Pack away those summer jams for another day: it’s officially fall time, and with the weather already turning a bit chilly and eateries trotting out their pumpkin-flavored treats, we all need to adjust our playlists accordingly. These 20 songs are season-appropriate in the best way, from fashion recommendations to a general sense of yearning; here’s hoping that the sounds of Taylor Swift, Drake, The National, Shawn Mendes, Benee and more will help prepare you for everything fall has to offer.
Check out this playlist of some of our fall favorites, the crisp autumn jams you deserve. Pop any of these gems into your personal playlists — or scroll to the end of the post for a custom playlist of all 20.
The Neighbourhood, “Sweater Weather”
The second it turns the slightest bit “co(awoh-awoh-awoh)ld,” we’re ready to bundle up in cozy layers and turn on “Sweater Weather.” The Neighbourhood’s biggest song to date — it peaked at No. 14 on the Hot 100 in 2013 — will forever feel like jumping into a beautifully crisp pile of leaves.
Mxmtoon, “Seasonal Depression”
The natural sequel to Girl in Red’s “Summer Depression” is, of course, Mxmtoon’s “Seasonal Depression.” On the deceptively upbeat track, the singer-songwriter gets real about the downsides of colder weather and a lack of sun on gray days — looking at you, November — but reminds us all that the sun will one day peek out again.
As autumn rolls around, Benee’s unofficial quarantine anthem is not only still relevant in its lyrical content, but brings that specific upbeat-yet-chill vibe we’re craving these days.
Fleet Foxes, “Can I Believe You”
“Can I Believe You” is a standout cut from Fleet Foxes’ surprise album Shore, which was released at 6:31 a.m. PT/9:31 a.m. ET on Sept. 22 to mark the autumnal equinox. (Is that not the most Fall Thing ever?) Best served with a mug of steaming chai.
Broken Bells, “October”
“October” by Broken Bells (producer Danger Mouse and The Shins’ James Mercer) is mostly not about October, though it does mention the “light of an Autumn moon.” That’s good enough for us, especially since the track also has a killer piano melody.
Cavetown, “Lemon Boy”
In the music video for his soothing and melodic breakout track “Lemon Boy,” Cavetown roams around a forest that clearly has dead leaves on the ground. That’s at least a 9 on the Autumn Rating scale.
She & Him, “Stay Awhile”
Fall is a time for reflection and nostalgia, both of which are perfectly conveyed by She & Him (Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward) on their cover of “Stay Awhile” by Dusty Springfield. In the dreamy video, Deschanel gracefully dances with an invisible partner before ending up in a sky full of clouds.
Grizzly Bear, “Two Weeks”
Victoria Legrand of Beach House lends vocals to the glorious folk-pop track “Two Weeks,” whose melody is as upbeat as its lyrics are morose. Even on the coldest days, don’t let that “routine malaise” win.
Wallows, “Drunk on Halloween”
While all of your Halloween parties are probably canceled this year, Wallows’ languid ballad about one particular heartbreak will remind you that Halloween is overrated anyway.
Nina Nesbitt, “Colder”
An underrated track from Nina Nesbitt, who made an album titled The Sun Will Come Up, The Seasons Will Change that rules no matter what time of year it is.
Taylor Swift, “Cardigan”
It was very generous of Taylor Swift to release her Folklore album in late July, thus giving us roughly two months to memorize the lyrics to “Cardigan” and dig out our favorite cardigans from the back of our closets, wrapping ourselves in warmth and memories.
Yo La Tengo, “Autumn Sweater”
Before there was Taylor Swift’s “Cardigan,” there was Yo La Tengo’s “Autumn Sweater,” a complicated love song that feels like the five-minute-long gust of refreshingly cold air. Cloak yourself in the beat patterns as the sun sets around 5:00 pm.
Drake, “Doing It Wrong”
A highlight from the back half of his 2011 opus Take Care, “Doing It Wrong” is one of Drake’s most blissfully emo moments and a full-on R&B breakup anthem: “So cry if you need to, but I can’t stay to watch you, that’s the wrong thing to do,” he croons. Even before Stevie Wonder enters with a harmonica outro, it’s clear that the sun has set on whatever summer romance Drake is singing about.
Shawn Mendes, “Stitches”
Shawn Mendes’ “Stitches” became his first U.S. radio hit in the fall of 2015, and the timing just felt right: the pop-rock kiss-off, all lonely guitar strums and attempts to recover from emotional hurt, is the sonic equivalent of buttoning up your jacket a little too high in order to protect yourself from the elements.
The National, “Mr. November”
A lot of the National’s discography is appropriate for autumn, but “Mr. November,” with its jittery energy and howled chorus, is an especially desperate attempt to find some warmth in a darker period. Sure, it’s sort of about John Kerry — but it’s also about a whole lot more.
Michael Kiwanuka, “Cold Little Heart”
Big Little Lies fans will recognize this as the show’s theme song, but Michael Kiwanuka’s “Cold Little Heart” fits the season just as much as it fits video of Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman driving in cars at the top of a prestige HBO drama. Grab your pumpkin spice latte, fire this one up and harmonize along in between sips.
Brian McKnight, “Anytime”
An undying sadboy slow jam, Brian McKnight’s “Anytime” captures the tedium of longing to a tee — it’s often not some grand injury, but a slow burn of unanswered questions as you wander pointlessly around the house. “Do I ever cross your mind, anytime?/Do you ever wake up reaching out for me?” McKnight asks; he could be addressing another person, or he could be missing summertime, reaching out in vain for warmer weather.
The Mountain Goats, “Get Lonely”
The Mountain Goats’ 2006 full-length Get Lonely is an all-time album of romantic loss, and its title track does not disappoint: John Darnielle sounds utterly defeated while trying to will himself out of an emotional stupor. It’s okay to lean into the disappointment that summer is over, sometimes!
The-Dream, “Wake Me When It’s Over”
Self-explanatory, right? The-Dream’s 1977 album under his real name, Terius Nash, features some more romantic strife and pointed bickering, although those exasperated sighs and the murmured titular phrase could certainly apply to missing a different type of heat.
Dido, “Thank You”
“My tea’s gone cold, I’m wondering why / I got out of bed at all,” Dido sings to open “Thank You.” Dido, your tea’s gone cold because it’s fall time, and yes, it’s totally fine to just stay in bed! We kid because we love: “Thank You” is a song about hope and gratitude, and even if the arrival of autumn is a slight bummer to some, you never know when “the best day of my life” might arrive.