While Global Voices has always made room for art and audio-related pieces, this year we’ve taken our love of music to a whole new level! we launched Spotify and Youtube music playlists to make our articles more immersive and published the special Striking the False Notes cover that explored forbidden music from around the world. Some of our best stories have been about protest songs, queer performance, and the revitalization of traditional African sounds.
Now that we think about 2021, we wanted to highlight the special role music plays for our newsroom by featuring the best songs of the year from our writers. here is a Youtube and Spotify Playlist with 12 songs chosen by our writing community which best represented 2021. Find our explanations below.
Filip Noubel, Editorial Director:
To, čo nás spája (what connects us, in Slovak) – Živé Kvety
The group Živé Kvety is a predominantly female group from Slovakia that sings about social issues such as gender, discrimination, the Mafia, and performs often in Prague. The song To, čo nás spája – What binds us together, in Slovak – is about the strength found in unity against racism, human-centered, and embodies their spirit. There is also nostalgia in the Czech Republic among people over 40 for the days when Slovak was the other official language heard everywhere in the media, at work, on the streets. The band broke up this year, so it’s also a tribute to an amazing group of people. Some of them continue to occur separately.
Nevin Thompson, Social Media Manager:
Sweet and Lovely – Thelonious Monk (performed at Carnegie Hall in 1957 by the Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane)
I often listen to Thelonious Monk when I write, claiming that typing on a keyboard is like playing the piano. “Sweet and Lovely” is just a wonderful jazz standard and an iconic little piece of Americana. Monk’s performance is fun, empowering, and beautiful, and helps me cheer, energize, and put me in the writing zone. On top of that, this particular version includes John Coltrane. The performance on ‘Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall’ was lost for years and years until it was released in 2005, so every time I listen to it, even if it’s not ‘a new recording or a new release, I feel special. While humming, I have the energy to move forward in the writing or editing I’m working on.
Anna-Cat Brigida, editor:
Patria y Vida – Yotuel, Gente De Zona, Descemer Bueno, Maykel Osorbo and El Funky
This song is a Cuban protest song demanding freedom from the current government and from past tales of the Cuban revolution. The title of the song Patria y Vida (The Fatherland and the Life) is a play on the phrase Patria o Muerte (The Fatherland or Death) which was a common refrain of the revolution. It still gives me goosebumps every time I listen to it! The lyrics are so raw and speak of all the frustrations felt in Cuba, but also in so many parts of Latin America.
Mong Palatino, Editor-in-Chief for South East Asia:
Dancing permit – BTS
Because it’s my wife’s awakening, because it’s so popular in our home, in the Philippines, and even on the Internet. In addition, the song reflects the dominance of K-pop and has taught me to better understand the musical tastes and feelings of young people, including my children.
Giovana Fleck, editor:
Baby 95 – Liniker
This song represents one of the things that I missed the most in 2021: catching a loved one to dance “Coladinho” at a street party
Ameya Nagarajan, Associate Editor:
Jerusalema – Master KG ft. Nomcebo Zikode
This year I became part of a tight-knit group of friends and overcame blockages and difficulties together because we all live so close to each other. And one of the couples loves this song, and we play it every time we go out together, so the song fills me with happiness and friendship.
Tanya Lokot, Eastern European Editor:
Shum – Go_A
It was Ukraine’s entry into Eurovision. It’s great because it mixes Ukrainian folk themes and melodies with a modern twist, and it promotes Ukrainian culture and ethnic themes while showing that they are perfectly contemporary. See more here on the song’s themes and story.
Arzu Geybullayeva, Editor-in-Chief of South Caucasus and Turkey:
Felaket – Ejel
During the pandemic, I started adding dancing to my post workouts and this song was just a mood booster. I even remember posting a video of me dancing to the song.
Mohamed ElGohary, Lingua Manager:
I still have faith in you – Abba
A group on hiatus for forty years, the same beauty, the same simplicity and complexity. It brings the call to hope, faith, connectivity and solidarity. It’s a bit like telling GV after many years that “I still trust you”. Several songs from the album are also other favorites. Little Things is a great Christmas song.
Skye Hernandez, editor-in-chief of The Bridge:
Peaches – Justin Bieber ft. Daniel Caesar, Giveon
I never thought I would pick a Justin Bieber song as my favorite for a month, let alone a whole year, but I absolutely love this song. In a year when I couldn’t stand anything intense, be it music or movies, I would listen to a lot of pop songs, “afrobeats” and Latin dance music, but this song, so airy and carefree, made me feel happy every time I played it, and it got my pick. The combination of the voices of the two Canadians, Bieber and Daniel Caesar, and that of the melancholy Giveon, helped make this my favorite. It always takes me away from the whole Covid scene, which is what I needed. Enjoy!
Dércio Tsandzana, Lusophone Africa Editor
Shakira – Waka Waka (This time for Africa)
It is the representation of a people – the spirit of a continent.
Melissa Vida, Latin America Editor:
Chancha Via Circuito – La Victoria ft. Lido Pimienta & Manu Ranks
This song, by Colombian-Canadian singer Lido Pimienta, exudes joy, confidence and hope over marimba notes, while acknowledging that times can be tough at times. This song helps me connect with joy, my path in life, and Mother Earth when I’m feeling down.
In these times, we can connect through music to lift our spirits, live and do the work we do. Find her nice video on YouTube.