Six tracks to not let slip by this January

Conan Gray wearing white and posing on a dark background.
Conan Gray’s melodic vocals and relatable lyrics on “Jigsaw” make it a must-listen-to song for January. (Photo courtesy of Brian Ziff)

The new year brings many things — one of them being new music from the artists we love. Despite not even being a month into 2022, everyone from Halsey to Mitski have fed us well with a plethora of tracks to satisfy our tastes. 

“People disappear here” – Halsey 

Freshly into 2022, American singer-songwriter Halsey kicked off the year by releasing an extended version of their album, “If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power.” With an original, one-of-a-kind film experience of the same name that is currently streaming on HBO Max, they have certainly cemented themselves as one of the most bold and innovative artists in pop music today.

Although the original album was released last August, this new edition features two additional tracks, titled “People disappear here” and “Nightmare – Reprise,” for a total of 16 songs. The former is hauntingly beautiful, juxtaposing a steady drumline with soft, lyrically intense vocals per Halsey’s unique, individualistic style. 

“Watercolor Eyes” (From “Euphoria” An HBO Max Original Series) – Lana Del Rey

Lana Del Rey’s delicate and sensitive, moody yet steady, and above all else — ethereal — new single appears on the soundtrack for critically-acclaimed television series “Euphoria”’s second season.

Similar to the artist’s other tracks, this song sounds wistful and reflective with lyrics such as “Your love stings like blood and a lemon / Why do you leave me with watercolor eyes?” I found the beat drop in the pre-chorus along with the lyrics to follow, “Young love don’t always last forever / Wild horses can’t keep us together,” to be especially captivating. Overall, the song’s unique and gentle sound makes it a worthwhile listen. 

“Jigsaw” – Conan Gray

Gen Z pop sensation Conan Gray rang in the year with a new solo titled “Jigsaw,” and the contrasting elements of the song fit together like a puzzle. Gray is no stranger to giving the audience something completely different, yet equally wonderful, with iconic previous tracks such as “Heather” and “Maniac.” This new release also follows a similar formula, mixing jarring metallic sounds and bright electric guitar for effective, seamless transitions. Gray makes it work, and that experimentation is what makes the three-minute song special. 

“Rhapsody – Wild: 7 Virtuoso Etudes After Gershwin: No. 4, Embraceable You” – Martin James Bartlett 

Whether you’re a genuine classical music admirer or just turn to it for background music while studying, British classical pianist Martin James Bartlett’s recording of Earl Wild’s “Virtuoso Etudes After Gershwin: No.4, Embraceable You,” written based on George Gershwin’s composition of the same name, is a must-not-miss piece. As the keys of the piano are pressed, one can feel the delicacy with which Bartlett plays. The recording’s smooth dynamic shifts and discernible harmonies make for a beautiful song. 

“It’s All Coming Back To Me Now” – Céline Dion

Yes, this list is meant to highlight more recent releases of music, and yes, Céline Dion’s rendition of the famous ballad (first recorded by girl group Pandora’s Box) was released in 1996, which would certainly classify it as not recent. However, this heart-wrenching ballad has once again become popularized due to TikTok, where content from talented covers to dramatic yet amusing reenactments of the chorus are bound to pop up within a few scrolls on your For You page.

This isn’t the first time that TikTok has revived a song for a new generation of listeners — rock song “Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)” released by Edison Lighthouse in 1970 has also picked up a new group of listeners thanks to the social media powerhouse. Countless oldies have been revived thanks to TikTok’s reach, which is certainly a positive aspect of the app’s popularity. If you didn’t get a chance to listen to “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now” in 1996, now is the time to give Dion’s powerful and breathtaking vocal range a listen or two. 

“Love Me More” – Mitski

The term “Laurel Hell” hails from the Southern Appalachians in the United States, referring to areas where laurel bushes grow into wide, dense thickets. It also happens to be the title of the upcoming sixth studio album scheduled for release on Feb. 4 by Japanese American indie rock musician Mitski.

Four singles from this upcoming album were released in early January, including “Love Me More,” “Heat Lightning,” “The Only Heartbreaker” and “Working for the Knife.” Each song sounds more precise and vulnerable than the last, so much so that I’ve found myself consistently increasing the volume while listening. Feeling the emotion in her voice, I have to keep checking the decibel count on my headphones to make sure that Mitski and I aren’t barreling toward eventual hearing damage. My personal favorite is “Heat Lightning,” but all four tracks are definitely worth a listen.