Words by Natelegé Whaley.
Winter is among us, and with that comes changes. With the cooler and shorter days, we take our leisure indoors. This leaves us with more alone time to reflect and feel our deepest emotions and thoughts, whether it be sadness, yearning, or contentment.
A study by psychologist Terry F. Pettijohn II in 2010 found that a group of college students preferred to listen to complex and serious music during the fall and winter months, versus more energetic and rhythmic sounds in the spring and summer.
Any music lover can attest that a dip in temperature can inspire them to slow it down sonically. Not that we retire the turn-up anthems completely, but there’s something about the gloomy, atmospheric, and tingling sounds that complement the drear outside so well – it feels cinematic and romantic. As we settle into cozy weather, we asked 11 music editors, curators, journalists, bloggers, DJs and more, to contribute to ILY’s #cozyweather playlist. The result was a mix of emo-rap, neo-soul, throwbacks, and modern R&B hits. Here’s what they chose and why.
“Moving On” by Lil Peep
Honorary Mention: “Liar” by Lil Peep
Lil Peep’s “Moving On” has been the soundtrack of my winter since I found a working rip of the Goth Angel Sinner EP in 2018. As one of Peep’s best songs, “Moving On” has everything I look for in moody, emo-rap: A little yelling, a little loathing, and a little playful imagery (“I’m kissing styrofoam”). When the sun goes down and the cold creeps in, this is my evocative jam. — Donna-Claire Chesman, Managing Editor of DJBooth
“Body,” by Summer Walker
Honorary Mention: “Nobody Else,” Summer Walker
“Body” evokes so many emotions, especially since I’m an R&B head. It’s a beautiful and intrinsically sexy song. I think the lyrics touch on being with someone for so long (could even be a fling) that knows your body and mind so well that it scares you. This song is one of my favorites on ‘Over It.’ “Nobody Else” is pretty much my favorite song on this album. It lays everything out – the urgency and impatience that comes with being in love and wanting it to last forever.
Songs like “Tonight,” “Body,” “Tonight,” “Off Of You,” “Me,” and “Nobody Else” further drives the point home that female artists in the R&B space are creating music for their sex-positive listeners that are also hopeless romantics like me. — Robyn Mowatt, Staff Writer at Okayplayer
“December” by IDK feat. Burna Boy
Honorary Mention: “Sky Priority” by Rod Wave
“December” is just beautiful and fully embodies what it feels like to long for and appreciate someone. IDK goes through the journey realizing you’re enamored and trying to take stock of your feelings, then giving in. Burna Boy is an excellent change of pace here. I like “Sky Priority” because it’s so dark and honest. Rod Wave expresses really painful stuff in such a clear and vulnerable way. A must listen. — Robby Seabrook III, Associate Editor at XXL
“Eyes to the Sky” by The Foreign Exchange
Honorary Mention: “Toronto” by Snoh Aalegra
The Foreign Exchange captures fall so well on this entire album, but this is certainly one of my faves. The whole vibe of the song feels like I’m walking around on fallen leaves. It’s wistful, yet still a bit romantic. And at under two minutes, it’s fleeting like fall tends to be these days. — Jackie Ross Turner, R&B Content Specialist
“What You Need” by The Weeknd
It’s always fascinated me how this song is really about hating when you sit and listen to it. It’s disguised as something that’s kind of slow and romantic. But I can’t stop listening to it, most likely because of the Aaliyah sample. — Trey Alston, Staff Writer for MTV News.
“Good Love” by Anita Baker
Honorary Mention: “Movie” by Tom Misch
The Anita record speaks of better treatment whether it comes from self or others. She projects that she wants to know what GOOD LOVE feels like. If that’s not a bar I don’t know what is. So you have her hypnotizing you with that voice and it comes in after this really insane beat that screams the 1980s, but could really fit in any era. The bassline is crazy. The melody is so seductive that you think the song is really about getting the good love she’s searching for until you hear those lyrics. The Tom Misch record speaks of better times but through the eyes of the one that got away. He projects all these beautiful moments and memories but internally as he’s wishing his former lover feels the same wherever she is. The song is really bare-bones and has this interesting skit in the beginning but it is an absolute fave. Emotions everywhere. — Dj Chubb E Swagg
“Exchange” by Bryson Tiller
I run back “Exchange” at least once a month at the exact time. It’s usually mid-month, on the weekend, when I’m contemplating about my love life and why I work too much and don’t make time to find #TheOne. Bryson Tiller’s lyrics in “Exchange” always hit me. The courtship, the sweet lyrics towards an ex he wants but can’t quite have anymore, and the overall feeling that he’s just hurt by reminiscing over a former love. “You got my soul.” I feel it, every time. — Eric Diep, Freelance hip-hop journalist
“Getting Late” by Syd
This song is hot off the presses, but I just want to climb inside of it. The pulsing of the beat combined with the gossamer quality of Syd’s voice makes it feel almost like a meditation. She’s never been a stranger to restraint, but this one is a masterclass in doing a whole lot with a little — a perfect late-night vibe. — Briana Younger, Music Editor at The New Yorker
“Hot Coffee Freestyle” by April + Vista
“Hot Coffee Freestyle” by April + Vista is my go-to song when I’m feeling down on myself. There’s a line at the beginning that says “Do you know that most souls would kill for what you own?” When I am feeling low, this song helps me get back on track. The song is about laying the past to rest and moving forward, and it helps me do just that. — Ryan C. Hamilton, Co-Founder of Music and Other Drugs.
“SoBeautiful” by Musiq Soulchild
Honorary Mention: “Co-Star” by Day26
When I hear the song, it reminds me of the video which I thought had the perfect fall vibe to it. As the weather gets colder, it brings me to a perfect idea of meeting a woman. It is a perfect R&B vibe without it being too sappy, but still leaving you relaxed, and chill. During the winter months, I tend to lean towards listening to a lot more R&B music especially in the morning as I go into work. “SoBeautiful” & “Co-Star” are two songs that feel like the perfect energy, as we all look to find the special someone to spend our cuffing season with. — Luis Mercado, Social Media/Editorial Coordinator at Hot 97
“Bourbon” by Gallant
Finding yourself after a traumatic event–like a toxic relationship or job–can leave you feeling like both a winner and a loser. When I listen to “Bourbon,” I’m reminded of the strength and yet the fears I had in breaking through my depression and newfound anxiety. The song isn’t one of freedom, but a reminder that we’re human in every sense of the word. We love, we fight, we get scared but most of all, we are healing after every L we take. Gallant’s voice is just so captivating and my heart heard it at the right time. The album dropped in April 2016, but I didn’t hear it sadly ’til the brutal winter nights in November 2016. — Desire Thompson, News Editor at VIBE.com