Album covers on a grey backgound

Tunes that kept The World spinning in 2020: A playlist

Music from artists featured on The World, suggestions from our team and anthems of 2020 — all on our end-of-year playlist.

The World

The World’s 2020 end-of-year playlist sounds a little different from those of previous years.

In addition to traditional picks from album recommendations, we have included songs from artists featured on the show, such as Ukrainian rapper Alyona Alyona, Colombian singer and songwriter Simon Mejia, and Grammy-nominated J.S. Ondara and Ranky Tanky

This year's playlist has some music suggestions from The World's newsroom staff as well. They pitched songs — new and old — that have helped them navigate the twists and turns of 2020. 

Digital editor Amanda Lichtenstein has listened to South African musician Nakhane’s song “New Brighton” on repeat. “Stuck at home, this is a song that makes you feel like you’re trucking through an expansive landscape — within,” Amanda said. “‘Never live in fear again/No, never again!’ is the refrain. Who doesn’t need that kind of message pumping through our hearts this year?”

The World's Mexico City-based correspondent Jorge Valencia suggested a few songs, including “Nena” by Yendry — alternative R&B from the Dominican Republic by way of Italy. 

The World’s host Marco Werman had some album suggestions: Ethiopian Jazz album "To Know Without Knowing" from Mulatu Astatke and Black Jesus Experience — the song "Mulatu" is on our 2020 playlist — and "Diaspora Kid" from Aditya Prakash Ensemble. Marco also recommends listening to the soundtrack from Hulu’s comedy-drama “Ramy,” starring comedian Ramy Youseff.

Studio director April Peavey also shared her 2020 album picks: The new Ólafur Arnalds album ‘some kind of peace,’ which she describes as meditative and transcendent. Also on April's list is electro-pop musical group Onipa’s debut album "We No Be Machine" that April says is “full of Afrofuturistic, electronic grooves.” (Onipa means "human" in Akan, the ancient language of the Ashanti people of Ghana.) And her go-to album for the summer was Céu's "APKÁ!"

The World’s studio engineer Mike Wilkins plays Plastic Bertrand's 1977 synth-pop/new-wave/pseudo-punk “Ça Plane Pour Moi” when he needs some extra motivation. “It is an old reliable to get me bouncing around,” Mike says. “I’ve been known to play it on occasion — and probably too loudly — in The World’s control room.” Go, Mike!

And we had to include 2020 anthems that were made famous during the coronavirus lockdowns — like "Stay Homa," a reggae-style song urging people to stay home that was posted on social media by a trio of Barcelona roommates on March 15, just one day after the Spanish government announced a state of emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic and imposed a lockdown. The group now calls itself Stay Homa.

And who can forget Ghana’s dancing pallbearers, whose moves were edited into coronavirus prevention messages with Vicetone & Tony Igy's "Astronomia"? Or modern pop songs reimagined with a medieval, "bardcore" twist? Or Eurovision contestants' covers of “Volcano Man," the song from a Eurovision spoof film? And “Ghen Cô Vy” — which means Jealous Coronavirus — a viral hit turned PSA by way of a TikTok dance challenge in Vietnam? You'll find all these songs on our playlist, which we have appropriately titled, “Tunes that kept The World spinning: 2020 edition.”

We want to include some of our listeners' music suggestions on the playlist.

Here is what you can do to suggest one song that kept your world spinning this year: Email with the song’s title and a short description of why it should be on the playlist. You can also message us wherever you follow us on social media — Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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