Our top 10 Mitski songs list presents ten of the best songs released by an indie rock singer and songwriter of Japanese American descent. Born in 1990, Mitski has established her career as one of the most reputable young singer-songwriters, renowned for her inscrutable and vulnerability-inspired releases. Unlike most musical artists whose break to mainstream success instigate massive lifestyle changes, the Japanese-American singer retains a private profile.
Mitski has shown tremendous growth in her career with each of her album releases. Her songs continue to showcase Mitski’s ability to pen monographs painted with symbolism. While most of her releases are ambient indie rock ballads, Mitski also features some punk rock, folk-rock, art pop, and folk-punk elements in some of her songs.
Mitski’s Career Beginnings and Breakthrough
The Japanese-American singer rose from a mere high school music enthusiast to a professional artist in a span of four years. While she was eighteen, Mitski was among her high school choir members. At age twenty-two, the singer incepted her professional career.
Mitski self-released two albums, Lush in 2012 and Retired from Sad, New Career in Business in 2013. The albums were her projects back at Purchase College of liberal arts. Her breakthrough in the music industry came after releasing her third LP, Bury Me at Makeout Creek. The album managed to chart on the Lithuanian Albums chart, peaking at number ninety. Some of the best songs from Bury Me at Makeout Creek include “First Love/Late Spring” and “Townie.”
Mitski’s Album Releases over the Years
As earlier mentioned, Mitski started her music career with the release of two self-released LPs, Lush and Retired from Sad, New Career in Business. Unfortunately, none of the albums created much attention to Mitski’s career. Nevertheless, Lush features some of the best Mitski songs, including “Liquid Smooth” and “Brand New City.” On the other side, Retired from Sad, New Career in Business is home to “Goodbye, My Danish Sweetheart” and the TikTok-popular hit “Strawberry Blond.”
Mitski received her big break in the music industry after the release of her third LP, Bury Me at Makeout Creek. Critics lauded the album for adding folk, punk rock, and guitar rock elements to Mitski’s usual indie rock sonic vibes. While her initial two LPs were self-released, Bury Me at Makeout Creek was released through Double Double Whammy. The record label was incepted in 2011 by former Purchase College students Mike Caridi and Dave Benton.
Mitski released her fourth studio album Puberty 2, in 2016. Puberty 2 is home to “Your Best American Girl” and “Happy,” which are some of the best Mitski songs. The album brought even more fame to Mitski, rising to the nineteenth spot on the Billboard Top Alternative Albums chart. Puberty 2 also rose to the fifth spot on the Billboard Heatseekers Albums chart. The album’s sound was mainly indie rock and punk rock.
In 2018, Mitski released her fifth studio album, Be the Cowboy. Be the Cowboy saw Mitski achieve her first album to rise to the Billboard 200. The album peaked at number fifty-two on the Billboard 200. Be the Cowboy features some of the top Mitski songs, including “Washing Machine Heart,” “Nobody,” “Geyser,” and “A Pearl.”
Mitski reached new heights with the release of her most recent sixth LP, Laurel Hell. Laurel Hell finds the singer adding some electro-rock and synth-pop elements to her usual indie rock sound. The album is home to some of Mitski’s musical gems such as “Working for the Knife,” and “The Only Heartbreaker.” Laurel Hill rose to the top of the Billboard Top Alternative Albums and Billboard Top Rock Albums chart. It also peaked at number five on the Billboard Hot 100, proving to be the best Mitski album release so far.
Mitski’s Other Musical Pursuits
During her solo musical career, Mitski has covered several songs from reputable artists. Some of the songs she has covered include “Fireproof” by One Direction, “I’m a Fool to Want You” by Frank Sinatra, and “Let’s Get Married” by Bleachers. Mitski has also collaborated with other artists in the release of music as a featured artist. Some of the songs she has featured on include “Susie Save Your Love” by Allie X and “Going Going Gone” by Lucy Dacus.
Mitski’s Accolades and Legacy
With her career just gaining momentum, Mitski doesn’t have many accolades to showcase. Nevertheless, her short career has seen her nominated for several awards so far. Mitski has been nominated in several categories in the Libera Awards. The nominations include Video of the Year for her song “Your Best American Girl,” Album of the Year for Be the Cowboy, and Music Video of the Year for “Nobody.”
Mitski’s songwriting skills have seen her regarded as 21st Century poet laureate of young adulthood by NPR. The singer was nominated for a Grammy Awards in the Best Recording Package category, credit to Be the Cowboy. However, she lost the awards to the 2017 LP Masseduction by St. Vincent.
Despite being thirty-one, Mitski’s career seems promising, with every album release bringing her closer to greater feats. Currently, Mitski has been regarded by music critics as one of the awe-inspiring young songwriters. Here are the top 10 Mitski songs you might wish to add to your indie rock playlist.
#10 – The Only Heartbreaker
Ushering us to the top 10 Mitski songs list is the captivating hit “The Only Heartbreaker.” The song is among the best Mitski songs from her most recent sixth LP, Laurel Hill, issued in 2022. Mitski collaborated with Dan Wilson in penning the lyrics to this ballad. Dan Wilson is a 2007 and 2012 Grammy Award-nominee and member of the American rock band Semisonic. Like most of the songs on the LP, “The Only Heartbreaker” alludes to relationship-related themes.
Singer Mitski revealed that this song alludes to taking the blame for the ruin of a relationship. However, the song is more than just taking the blame for mistakes. The singer believes that her mistakes are only visible since she is the only one trying to keep the love in the relationship afloat. The song marks Mitski’s first time co-writing a song with another artist.
#9 – Happy
“Happy” is a striking ballad by Mitski from her album Puberty 2. The song serves as the opening song to the LP. Mitski has been known to address the dark themes in our social life, including sadness. While the song title to our number nine track might allude to themes of happiness, the lyrics spell out something slightly different.
In this song, Mitski describes happiness as a significant other who promises his or her commitment. However, after making promises, the lover vanishes in the dark. Through the lyrics, Mitski is able to point towards the version of happiness in the eyes of a person whose relationship is sour.
#8 – First Love/Late Spring
Moving on to the number eight spot on our Mitski song list, we find the stirring track “First Love/Late Spring.” The song is one of the musical gems that helped Mitski break into mainstream success. “First Love/Late Spring” is featured on her third LP, Bury Me at Makeout Creek. The song’s sonic feel reminisces the ’90s indie-rock ballads.
“First Love/Late Spring” finds Mitski giving us her best lyrics with themes of innocence. The singer admitted to having experienced the vulnerability born out of falling in love for the first time. “First Love/Late Spring” has been sampled in the hit “Pretty” by Amai Gu.
#7 – A Pearl
“A Pearl” is one of the best Mitski songs renowned for its spectacular animation music accompanying video. The song is featured on Mitski’s fifth LP, Be the Cowboy. Its lyrics were penned by Mitski. The singer revealed that the song alludes to being in a toxic relationship for quite some time until the subject individual is conditioned to such relationship spaces.
Mitski compares the toxicity in the relationship to a pearl. The singer showcases how the subject lover doesn’t wish to have the topic addressed in the relationship, only fiddling with the issue like “A Pearl.” “A Pearl” is among the best Mitski songs reflective about the baggage of toxic love.
#6 – Working for the Knife
Number six on our top 10 Mitski songs list is the poignant track “Working for the Knife.” The song is among the musical gems from Mitski’s most recent LP, Laurel Hell. The song finds the singer crooning about being exasperated.
As described by Mitski, this feeling emanates from the social pressures and expectations bestowed on her. Mitski uses the term ‘knife’ to allude to feeling stabbed deep by the responsibilities among themes of oppression, mental illness, and aging. “Working for the Knife” marked Mitski’s return to her solo career after two years break. Mitski worked on collaborative hits with Lucy Dacus and Allie X during her break.
#5 – Goodbye, My Danish Sweetheart
Our fifth hit on the ten best Mitski songs list is the ballad “Goodbye, My Danish Sweetheart.” The song takes us back to Mitski’s sophomore self-released LP, Retired from Sad, New Career in Business. Lyrics to the song were penned by Mitski, featuring the themes of love, breakup, and friendship/relationship.
In this ballad, Mitski sings about feelings and emotions one experiences after going through a heartbreak. The singer revealed that heartbreaks from either a love relationship or basic friendship evoke mixed feelings. Goodbyes never feel any good, which can also be confirmed by Post Malone and the act Jagged Edge.
#4 – Liquid Smooth
“Liquid Smooth” takes us once more to Mitski’s career beginnings. The song is among the first releases by Mitski on her debut self-released LP Lush. “Liquid Smooth” finds Mitski singing about the beauty measures for young ladies. According to the lyrics, women are at their peak beauty during their early twenties. It’s probably one of the anthemic songs young ladies can sing along with in celebrating their beauty before age ushers them into new graces.
#3 – Nobody
Our third track introduces us to a disco-pop hit by Mitski, “Nobody.” The song is featured on Mitski’s LP Be the Cowboy. “Nobody” was issued after the singer had just concluded her Australia and Asia tour. In an interview, the singer revealed that she penned this dance-oriented track to address the themes of solitude.
However, amidst the hopelessness, the singer brings dancing as her primary go-to activity at such times. Both Mitski fans and critics have lauded the song for its infectious tune. Its melancholic lyrical delivery has been praised for offering the song some emotional touch.
#2 – Your Best American Girl
“Your Best American Girl” is one of the best Mitski songs from the LP Puberty 2. The song alludes to a love narrative about a twosome driven apart by its diversity. Mitski showcases the tumult experienced by lovers whose cultural diversity proves to obstruct their happiness.
Critics have lauded this three-minute ballad for incorporating pop-punk elements in Mitski’s usual indie rock vibes. “Your Best American Girl” was released at the perfect time, having it praised among releases that helped shape the culture, especially on perceptions about diversity.
#1 – Washing Machine Heart
Number one on our top 10 Mitski songs list is the stunning release “washing Machine Heart.” The song is a musical gem from Mitski’s LP Be the Cowboy. This upbeat song brings the best of the singer’s guitar-oriented releases. “Washing Machine Heart” brings the best of Mitski’s songwriting skills.
The song finds the singer reconnoitering the hyper nature of a character. Mitski revealed that the woman in the subject tries hard to practice self-control. However, the self-control she exercises feels a little unhealthy since it forces her to appear strong to the world, something she is far from. “Washing Machine Heart” was sampled in the hit “Elevator 2173” by Melody Lz.
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