Category Archives: Playlists

If I Could Dance, I’d Dance to This.

It was a exciting weekend. Friday night I went to see CHVRCHES at the Black Cat with Megan, WGTB’s outgoing Promotions Director. We danced for hours to the crisp, beautiful beats of the electro-pop trio whose hype is growing faster than Feminist Taylor Swift. On Saturday I went to the hip new Malmaison for the Fête de la Musique, then hit Georgetown bars with friends. And Yesterday I worked at my bakery job to earn some cash.

It would have been nice if any of those things had actually happened. Alas, I was confined to the couch all weekend, thanks to some increasingly mysterious ankle pain that’s been bringing me near tears for weeks. Luckily, I had the company of a fat orange cat and a number of wonderful friends who entertained me, fed me sweets, and prevented me from drinking that six-pack alone as I rubbed my legs with blocks of ice.

In all seriousness, save for my lower extremities, I feel completely fine, and I was content to obey the doctor’s orders to sit things out for a few days. But damn, am I mad about CHVRCHES. Even with my oft-elderly habits, I frequently need to, in the words of Ke$ha, “let the crazy out,” and this was my chance. To put it in perspective, my only outings since Saturday have been to CVS for more IcyHot, or to the doctor for x-rays. If I had known just how restless I would become, I would have tried to stick it out on Friday night, even if it meant wearing Danskos to a club and asking random people for piggyback rides.

So here I am, left with ants in my pants, the jitters, so much pent-up energy! What better use of my time than one of my favorite activities – crafting playlists? After examining my music library with a fine-toothed comb, I have compiled a list of the Top 5 Songs I Would Dance to If I Could. Hit me up if you want to do some Sit and Be Fit to these; I hear they have exercises for, well, everything.

1. The Pointer Sisters -“Jump (For My Love).” The way Prime Minister Hugh Grant dances to this song in Love Actually is the only acceptable way to do it. The subtle butt shake, the all-out stair descent – I can think of no better way to get that body movin’.

2. Beyoncé – “Countdown.” It should come as no surprise to anyone who has attended one of my social gatherings that I am always itching to dance to this. Though I can most frequently be found dancing to it with my beloved roommate around 1 AM as a homework break, it doubles as a fantastic all-purpose crowd-pleaser. Humble brag: in addition to being able to hit every note of the “Boioioioioioioy” vocal climb, I have also created a signature dance move to accompany said vocal climb. It is so popular that Ryan Gosling copied it and put it in some movie.

3. Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 – “Mais Que Nada.” Serg has been my main man since February. His tunes always make me want to dance, but since I don’t really have, you know, a sense of rhythm, I’ve settled on replicating what I see the two ladies doing in this video. It’s great! You don’t even have to move your feet!

4. Phoenix – “Sometimes in the Fall.” Speaking of not moving one’s feet, that was the one viable method for dancing at Sweetgreen’s Sweetlife Festival. I was able to rock out to the headliner, Phoenix, only after one of my radio forefathers helped me plant my feet firmly in the mudpit pictured below, the result of of a mid-afternoon monsoon. Had I not had my feet firmly anchored, I would have slipped and had to say goodbye to more than just my shoes (read: my dignity) that night . At any rate, footplanting dancing seems to be viable for those, like myself, who must remain in IcyHot ankle sleeves at all times, and it works especially well for music like Phoenix, whose sound is tight, refined, and easily complemented by hand gestures and aggressive headbanging.

5. The Argument – “No Way.” R.I.P., The Argument, the only quality musical act to ever emerge from my hometown.This song may be over a decade old, but the aesthetic goes for something even older, and it never fails to make me want to put on my monacle and bring out a cane as I sashay across the stage like Fred Astaire, or, you know, Mr. Peanut.

BONUS TRACK! If I make it in to my internship tomorrow, I will have no choice other than to politely say this to someone on the metro if I cannot get a seat.

This post will be cross-published on The Rotation, the blog of WGTB – Georgetown University Radio

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Metro Tracks: Single Tracking with MS MR

The idea for Metro Tracks started last summer when my iPod somehow shuffled a tiny fraction of my library into a blissful commuting mix. It reached aimlessly across genres and generated sonic perfection by combining bhangra, Sigur Ros, Bright Eyes, Keith Urban (?!?!), and lots more – it somehow all yinned and yanged, despite the weirdness.

This is NOT one of those playlists.

I’ve known about MS MR for a while, but for whatever reason, in the past 48 hours, I’ve listened to nothing of note other than their Secondhand Rapture (released May 14 on IAMSOUND). I don’t hate it.

The singer-producer duo is a futuristic Florence and the Machine with slightly less spook and a bit more sex. From vocals to music to presence, there’s the depth of Florence, but it’s all a bit more organic and less guarded. Below, there’s a list of the best songs from Secondhand Rapture. You’d be crazy not to check these out. (Go to Spotify for better audio quality on the YouTube songs.)

MS MR at Sweetlife 2013

MS MR at Sweetlife 2013

Head is Not My Home is the single track that launched this recent obsession. Its first verse seems fairly tame; if you aren’t listening on good headphones, you might miss the foreboding bass drum. Lizzy Plapinger’s talent really reveals itself for the first time in the chorus. The lyrics themselves, their percussive delivery, that faint “oh” paired with a well-placed boom of that cannonlike bass drum – it all makes for a truly epic chorus, one that shows itself even better in the final minute of the song, as Plapinger lets go of all inhibition and just belts. Delicate keyboards and perfectly placed backing vocals accompany the whole ride. It’s invigorating, exhausting, and 100% addictive.

“Hurricane” – MS MR’s first single

“Ash Tree Lane” – Slightly more low-key as a whole, but you won’t get away from a big, textured chorus.

Think of You has some lyrics that could have come from any angry 15-year-old’s diary. That doesn’t mean it’s not catchy as hell.

Salty Sweet – Handclaps, sliding vocals, minimalism. Irresistable.

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Run This Town: Maintaining Sanity Through 4/28/13

A week ago, I did something straight up wacky. Frugal little me paid over $100 to register for a half marathon at the end of April. I’m not even a runner. Yes, there was a stint last year when I’d drag myself along for a few miles every couple of days, but never once have I considered myself a runner. So when my friend Hillary and I realized that – for some reason – we both had it in our heads to run 13.1 miles next spring, it was more than a little bold to seal the deal and sign up.

I used to be convinced that I could run sans music and do well just with the sounds around me, but the past few weeks of even the most basic training have taught me otherwise. I cannot imagine how I would have made it to the Lincoln Memorial today without Michael Jackson and Beyonce. I would probably still be toddling around somewhere on the waterfront if I hadn’t danced on my own with Robyn or been reminded by Bruce that I was born to run. And god, don’t get me started on trying to do anything in Yates without my iPod.

I don’t think there’s any specific formula to crafting running playlists – some people like super upbeat stuff, while others go for a consistent tempo so their pace doesn’t get too out of hand. I just know it’s not the method in Runner’s World, which suggested that my mom buy Eminem (yes, she did heed their advice, and no, it did not end well). So with all formula, rhyme, reason, and shame thrown out, here is just a fraction of my personal solution to the running playlist problem, an excerpt from the 200+ song run this town.

The tracks might be somewhat out of order; 8tracks was having some upload problems tonight. Below I’ve added a few comments to songs that might leave some people wondering who in their right mind would run to them.

  • “Love on Top” – Beyoncé
  • “Follow Me” – Muse
  • “Raise Me Up (Mississippi South) – Lana Del Rey – Steady, chill tempo + alluring vocals.
  • “Can’t Hold Us” – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, feat. Ryan Dalton
  • “Only Girl (in the World)” – Rihanna
  • “Tupthumping” – Chumbawumba
  • “Dum Dum Mast Hai (remix)” – Band Baaja Baraat – A total outsider on this playlist, but it is so upbeat that it hardly matters that I can’t understand the words.
  • “Fade into Darkness” – Avicii
  • “We Found Love” – Rihanna feat. Calvin Harris
  • “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)” – Michael Jackson
  • “You Make My Dreams” – Hall & Oates
  • “What More Can I Say” – Jay-Z + DJ Danger Mouse
  • “All These Things That I’ve Done” – The Killers
  • “Buddy Holly” – Weezer
  • “Never Had Nobody Like You” – M. Ward feat. Zooey Deschanel – Simple, steady and cute.
  • “Serpents” – Sharon Van Etten – I might be crazy for putting this on here, but it’s kind of a cathartic listen when combined with running.
  • “Animal” – Ellie Goulding – The last minute of this song is too perfect for the end of a run.
  • “Foxy Lady” – Jimi Hendrix
  • “Get Myself Together” – Robyn
  • “Take Me Out” – Franz Ferdinand
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Catching Up – You Gotta Hear This.

It’s been awhile. And sadly, I don’t have nearly as much time as I need in order to write about all the music that deserves to be shared. I’ve sorted through my current faves, though. It’s all off the charts of the ol’ AMPlifiability scale, so brace yourselves for awesomeness.

From cloudfront.net.

1. ZZ Ward. We hosted this up-and-coming bluesy-pop gal at WGTB on Saturday. Many of us were apprehensive because she’s trying to make it mainstream, and that’s not how we really roll at WGTB. ZZ killed it though. The general consensus seems to be that her recorded music is overproduced and artificial and that her live performances are so authentic and rich. I think she’s still trying to figure out exactly what she wants her sound and her image to be, but she’s well on her way to becoming queen of a new kind of pop.

Songs you can’t miss: “Move Like U Stole It” (Yeah, I know. The “U”. But it’s been stuck in my head for the past 48 hours.); “Home”; “Til the Casket Drops”; “Put the Gun Down”

Image from silverdisc.com

2. Kronos Quartet. Yes, this is technically classical music, but don’t blow it off so fast. Probably the most famous string quartet in the world, these people are four of the most loved, hated, talented, and innovative musicians out there. The lineup of Kronos has changed numerous times over the years, but their specialty has always been contemporary classical music, often with international influences. Of their 43 studio albums, only a handful of which I’ve heard, my latest musical squeeze is Pieces of Africa. The album is as old as I am, but every time I listen to it, it sounds more fresh and invigorating and is just the coolest blending of genres. With compositions written for Kronos by several African composers, Pieces of Africa was controversial for its mission, but the music, to me, is a no-brainer in its grandeur, scale, and evocative sound. Listen for the percussiveness of the pieces, provided both by actual drums and by the strings.

Don’t miss: “Mai Nozipo (Mother Nozipo)” by Maraire; “Ekitundu Ekisooka (First Movement)” by Tamusuza (you can find it on Spotify); “White Man Sleeps #2” by Volans

3. Cover songs. I chose not to publish Friday’s column for the guide on here this week. I wrote about cover songs, but I think that’s a category that cannot be adequately addressed without some actual demonstration. So, take a chance and get right into it by listening. I’ve got an 8tracks mix of 25 covers ready for your ears. Apparently other 8tracks users are fans of it. I haven’t even publicized it, but judging from the number of likes, people are into Florence Welch covering Drake, Grizzly Bear taking on Hot Chip, and a whole bunch of songs from the 60s that you might not have known are covers.

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AMPlify Radio Playlist – November 1

For my radio show last Thursday, I decided to counter the possible lady-overload from the previous week with a male-dominated playlist. It was mostly folk and alt-country, but there was a pretty wide variety within that, along with some surprises.

As for why I chose to open with Sharon Van Etten, well, I just couldn’t help it. “All I Can” became my new favorite song of as of late after seeing her at the 9:30 Club on October 25.

Enjoy!

  1. Sharon Van Etten – “All I Can”
  2. U.S. Royalty – “Fool to Love (Like I Do)”
  3. Dr. Dog – “Lonesome”
  4. Ryan Adams – “Shakedown on 9th Street” (8tracks wouldn’t allow this track to be uploaded.)
  5. The Shins – “Girl on the Wing”
  6. Neil Young – “Out on the Weekend”
  7. Bright Eyes – “If the Brakeman Turns My Way”
  8. The Smiths – “Half a Person”
  9. Nick Waterhouse – “(If) You Want Trouble”
  10. The National – “Bloodbuzz Ohio”
  11. The Avett Brothers – “Paranoia in B-flat Major”
  12. Mumford & Sons – “Holland Road”
  13. The Temptations – “Under the Boardwalk”

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As a side note, thank you to whoever has been listening to my 8tracks mix called “Classy.” I had no idea it would get over 200 plays!

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