Our skulls are smiling still. #PlagueSongs, no. 38 AND my Best of 2021 music playlist

Since They Might Be Giants Are my favorite band and have several songs suitable for the Corona Era, you’d think I would have performed one of their tunes for this series before now. But I haven’t. Here’s my “Happy New Year 2022” plague song – “By the Time You Get This,” from the band’s I Like Fun (2018).

So, I could offer an explanation of why I chose this song. I might talk about the humor in the late narrator’s misplaced optimism, or the layers of irony (since skin no longer covers their mouths, all skulls smile … which is not exactly a hopeful image), or delivering truth via sarcasm, or the stately, march-like tempo. But I think the reasons for choosing this song are fairly obvious. If you’d like to pursue that further, This Might Be a Wiki‘s page of interpretations is fun. And then there’s the video, with its hints of end times.

Not incidentally, another song suited to the Corona Era is “Let’s Get This Over With,” also from I Like Fun (2018).

If you’d like an introduction to the music of They Might Be Giants, I am only too happy to oblige. Here is my playlist TMBG: Filibuster Vigilantly, which offers a 90-minute introductory sampler.

If I had to pick one band to tell you something about my personality, that band would be They Might Be Giants. Stylistically versatile, lyrically inventive, and – 35 years after their remarkable debut – still writing and recording great songs. They also still have the capacity to surprise. I mean, who else writes a love song to a cephalophore? (A cephalophore is a beheaded saint, usually depicted – in statuary – carrying their own severed head. I learned that word because of They Might Be Giants’ “You Probably Get That a Lot.”)

Happy New Year! May 2022 be better than 2021! And, hey, while we’re at it, may 2022 be better than 1937!


As announced in the title of this blog post, here are my top 100 songs of 2021, presented in a thematic order (rather than in a ranked order). Did I miss any good ones from this year? Of course I did! I’m not a professional music critic. So, do feel free to offer corrections to my top 100 in the comments below.


What? You seek more music thematically connected to the Corona Era? Are you sure? The playlist below offers many tunes that (directly or tangentially) intersect with our current period (2020-????) of vaccinatin’ and nose-swabbin’. But do turn to the music that speaks to you most clearly.

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