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Fiction

Play(the)List

Angelina Lee

June 10

Piece by Angelina Lee. Image titled “Dad in NYC” by Sarah Aldama. 

Introduction Hey there–it’s me! Your fifteen year old grandson! Yep–I knew you were expecting me. Dad told me you were the type. Anyways, I needed to do a project–any project–on one of my grandparents. Bingo. That would be you. And even though you passed before I turned three, I had a feeling about you. That feeling expanded exponentially when Dad showed me this file that turned up on his laptop. He said it was your playlist when ​ you ​ were fifteen. Crazy, right? Typed up from 2015. I didn’t even know you had computers back then! (By the way–I always thought it was cool you were born in 2000. You don’t even need math to calculate your age. I mean, d’ya know the struggle of having to subtract everything from 2053?) With some time on my hands during the off-season, I decided to take the time machine for a spin. I mean, collector’s VCR’s, tapes, and everything. (That is, until Dad told me you listened to music from your phone. Just so you know, Gramma, ​ major ​ letdown.) The “phases” are per groups of songs on your playlist. Okay. Here goes. Enjoy my unreasonably charming commentary.
Phase One You’ve got to be kidding me. Disney??!
Phase Two I liked it. Woodsy–airbent–lots of guitar and silver sounds. My favorite? Absolutely “Marching Bands of Manhattan.” By–what was it again? Death Cab for Cutie, I think. ​ And you should have put this one before the darn Disney love fest–
Phase Three Now this was neat. But this was loud. I was not expecting this from you, kindly dead Granny. I was almost asleep when I pressed play, and BOOM. (Literally, “Boom Clap” by Charli XCX.) Little bit of country, a dash of electronica? Gotta admit, I’m intrigued…
Phase Four This one was all–actually seriously like the band name too–Marina and the Diamonds. I’m not a cynical dude–only unbearably awesome–but I like clever biz. And vibes like “Power and Control”? Whew. Cool stuff.
Phase Five Okay, so this was a bit more like Phase Two. Lotsa mellow, but with Phase Four’s capacity for drama. Actually seriously liked “American Pie” by Don McLean (a shocker–I can’t handle too much patriotism in my music), and ended up searching it up, only to realize that it was a hit back in the 1970s. I mean, ​ whoa ​ ! Practically ancient times, my fair lady! Is there a secret identity I should be aware of?
Phase Six This was nice. Of course, it would’ve helped if I spoke a lick of French. About halfway through though, it took a completely different turn (breezy French countryside to–cue nuclear detonation, though not like the false alarm we had in 2058–serious urban street art). Still, there were also downers–not literal downers, I liked ’em, but they’re really sad. Serious ones that–alas–should move you to tears on a rainy day. Funny how people’s emotions can mirror the weather outside.
Phase Seven Hmmm. I bopped around to the first two songs, gravely lacking in the ability to speak ze lovely nasal French. Then, absolutely fell for “Drops of Jupiter” by Train. Is that what most early 21c music sounded like? Towards the end, it got super interesting. This very throaty Lorde lady, and something by The Script. And how come I’ve never heard any of these people before? (Alas, they probably turn in their graves as we speak.) Cause I…the music, I really ​ like their music…
Phase Eight Wait okay where does this ​ string ​
thing come from??!? Ahem?? I was waiting eight minutes for the French lady to start singing, and then got my ears pounded by a raging orchestra! No, an actual orchestra! You’re probably laughing your head off by now. I mean, the arpeggios mirrored my blood sugar on test days. Verdi?! La force of the…wait… LEMME
CHECK it’s the “La Forza Del Destino”?? I thought that was French! Asked Dad and he conveyed the physical embodiment of a question mark. Had no idea, and until I asked Mom, I also had no idea that you played the CELLO! CELLO? Freaking CELLO! By the way, how does Mom know that you play the cello and Dad apparently doesn’t??

Phase Ni​ Phase Eight Sorry. Forgot to finish! I liked these ones, but it took an eternity and a half to get my hands on a proper recording of “Dreaming” by Jasmine Thompson. Her voice gave me chills–like a ghost trapped inside her body. Liked it.
Phase Nine Another interesting mix. More Daniela Andrade, and some Ingrid Michaelson. Never heard of these people, but I gotta admit, I spent all of yesterday listening to this phase. Now why on earth was I born 53 years after you?
Phase Ten Okay, obviously you were a hippie. (A Czech hippie? Dad says you were completely Czech. That’s cool. Nowadays, everyone’s half and half something. Which is good and all. I mean. I am. Er, ethnically diverse, to be politically correct. Not that I was trying to be ​ not ​ political correct. Or…gaah. No way outta this. Anyways, did you know Mom’s mom was Hawaiian?) I was ready to start pondering my existence with “Eternal Sunshine” and “Listen to Your Heart.” Then, excuse me, ​ string quartet music ​ ? I mean…cool and all…I listened to it doing my trig homework. More Frenchie. Okay. Okay. And then, this one lady came on, Kina Grannis, and…whew. This guitarsy gutsy stuff is growing on me. And then, dear Gramma, you had to shake it up with HIP HOP?! What was it–by ‘Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment’?! I mean, Dad said you liked urban dance at one point. And where is my time machine again?!
Phase Eleven More…strings. Okaaaay. Then, more Lorde. Even if “Team” (either that one or “Buzzcut Season,” or..both) is making me wonder if you’re some kind of sociopath. Then–​ great ​ –even MORE strings. Okay, know you’re serenading a former trumpet player…

Phase Twelve YAY. Great stuff. A cover on this band (On Direction? Onto Direction? Wait. ​ One Direction. A-ha), and then Jasmine Thompson’s comeback! Woo-hoo! She has the ​ coolest voice. And aren’t these her own songs too, and not covers anymore? Almost how I would imagine your voice would be. Except at three years old, I was short of a few cognitive motors that would allow me superhuman memory. I know! And to think it’s already 2068. 

Phase Thirteen. Ugh. Someone in my Honors Rhetoric class asked me why I was listening to all these dead singers. Put me in a rotten mood all day. They have no idea. It’s not just the music. It’s like getting to know someone from the bottom up. More Daniela Andrade covers. Very honest stuff.
Phase Fourteen Another cool mix; I was ready to go all-out dance karaoke with “Stressed Out” by Twenty One Pilots. Cause you know what–this whole student loans problem does NOT go away. I’m already freaking out! Dad encourages I become some kind of a prodigal genius before I graduate high school so I can win all these scholarships and not have to pay for college. But at the moment, I don’t even know what I want to major in. At least someone–all twenty one of these pilots–understands. And…sigh…more strings. But at least they seem to be covers of pop songs. Vitamin String Quartet? More quartet! Whopee! Quartet! Some quartet for you, and you. String quartet for everyone!
Phase Fifteen Can you believe it’s been a month since I started this project? And it’s also is due in two days. Ya know, my unreasonably charming commentary. So I need to get my butt moving. This was probably my favorite phase yet. (Ohohoho, no string quartet here, eh?) Marina and the Diamonds–plus, hey, Coldplay? Featuring ooh, Beyoncé. That rhymes-ay. I’ve heard a little about Beyonce before this. She had this really good hit when I was ten–2063?–and I remember this–it was called “Timeless As Ever.” Ironies, man!
Phase Sixteen Is this really the last phase? Wow. After all this time. ALL RIGHT BRING IT IN, LET’S GET A GROUP HUG IN HERE–
I think this made sense. Your last phase? Did you turn sixteen here? Or did you get tired of typing up songs as your playlist continued to grow? This was the best part. Because, after an evolution of sound–friggin string quartet to some jammin’ pop, and then something-something-something French music–I feel like I got to know you. As creepy as that doesn’t sound…at all. But, thank you for that. I liked it. Your music is cool. And diverse. I respect that. When I really get thatta time machine up and running, maybe I’ll pay you a visit. We’ll chat then.

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