As the days get shorter and the temperature gets colder, we need some warmth and comfort wherever we can find it. One of the best places this cosiness can be felt is in music, and so I have chosen (with extreme difficulty) five of my favourite songs that I feel represent this warm feeling, to add to your ‘winter playlist’ this year.
1. ‘Lie Again’ – Giveon
Released on 29 April 2022, and acting as the second single of his debut studio album Give or Take, Giveon gifted us with a beautiful track about, you guessed it, lies. An interesting concept to run with, as the song’s overall message seems to encourage toxic, deceitful behaviour, yet Giveon spoke to Genius about how, quite simply:
“‘Lie Again’ is just a story of wanting information, getting the information, and then regretting that you have that information at all”.
In this case, for Giveon, he would prefer a lie than the reality of a harsh truth. This translates in the musicality of the song, seemingly dreamlike in production. It has a slow time signature of three beats per bar over the accepting lyrics “Too honest to me / This time it’s okay / To lie to my face”. The song’s G major key, along with Giveon’s smooth, soulful voice will force your head to start swaying, and the final fading harmonies will make you feel like you’re being lifted into the air as the song reaches its resolution.
2. ‘safety net’ (feat. Ty Dolla $ign) – Ariana Grande
This heavily R&B-inspired tune makes the list because of how masterfully the lyrics match the production. The song is about the fear of falling in love with no conceivable prospect for the future. Grande’s persistent beautiful harmonies on her sixth record Positions were not lost on this track, and Ty Dolla $ign’s ability to blend with Grande’s harmonies are the stand-out as to why this is my favourite track on the album. The idea of falling slowly is paired with the mid-tempo pace of this song, and as Grande sings:
“Trippin’ fallin’ with no safety net”, the melody falls with her, to paint this image of her falling in love with this strong awareness of her lack of control. It is a beautiful way of exploring a new perspective of freedom, the freedom of both Dolla $ign and Grande’s riffs work against this negative feeling of being out of control of their own emotions. The relatability of this song in its raw emotional content will certainly make it a stand out on your playlist.
3. ‘3 Boys’ – Omar Apollo
Beginning with an insatiably mesmerising guitar riff, this song was an immediate standout to me. Apollo has a beautiful falsetto tone, which he incorporates in this track, about an inability to release yourself from the grip of someone else, and your lingering feelings of love towards them. This song served Apollo as a single not attached to any album (yet). Released on 16 February 2023, it was his first time writing about love in a non-monogamous way, and perhaps revealed how truly attached he was to his partner.
The song begins slow, with the beat similar to Giveon’s ‘Lie Again’ – clearly a staple for a comforting song – yet it picks up just at the beginning of the chorus as Apollo sings:
“Three boys would work if I wasn’t so tethered to you”. The beat gets faster as his melody ascends, before a slower descent on “tethered to you”, to attach even more emotional weight to that raw, self-revelatory line. The sheer honesty, and the beauty of the guitar production in this song will stay in your head for days once you add it to your playlist.
4. ‘My Little Love’ – Adele
I don't even know where to begin with this song. Six minutes and 29 seconds long, this is the most soulful I have ever heard Adele sing, as she laments for the confusion and lostness of her son in between a dialogue between her and her child, now eleven-year-old Angelo Adkins. The beautiful honesty in both the melody and the conversations allow for this song to really delve deep into Adele’s personal life. Working with producer Greg Kurstin, they did an amazing job of adding great emotional significance to this song in particular, from her most recent album 30.
Midway through the song we get a recording of her being brought to tears as she frankly states “I just feel really lonely” and “frightened”. It is even more beautiful how Adele’s incredible harmonies in the melodic riff that carry throughout the song begin to blend into an orchestra of strings that complete the song for her. Singing this to a loved one, a child especially, is incredibly honest and upsettingly beautiful, and definitely makes you want to go and find someone you love and embrace them with the warmest hug, something we all need to do as the winter months approach.
5. ‘Nobody Gets Me’ – SZA
Being a personal favourite artist of mine, this had to make the list. As one of the most anticipated songs from her second studio album SOS, SZA capitalised on this by releasing a music video in all black-and-white on the release date of SOS, 9 December, 2022. This was quite apt, as the ballad-inspired song really makes you feel like you live in that black-and-white, melancholic music video. The guitar melody that stays consistent throughout the song makes it immediately feel stripped back from production, done quite poignantly by Benny Blanco and Carter Lang.
It all feels raw and honest: SZA singing about an ex who she alluded to being an ex-fiance of eleven years, and so in context, this song is extremely important to SZA and to her fans, myself included. It is the most ballad-inspired song I have heard of SZA before, written in G major again, as she alternates between her falsetto and alto voice in the chorus, claiming that: “[I] Only like myself when I’m with you / Nobody gets me, you do”.
Her incredible vibrato and floaty voice allows for a smooth transition between chorus and verse, adding the harmonies feels like you are being hugged, ironically in a song centred around the concept of loneliness.
With immense difficulty I managed to whittle it down to five songs, but these are the tracks which I believe should be added to all of your playlists this winter. They feel both warm and icy at the same time, with so much soul and comfort to make it through the colder months. I hope you enjoy them!