Play Button: Our January 2021 Playlist

While our first weeks into the year have been eventful — with the US getting a new president and the widespread pandemic showing no signs of slowing down — admittedly 2021 isn’t that different: we are still encouraged to limit social contact and practice safe distancing. For social butterflies, this probably needs some getting used to, now with more alone time on their hands.

So why not make your playlist a private space for you to retreat into? On this list, we have the latest sad-girl hits for you to sing along to, audiobooks dropping in 2021, and interesting podcasts that make us secretly judge or laugh beneath our masks as we commute to and from work. Just click on our playlist to tide yourselves through the beginning of another socially distanced year!


Driver’s License by Olivia Rodrigo

Olivia Rodrigo’s debut single was a surprising viral hit song to kick off 2021. In the span of just two weeks since its release, the indie power ballad has claimed the number 1 spot on the billboard 100 charts, easily beating out other tunes on the chart with more than twice the number of hot 100 points than her closest competitor.

Driver’s License tells the real-life story of a previous relationship between Olivia Rodrigo and her High School Musical: The Musical: The Series co-star Joshua Basset. The song’s lyrics illustrate her post-break-up journey, spent pining for her ex who has since moved on. Like a young Taylor Swift, the budding singer-songwriter pours emotion into her song, translating her heartbreak into catharsis. With such an amazing ability to tell a story through her music, we can certainly look forward to more melodic moments from Rodrigo.

Won’t You Come Around by Charlie Lim and Aisyah Aziz

A collaboration by local artists Charlie Lim and Aisyah Aziz, Won’t You Come Around is a bilingual song with lyrics written by the duo in both English and Malay. Lim praised his performing partner’s effortless expressive tone and phrasing as a stellar fit for the tune. The love song, he shares, is about understanding that true love is not something that can be found and is, instead, about what a couple builds together over time.

The bilingual single was released recently on the 21 January, and a music video for Won’t You Come Around will be released on 25 January at 9 p.m.


Frankly, My Dear: The Podcast

A podcast run by local podcaster Fariza, Frankly My Dear features weekly stories from women of various cultures and communities. Each podcast creates a discussion on topics that may even be controversial or sensitive, creating a safe space where women can share their honest opinions and hard-hitting stories on topics.

Fariza’s most recent podcast highlights the practice of female genital cutting (FGC) in Singapore, carried out on babies as young as a month old for religious or medical reasons. The interview engages members from End FGC Singapore in an interview to raise awareness about the detrimental effects of female genital cutting, and provide a safe space for survivors.

The channel features a new episode every Monday on Spotify.

Bending the Arc – Dive Studios Podcasts

Dive Studios is a content creation platform with various podcasts hosted by Korean-Americans and English-speaking K-pop stars. The channel creates daily video content rapidly and features a wide range of podcast shows. Our chosen highlight for January 2021 includes a bonus episode of the podcast I Think You’re Dope! which features Professor Jim Yong Kim, former president of the World Bank. He joins host and K-pop singer Eric Nam in a casual but directed conversation on how he is leading efforts to fight COVID-19 while tackling climate change and the infrastructure deficit in emerging markets. Dr Jim also discusses Bending the Arc, an acclaimed documentary on the global movement for health equity and justice which is available on Netflix. Check out the episode on Youtube, Apple podcast or Spotify.

Allegra Goodman reads A Challenge You Have Overcome

Published in the 18 January issue of The New Yorker, A Challenge You Have Overcome is a short story written by Allegra Goodman. The title of the short story illustrates the topic of a college application essay that Goodman’s protagonist Andrea discourages her students from writing about. However, when Andrea’s son is applying for college, he refuses her help on his essay, leaving Andrea and her husband, Steve to worry about his application to Brown University.

This podcast features Goodman narrating her own published short story, which can be found on The New Yorker website.

Audio Books

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas

From the author of the famous Black Lives Matter book, comes a prequel to The Hate U Give. Set 17 years before Starr’s story, Concrete Rose tells the story of Starr’s father, Maverick (Mav) Carter, a son of a former gang legend.

At seventeen, Mav takes care of his family the only way he knows how — by dealing for a gang called the King Lords. Mav thinks he has his life under control until he finds out that he’s a father. Suddenly, he has a baby, Seven, who depends on him for everything. For the sake of his baby, Mav decides to go straight. But try as he might, to leave his dope-slinging past behind, it is not easy to depart from a gang. And as heartbreaking losses occur, Mav has to navigate his own path and decide for himself what kind of man he wants to be.

The audiobook is available on Audible.

We Could Be Heroes by Mike Chen

To finish off the list, narrator Emily Woo Zeller brings Mike Chen’s fun twist on a superhero novel to life in this audiobook. Jamie and Zoe wake up one day without their memories, but with superpowers. With these powers, the two take very different paths as Jamie uses his powers to villainous effect, while Zoe’s idealism prompts her to moonlight as a vigilante. But when the two connect at a memory-loss support group, they become unlikely partners in pursuit to discover what really happened to them.

A fun and fast-paced novel that reinvents the idea of superheroism, pandemic author Mike Chen’s new story drops on 26 February. You can download the audiobook here.


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