Not Getting Excited
Dogleg – Hawasaki Backflip
Bully – Where to Start
Melkbelly – Sickeningly Teeth
Disq – Daily Routine
Porridge Radio – Lilac
Jehnny Beth – Flower
Ganser – Lucky
Squid – Sludge
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Cars In Space
Deeper – This Heat
Ratboys – I Go Out at Night
Momma – Habitat
Soccer Mommy – circle the drain
Ohmme – 3 2 4 3
Angelica Garcia – It Don’t Hinder Me
Beach Bunny – Dream Boy
Varsity – Runaway
HAIM – The Steps
Perfume Genius – On the Floor
Ambar Lucid – Story to Tell
Lido Pimienta – Eso Que Tu Haces
Bad Bunny – Safaera (ft. Jowell & Randy x Ñengo Flow)
ROSALÍA – TKN (ft. Travis Scott)
Jessie Reyez – DOPE
Kamaiyah – Set It Up (ft. Trina)
Megan Thee Stallion – Girls in the Hood
Guapdad 4000 – Lil Scammer That Could (ft. Denzel Curry)
cupcakKe – Discounts
Little Simz – might bang, might not
Psalm One & Optiks – Unfckwitable (ft. Jon Connor)
Run the Jewels – JU$T (ft. Pharrell Williams & Zack de la Rocha)
City Girls – Jobs
Lil Baby – We Paid (ft. 42 Dogg)
Medhane – I’m Deadass
Jay Electronica – The Neverending Story
Chloe x Halle – Do It
Teyana Taylor – How Do You Want It? (ft. King Combs)
Ric Wilson & Terrace Martin – Chicago Bae (ft. BJ the Chicago Kid)
Yves Tumor – Gospel for a New Century
Moses Sumney – Cut Me
Arlo Parks – Black Dog
Becky and the Birds – Wondering
SAULT – Monsters
Hayley Williams – Simmer
Grimes – Violence (Original Mix ft. i_o)
Charli XCX – forever
Magdalena Bay – How to Get Physical
Dua Lipa – Physical
Lady Gaga – Rain On Me (ft. Ariana Grande)
Rina Sawayama – XS
Locate S,1 – Even the Good Boys Are Bad
Empress Of – Love Is A Drug
Christine and the Queens – People, I’ve been sad
Jessie Ware – Spotlight
070 Shake – Guilty Conscience
sir Was – Deployed (ft. Little Dragon)
Flume – The Difference (ft. Toro y Moi)
Georgia – About Work the Dancefloor
Disclosure – ENERGY
Arca – KLK (ft. ROSALÍA)
India Jordan – For You
Kelly Lee Owens – Melt!
Park Hye Jin – Like this
Kate NV – Sayonara
Jessy Lanza – Lick in Heaven
Caribou – You and I
Tame Impala – It Might Be Time
Thundercat – Funny Thing
Destroyer – Cue Synthesizer
Lianne La Havas – Weird Fishes (Radiohead cover)
Blake Mills – Vanishing Twin
Bob Dylan – I Contain Multitudes
NNAMDI – Flowers to My Demons
Bonny Light Horseman – Deep In Love
Andy Shauf – Living Room
Jess Williamson – Wind On Tin
Squirrel Flower – Streetlight Blues
Frances Quinlan – Your Reply
Waxahatchee – Lilacs
Khruangbin & Leon Bridges – Texas Sun
Orville Peck – Summertime
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – What’ve I Done to Help
Trace Mountains – Lost in the Country
TOPS – I Feel Alive
MUNYA – Boca Chica
BENEE – Supalonely (Lownely)
V.V. Lightbody – Horse On Fire
Anna Burch – Not So Bad
girl in red – midnight love
mxmtoon – fever dream
Westerman – Confirmation (SSBD)
Dirty Projectors – Lose Your Love
U.S. Girls – Overtime
Fiona Apple – Cosmonauts
Sorry – Right Around the Clock
Kate Bollinger – A Couple Things
Faye Webster – In A Good Way
Jockstrap – Acid
The Fiery Furnaces – Down at the So and So on Somewhere
Cold Beaches – Problems and Heartache (I Got Them)
Dehd – Flood
Activity – Earth Angel
Winter – Say
Nation of Language – The Wall & I
Braids – Snow Angel
I Break Horses – I’ll Be the Death of You
Phoebe Bridgers – I Know the End
Tasha – But There’s Still the Moon
Tara Clerkin Trio – In the Room
Jackie Lynn – Dream St.
The Soft Pink Truth – We
Julianna Barwick – Inspirit