Playlist of the Month: Songs From Musicals We’ve Been In

Ah, the first breath of spring. In high schools across the nation, now is the time for students to work together to create something bigger than themselves, to forge new friendships and let their talents shine. Baseball season? Nah. Prom planning? Please. It’s high school musical season!

We spent the first years of our friendship hanging out in our high school’s auditorium during musical rehearsals. We had snacks from a special “junk food locker” (an abandoned locker that we stocked with bulk candy) and played Bullshit and Spoons with the young, pre-gay gay boys we were friends with. Before high school, we were both big fish in our respective theater ponds, and being in chorus and dance company roles just felt so wrong, but we were still happy to be involved in a show.

Even the songs still stick with you years later. In honor of those hardworking theater kids in Hell Week for Grease or Man Of La Mancha right now, here are some songs from musicals we’ve been in – songs we still get stuck in our head over a decade later.

Check out the entire playlist on Spotify!

Molly’s Picks

Feel So Near – Some Weird Play From My Childhood

When I was a kid, I was in this odd, somewhat avant garde youth theater company. I mean, of course I was. For a few years our plays were these adaptations of obscure folk tales with minimalist staging and costuming and kabuki-inspired makeup. A chorus of children sang this folksy tune by Dougie MacLean and what do you know, it sounds pretty good sung by a chorus of children. I’m including this as a nod to my weird childhood.

Oh What A Beautiful Morning – I Seriously Cannot Remember What Play This Was

Oh, cool, Oklahoma? Nope. Just some random play I was in that rather inexplicably included the song Oh What A Beautiful Morning. Again, it was a strange childhood, theater-wise.

The Boy Next Door – Meet Me In St. Louis

In eighth grade, a group of 10-15 local Catholic schools got together to put on a mega-musical. It was like an awkward plaid dream team, and I was thrilled to land in the principal cast. Because I’ve been the same person my whole life, you won’t be surprised to learn that it was the comic relief character, who was an Irish maid. But I had a solo and I was very pleased and honored to finally be in a play where I wasn’t wearing white pancake makeup and a black turtleneck.

I Can’t Be Bothered Now – Crazy For You

When I was a kid my sister had the cassette tape of the Crazy For You soundtrack, and I thought it was just about the best thing ever. [A note: during my sister’s high school tenure our school was putting on, like, Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. Rough.] I know the concept of compiling a bunch of Gershwin’s best tunes into a loosely conceived plot is probably, technically, bad, but our school put this on our junior year and years later, I can barely decide which song to include.

On The Street Where You Live – My Fair Lady

Senior year, we performed My Fair Lady and I learned that when it doesn’t involve Audrey Hepburn or Julie Andrews, I really don’t care for My Fair Lady. But we had fun with it – I remember sitting in English class singing Ascot Gavotte with extra-plummy accents because as seniors, and I guess as people, we just didn’t care. In true Lerner and Loewe fashion each number is catchier than the last,  but I’m including On The Street Where You Live because I remember my mom singing it when I was little, and in fourth grade I thought it was THE perfect song for my grade school crush. Yes, like so many theater kids before and after me, I was maybe just a little dramatic.

Traci’s Picks

Embraceable You – Crazy For You

Like Molly said, I could barely decide which song to include because every song was a classic. I legit changed my mind about which one to put on the list three times. Crazy For You was the first time I was really exposed to music of this era – that I actually paid attention to. Lo and behold, I took a liking to it. Since the musical is a bunch of Gershwin songs put together, this one is from Girl Crazy, as seen here by Judy Garland and a bunch of strapping young men. Swoonworthy.

Something Good – The Sound of Music

Okay, I’m cheating a bit. This song wasn’t included in the OG Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, which is the version I was in, but rather was added for the film that we all know and love. After the movie, however, this song was included in some revivals of the show so it counts. The version by Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer is stunning and simple, like a reflection of their love *awwww cheesy stfu*

Close Every Door – Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Like Molly said, we were “big fish” in our respective little ponds, and for me, that pond was my church. We used to put on full musical productions (and were kind of really good and well known for it in the immediate community?) so it’s not like me in a basement naming all the colors of Joseph’s coat. Anyways, this show marked my first “big” role – I was a Narrator. Emphasis on A, because I was one of 6 HAHAHA. When I would listen to Donny Osmond’s version of the soundtrack, I was obsessed with Close Every Door, particularly the last 45ish seconds when he does the key change and the riffs at the end – changed my life. Also, that’s when I retroactively developed a crush on Donny Osmond way past his prime. IDK you guys, I was a weird kid.

I Don’t Need Anything But You – Annie

Annie is like a rite of passage for any theatre kid, including this AZN one right here. I obviously wasn’t Annie, and by the time I did the show, I was too old to be an orphan, so I was a servant/the “Star-to-Be” aka the solo in NYC aka the part OG Annie Andrea McArdle plays in the Audra McDonald verz of Annie. This song always struck me as a super sweet tune between Annie and Daddy Warbucks, and was just filled with positivity about the future. She’ll learn soon enough.

Beautiful City – Godspell

Again, I guess this is cheating a bit, since Beautiful City wasn’t included in the original 1971 Off-Broadway cast recording, which is the soundtrack we went by when my church did the show. It was the first real musical I was ever in, and I’m kinda sad that this song wasn’t included. The song was written for the 1972 film, starring Victor Garber as the big JC, and the version above is from the 2011 Broadway revival starring Hunter Parrish as Jesus. When I first heard this, it was probably a mix of me not being too familiar with it and the fact that I was stunned by how beautiful Hunter’s voice is. It’s a haunting song that still holds up in 2015. Fun fact: My friends walked down the aisle to this song. Not creepy, really cute and made me cry.

Playlist of the Month: Beat the Winter Blahs

After months of snow and cold, are you struggling to shake a case of the winter blahs? Well, consider the blahs beaten – today is the first day of Spring! In honor of the change of seasons, we decided to create a playlist for sunny days and warmer temperatures.

Okay, that isn’t entirely true. During our blog planning meeting – months ago, might I add – we never really came up with a playlist theme for March. We came up with a date – the first day of Spring – and I guess must have slapped “beat the winter blahs” down as a title, but neither of us can remember why. Seriously. We have no clue what we meant by it. Like, why did we put “winter” in the title, when winter is officially over? But that’s our playlist title and we’re sticking to it, so, um… here are ten songs. Happy spring?

{Enjoy the whole playlist on Spotify!}

Molly’s Picks

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Theme Song

In case you’re late to the game, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is pure, tv sunshine. And by the time you’re three episodes in, you will not be able to get the theme song – a play on those autotune-remixed news reports – out of your head. Besides, after emerging from months of brutal winter, doesn’t it almost feel like the Greek Chorus should be proclaiming “they alive, dammit! It’s a miracle?”

All Star – the Kidz Bop Kidz

Remember in the late 90s and early 2000s, every time a commercial or movie trailer wanted to evoke “summertime fun” they’d use the song All Star by Smashmouth? It is like the musical version of a waterpark ad. So here, here it is. And to make it even worse, I’m giving you the Kidz Bop version, because why the hell not. [Feel free to substitute Sugar Ray’s I Just Wanna Fly. It’s the same thing.]

Springtime For Hitler – The Producers

It says Spring. What else do you people want?

Rockin’ Robin – Bobby Day

Spring. Robins. Yes? Yes. This is what happens when we choose nebulous playlist themes. Tweet tweet tweet, y’all.

Sunshine Day by The Brady Bunch Kids

Okay, in our modern age warm-weather songs are all like “it’s so warm, I need to take off all of my clothes. Let’s rhyme party with Bacardi, etc.” But in the early 70s, when the temps started heating up, people were all “groovy, let’s listen to some children sing about taking a walk.” On second thought, that’s probably less because it was a more innocent time and more because people used the scary kinds of drugs that will break your brain.

Traci’s Picks

Steal My Sunshine by Len

Fun fact: Len is Canadian. And I thought that was cool. 90% sure I loved this song so much in 1999 that I bought the CD single. What happened to Len, BTW? Just one peppy spring/summer single and they’re gone? Or did they become famous in Canada?

I Really Like You by Carly Rae Jepsen

Whatever. I like this song. It makes me happy and also, Tom Hanks.

Drip Drop by Yazz and Serayah McNeill (from the Empire soundtrack)

GUYS EMPIRE THO. DRIP DROP LIKE SPRINGTIME SHOWERS, BUT ALSO, HAKEEM. (#TeamJamal. #TeamCookie. #TeamPORSHA)

Beautiful Day by U2

Let U2 tell you what kind of day it is. They already control your iTunes purchases.

Totally Fucked from Spring Awakening

Because, spring. Also baby Lea Michele and Jonathan Groff. Gosh, I love this musical. Not exactly a happy springtime show, but at least this song is upbeat!

Playlist of the Month: Songs by 2015 Grammy Nominees

The Grammy Awards are this Sunday, and the nominees always remind me how much music I’m not listening to. There are whole categories – chamber music, regional roots, children’s  – that I can honestly say I haven’t played once in the past 12 months. Neither of us is concerned with what music is supposed to be highbrow or cool, which is probably why you won’t see anything from the more esoteric categories. We just like what we like. Here’s what we liked from the 2015 Grammy nominees:

Molly’s Picks

Jackie And Wilson by Hozier {Song Of The Year}

I have a rule that if there are more than three songs I want to download from an album, I just buy the whole thing. That was the case with Hozier’s self-titled debut. We all know Take Me To Church, the song for which he was nominated and the Top 40 constant for the past 3 months. But this is an album with, like, 10 standout tracks. It was hard to pick just one, but it felt right to introduce everyone to one of Hozier’s more uptempo tunes.

Bed Peace by Jhene Aiko ft. Childish Gambino {Best Urban Contemporary Album}

If you can watch this video without wishing that Donald Glover and Jhene Aiko would just be a couple already, I can’t relate. As someone who listens to a lot of … um… urban contemporary? music, Sail Out is really refreshing because it’s sort of floaty and beachy in addition to the typical rap solos and R&B beats.

Seriously. Does anyone still say “urban music” though?

Afterlife by Arcade Fire {Best Alternative Music Album}

Also, does anyone still say “alternative music?”

Usually I listen to Arcade Fire when I feel like revisiting 2005 (see also: Bright Eyes, Motion City Soundtrack). While Reflektor still sounds like Arcade Fire, they’ve definitely moved further into the synth-y, electronic, dancey direction.

Bad Blood by Bastille {Best New Artist}

It always feels like the Grammys use some fuzzy math for what’s a “new” artist. So, yeah, Bastille’s been around for a minute. I’ve been watching Twin Peaks so I had to pick the song named after pretty, dead Laura Palmer, even though this one sounds sort of surprisingly Phil Collins-y.

Severed Crossed Fingers by St. Vincent {Best Alternative Music Album}

I’ll admit it. This is my least favorite St. Vincent album. But it’s still really good, and I’m always in favor of artists trying new things instead of spitting out what they think their audience wants.

Traci’s Picks

3005 by Childish Gambino {Best Rap Performance}

Being a fan of Community, I was an early adapter to Childish Gambino. I saw him live in 2010, and as he became more popular over the past few years, the venues started getting bigger and, for some reason, the audience kept getting younger. Anyways, I was a hardcore Gambino Girl back in the day and am particularly partial to his earlier stuff. His Grammy-nominated album (!) because the internet was clearly an evolution of his sound, and although it was good, I just personally liked the tracks off Camp and his EP better (Kauai is really good too, tho). But one song I couldn’t (and still can’t) stop playing is 3005, which is reminiscent of that early sound I loved. A fun thing to do is listen to it on your car and when the beat kicks in on the chorus, turn the volume way up and then immediately turn it back down because you are old now.

New Flame by Chris Brown featuring Usher & Rick Ross {Best R&B Performance}

UGH CHRIS BROWN. STOP MAKING MUSIC I LIKE, BECAUSE YOU ARE LIT’RALLY THE WORST. But hi Usher. UGH CHRIS BROWn,.

Rather Be by Clean Bandit featuring Jess Glynne {Best Dance Recording}

I was in the unique position of reading about how this song was burning up the UK charts prior to actually hearing it. I decided to see what all the fuss was about, and immediately got addicted to it, and now am a fan of both Clean Bandit and Jess Glynne. Her voice is perfectly suited for Clean Bandit’s sound, and vice versa.

Something in the Water by Carrie Underwood {Best Country Solo Performance}

I’ve mentioned on this blog before that I’m particular to Carrie Underwood, specifically that hearing her sing usually makes me cry. This song is no different. It was a track she released in conjunction with her greatest hits album, and like a couple of her other songs, it’s classified under the Christian genre, and she even samples Amazing Grace towards the end. That song is so traditional that it can be overplayed and overused, but Carrie makes it sound brand new and makes you feel something within, no matter what you believe.

Day Drinking by Little Big Town {Best Country Duo/Group Performance}

So it’s February, and there may or may not be a blizzard going on outside your home right now, but if you want to feel like it’s summer and you’re throwing back a few margs or beers or alcohol of your choice, just listen to this song.

Honorable Mentions:

Bound 2 by Kanye West featuring Charlie Wilson {Best Rap/Sung Performance}, Ain’t It Fun by Paramore {Best Rock Song}, Automatic by Miranda Lambert {Best Country Song}

Playlist of the Month: Songs from 2014 That Need To Stay In 2014

We know that every new year is a fresh beginning. As about 5 people’s Facebook posts reminded us last week, January 1 is just page one, and we have 365 pages to go (except I guess on a Leap Year?). But life isn’t a book, friends. It’s a Top 40 radio station, because on January 1 it does not wipe itself clean and reboot with all new content. It’s playing the same old tired songs that it was on December 31. Extended metaphors aside, here are the tunes from 2014 that we wish REAL radio stations would have let stay in 2014.

Traci’s Picks

Habits (Stay High) – Tove Lo

Possibly controversial opinion? Call me a prude, but I just cannot stand the lyrics to this song, which I guess is unusual because I’m a fan of a lot of songs that involve drugs and sex and the ilk. Maybe it’s because she’s admitting that she has to stay high on drugs in order to avoid her real life problems and then brags about about it, in a seemingly immature way, which is even more annoying. Perhaps it’s my old age but it’s like, ugh, just get your shit together.

Paranoid – Ty Dolla $ign

Again, it’s not that I’m totally opposed to songs like this which talk about dudes sexin’ women, but this song is such blatant infidelity. He’s basically all, ‘I’m at a club and two of my side chicks are there, and I know they know each other exists, so this is all probably just a ploy to blow up my spot. Or maybe I’m just making this whole thing up because I’m paranoid.’ Here’s a way to help your paranoia – don’t go cheating on your girl. #ByeFelicia

Rude – Magic!

You know what would be really rude? If this song continued to play throughout 2015.

Anaconda – Nicki Minaj

I understand that Baby Got Back is a classic 80s rap song, which exactly why it shouldn’t be used in a sample for one of Nicki Minaj’s songs merely 22 years later. Plus I just find this song annoying.

#SELFIE – The Chainsmokers

I feel like this is self explanatory. Also, any song that involves a hashtag in its name should automatically be banned.

Molly’s Picks

All About That Bass – Meghan Trainor

It’s like the Top 40 version of a Dove ad. It’s fine to like this song – so catchy! – but ultimately anything that panders to your insecurities by telling you that “we’re all beautiful” is still telling you that it’s important to be beautiful. A song that says “guys like you more if you aren’t skinny!” is still saying that it’s their approval that matters. Cute video though.

Timber – Pitbull feat. Kesha


You know those songs that, the first time you hear them, you feel like you’ve heard it a hundred times before? That’s Timber. And I don’t think the turn of phrase with “going down” and “timber” is half as clever as they think it is.

Hey Brother – AVICII

Is it a shootout at high noon in a Tarantino-ish or Luhrman-y movie, set in the Old West but with a modern soundtrack? If not, then this song has no place.

A Sky Full Of Stars by Coldplay


When I imagine all the earnest 19-year-old boys with acoustic guitars singing this in dorm lounges, I really feel for today’s college students. Of course, us ladies in our late 20s had to contend with earnest Coldplaying during our coed days, too. When I was in college we still had AIM profiles, and this guy I was seeing had, first of all, pointed yet still vague Coldplay lyrics in his profile (what was I thinking?) and they were directed at his ex-girlfriend. And the lyrics were from Fix You. It’s so great to be a grown up now, guys.

Wiggle – Jason Derulo feat. Snoop Dog


Don’t try this at home, boys. “This” being interrogating someone about how she shoehorns her butt into her jeans. Also the answer is probably either Spanx or “actually, they’re jeggings.”

Playlist of the Month: Birthday Dance Party For Poehler

Today is one of our favorite days of the entire year, and I know what you’re thinking – yet another post dedicated to National Stepfamily Day. Well we’re here to shake things up a bit because today we get to celebrate the birthday of, essentially, the patron saint of this blog, Amy Meredith Poehler.

Amy is everything we could ever want in a person with high celebrity status – gorgeous, hilarious, charming, talented, philanthropic, and an inspiration to us all.

So in honor of the most beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk ox on the day of her birth, we’ve compiled a collection of songs by Poehler or remind us of her infectiously bright aura. And we’re going to do it up just like Smart Girls at the Party videos end – with a dance party!

PS: Shoutout to Eileen and William Poehler for bringing this ray of sunshine into the world.

Molly’s Picks

Sarah Palin Rap: Amy Poehler feat. Eskimos

It’s hard to believe that Amy could gestate a healthy human child while nursing such sick rhymes. However, everybody knows that exceptionally pregnant women make the best rappers. From M.I.A. at the 2009 Grammys, to Amy right here, when a lady is super-pregnant it seems like anything could fly out of her at any time — be it a baby or an iconic rap performance.

Shake It Off – Taylor Swift

Who, us throw shade? Nah. T.Swizzle may have had a hard time understanding that Amy and Tina Fey made jokes about her … during an awards show when they were being paid to make jokes about people … but you know what? I bet she’s shaken off all those hard feelings by now. I like to think that there are special places in hell for both of them.

Back To School: A freestyle rap battle from Comedy Bang Bang, featuring Amy Poehler, Adam Pally, and Scott Aukerman

It’s no mistake that we’re both including Amy Poehler’s signature freestyle raps on the list. I first heard this ditty on a Comedy Bang Bang podcast when I was out running jogging walking in workout clothes, and I swear I replayed it three times – which was hard, because I was exercising so hard  also eating a soft pretzel.

Five Foot Two Eyes Of Blue – Guy Lombardo & Kenny Gardner

Did you know that seeing a smiley face on paper makes you happier? It’s true! That’s why waiters leave smiley faces at the end of the bill sometimes – so you cheer up and pay up. Did you know that dancing around like you’re from the 1920s with fake Charleston moves is also proven to make you happier? Okay, proven by me. But still, if you make every dance party a Gatsby dance party, you’ll feel downright sunny.

If you’re 5’2 and have blue eyes, chances are at some point a very old person has sang the “Five Foot Two Eyes Of Blue” song at you. If somehow Amy Poehler has survived 43 years without that happening, we’re here to change that. Other than that part the song doesn’t really apply to her, as it is a missing persons report for a flapper. That’s how they had to find missing ladies before Nancy Grace.

Protect Ya Neck – Wu Tang Clan

Did you know that RZA from the Wu-Tang Clan almost snagged the role of Leslie Knope? Although it didn’t exactly pan out that way, ?uestlove does have a point: Parks and Recreation is the Wu-Tang Clan of the sitcom world, which I’m pretty sure makes Amy Poehler the RZA of her show. Or ODB, maybe. This particular song isn’t necessarily Poehler-specific, but if we’re talking about Wu we have to include the best song from their best album. Maybe don’t listen if you’re sensitive about swearing, violence, or name-dropping the 90s mall brand Aeropostale. It was a different time.

 

Traci’s Picks

BUTTER: A freestyle rap battle from Comedy Bang Bang , featuring Amy Poehler, Alan Thicke (Paul F. Tompkins), Scott Aukerman, and Neil Campbell

If you don’t listen to Comedy Bang Bang, you should probably start. Host Scott Auckerman invites comedians to his studio and crazyness ensues. It’s really hard to describe, because lit’rally anything and everything happens and there’s no way to anticipate what’s going to come out of the guests’ mouths. But sometimes, there are recurring bits, including these freestyle rap battles. And I mean, where else would you hear Amy Poehler rapping about butter? Yes, butter. Amy Poehler rapping is everything I love about her, and why she is my spirit animal. She seems like a charming gal on the outside, but there’s a side to her that is a hardcore rapper wanting to come out.

Poker Face – Lady Gaga

In the Pawnee Zoo episode of Parks and Recreation, Leslie accidentally marries two gay penguins, and while she is condemned by a lot of the regular Pawnee citizens, she becomes a hero amongst the gays. And when she goes into the gay club, The Bulge, she’s feted like a regular Madonna/Cher/Beyonce and gets wasted and sings Poker Face at the DJ booth. American treasure.

Santa’s My Boyfriend – SNL

There was like a short two and a half season run on SNL where Amy, Maya and Kristen were all on SNL at the same time and it was pure magic. This is one of my favorite Christmas/Poehler SNL sketches and I may or may not randomly listen to it throughout the year.

We’re Not Gonna Take It – Late Night with Jimmy Fallon vs. Parks and Recreation

Sometime during the first(ish) season of Late Night and Parks, Jimbo invited his pal Poehlstar and her fellow co-stars to do one of the earliest digital video parodies, this time for Glee. The two groups were fighting over “sectionals” and an epic sing/dance off ensues. Also, Amy’s sporting a cute baby bump accessory in this vid and doesn’t even act like she’s preggo.

Girls (Who Run The World) – Beyonce

I mean, because, obviously.

Class of ’04: Playlist of the Month

Nothing can make you more nostalgic for a specific time in your life than listening to music. The lyrics that *get you*, every note, and the song as a whole can transport you back to a moment so engrained in your memory that it almost feels as if you suddenly have Hermione’s Time Turner and you’re living the moment all over again. This month’s playlist brings us back to the years between 2000 and 2004 (our prime high school years) when we lived off of our discmans, made mix CDs and had to figure out how to download MP3s on our computers using dial-up.

Enjoy the entire playlist on Spotify here!

spotify:user:122917273:playlist:6kjDPIG6kcEpTmTZf7M2dN

Traci’s Picks

Your Body is a Wonderland by John Mayer

I honestly could’ve picked any one of JM’s songs from Room for Squares album for this playlist and it still would accurately be the soundtrack to my high school life. I remember listening to this record non stop, particularly this song – and of course, I would pretend he was singing it to me. Remember this is pre-pretentious John Mayer, so it was okay. I lived and died by all his albums, and even played Wheel off Heavier Things for one of my religion classes (we went to a Catholic high school, I guess one of the things we had to do was bring in a “prayer song”? IDK all I recall is that I tried to be all deep with Wheel and some kid brought in the full, like, 7 minute version of The Doors’ Light My Fire). Also: Heavier Things, tho.

Must Get Out by Maroon 5

Like I said, Molly and I went to a Catholic high school, where we had to take religion classes. Senior year included a very borderline class called Peer Ministry. In previous years, we had classes focused on the Old Testament and the New Testament, but our senior year, we had a new teacher who decided that “Peer Ministry” was going to consist of watching movies like Holes and reading Tuesdays with Morrie. Anyways, as part of the class, everyone had to go on a weekend retreat to some camp out in the woods of New York. You signed up for different weekends, and obviously my friends and I decided to sign up the same weekend. One of the activities at the retreat was making some kind of craft to reflect what you’re feeling about your future (I think?) Basically, I wrote the lyrics of Must Get Out on a balloon – ‘This city’s made us crazy and we must get out’ – symbolizing my desire to get out of Rochester and on to a new adventure in Boston. Songs About Jane was one of those CDs, in addition to Room for Squares, that was on a constant rotation in my car’s CD player, and this song just spoke to me, you know?

Dare You to Move by Switchfoot

If you described a typical teenager in the early 2000s, that would have been me. I was not unique, different, or special in any way. I tried so hard to be cool – but the cool by Teen People and MTV standards. I was a total teenybopper, obsessed over everything popular in pop culture, desired everything out of the DeLiA*s catalog. That being said, A Walk to Remember was one of my favorite movies. I didn’t shun it at all, in fact I welcomed it. So much so that I got the soundtrack for my 16th birthday, and proceeded to play it on repeat. I listened to a lot of Switchfoot and Mandy Moore on my morning drives to school.

Float On – Modest Mouse

Float On was released in February of 2004, so nearing the end of our senior year. I remember using the lyrics of this song in my AIM profile, pretending to be all deep and thoughtful, as it was exactly how I felt about ending one chapter and moving on to another. It continued to be a mainstay in my summer playlist – and by playlist I mean the Summer ’04 mix cd I made for myself and listened to on my way to my summer job at the local amusement park.

Closing Time – Semisonic

Remember how this was like the cliche song everyone used in their AOL profiles, AIM profiles, yearbook quotes, etc.? This and that Dave Matthews Band lyric, “Life is sweet but short for certain”? Yeah, I totally gave into that. Because I was really into my friends and super into technology, I created a slideshow from pictures of me and my friends from senior year and used this song as the soundtrack. That’s right – I was the master of Windows Media Player. Still can’t figure out why I wasn’t friends with the “popular kids”.

Molly’s Picks

No Such Thing by John  Mayer

Our senior year was dominated by John Mayer, Dream Man (hey, it was 2004 and we were essentially babies). I heard this the other day, and it was a bit surreal to hear John Mayer sing about his ten-year reunion now that I’m there. It’s not exactly a super-deep song, but  I do relate to it in ways I couldn’t have at 15.

Us at the John Mayer/Maroon 5 concert. In all its neon lights glory (see what I did there).

Molly & our friend Dave lifting Sarah up to try to “see into” the VIP section. John Mayer was not spotted.

New Slang by The Shins

From here, my list turns into a tour of sensitive indie rock of the early 2000s. My musical tastes were very Seth Cohen-y, to use a 2004-vintage reference. This was before that time in 2005-2006 when “Garden State soundtrack” became a shorthand for a type of music, but – well, obviously that’s what we’re looking at here.

History lesson: the internet was smaller then, and finding a band that wasn’t played on top-40 radio felt like a real discovery.  With no iTunes, if you wanted a record you either had to download illegally (mea culpa!) or scour a real-life music store. If you wonder why hipsters are so insufferable about liking things before they were cool, it’s probably because back in the day they really had to earn it. There was no tumblr to tell teens what they were supposed to like, there was TRL and Teen People and you had to dig to find things outside of that.

Hey Girl by Dashboard Confessional

A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar was like the album if you were into – am I dating myself or really, really dating myself if I say alternative music? Or just into Chris Carrabba, on whom I had an even bigger teen girl crush than John Mayer.

Technicolor Girls by Death Cab For Cutie

This is the most “high school feelings” type song I can think of, so much so that even a decade later this takes me back to seeing friends in the parking lot by the football field. Like No Such Thing, this is a perspective on high school that I could understand but not really relate to until I was a decade removed: “we never turn out the way we thought we would.”

Soco Amaretto Lime by Brand New

When I heard this as a kid it was like “hell yes! Eighteen forever!” but now that I’m older and realize that the guys in the band were in their mid-20s when this was released, I hear a bit more wistfulness. But while I sometimes miss being 18, this also makes me think “oh, thank Christ I am not 18 forever. That was exhausting.”

 

Playlist of the Month: Best Original Songs by Fictional Artists

Music has always been an important factor in movies and TV shows throughout the years, providing just a little something extra to create the exact emotions in a certain scene. And then there are the movies and TV shows that take music to a whole other level by creating made up bands and artists within the storyline. And sometimes they actually end up being really good. We’re not talking fake bands that cover songs, we’re talking the fictional artists with original music who could easily release their own songs and be chart toppers. Here are just a few of our favorites (and by few, we legit mean few. It was surprisingly hard to narrow down a list!)

Check the full playlist on Spotify!

Molly’s Picks

Join The Professionals from Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains

Fictional Artist: The Stains

By all means, this should be one of those classic 80s films that’s played on a regular loop on TBS. Somehow – maybe because the universe isn’t just nor kind, maybe because TBS used their full rights-buying budget on The Breakfast Club and Coach Carter – it isn’t. Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains follows the rise of a girls’ punk band in the early 80s, and I am shamelessly including it on this list in the hopes that more people will see it.

Killer Tofu from Doug

Fictional Artist: The Beets

Millenials, can you feel me right now?

Obviously The Beets were supposed to lampoon The Beatles, but it also seems like they’re ripping on the early-mid 90s British rock bands that were popular at the time. I’m looking at you, Oasis.

That Thing You Do! From That Thing You Do!

Fictional Artist: The Wonders (Or, The Oneders)

Cheesy? Sure. But I loved this movie, and this is a perfectly formulated throwback rock/pop tune. That Thing You Do! came out when I was about 10, that age when music and bands take on a whole new life for you. This, La Bamba, and Selena were my Movies About Music trifecta circa 1997.

Big Bottom from This Is Spinal Tap

Fictional Artist: Spinal Tap

SO MUCH BASS. We couldn’t have a playlist of fictional bands without including Spinal Tap. Comedy fans and music lovers alike have elevated This Is Spinal Tap to cult classic status, and for good reason: they go to 11. I love how the different styles on the soundtrack trace the trajectory of the band – for instance,  America (so Simon and Garfunkel!), Listen To The Flower People (one of Spinal Tap’s early efforts), and the oddly classy Lick My Love Pump.

It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp from Hustle And Flow

Fictional Artists: DJay and Shug

In addition to being a great movie about the small-time hip hop scene, Hustle And Flow may mark the very last time that a movie, set in the present day at the time of release, featured a cassette tape as a prominent plot device.

Honorable Mentions: The Commitments (who only didn’t make the list because we’re focusing on original songs, and theirs were all covers); The nuns from Sister Act (whatever, I do what I want); Goodbye Lil Sebastian (Right, Parks fans?); Scotty Doesn’t Know from Eurotrip (see Sister Act); Forever (actually not good, and actually a Beach Boys cover, proving that not every record can be Pet Sounds); anything from Once (I couldn’t decide if it counted, since I wasn’t sure if I could divorce it from The Swell Season). This was a surprisingly hard list for me to narrow down, everyone.

Traci’s Picks

Male Prima Donna from The Office

Fictional Artists: Subtle Sexuality

Even if you were a fan of The Office, you still might not be familiar of the outstanding musical talent within the walls of Dunder Mifflin. Kelly Kapoor & Erin Hannon formed pop duo Subtle Sexuality during their out of office hours (read: a series of websisodes), and released to the viewing public in 2009. And it’s full of outlandish costumes and a lot of autotune and it’s wonderfully ridiculous. True story: This song used to be ringtone. If you liked this song, check out Subtle Sexuality’s second single, The Girl Next Door.

Every Minute, Every Hour from 2ge+her Again

Fictional Artists: 2ge+her

Guys, I’m not ashamed to say I was a total teenybopper when I was a teen. I totally drank the boy band kool-aid, even the fake boy band kool-aid that is 2ge+her. Like not even in an ironic way. I genuinely liked their music. And that was the brilliant part of the whole parody phenomenon – is that the songs were actually catchy. I mean, if I say U+Me = Us, I’m assuming most of you would be able to sing a little of it, because it was a memorable pop hit. Case in point: this song from the 2ge+her Again soundtrack, which incidentally was co-written by my boy Howie Dorough from the Backstreet Boys. It’s also one of the rare songs that doesn’t follow the parody formula (i.e. it’s not like Rub One Out or Say It, Don’t Spray It).

Pop! Goes My Heart from Music and Lyrics

Fictional Artists:  PoP!

What do you mean you’ve never seen this movie? For shame. It has Hugh Grant, Drew Barrymore, and Jason Street from Friday Night Lights, what more could you ask for? Probably a better plot and script, that’s what. I mean I didn’t think it was that bad of a movie, but cinephiles might disagree. Basically Hugh Grant plays a washed up former 80s pop star from a band called PoP! (which was inspired by Wham!). And his band mate is played by Scott Porter, who actually sings and dances IRL. Their hit song is Pop! Goes My Heart and this music video is awesomely 80s.

Don’t Put Dirt On My Grave Just Yet from Nashville

Fictional Artists: Juliette Barnes

TBH, I only started watching Nashville because of Connie Britton. I’ve continued watching it because the soap opera-ness of it gets you hooked. But one of the best parts of the show (thankfully) is the music. Because the show centers on country music stars in Nashville, most of the songs are original tunes that are written by the same songwriters who write for the real country music stars in Nashville. It was really hard for me to pick just one from the show, so Don’t Put Dirt… is just one of my faves. But then there’s also Boys and Buses, A Life That’s Good, He Ain’t Gonna Change, I Ain’t Leavin’ Without Your Love, and Joy Parade by a C+S favorite, Lennon and Maisy.

Let Me Be Your Star from Smash

Fictional Artists: Karen Cartwright & Ivy Lynn

Let Me Be Your Star was the big song at the end of the pilot for Smash, and I figured that if my goosebumps were any indication of how the rest of the series was going to be, the show would be a hit. Well, we all know how that went. Smash was pretty interesting for a while, and then Bollywood happened, someone got killed, etc. etc. However, there were some great original songs made for the fictional musical, including this one and another one of my favorites, Caught in the Storm.

Honorable Mentions: Say No More (Mon Amour) from Empire Records (Rex Manning Day, y’all),  California Dreams from California Dreams (I have this soundtrack, whatever), Friends Forever from Saved by the Bell (Zack Attack is forever in my heart).

Playlist of the Month: New Artists, New Jams

Spring is the air, and it’s time for all things new – flowers are budding, leaves are popping up on the trees, baby bunnies are … hopping, I guess?… and after a long, stale winter, some new music is hitting the airwaves.

In case you’re looking, here are some fresh hot jams you should get into:

Check out the entire playlist of Spotify!

Molly’s Picks:

Drops of Jupiter – Train

The woman this song is about is so interesting and magical, like the girl a guy would fall in love with in an indie film. I like the part where she does tae-bo.

Blue (Da Ba Dee) – Eiffel 65

We have absurdism in art, and even in comedy, and it’s like why not in music, you know? I have a feeling that Eiffel 65 is really going places. This song is about a guy who is blue and has blue stuff. I think it might be about depression, not sure.

Work It – Missy Elliot

I’m having a really hard time figuring out what she says after “put my thing down flip it and reverse it.” Is it just sounds? It doesn’t matter. This jam is fresh just how it is.

Underneath Your Clothes – Shakira

This song is the ultimate – it’s really romantic and sweet, but it’s also really hot. And I think it might add some new phrases to the pick up line lexicon – “is that your endless story, or are you just happy to see me?”

It Wasn’t Me – Shaggy

You won’t believe how catchy this is! But I’m more into Rikrok’s verses because sometimes it sounds like Shaggy has something caught in his throat. I don’t know what happens after the song ends, but I think they really might get back together.

Traci’s Picks

Smooth – Rob Thomas featuring Santana

Ok guys, I’m like obsessed with this song. Like so much that I went out and bought the CD single – which is annoying because it’s only about 4 songs, and 3 of them are remixes. But I like to stay true to the original. Obviously Matchbox 20 is one of the greatest bands ever, but Rob Thomas as a solo artist is proving that he’s a star with Santana. I feel like I’m supposed to know Santana, but excuse me if I don’t make it a habit of listening to Latin guitarists on the regular. Either way, I LOVE this song, and it’s the perfect summer anthem!

Faded – soulDecision

Ok, I know it seems like there are a lot of boy bands creepin up these days, but I feel like this one is going to make it. They’re from Canada but it doesn’t sound like it (IDK what that means). I love the soul/r&B voices these white guys have, and that unique sound will definitely take them far.

Take Me There -Blackstreet featuring Mýa, Mase and Blinky Blink

Let’s face it, I’m probably a little too old to be watching the Rugrats movie. But that didn’t stop me. Plus this song from the soundtrack is da bomb. And the music video looks like they had so much fun filming it. So cool.

The Bad Touch – Bloodhound Gang

This song is so ridiculous that it’s actually really good and the music video is even weirder, which makes it even more amazing. I mean who does this? So many people are going to vote for this on TRL.

Give It To You – Jordan Knight

New Kids on the Block may be broken up but I’m so glad that Jordan Knight came out with this single! I love the two-step vibe (that is totally the greatest new genre of music – Craig David, anyone?). Not to mention his buddy Joey McIntyre has a great single out too, these New Kids are totally making names for themselves without the rest of the guys!

Playlist of the Month: Best Movie Tracks of 2013

No that’s not a typo, we really mean 2013. Since it’s technically still Oscars month, we decided to keep the celebration going, with our picks for the best songs from all the *Oscar-eligible* movies from last year.

From Baz Luhrman’s Great Gatsby soundtrack to pretty much all of Llewyn Davis, there were a lot of great tunes on the big screen and these are just a few of ours. Did we miss any of your faves? Let us know below!

Click here to listen to the entire list (most of the songs) on Spotify!

spotify:user:122917273:playlist:1DrY76LBzKXwOflQXbkJSd

Traci’s Picks

Love is an Open Door by Kristen Bell & Santino Fontana – Frozen

You didn’t think we’d make a list of the best movie songs WITHOUT a song from Frozen, did you? I personally think Let It Go is a fine song, but it’s not my favorite from the whole bunch. I basically switch between this song and For the First Time in Forever when pretending I’m Kristen Bell in my car and belting out these songs. Don’t pretend you don’t too. I’M 28 YEARS OLD, FOLKS.

Over The Love by Florence + The Machine – The Great Gatsby

We mentioned this briefly during the Oscars Live Blog, but we loved The Great Gatsby. Haters to the left. One of the best things about a Baz Luhrman film is that the music will always be top notch. This is no different. One of my favorite tracks from the soundtrack is Florence + The Machine (expect more Gatsby on this list). It’s a haunting song, like more Florence songs, but there’s an elegance to it, much like Gatsby. And I mean it has the words ‘green light’ in it. Come on! Slash Florence make new music kthxbye.

Bad Girls by M.I.A. – The Bling Ring

Perhaps this is an unpopular opinion, but I really liked The Bling Ring. It showed everything that’s wrong with kids (and adults)’ obsession with celebrities and how it can be taken to the extreme. It was like a 2 hour psychology project in film form. This song is perfect for the look and tone of Sofia Coppola’s film, and it always remind me of Emma Watson saying:

Silhouettes by Of Monsters and Men – Catching Fire

While I definitely loved Catching Fire better than The Hunger Games, film wise, I can easily say the first soundtrack was much better than the second. But, this song is an exception – it perfectly encapsuslates Katniss and Peeta’s relationship both in the Games and life outside of it, and Of Monsters and Men does a great job of giving the song an eerie feeling that I assume one would get if ever faced in the Capitol. Especially with President Snow.

Ride Like the Wind by Robin Thicke featuring Ron Burgundy – Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

When the first Anchorman came out, it was the summer before I was a freshman in college, and I remember thinking it was the funniest movie I had ever seen in my life. I would quote it constantly and listen to Afternoon Delight as like a pasttime. But a lot as changed since 2004. I’d like to think my humor has changed slightly – but I was delightfully surprised when Anchorman 2 came out and while the jokes were much different, the tone was the same and I still couldn’t stop laughing. My face literally hurt afterwards. In saying this, not only do I genuinely like this ‘yacht rock’ track  originally by Christopher Cross, but the interjections from Ron are on point. It’s the perfect thing to listen to if you need to brighten your day.

***Special shout out to the best ‘musical moment’ from a movie in 2013 – James Franco & the girls in Spring Breakers. If you’ve seen the movie, you know exactly what scene I’m talking about. If you haven’t, I suggest you should try giving the movie a shot, and this might seem kind of weird and out of place, but it totally works in the movie. Here they are singing Britney Spears’ Everytime.***

Molly’s Picks

Please Mr. Kennedy by Justin Timberlake – Inside Llewyn Davis

I don’t know how this wasn’t nominated for Best Original Song, but I’m sure the Cohen Brothers will find consolation that it made the Cookies + Sangria playlist of the month. This is a satire (well… maybe it feels a bit more like pastiche?) of 60s protest songs, begging President Kennedy not to “shoot me into outer space,” and it is awesome.

100$ Bill by Jay-Z – The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby and Frozen were my favorite soundtracks of the year, without a doubt. I love how a lot of the tracks feature jazz horns or riffs from classic old-school songs, but there’s a lot of modern hip hop in there too. Luhrmann’s interpretations are more about the spirit of the material and not the letter of it. Were they listening to Jay-Z in the 20s? … Okay, actually… maybe.

But more importantly, the flappers and sheiks at Jay Gatsby’s crazy parties weren’t listening to the establishment’s music on their Victrola, they were listening to the new and scandalous stuff. Rap and electro are to the 2000s as jazz was to the 1920s. I want to put the whole soundtrack on here, but let’s leave it at this track.

Roll Jordan Roll by John Legend – 12 Years A Slave

12 Years A Slave was scored by Hans Zimmer, but you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a T-Bone Burnett work when you listen to this reworked spiritual. Music is central in 12 Years A Slave, both because of Northrup’s violin skills and the use of music in slave life. Roll Jordan Roll occurs in a pivotal moment in the film, and this great John Legend version was released on the soundtrack – feeling a bit more like one of the Civil Rights-era reinterpretations of classic spirituals.  Sad and surprising coincidence: Like Solomon Northrup, some of Legend’s ancestors were also free Northerners who were kidnapped into slavery.

Also, if you are a combination history nerd-music nerd, you should check out this interview with Nicholas Britell, who mined original sources to create music for the film that sounded true to the time period.

Happy by Pharrell Williams – Despicable Me 2

Yes, this song is everywhere. But it’s so infectiously, well, happy. Especially after the all-star dance party to this tune at the Oscars – and my many no-star dance parties to this song with one of my favorite three-year-olds – I can’t help but smile when I hear this.

If I Needed You by The Broken Circle Breakdown Bluegrass Band – The Broken Circle Breakdown

The Belgian bluegrass scene? Yes, it’s real. Just give this movie and soundtrack a shot – it’s the best heartbreaking movie about music since Once. But just a warning: it’s a beautiful film, but very, very sad. If you’re not in a good mental place for that, at least listen to the soundtrack, full of re-imagined Bluegrass and country standards, like this song better known as sung by Townes van Zandt and Emmylou Harris.

Playlist of the Month: Jock Jams

The 2014 Olympics are in full gear and athletes are already nabbing medals on the podium. But what gets these sportsmen/women pumped before they compete? In 2008, when Michael Phelps was in his prime in Beijing, he was seen listening to something on his iPod, headphones glued to his ears and there was one question on my mind: WHAT THE HELL WAS HE LISTENING TO?

I wasn’t the one wondering, the reporters at NBC were wondering too, and apparently the answer is a lot of techno and rap (Lil Wayne). Even Bob Costas said one of the rules to living life during the Olympics in ’08 was “Crank up your iPod and listen to anything Michael Phelps listens to.”

Michael Phelps chose techno/dance and rap to get pumped, and in the 1990s so did the folks who compiled the popular Jock Jams CDs.

I’m assuming none of the athletes are listening to ‘I Like To Move It’ or ‘ ‘Tubthumping’ in 2014 (although after the techno soundtrack at the opening ceremony, maybe they are), here are a few of our suggestions for a new Jock Jams compilation for 2014.

Listen to the whole playlist on Spotify!

spotify:user:122917273:playlist:2fhbugwUTY4LPdrkQmnPAz

Traci’s Picks

H.A.M. Kanye West & Jay Z

This track says it all in the title: H.A.M. = Hard as a Motherfucker. Go big or go home, guys.

Live It Up by Jennifer Lopez & Pitbull

So as previously mentioned, Jock Jams was a mix of techno, rap, dance, and pop. For me to excited, I also like listening to a song that makes me feel good and happy and positive, and that’s how I feel about this song. Like, how can you not want to dance to this?

Wings by Little Mix

Along the same lines as upbeat, fun songs, I present you with Wings. This was a mild hit over the past year, by Little Mix who won The X Factor over in the UK. You may also know member Perrie Edwards as ‘the girl who stole Zayn Malik’s heart and ruined Directioners everywhere’. Anyways, this song is great and so are they.

Let’s Go by Ne-Yo & Calvin Harris

The lyrics are literally, ‘Let’s go, make no excuses now, your time is running out.’ Olympians, you’ve been training all your lives for this moment. Don’t screw it up.

Work Bitch by Britney Spears

You better.

Molly’s Picks

Shawty Get Loose – Lil Mama

In case you haven’t noticed, we like techno, hip hop, and pop for our jock jams. This track combines all three – and who could forget Lil Mama’s star turn in that TLC tv movie?

The New Workout Plan – Kanye West

Say what you will about Kanye, this song gets you moving.

The Anthem – Pitbull ft. Little John

I think the double Pitbull on this list just highlights how suited he is to the Jock Jam genre.

Je Veux Te Voir – Yelle

The fact that the music vid features gym equipment and 80s aerobic fashions says it all. Nothing like a good smack-talk song for motivation, right?

Get Me Bodied – Beyoncé

Beyoncé isn’t just the queen of everything (so much so that WordPress automatically adds the accent to her name), she’s the great motivator. A Beyoncé song on my iPhone takes my regular elliptical and weights routine and makes me feel like ‘hey, maybe I could be an Olympian or something.’ Like all great Olympians, B is a team player — this track features her Destiny’s Child friends and her sister Solange.