It was an ugly end to a strange year.

After claiming that nature was healing in the first quarter, society was planning for a mass reopening in the second quarter, and things had finally returned to musical normalcy in the third quarter, the world decided to use the fourth quarter as an opportunity to laugh obnoxiously in my naïve face.

City ordinances slapped mandates back on the front door of every store in town. Masks wrapped back around ears. Chances are a lot of people you know got sick, including you.

Sure, Adele stunned the world with her heartbreaking story of divorce on her new album 30. And yes, Taylor Swift put Jake Gyllenhaal back on Americas most wanted with her 10-minute rendition of “All To Well”. But aside from a few minor blips on pop culture’s radar, the world’s biggest musicians fell fairly quiet over the past three months.

That being said, a dormant pop scene only leaves the door open for new talent. After all, as cheesy as it might sound, new artists find a way to burn brighter when the artists we know and love fail to shine. Indie artist Georgia Maq is a prime example, as she used the opportunity to target some of those stars by singing about her hatred for the misogynist frat-boy way of life in her new single “Joe Rogan“. Other artists used creative sampling from big stars to propel themselves forward. Take Bktherula’s “IDK WHAT TO TELL YOU” for instance, which slows down Mac DeMarco’s spooky synth jam “On The Level” for a new hip-hop spin on an old alternative favorite. Lost songs like Radiohead’s “Follow Me Around” materialized decades after being recorded, unreleased, and nearly forgotten. Some big stars even lifted old stars up with them, such as Lady Gaga who joined Tony Bennett to pay homage to his legacy with their second and final big band cover album Love For Sale.

Clearly no matter how many times the world turns upside down, someone new has to keep emerging out on top. Take a deep dive into this new inverted world with the following playlist that contains 40 of my favorite songs released over the past three months. As always, the songs are in no particular order with a restriction of only one song per artist.