I wanted to try something different for this Music Monday. I’ve been wanting to write about music for a while, but no song has inspired me enough to write a could hundred words on it. In any case, it was kind of a gray, cold, rainy, and all-around miserable weekend, and I needed something to cheer me up, so I started listening to some music to perk up my mood. I just kept going with songs until I decided to just make a playlist and share it, with some words about that. Maybe by just chipping in a few words about each one, I’ll feel more inspired. Either way, it’ll let me share music I love, which is always a plus.
1. Run Away With Me-Carly Rae Jepsen
From the opening notes, you know this is going to be something good. It’s the whole reason this is starting the playlist off. Fun fact: I have tried to sing along to both that riff and the chorus, despite the former not having words (also, I’m not sure that humans can produce something that sounds like that, but I’m not going to let that stop me from trying). It’s a shame this one didn’t get more airplay, because it’s about as perfect as you can make a pop song.
2. Little Secrets-Passion Pit
This might be my favorite song. I tend not to think about such things, because that title can change with my mood, but this one is always in the running. It’s what got me into Passion Pit years ago, all those synths stacking over a simple and infectious beat. This was probably the prototypical “Theo Song”. Nothing makes me happier than having it pop on unexpectedly, and I’m liable to start bouncing around like an idiot when it happens.
3. All of the People-Panama Wedding
I first heard this song when I was extremely stressed out, and I am enternally grateful for the friend who started playing it, because it cheered me up instantly. Panama Wedding is such a summery band, although maybe it’s just that that theme popped up repeatedly in their debut EP. Also, the opening riff reminds me of a marimba; relatedly, I firmly believe more songs should use marimbas/marimba sounds.
4. Little Games-The Colourist
The shortest song here, and it leaves me wanting it to just keep going on and on every time I listen to it. The Colourist is just all-around great, and you should go listen to the rest of their stuff (they’re super nice too, for what it’s worth; I’ve gotten to talk to them after shows before).
5. Freakin’ Me Out-The Mowgli’s
I’m trying to mix in new stuff and old favorites. The Mowgli’s have been great for a while now, and their newest song sounds like a perfect song for summer. I am always down for any song that includes male and female vocalists dueting, or large choruses of people doing sing-shouting audience-participation-type things.
6. Marquis Marq-Stepdad
Another newer one. This is the one that inspired me to make this playlist, otherwise I might have gone with this older number of theirs (this band is so much fun!). This new one of theirs is just so bouncy.
7. STREET FIGHT-Smallpools
This song isn’t actually capitalized, I just find it impossible to type any part of the chorus otherwise. The chorus is instantly memorable, and just cheesy enough that you don’t feel as silly singing it at the top of your lungs (I mean, all of these are great to sing along to, but this one especially). I have tested this. It’s just all-around uplifting, lyrically, sonically, everything-ly. The last time I saw them in concert, they were actually selling shirts with Bruce Lee on them in reference to this song.
8. Let’s Dance to Joy Division-The Wombats
The best way to describe this song is exceptionally cathartic. For the longest time, I thought it was supposed to be sarcastic, but I think that’s just a result of the singer’s aggressive British-ness. But after further investigation and listening, it’s just… actually exactly what it sounds like on the surface level, about going out and dancing to de-stress. I can sympathize with that.
9. I Belong in Your Arms-Chairlift
I’ve said before that this is the happiest song I know. I don’t know if I’m still that certain, but I would definitely keep it in the running. It’s a perfect love song. My keyboard that I’ve had for years has a setting that sounds like that synth that kicks in at the chorus. I remember my piano teacher and I used to make fun of it for being cheesy, but goddamn does it work here. There’s a time and a place for everything.
10. Empty Threat-CHVRCHES
Every Open Eye is in the running for my favorite album of last year. A lot of the early release songs were fantastic (“Leave a Trace”, “Every Open Eye”, etc.), but it’s always good to go through the rest album and find something you like. I feel like several times, every song I liked from an album was released from before, which makes the actual release itself feel less remarkable. Anyway, it makes me extra-happy for songs as fun to sing along to as “Empty Threat”.
11. Beware the Dog-The Griswolds
This is a case of me getting a song’s chorus stuck in my head the first time I heard it. I saw The Griswolds in concert last weekend, and they might have put on the second-most energetic show I’ve seen (nothing’s gonna top Matt and Kim there). The beat, the guitar riff, everything combines to feel like a song to dance or just bounce around to. Bonus: the title now reminds me of Undertale, so that’s another thing going for it.
12. Apollo-Magic Man
Magic Man was at that concert last weekend (as was Panama Wedding, actually; it was pretty great). Anyway, if “Little Secrets” is the prototypical “Theo Song”, “Apollo” might be the apotheosis of the form. Layers and layers of synths and vocals, lyrics about light and happiness, and everything else in it… it’s like they consulted me ahead of time on what I wanted in a song to cheer me up.
13. Dancing on Glass-St. Lucia
Second albums can be such a risky thing; sometimes, the artist just totally whiffs recapturing what made them so good. I don’t think a lead single has ever assuaged my fears on this matter as much as “Dancing on Glass” did when it came out last year, even more than “Leave a Trace” with CHVRCHES (which is saying something). Matter took everything that made When the Night magical and refined it, and it’s going to take a hell of a lot to unseat it as my favorite album from this year (so far).
14. Weekend-Neon Trees
This is what a song about the weekend should sound like, and makes it feel eternal in the process (I can’t explain the feelings it gives me any other way). It also sounds like an ‘80s throwback in all the best ways (even more so than some of the other songs here, this entire chunk of the playlist especially), and comes complete with it’s own horn section and sax solo to close it out. I don’t know what else you could want in a song.
15. Shut Up and Dance-WALK THE MOON
It’s easy to think of this song as overplayed. You might be sick of it, and while I can see that, I would like to point out that I was one of those people who got it the day it released two Septembers ago, and I’m still not sick of it (you wimp). Its popularity makes it easy to lose sight of how just how perfect a pop song it is. Try listening to it by itself some time, and just take the whole thing in part-by-part (and definitely listen to the rest of Walk the Moon’s stuff, if this is all you know them by, I love “Portugal” but couldn’t justify including it here).
16. Seeing Stars-BØRNS
BØRNS didn’t include this on his debut album. I have no idea why, as it’s his best song. I first heard this song at the tale end of an all-nighter, and I think it threw me into a state of shock. I remember subsequently sending it to several people (many of whom weren’t awake yet, and one of whom was my brother, who had originally recommended it to me), then listening to it several more times in a row. Another big, wonderfully unusual synth line anchoring the whole thing, which is such a shock at this point, am I right, since only about half this list shares that feature? Synths just make me really happy, I guess.