Through the Decades Playlist
Written by Viviana Zermeño on August 1, 2023
Recently, when I open my phone to stream music I find myself shying away from newer albums and singles. Why? Right now, popular media – and popular culture – is taking a look back and getting nostalgic. The Barbie movie takes us to the days when we played with dolls. The Jonas Brothers, Big Time Rush, and Zayn (formerly of One Direction) are active again. Movies and shows are getting reboots. Reflecting on the past has now infected my music listening. The upside? This rewind has highlighted some gems from each decade I believe need revisiting.
“That’s Life” – Aretha Franklin 
Maybe I chose this song because the lyrics fit the passage-of-time playlist theme, but the song is still a fantastic listen! Aretha Franklin gives another legendary emotional vocal performance, but with a natural drained-yet-resilient feel to her line delivery that enhances the message of the song. Everyone needs a song in their playlist that acknowledges the struggle to get through, but encourages you to keep going anyway.
Already at the instrumental intro, this rock tune will have you hooked. This song is the title track of the group’s fifth album. The storytelling in the vocals and fun instrumentation combine into a super groovy end product. You’ll find yourself listening to the lyrics of the chorus and “Keep on dancing”. The right kind of mood to start any day off. Plus, it’s always great to support a Mexican American/Indigenous group!
When this comes on you can’t help but visualize montages of neon lights, shopping malls, and night drives in the 80s. Truly embodies the best of what the Japanese City-pop genre has to offer with the smooth soundscape and hearty vocals. Its laid-back energy makes it easy to play in the background and chill out.
“Crush On You Remix” – Lil’ Kim 
This Hip Hop single featuring Lil’ Cease and The Notorious B.I.G is perfect to revisit no matter the year. Fresh and trendy, this song is sure to make you feel like a young hottie in the city. The fun synth and laid-back bars all create this effortlessly cool track. It embodies that distinct end-of-a-decade aesthetic.
“Rompe” – Daddy Yankee 
By no means is this song a hidden gem, but even for a hit, I’d call this early reggaeton single underrated. When you think of a club hit, this is exactly the vibe you want. Extremely danceable and energetic you cannot listen to this and not be in a party mood. Daddy Yankee also has fun with vocal delivery, making you understand how his career would take off following this era.
This playlist may lack connection by genre or decade, but each track represents the best of their era. As exciting as it is to look forward to new musical developments, it’s been equally as cathartic to be in this moment of reflection. If you’re looking for a place to begin your look back, make sure to check these out!