I turned 20 a few weeks ago and, damn, was it weird. There is something unsettling about turning another year older after you’ve spent the past six months doing absolutely nothing: Your special day literally becomes a chance to reflect on your wasted youth. It’s not all bad, though. You still have a cause for celebration, and—hey—you’ve made it this far! Here is a playlist that I hope will accurately reflect the highs and lows of celebrating your birthday in the middle of a pandemic. It should also serve as a reminder (since some people, unfortunately, need it) that your birthday is not an excuse to break social distancing guidelines.
1. “Don’t Cry, 2020” by COIN
This song is all about how birthdays can be extremely scary experiences. It’s a perfect representation of the heightened mix of emotions you may feel while celebrating your birthday in quarantine and, eerily enough, it was actually released in 2017. The lyrics, “It’s your party and you’re still in bed you won’t get dressed,” really remind me of how I’ve just been wearing pajamas day in and day out, no matter the occasion.
2. “Dancing on My Own” by Robyn
Even if you’re celebrating your birthday in a house full of people, there’s a good chance they aren’t necessarily the folks you would most want to spend your special day with, and that’s okay! Take the time and space you need to celebrate yourself with this modern classic of a party anthem.
3. “Birthday” by Disclosure, Kehlani, and Syd
This smooth track taps into the separation anxiety and overthinking that many have experienced during quarantine. Syd’s request, “Can I call you on your birthday? / Just to make sure that you’re okay,” serves as an important reminder to virtually keep in touch with your loved ones during this difficult time. Hopefully you’ll get some nice birthday phone calls!
4. “Fun Tonight” by Lady Gaga
Sonically, this track is a banger and perfect for dancing around your house. Lyrically, however, Gaga reveals her struggle to stay positive, even during moments that should be enjoyable. “Fun tonight” makes for a good party song while also speaking to some of the apprehension you may feel during your quarantined birthday.
5. “Ribs” by Lorde
Okay, time to cut the shit. This is the beginning of the crisis-mode portion of this playlist. After you come down from the thrill of “Fun Tonight,” you stare at your bedroom wall and the fear creeps in. When this happens, the only appropriate thing to do is listen to Lorde sing, “It feels so scary getting old,” in this slower, dreamy track.
6. “7 Years” by Lukas Graham
Another reflective song about the inevitable, yet sometimes cyclical, passage of time. What’s reassuring, though, is that this song reminds us that there’s so much more still in front of us, and that we shouldn’t just focus on what has been left behind.
7. “20 Something” by SZA
In this beautiful track (you are still staring at the wall, probably), SZA expresses her fears and desires as she navigates a volatile period in her life. Just embrace the angst for this one.
8. “Party for One” by Carly Rae Jepson
Crisis over: After the inevitable period of anxious dissociation that comes with such a strange occasion, this bop can prove essential in lightening the mood when you’re ready to come out of your funk. Also, no party playlist would be complete without an addition from Queen Carly. She reminds us that you can celebrate yourself, even if there aren’t many others around.
9. “Birthday” by Katy Perry
This catchy tune is all about cheerful vibes and celebration and sex, making it a welcome addition to this sometimes depressing playlist. It’s your birthday and it’s okay to be happy! Also the lyrics, “Make it like your birthday every day,” really ring true when you have essentially been reliving the same day since March.
10. “Me Party” by Amy Adams from The Muppets (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
This song was a cultural reset. It is arguably one of the most defining tracks of the past decade. Enjoy the immaculate vibes as you close out your first, and hopefully last, quarantine birthday.