Playlist 2023

This is my favourite post to write each year. If you search the topic “Playlist” on my blog, you’ll find 2019-2022 posts on this platform. The full lists are linked on the 2020 and 2021 year posts as well. I really struggled to narrow it down (as usual). This year’s theme is pretty clear, though, as a lot of these songs link to the struggle I’ve gone through to set out on my adventure to New Zealand. Since I make the rules, I stuck with last year’s twelve songs with a bonus track instead of trying to shave off anymore. I recommend the YouTube over Spotify listening option purely for the aerobics montage in the P!nk music video.

1. Try Everything by Shakira

This song is purely included for Julia. We cranked this up loud across America on our road trip last summer, and it captures the launch of this past year’s adventure. I did a whole lot of new things, and I took a bold chance, stepping out in faith pursuing a job on a new continent after this school year.

2. Angels by Owl City
Kandern is a weird place.

3. We Can Hurt Together by Sia
(This song is unavailable on Spotify.) I haven’t seen the movie this goes with, but the lyrics are incredibly powerful. I can say over and over again that not everything about my life ends up on the internet, but there are some hurts that have allowed me to empathise with those around me in ways I never expected. This song speaks to that gift.

4. Our Faces Fall Apart by Demon Hunter
I. Love. This. Song. There were a couple of options for this year’s Demon Hunter pick, and honestly, “Through the Black” might have had some better lyrics for this year, but it also has some more universal themes that I’m saving for the future. Each year gets harder and harder not to repeat a Demon Hunter or Superchic[k] song. So here we are with a song released nearly twenty years ago that high school Laura rocked out to constantly. Ugh. Just listen to this beautiful song and Ryan Clark screaming and singing all the emotions I struggle to express. Seriously. I. Freaking. Love. This. Song.

5. Fight Song by Rachel Platten
This one also owes a nod to Julia because it showed up in our road trip as we talked about life and living for Jesus. I’m not going down without a fight. I honestly didn’t know I was entering a lifelong career in ministry when I signed up for a two year commitment with TeachBeyond. Now, however, I find myself seconded as a youth pastor and the first TeachBeyond missionary in New Zealand building partnerships for educational ministry which excites me more than I can express. This song has great sound and lyrics – the words I love most are the whispered lines, “I might only have one match / but I can make an explosion” before the last chorus bursts out. I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me too, and I’m going to live my life on purpose to point people to Jesus. That tiny match can set a harvest ablaze.

6. Hallelujah Anyway by Rend Collective
I’d be lying if I said this past year didn’t have some lows. This song was an anthem in the lows to celebrate my God is bigger than my confusion. “I’d rather take a chance on hope than fall apart” really resonates with me on a soul level. I shout “EVEN IF” amid all the things I can’t answer or change; I’ll sing hallelujah anyway. “I hear a hymn of triumph in the wilderness of my lament” also hits deep.

7. How Far I’ll Go from the Moana soundtrack

Here’s our turn to look a head – the “Think destination” in my RAFT of transition, if you will. Because obviously everyone knows I’m obsessed with the Gospel themes embedded in Moana, and I’ve even had students embrace this quirk of my personality as they request the soundtrack for workdays or make Moana themed creative projects in my class. Everyone also knows how desperate I’ve been to get back to New Zealand since leaving. That island captured my heart in my nine months living there. “Every turn I take / every trail I track / every path I make / every road leads back” – except I can finally go. I’m so excited to see how far I’ll go in this next adventure God is leading me on.

8. Runaway by P!nk

I have the YouTube algorithm to thank for this gem, and the music video made me laugh too much not to find a place for it this year. While I’m not running away from anything here, the rest of the lyrics resonate with my feelings of going to someplace I know is much better for me. The hidden track here is “Dare You to Move” by Switchfoot which got bumped by this epic aerobics montage. I’m at the move place – what happens next? Welcome to the fallout / welcome to resistance…

9. Into the Unknown (Panic! At the Disco version) from the Frozen 2 soundtrack

I do my best to listen to the Holy Spirit, and Frozen 2 is one of the best introductions to listening to the Holy Spirit. (Didn’t see that coming, did you?) Following God’s prompting takes bravery, and Elsa’s conversation with the voice she hears calling her into the unknown is akin to my years of telling God I’m scared of certain next faith steps. My friend Eric quoted Frozen 2 in his commencement address to our graduates on Friday as well; he told us that sometimes the next right thing is to do the last thing God told you. Here I go. Again.

10. Here It Goes Again by OK Go

I mean, I’m not going to pass this song up. When was the last time you watched this ground breaking treadmill choreography video?

11. Home by Phillip Phillips

This is a first ever repeat on my playlists for a very special reason. This song shows up on my 2018 playlist with this explanation: Sappy expat song time. This was on my playlist when I moved overseas five years ago. I had no idea I was leaving a home for so long. I also had no idea how Germany would grow to have such a strong sense of home for me. I have no idea what’s in store in New Zealand. “If you get lost, you can always be found.” Here I am five years later returning to New Zealand knowing some of what’s in store; at the same time not knowing what this open ended move means for a lot of things. I do know that I’m leaving a home, and I’m returning home. (The Maccabeats “Home” medley is included on Spotify to make up for the missing Sia song and honestly because it could have easily been the chosen song if not for that perfect paragraph from five years ago to make the repeat special.)

12. So Bright by Superchic[k]

I’m writing the soundtrack for my life.

Bonus track: Yet to Come by BTS

No one is calling me the best like BTS, but I do love a lot of what this song says about how the best is yet to come. I’m so, so excited about what God is doing in this next chapter of my life.

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