Playlist of the Month: Revolution Starts Monday

We are sad, afraid, and angry. We do not feel like this because the presidential candidate we supported lost. We feel like this because hate won. Very soon, though, we need to get to work. The president-elect’s campaign promises, actions (mocking a reporter with disabilities, using racist language about immigrant groups, intimidating a rape accuser who has live witnesses to his rape of her as a 13 year old child… please do not make us list it all), and now, 100-day plan show that our fellow Americans are in danger of losing their hard-won rights and basic safety. Already, hate crimes are occurring nationwide because hatred has been given a voice. We believe that love and goodness can win, but now we have to fight for it. We’ll take a little time to regroup this week, but the revolution’s imminent.

My Shot (Rise Up Remix) – The Roots feat. Busta Rhymes, Joell Ortiz & Nate Ruess

We could have made it through 2016 without Lin-Manuel Miranda, but it would have been much, much worse. We already loved the original My Shot for capturing both the revolutionary spirit of colonial America and of the present day. The new remix, released on the Hamilton Mixtape, takes it to 2016 and the present-day oppression of communities of color.

Fight Song (Democratic National Convention cover) – Rachel Platten

I never liked this song until this version premiered during the Democratic National Convention and reduced me to tears. It was a hopeful moment as we looked forward to the triumph of reason over reactionism, experience over showmanship, and for the love of all things holy, finally a woman in the position of Commander in Chief. It takes on a new meaning now, doesn’t it?

Alright by Kendrick Lamar

Alright became the unofficial anthem last summer when Black Lives Matter activists took the streets, and it was the perfect song – a track touching upon the unbearable pain and struggle while facing adversity in a seemingly hopeless situation. But the message was clear – we gon’ be alright.

Immigrants (We Get The Job Done) by K’naan, Snow Tha Product, Riz MC, Residente

Racism and immigration were at the center of the election over the past year, thanks to an outrageous comment said on the same day He announced his candidacy: that Mexicans are rapists who bring drugs into the country. Blah blah, wall, blah blah. Around the same time, Hamilton was a hit Off-Broadway and preparing to make its move to the Richard Rodgers where it continues to live. In Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down), Alexander Hamilton and Marquis de Lafayette high five after saying the line, “Immigrants: we get the job done”. Word on the street (and IRL when we saw Hamilton) is that very single performance, this line gets an individual cheer. Because we all know it’s true and immigrants are the foundation of this country.

So what was brilliant for Lin-Manuel and co. for the Hamilton Mixtape was to take that line and turn it into its own track. Not only that, but features artists who themselves are immigrants or align with more than one country/nationality. K’naan, a Somali Canadian poet and rapper, kicks off the track by saying “I got 1 job, 2 jobs, 3 when I need them/I got 5 roommates in this one studio but I never really see them”, letting y’all know they weren’t going to sugarcoat the truth in the song. Interspersed with lyrics from Yorktown, Snow Tha Product, a female Mexican American rapper, comes in adding, “there ain’t a paper trail when you living in the shadows/We’re Americas ghost writers the credit is only borrowed.” That’s followed by Riz MC aka Riz Ahmed, a British Pakastani (who you might know from The Night Of), who spits, “Who these fugees what did they do for me but contribute new dreams”.

The last verse belongs to Puerto Rican rapper Residente, who’s 1/2 of of Calle 13 and whole halves (?) of Lin-Manuel – they’re cousins. He’s known for not holding back when it comes to his political beliefs in his music, and this is no different. In fact, his entire verse is in Spanish, as if they’re letting us know that the we’re entering an era that isn’t just dominated by one culture or race anymore – it’s diverse AF. Speaking to the Latinos in particular, he says, “We are like plants that grow without water/Without an American Passport/Because half of gringolandia is really Mexican terrain.”

Cold War by Janelle Monae

There is work for everybody now – for teachers and lawyers and journalists and parents and many others – and artists are a big part of the change we’ll need. Janelle has always beautifully put words and music to the struggles that millions of Americans are facing. We’re going to need her for these next four years. This is a cold war, you better know what you’re fighting for.

Formation by Beyonce

Beyonce’s Lemonade era kicked off with the release of Formation, an unapologetic black power and female anthem that had even people from middle America singing “I like my baby hair with baby hair and afros/I like my negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils”. But her message is also one of believing that she (and her fans) can do anything they set their mind to, even if there are people trying to take her down or suppress her voice.  “I dream it, I work hard, I grind ’til I own it/I twirl on them haters”

Soy Yo – Bomba Estereo

This went semi-viral earlier this year because of the adorable little girl in the video, but the message to keep singing, dancing and being yourself even if others don’t like it is one we need right now. Other thing we need right now: Spanish, lots of it, everywhere, because now we have a president-elect who says things like “bad hombres” (AND pronounces it “hambres.” So maybe he just hates angry dudes? But nah.)

Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down) by the cast of Hamilton

The phrase “the world turned upside down” kept popping up in my head when it became clear what the election results were, because it felt like everything I thought I knew was wrong and everything I feared would come true did, like we were in an alternate universe. I was obviously in the Denial step of the five stages of grieving. But this song – in the historical context – it tells the events that happened during the Battle of Yorktown, the last major battle of the Revolutionary War. A. Ham went (A.) Ham on the British, forcing them to surrender. But the number itself includes a multitude of inspirational lines that are ever more relevant today (and some I already mentioned before). We have Hamilton: “so the American experiment begins” and all his “My Shot” reprisals, in the anger and focus in spy on the inside Hercules Mulligan: “See, that’s what happens when you up against the ruffians/We in the shit now, somebody gotta shovel it!/Hercules Mulligan, I need no introduction/When you knock me down I get the fuck back up again!”, and in this exchange we must remember to this day:

Laurens: Black and white soldiers wonder alike if this really means freedom

Washington: Not. Yet

The Day Women Took Over by Common

A lot of us had hoped we were voting for the first female president on Tuesday, but just because she didn’t land the title of president-elect, it doesn’t mean she’s the last one to run for the high office. In Common’s track, off his new album Black America Again, he pictures a world where peace and unity truly exist on the sole fact that women are in charge. And I hope this hypothetical world isn’t as far off as it seems.

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Playlist of the Month: Tiempos De Amor and More

Happy birthday, Rent! Jonathan Larson’s musical premiered 20 years ago today, and in that time Rent has transformed popular musical theater, changed lives, and traveled the world. It’s a testament to Jonathan Larson’s vision that this musical, set in the very specific time and place of Alphabet City in the late 80s-mid 90s, still resonates across the globe. Rent has now been performed on every continent except Antarctica (and maybe Antarctica too, if any of those research scientists are theater geeks). Today, rather than celebrating Rent’s 20th anniversary with the OBC renditions we’ve loved since we were way too young to understand them, we’re taking a look at how Rent has been adapted and translated to reach audiences worldwide.

Rent, Japan

After Rent debuted on Broadway, it quickly became a hit sensation. Producers decided to capitalize on its success by bring the musical to different cities around the world. A mere two years later, Rent opened in Japan, at the height of Rent-mania. Here we see truly contemporary scenes, including an Asian Joanne wearing fake dreads like her African-American counterpart, and it may or may not be cultural appropriation. I find it funny that Japanese words tend to be English words but just said differently, or when you just hear a rando English word like, “headline” news, “Trick-or-Treat” and of course “RENT!”

Fun fact: for a quick second at the beginning of the clip, you see an older gentleman with glasses – that is Al Larson, father of Jonathan Larson. To this day, he goes to as many Rent productions around the world as he can, acting as a representation for his late son and their family.

One Song Glory, Norway

I’d like to preface this by saying I’m still not sure if this is a high school production or not, but either way, this Roger isn’t exactly as strong as Adam Pascal. With all these international versions I find myself translating it into English and thinking I’m fluent in whatever language it’s in. Finna = Find in Norwegian!

Light My Candle, Greece

It’s clear that hundreds, maybe even thousands, of pretty women have gotten the chance to play Mimi Marquez, and in Greece, she was played by this gal, who I sincerely think is great and one of the better foreign singers I’ve heard so far. Words I understood: Papou (all thanks to Full House and the passing of Papouli).

Tango Maureen, Brasil

For the Tango Maureen, why would we look anyplace other than Latin America? (Okay, Argentina would have been ideal, but it sounds good in Portuguese). Language aside, Joanne seems so different in this production that it’s worth watching. Also, how is sunny, warm Brazil the only production to nail cold-weather clothing?

Out Tonight, Germany

*FYI the sound is really bad on this, so don’t put it on max vol!* Is it me or does Out Tonight just sound slightly aggressive in German?

I’ll Cover You, Korea

I don’t know what I was expecting, but it sure wasn’t Angel and Collins being exactly the same, but Korean. Remember in The Simpsons where there’s alternate universe Maggie with the unibrow? That’s what it feels like. Equally adorable, in any language or continent.

La Vie Boheme, Spain

Including a Spanish production was a no-brainer, since that was my major in college and I spent almost 5 months in Madrid. But here’s a little secret: this song is like 50% people’s names and foods and you could translate this into English with a year of junior high Spanish. It still really, really works in Spanish though.

Seasons of Love, Cuba

Seasons of Love is already a beautiful song, but when it’s sung in a literal romantic language, it just makes it that more beautiful. And emotional. I’m not crying, you’re crying.

Without You, Montreal

I don’t know about you all, but when I think heartbreak, I think French. You know how some songs sound just wrong in other languages – the meter or the generally feel is just off? Somehow, Rent sounds great in almost every language, but this one is especially nice in French.

Playlist of the Month: Songs I Liked Before They Got Overplayed

We’ll never learn. We hear a new single on the radio, declare that it’s really amazing, and maybe even tell all of our friends about it. Within a few months the song is completely overplayed, we can’t stand to listen to it, and we’re frankly embarrassed that we liked it in the first place. But since there are no secrets on the blog, we’re confessing all today: at one time, these tunes were music to our ears. Now, years after they came out, we STILL change the station when we hear the opening chords.

Molly’s Picks

Hey There Delilah by Plain White T’s

Ten years ago this March, both of us were traipsing across Europe on our semester abroad. Meanwhile, my suitemates back home had a replacement roommate (who ended up becoming our friend, so that worked out great)! Anyway, she introduced everyone to this catchy new song that wasn’t even on the radio yet: Hey There Delilah. I even remember someone asking over IM whether I had heard it (hey there, 2006). I had not. Cut to over a year later, the single reached number one and I was very, very sick of it.

Kiss Me by Sixpence None The Richer

I was in junior high, it was featured on both Dawson’s Creek AND She’s All That, and that’s no excuse. I had a head start on this song thanks to the W.B.’s heavy music marketing, so by the time it was on the radio I was already done. I mean, just kiss someplace normal.

Daughters by John Mayer

To this day, I cannot make it all the way through this song. To this very DAY. But Heavier Things was one of the defining albums of my high school years (lest anyone think I’m at all cool), and there was a time when I’d get very excited every time I heard my favorite fake-sensitive acoustic-rock guy on the radio. That all died with Daughters, as the more (and more… and MORE) I heard it, the more insipid it became.

Sugar We’re Going Down by Fall Out Boy

Because no list of songs that sounded really good before you listened to them 100+ times would be complete without something from the Fall Out Boy/ The Killers / Panic At The Disco / Kings Of Leon neighborhood.

Ho Hey by The Lumineers

“Have you heard of The Lumineers? They only play them on the indie station now but I think they’re going to get really popular!” – This idiot, c. 2012.

Traci’s Picks

Kiss From a Rose by Seal

It was the summer of 1995. I was 9 years old, Michael Keaton was Batman, not Birdman. It was a different time back then. After featuring on the Batman Forever soundtrack, the song basically launched Seal into a global superstar when the song skyrocketed constant radio rotation. It’s a good, haunting song that is perfect for Seal, but it go to the point that I heard it so much on the radio (because in 1995 we didn’t have Spotify or SiriusXM, kids) that I would demand the station be changed from the backseat of my parents’ car. It was like hearing nails on a chalkboard for me.

Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen

I, like many others, were introduced to this song via Justin Bieber’s rather brilliant homemade music video with his then-GF Selena and her BFF Ashley Tisdale. I couldn’t resist the catchiness of the song and played it on my own personal rotation constantly. And then it became popular on the radio, people started doing covers of it, and the rest is history. In defense of Carly Rae, this may be the song she’s best known for, but she’s got other great hits too. I.E. her entire album, E MO TION, which is hands down, one of the best pop albums I’ve ever heard. Get on it.

Somebody That I Used To Know by Gotye

Remember when this song blew up in 2011? And how no one knew how to pronounce his name if they saw it on paper? And how we don’t know what’s happened to Gotye since?

Torn by Natalie Imbruglia

Like Seal’s Kiss From A Rose, I had an adverse reaction to this after day number 410 of the song being played on repeat in 1997. To Americans, Natalie was a new artist who had a one-hit wonder with Torn and her memorable music video in an apartment that never changed settings. To Australians, she was and still is top actress who happened to have a hit song around the world. Fun fact: Natalie’s version is actually a cover of American alternative rock band Ednaswap, who featured Torn on their 1995 album.

Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke ft. Pharrell and T.I.

Before all the legal battles and misogyny, this was a good song. In fact, I was fan of Robin’s from his other tracks like Lost Without U and The Sweetest Love, so when he came out with this tune I was excited. Then it went downhill from there.

Playlist of the Month: Songs from 2015 That Need To Stay In 2015

Well folks, it’s a brand new year, which means it’s time for a fresh start. One where we can look forward to good things to come in the next 12 months, and leave behind all the shitty things that happened where they belong in 2015. And keeping in our annual tradition, we’ve compiled a list of songs from 2015 that we’d be happy to never hear in 2016 or any other year moving forward, for that matter.

Traci’s Picks

Watch Me by Silento

I really wish I could just list this song five times in a row, but I won’t. I feel like we, as a society, understand why this song is on this list. It’s a novelty song in the same vein as the Macarena or Gangnam Style, but when you take the dance proponent away, it’s just not that good of a song, and it’s really annoying.

She’s Kinda Hot by Five Seconds Of Summer

Not sorry I’m about to say this, but 5 Seconds of Summer is a trash band. Come at me 5SOS fans. This song proves it, blatantly being sexist and making money off of it. Actual lyrics: “My girlfriend’s bitchin’ cause I always sleep in/She’s always screaming when she’s calling her friends/She’s kinda hot though/Yeah she’s kinda hot though/(Just an itty bitty little bit hot)”

Pretty Girls by Britney Spears and Iggy Azalea

I love you Brit, but you’ve done better than this. You ARE better than this.

Uma Thurman by Fall Out Boy

There’s just something about comparing a girl to Uma Thurman’s character in Pulp Fiction that makes me super uneasy. Maybe it’s because Tarantino films make me uneasy, so this is just uncomf by default? Either way, still not digging the song.

Can’t Feel My Face by The Weeknd

I don’t even hate this song, but all of The Weeknd’s singles were played constantly in 2015. I’d turn on the radio, and it would be this song, then switch to another station and it would be Earned It. Couldn’t escape the guy.

Molly’s Picks

Honey I’m Good by Andy Grammer

This song brings me back to my early 20s, when you’d go to a dive bar and stay there too late and end up talking to somebody like this. And in 2015, you could have that experience WITH this song playing in the background. It somehow manages to sound faux-country and faux-reggae at the same time. I guess the good part is that the narrator doesn’t cheat?

Love Me Like You Do by Ellie Goulding

I love Ellie Goulding, wedding singer for Will and Kate, hotel guest who cheated (…ish) on Ed Sheeran with Nial Horan before he was even New!Nial, performer who launched 1,000 Youtube covers. But I do NOT love Love Me Like You Do, which sounds like a breathy take on a 1998 Robyn b-side (and I also love Robyn). Let’s be real, I mostly don’t like it because it’s from 50 Shades of Gray.

Fight Song by Rachel Platten

I’m sure there are plenty of really nice folks going through hard times who have made this their “anthem” by now, and I mean no ill will. I just don’t like it. I think it falls into the category of What Makes You Beautiful and All About That Bass, which I dislike because they feel like they’re pandering.

Love Myself by Hailee Steinfeld

I just don’t care for this, although it doesn’t, like, offend my sensibilities in the way that 5SOS does.

Sugar by Maroon Five

There isn’t much wrong with this song, it just isn’t one I feel like I have to hear again. I’ve never hated it, but I’ve never loved it, and it sounds like something I would hear on a commercial or at the gym, maybe.

Playlist of the Month: Christmas Songs by Jewish Artists

Hanukkah 2015 is already in the books. That means that from this point onward, people of all religions can focus on that other December holiday: Christmas. Sure, if we’re getting technical about it Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus – but it’s also turned into a cultural celebration where we put our differences aside and eat cutout cookies, decorate trees, and jam out to the likes of Barbra Streisand and Amy Winehouse. Who better to sing Happy Birthday to one of the most famous Jewish babies in the world?

Traci’s Picks

The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)
Mel Torme and Judy Garland

This tune is one of the iconic Christmas songs we all know and love, but did you known it was written by two Jews? Mel Torme and Bob Wells wrote it in 1945 in the middle of summer in an effort to cool down. Truth. Bob was randomly writing down wintery things on a notepad like, “Yuletide carols” and “Jackfrost” and “folks dressed up like Eskimos” because he was so damn hot, but when Mel (who was 19 at the time) took a look at it he saw them as song lyrics. The rest is history. This version features Mel on Judy Garland’s self-titled TV show, and also includes a sly Over the Rainbow ref. This is the kind of song that just warms your heart.

Happy Xmas (War is Over)
Adam Levine & Sara Bareilles

Many people have covered John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s iconic Christmas protest song, but there’s something special about the pairing of Adam and Sara. Adam has the right range for it, while Sara can literally sing anything and I’d be on board.

This Christmas
Carole King

This Christmas is one of my favorite modern day holiday jamz. Maybe it’s because I grew up listening to Platinum Christmas and heard R&B singer Joe’s version on repeat, but I associate this with pop and R&B acts, not folky types like Carole King. But that’s what makes me love this version that much more. She gives it a lived in, Tapestry quality to it that makes you want to curl up by the fire and drink hot cocoa.

From a Distance (Christmas version)
Bette Midler

Listen up. Sometimes I enjoy turning up to the easy listening radio station. I can enjoy a good Kenny G tune or Celine Dion power ballad every once in a while. I can also appreciate Bette Midler and her classic tune From a Distance. BUT, in doing research for this post, I found out she made an alternative Christmas version that is maybe even better than the OG? Maybe. But the Queen of the Jews singing “Joy to the World” at the end is the best. The best.

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
Amy Winehouse

No bit zone – I really think Amy would’ve made an amazing Christmas/holiday album. Her voice is already astounding, but her spin on classic songs would’ve been such a hit.

Molly’s Picks

Baby It’s Cold Outside
Idina Menzel and Michael Buble

Yes, this song is creepy, but this version subs out some of the skeevier lyrics, making it my favorite rendition.

It was only a matter of time before Idina Menzel released a Christmas album. This particular song is really just a winter song, but there are plenty of Christmas-specific tracks on the album.

White Christmas
Barbra Streisand

How about a two-fer: when he wrote White Christmas, Irving Berlin, nee Israel Baline, made the most important Jewish contribution to the Christmas holiday since the Virgin Mary. Then Barbra Streisand covered it, and while nobody, not even Babs, is Bing Crosby, this is still pretty darn wonderful.

Must Be Santa
Bob Dylan

If you ever doubt the extent to which Bob Dylan DGAF, just watch this video.

Christmas Must Be Tonight
The Band

Two things you may not have known: The Band performs a good Christmas song, and Robbie Robertson is Jewish.

Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)
The Ramones

This is my second-favorite song about sparring on Christmas (after the fantastic Fairytale of New York) – and it proves that you don’t have to grow up celebrating Christmas to know that it’s a holiday that sparks a lot of arguments.

Playlist of the Month: Sadie Hawkins Day

Sadie Hawkins Day is one of those outmoded holidays that you only hear about on Happy Days reruns or when your grandma is talking about things she misses from the 1940s — and now, I suppose, on our blog**. Sadie Hawkins Dances were held in November, and were the one dance a year when girls were allowed, and even expected, to ask boys out. Oh, how the world has changed. Does anyone even ask anyone to dances anymore, other than promposals?

Sadie Hawkins Day doesn’t have as big a place in today’s world, but we still think it’s a cute historical footnote from the era when we got our holidays from Li’l Abner comics (a true thing). We thought a Sadie Hawkins Day playlist would be fitting: songs originally performed by male artists, covered by female artists. See, it’s just like they always told us when we were kids in the 90s: girls really can do anything.

** Okay, I googled it, and some schools do this. Sounds fun – just remember, you can be the asker-outer ANY day of the year. Or not. Sounds scary.

Traci’s Picks

Give Me Love by Ed Sheeran, Covered by Demi Lovato

Ever since their Disney days, I’ve always said Selena is the better actress and Demi is the better singer. And years later, that still rings true – Demi is a freaking powerhouse and I feel like the world’s finally recognizing that. Here, she takes Ed’s softer version of Give Me Love, and turns it into a song pleading for acceptance, and you can hear the pain in her voice. Gives me chills every time I listen to it.

Riptide by Vance Joy, Covered by Taylor Swift

While Vance Joy’s version is great and obviously suited for his voice, I feel like when I listen to Taylor’s version, it was always meant for her voice. It feels so settled and comfortable there, like a warm, cozy riptide.

Don’t Tell ‘Em by Jeremih, Covered by Lorde

Another gem from the BBC 1 Live Lounge, Lorde delivers yet another haunting performance, but this time with a rap cover. Who knew? Lorde did.

Thinkin’ Bout You by Frank Ocean, Covered by Fifth Harmony

Long before Fifth Harmony was telling you they’re Worth It, they started out as finalists on The X Factor, and after the show ended, they kinda needed to start from the bottom and work their way to the top. To do this, they released a bunch of acoustic covers with the hopes they’d go viral, or at least help build a strong fan base. And it worked. Three years later and they’re platinum selling artists with a VMA to their name. Here’s a reason why. Their voices blend so beautifully and – get ready for it – in harmony.

I Can’t Go For That by Hall & Oates, Covered by The Bird and the Bee

I had a really difficult time deciding which song from this Interpreting the Masters Volume 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates album I’d list here, because every single one is good. Let that be a testament to both Hall & Oates and The Bird and the Bee (which is a duo that includes one male, so I kinda cheated, sorry). But singer Inara George’s soft and relaxing vocals are the perfect match for the synth techno beats that make their version their own, while still respecting the OG.

Molly’s Picks

Skinny Love by Bon Iver, Covered By Birdy

I’ve finally gotten over my 2011-era annoyance at people calling this “Skinny Love by Birdy.”  I just felt like Bon Iver was pretty well-known by that point? But with a few years’ space, I can say that this is a beautiful cover, and Birdy’s arrangement is gorgeous. Can you believe she was only, like, 14 here? I can understand why people who didn’t know the song thought Birdy was the original artist, because this sounds like it was written for her voice.

Heart Shaped Box by Nirvana, Covered by Lana Del Rey

Remember Nirvana’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction? It included performances of several of Nirvana’s songs fronted by different female singers. The line up was crazy: Joan Jett, Kim Gordon, St. Vincent, and Lorde. And I could not choose between any of them, although I do have a soft spot for Kim Gordon because she’s just so cool. So instead, here’s a totally different female cover of Heart Shaped Box.

Where Is My Mind by the Pixies, Covered by Sunday Girl

Where Is My Mind is one of those songs where I can never decide if it makes me feel happy or sad, like the musical version of Sunday nights. This slowed-down, orchestral arrangement definitely brings out the more melancholy side of it.

Come On Up To The House by Tom Waits, Covered by Sarah Jarosz

I don’t know what it is about Tom Waits, but a lot of his songs sound great covered by female artists despite his signature not-so-feminine voice. Come On Up To The House is one of Waits’ great bluesy, rootsy songs, and Sarah Jarosz is just the artist to cover it – she’s great at both traditional bluegrass and more modern stuff. She always has a great band, too.

PYT by Michael Jackson, Covered by Tori Kelly

At first I thought it would be hard to come up with five songs, but I could keep at this forever. Just think of all the great Beatles, Paul Simon, Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan covers there are! [I might be a dad. Like, there is a very real chance that I am your dad. But it’s true.] I figured I’d leave us off with Michael Jackson, an artist most male artists can’t cover without going into key change territory. But when you Sadie Hawkins classic MJ numbers, it really works.

 

Playlist of the Month: Ridiculous Summer Jams

There are two times a year when we all act so ridiculous – wearing wacky clothes and garish color combos, attending party after party, and listening to corny novelty songs – that you have to wonder if we all have temporarily lost our minds. One of these times is Christmas – too wintery, too cold, no thank you – and the other is summer.

When we look back at the summers of our past, the soundtrack is a series of pop and hip hop jams, each more ridiculous than the last. We have another month of summer to go – a whole month of sunny skies, sundresses, and warm nights! And we have just the ridiculous summer jam soundtrack to remind us of all those silly, long-ago summer tunes.

Listen to the entire playlist on Spotify!

Jump by Kris Kross
{April 1992}

This song is anything but wiggidy wiggidy wiggidy whack, and makes me want to put on my backwards overalls and sideways ball cap. [ Favorite summer style c. 1992 – 1995: overall shorts with one strap undone, pacifier necklace, keds.] Jump was such a sensation during the summer of ’92 that my brother joked that he would one day have two sons and name them Kris and Kross. 2015: his boys are named Charley and Henry.

I thought the lyrics were more overtly summery, but they aren’t. I guess as a kid I just equated summer with jumping and free-form movement and winter with huddling miserably.

Fly by Sugar Ray
{June 1997}

Summer days from the mid-90s are a blur of riding bikes with the neighborhood kids, making new friends at acting camp, and hanging out at my aunt’s pool until way past my bedtime. This song was all over the place in the summer of ’97 and I can almost still taste the chlorine-tinged Sour Patch Kids when I listen to it. It’s also a little ridiculous: you just started talking two sentences ago, why are you telling me that your mother died? What are those weird sounds you’re making in the middle of it? Are you having a stroke? Is that how your mother died?

Walkin On The Sun by Smash Mouth
{July 1997}

This band’s songs were so tied to summer in the mid and late 90s that on my initial draft of the list I just said “something by Smash Mouth.” I’m sure Smash Mouth fans existed, but I never knew any. It’s more like their music just materialized near swimming pools, beach shops, and water parks from thin air during the summers of 1997 – 2003.

Summer Girls by L.F.O.
{June 1999}

In the summer of 1999 I was about to begin eighth grade. According to the photo album from our trip to the Cape, my three teenage siblings and I were really into khaki. What can I say? Gap and Abercrombie were pushing the khakis, and the youth of America wanted to look like girls that wear Abercrombie & Fitch.  Summer Girls was chock full of nostalgic references to the early 90s, which was only several years in the past … but to a 12-year-old it was a lifetime ago.

Thong Song by Sisqo
{December 1999}

Don’t let the December release date fool you: the video was released in the spring of 2000, and there were massive tie-ins to MTV’s Spring Break in order to boost it for summer’s Tacky Music Season. This was really at the beginning of butts being a thing; J.Lo’s butt was a pretty new topic in the national dialogue. I feel like Thong Song is at least partially responsible for kicking off the Butt Zeitgeist that I don’t fully understand.

Traci’s Picks

In The Summertime by Shaggy featuring Rayvon
{May 1995}

Years before Shaggy was in denial of it being him and going by Mr. Boombastic, he kept the tone light and fun by sticking to his Jamaican roots and singing straight up about hittin on chicks in the summer. I think my main problem with this, though, is that he constantly refers to himself in third person. “Shaggy say”, “Raggamuffin Shaggy” – both lines muttered by Mr. Boombastic. Also, in general he constantly sounds like he’s got nasal problems.

Cruel Summer by Ace of Base
{July 1998}

If you did a drinking game to this song and took a shot anytime “Cruel Summer” is sung, you’d probably be dead. They’re complaining that it’s too hot and it’s a “cruel summer” because of the heat. What makes this ridic is that the singer is complaining his/her mate isn’t in the city to experience the record heat, and therefore it’s an even crueler summer. Guess what – it’s going to be fucking hot no matter if your signif oth is there or not.

Steal My Sunshine by Len
{July 1999}

“Now the fuzzy stare from not being there on a confusing morning week impaired my tribal lunar-speak” WHAT EVEN ARE YOU SAYING, LEN. ALSO WHAT IS A LEN??

Graduation (Friends Forever) by Vitamic C
{June 2000}

This song came out when we graduated middle school, and for that reason alone, the timing was perfect and it became THE JAM. Back then, the song was reminiscing about our school daze and promising to K.I.T. forever and ever. But I’m more annoyed with it now because A), I’m older than the “we talked all night about the rest of our lives, where we’re gonna be when we turn 25” line, and B) she spoke/sang it like almost slam poetry but with less anger? And a little bit of a whisper, because Vitamin C is embarrassed of her hair, I’m assuming?

Who Let The Dogs Out? by Baha Men
{July 2000}

No one ever got the answer to this. No one cares. Carry on with your summer.

Playlist of the Month: Break Out The Cassettes, It’s 1995

We’re smack dab in the middle of Clueless Week, and to help you get more in the mood of 20 years ago – and get through hump day – today, we’re transporting you back two decades with the power of music.

Songs have this ability to bring you back to a certain time and event in your life, whether it be good or bad. As I was compiling this playlist, I realized that 1995 was one of the first years I became a *fan* of music and certain artists, as opposed to just singing along with songs on the radio. For better or worse, the songs I heard in 1995 helped form my musical tastes today, and help me reminisce about my younger years when my extent of my worries was weather Mrs. Green was going to be in a good mood in class that day or not.

So here are some of our favorite tunes to bring you back to the Clueless era, and get ready to play them on your new-fangled computers and streaming services.

Enjoy the entire playlist on Spotify HERE!

Traci’s Picks

Another Night by Real McCoy

Kids, dance music was big in the 90s. Not EDM music of today with your Calvin Harrises and Aviciis and Tiestos. But electronica, Euro-inspired dance music that The Night at the Roxbury guys would groove to in the clubs. It’s a sound that’s so specifically 90s, and I remember this legitimately being my favorite song that I would write down in personality tests.

This Is How We Do It by Montell Jordan

Although this was arguably Montell Jordan’s biggest hit in 1995, I would also argue that it’s a hip-hop classic, and also one of my go-to karaoke songs.

Switch by TLC

CrazySexyCool/Waterfalls was one of the biggest albums of the 90s, with the record over two years on the Billboard album charts. It was a career-defining CD for the ladies, and was basically a soundtrack to my life when I was a kid. In fifth grade, me and three of my friends decided to enter our school talent show, and we decided to do a dance to this B-Side track. As we were practicing in my friend’s basement, I suggested someone move forward during Left Eye’s rap and basically lip sync to it. Since it was my idea, I had to do it. We got like second or third place. I believe we lost to a male-cousin team who lip synced to Ike and Tina Turner’s Proud Mary. One of them was dressed in drag. This was 5th grade.

Always Be My Baby by Mariah Carey

I think I was first introduced to Mariah when I procured Music Box on cassette, and I subsequently got Daydream – I want to say by borrowing it from the library? Anyways, I listened to it non-stop, and Always Be My Baby was probably my fave jam out of hit after hit on that record. Can we just get this Mariah back, please?

Head Over Feet by Alanis Morissette

For a long period of time, I used to tell people the first CD I ever bought was Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill. It was a stock answer for anyone around my age, because that’s how big of an album it was. In reality, the first CD I ever bought was Weird Al Yankovic’s Bad Hair Day, strictly because of his parody of Coolio’s Gangster’s Paradise – Amish Paradise. I thought I was cool. Jagged Little Pill was actually a Christmas gift in ’95, and when I eventually got around to listening to it, turns out it wasn’t that bad.

Honorable Mentions: Peaches by The Presidents of the United States of America, Stay by Lisa LoebOne of Us by Joan Osborne

 Molly’s Picks

Wonderwall by Oasis

I was so young, I didn’t even know that none of this made sense.  Radio was more segmented in 1995 (before it was all, like, radio conglomerates?) so you had your station that strictly played “alternative” versus those that played pop. It was really tough for us fourth graders who were really into Mariah AND Oasis trying to hover in front of the radio with a cassette tape to record our favorite songs.

Gangsta’s Paradise by Coolio

I was obsessed with this song. And like Traci, I was even MORE into Amish Paradise. I thought Weird Al was hilarious, and what can I say, I was going through a phase where I thought the Amish were awesome. But in real life, I lived in a city neighborhood. Some might even call it a Gangsta’s Paradise. By the way, watch Dangerous Minds – the movie this is from – for a very different perspective on 1995 teens than you get in Clueless.

Life, In A Nutshell by Barenaked Ladies

Barenaked Ladies were huge in our area, and with my sibs especially. I’m still jealous that one of my brothers got to hang out with them backstage, and it’s been 15 years. The 1994 album Maybe You Should Drive is filled with 90s nuggets like Alternative Girlfriend (referencing a girl in an all-girl band who has a second-hand futon), Jane (mentioning the fairytale romance between … Juliana Hatfield and Evan Dando, of course. What, you don’t remember that love story for the ages? Evan “Lemonheads” Dando!), and Life, In A Nutshell.

Big Poppa by Notorious B.I.G.

You can’t talk about mid-90s music without mentioning the big players in the rap game: Biggie and Tupac. You know what’s kind of amazing? How old-school 80s, early 90s rap had evolved to this by 1995, and it still sounds like it could be released today, maybe minus the synth.

Here Comes The Hotstepper by Ini Kamoze

I am including this strictly so that I can explain that I just learned last year that the lyrics are NOT “I’m the leprechaun gangster.” But for some cultural context, the horror movie Leprechaun was released in ’93 and leprechauns in general were much more intimidating in the ’90s.

Also, I just learned that this song is called Here Comes The Hotstepper now. Right now. While making this playlist.

Honorable Mentions: Don’t Take It Personal by Monica, Run-Around by Blues Traveler, I Believe by Blessid Union Of Souls, Roll To Me by Del Amitri (I just learned ~5 years ago that it’s not “the right time, the wrong me”), Waterfalls by TLC, Fantasy by Mariah  … I can’t stop. I could list every song from 1995. What a year.

Playlist of the Month: La-Las and More – Songs From Gilmore Girls

If you marathon Gilmore Girls episodes, there are two songs you won’t be able to get out of your head. One is the theme song, which is surprisingly hard to skip on Netflix. The other, of course, is the la-las. Literally, a woman singing the word “la.” Sad las when things get rough, lighthearted las when things are peppy, a romantic la or two during a confession of love. In our imagination, this post was comprised of all of the different types of la’s. But since those aren’t on Youtube, actual songs will have to do. From that early Bangles concert to Lane’s band, music was actually a big part of life in Stars Hollow.

Listen to the whole playlist on Spotify! 

Traci’s Picks

Eternal Flame by the Bangles

{Season 1, Episode 13: Concert Interruptus}

When Sookie offers tickets to the Bangles concert for Rory AND Lane, I remember thinking, ‘Wow, that’s a really tight knit group of gals’. Seems stupid, but I didn’t grow up with a mom who was a teen in the 80s when she gave birth to me, nor did she have a cool best friend, nor did I have a best friend who hung around enough for my mom’s best friend to get her a concert ticket. All of it just seemed so cool and it was one of the first scenes that made me really fall in love with the show.

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper

{Season 2, Episode 7: Like Mother Like Daughter}

In one of the rare moments of the series, Lorelai and Emily are surprisingly getting along without even saying a word. They’re both signed up to walk in a fashion show benefit for Rory’s school and Lor is stunned to find out she’s wearing a match outfit to her mother. But what was her worst nightmare turns into something she wants deep inside – to just have fun with her mom. The scene shows a playfulness in both of them, especially Emily, and it doesn’t hurt that Luke’s watching on admiring Lorelai from the side.

Reflecting Light by Sam Phillips

{Season 4, Episode 21: Last Week Fights, This Week Tights}

SPEAKING OF LUKE – let’s be real, I’m a Luke and Lorelai shipper til the day I die. I had to stop myself from putting every L+L related song on the playlist. But let’s start with the first real romantic moment between them. Luke saw her face. He invited her to be his date to his sister’s wedding. He does the unexpected and takes her out on the dance floor. Proves he can waltz. Luke can waltz. Luke can waltz? Luke. Can. Waltz.

Wedding Bell Blues by The 5th Dimension

{Season 5, Episode 13: Wedding Bell Blues}

I have a love/hate relationship with this episode. On the one hand it’s perfect and hints at Luke and Lor heading down the aisle, and they take the dance floor yet again, but then Christopher comes into the picture, and if you’ve seen the episode, you know what happens. But during the ‘love’ portion of the episode, Richard (</3) dedicates the first/second dance to his new/second wife Emily with a song that was engrained in his memory from when their only child Lorelai was a baby, and the sentiment is too sweet. I became obsessed with this song after this episode and retroactively became a stan for The 5th Dimension. Is that weird?

Magic to Do from Pippin

{Season 6, Episode 5: Magic To Do}

Another reason why I love this show – the amount of musical theatre references. From Into the Woods to a kid production of Fiddler to Tony winner Kelly freaking Bishop just being in the show, Amy Sherman-Palladino clearly has a love for the Broad Way. I recently saw the revival of Pippin and TBH, I only knew two songs, Corner of the Sky and Magic To Do – solely because of this episode. Whenever Miss Patty has some kind of show, it’s always a treat, and it was no different when Lorelai and Sookie had to sit through kids doing a fairly creepy version of this song and blowing glitter in their faces. Their reaction gets me every time.

Molly’s Picks

Walkin’ My Baby Back Home by Nat King Cole

[Season 3, Episode 7 They Shoot Gilmores, Don’t They]

One of my favorite things about Gilmore Girls is all of the crazy Stars Hollow events. The dance marathon of season 3 really brought it – both as a plot device in the Rory and Dean relationship, and as a way to gather some of our favorite town personalities in one place. You have to love the visual of Kirk running his victory lap around a crying Rory and Lorelai.

99 Luftballoons by Nena

[Season 3, Episode 13 Dear Emily And Richard]

I’m always a sucker for any reference to Young Lorelai. Like Traci said, we don’t have parents who were teenagers in the ’80s, so when we were in high school it seemed so cool to have a mom who was just like all those kids from John Hughes movies. In this episode, we were treated to flashbacks of young pregnant Lorelai – a reminder that while she’s a hip, successful mom throughout the series, during Rory’s early years she was just a kid listening to ’80s German pop on her Walkman.

Fell In Love With A Girl by The White Stripes

[Season 3, Episode 19 Keg! Max!]

Pull up a chair, children, while Granny Molly tells you about the good old days. See, back in the early 2000s, hipsters weren’t like they are now. Especially in the high school set, the same people were more likely to be called “alternative” or “scene kids” or “emo.” Any self-respecting early 2000s teen knows that the White Stripes were in no way emo, but they were part of a lot of indie kids’ playlist for a while there. When Lane’s band plays this, it’s a nice cultural window into the demographic she (covertly) fell into. Plus, remember Lane and Zach’s wedding cake?

Science Vs. Romance  by Rilo Kiley

[Season 5, Episode 4 Tippecanoe and Taylor Too]

This one is another cultural touchstone. Since we were basically Rory’s age (a year younger), a lot of the soundtrack lines up with what I was listening to when the show is on. Nothing can put you in the mindset of your 18-year-old self quite like listening to the same songs you did then. When I was rewatching the show and Lane played this, I had a big rush of “oh yeah, remember that song?”

Kool Thing by Sonic Youth

[Season 6, Episode 16 Bridesmaids Revisited]

Gilmore Girls has fans from all walks of life – even people like then-Sonic Youth members Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore. You may have seen their cameo playing at a Stars Hollow festival along with their young daughter. When I was reading Kim Gordon’s memoir, she mentioned how her family’s thing was watching whole tv series together, and immediately knew that this was one of them. So anyway, I’m including a Sonic Youth song because that’s what’s so awesome about Gilmore Girls for me – everyone from one of the coolest rock stars ever, to her tween kid, can find something to love about it.

 

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!