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Is This the Most “American” July 4th Playlist of All Time?

4 Jul

Photo credit: Stephanie McCabe / Unsplash

You don’t need a reason to make a playlist, but a holiday sure does provide a good one.

And today, on July 4th, one of my favorite days of the year, I like listening to one of my favorite Spotify playlists. Like my summertime mix, it’s a collection of songs all built around a theme — in this case, the word “America.” All included songs feature some use of the word America (or a variation of it) in a prominent way — which is why John Cougar Mellencamp’s “Pink Houses” qualifies, but, say, “Horse with No Name,” by the band America, does not. Bruce Springsteen’s “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)” may be an exception to that rule, but come on. How could I not include it?

And, because it’s a mix for the Fourth of July, there are a few patriotic or “Independence Day”–themed or related songs (like Katy Perry’s “Firework,” natch) thrown in too. Yes, there are even some songs, like Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.,” that sound patriotic, but really aren’t.

I call this playlist, no surprise, American Tunes. Continue reading

My 2015 Soundtrack Was a Real Head Trip

28 Dec

2015playlistIf you want to get to know someone — to really know what’s going through his mind — the secret can often be found in what music he’s listening to.

That may not be true of everyone, but it’s definitely true of me.

Every year can always be summed up by a playlist of the songs I listened to — the good and the bad.

My time capsule playlist for 2015 is no exception. Yes, I listened to podcasts and other things this year (shoutout to Why I Social, Here’s the Thing, and The Sporkful), but it’s the music on my year-end playlist that fills me with more memories and that will last for a longer time to come. For example …

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This Is the Best Christmas Music Playlist of All Time

15 Dec
Photo credit: TSgt Suzanne M. Day/Creative Commons

Photo credit: TSgt Suzanne M. Day/Creative Commons

True story: If you want to know what the best Christmas music is, you should ask a Jewish person.

Why is that? Honestly, I really don’t know. Perhaps it has something to do with, as Sarah Spigelman Richter recently wrote on Mashable.com, a deep-seated sense of FOMO for “a culture that is in no way destined to be mine.” Feeling left out can be hard, so we appreciate the “Americanized, agnostic version of the Christmas season” that much more because it’s not really ours.

Or maybe that has nothing to do with it.

What I do know is that were it not for the Jews, we wouldn’t have some of the best Christmas songs of all time. “White Christmas,” anyone? “Silver Bells?” “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)?” Etc. Etc. All written by Jews. So clearly, we know our holiday tunes. Continue reading

These Songs Are in My Musical Time Capsule for 2014

17 Dec

2014 Time Capsule PlaylistEvery year, folks like DJ Earworm and Daniel Kim create mashups of the year’s most popular pop songs. The top 40 songs of 2014 include ones by Ariana Grande, Jason Derulo, Taylor Swift and Iggy Azalea, so it’d be easy to be dismissive and say there wasn’t much good music to listen to.

And yet, DJ Earworm and Daniel Kim’s 2014 mashups are still pretty awesome. Which proves, in one way or another, that when you listen to the right song in the right context, it can sound better than you remember.

Also, that we all have our own soundtrack, and like to listen to music in different ways. What sounds good to one person doesn’t to another. We all march to our own beat. Etc.

Plenty of music writers have already ranked what they think is the best/worst music of the year, and I have no intention of creating that kind of list. That said, as I look back on the past year, I’m finding that there was plenty of music I want to remember. Admittedly, not all of it was good (by my standards, anyway). But months or years from now, when I’m trying to put my head back in the place it was this year, playing these tracks will do the trick.

You won’t find any U2 here (free or not, I just didn’t dig their new album), but you will find multiple songs by folks like Bruce Springsteen, Jamie Cullum, and Pharrell Williams. You may even find a song from a Broadway show and a jazz instrumental track. (And two Megan Trainor songs, too; no judging.) That’s what I listened to this year. That was my soundtrack.

For your listening pleasure, here’s my musical time capsule for 2014, with some commentary on some of the tracks. Songs are listed (on the playlist and in this blog post) in no order other than a roughly chronological one. Enjoy! Continue reading

If My Year Had a Soundtrack, This Would Be It

23 Dec

John-Mayer-Paradise-ValleyEvery year has its share of ups and downs.

My 2013 was no exception.

There was hope, disappointment, fear, elation, relief, frustration, happiness, and much more. Sounds like a great movie.

Of course, like any movie, there’s a soundtrack. Here are the songs I was listening to this year, which, when listened to together, provide a pretty accurate representation of the emotional roller-coaster I was on in 2013. (For the record, no pun intended, I did the same thing last year.)

I invite you to relive the year with me — musically, anyway — if you choose. Continue reading

Every Superhero Needs His Theme Music

14 Jun

superman-headphonesWith the new Superman movie now in theaters, it’s time to dig out all those Superman-themed songs that we know and love.

You know the ones … “Jimmy Olsen’s Blues” by the Spin Doctors, “Superman’s Song” by Crash Test Dummies, “Superman” by R.E.M., “Kryptonite” by 3 Doors Down, etc. etc.

Want ’em all in one place? You’re in luck: To celebrate the release of Man of Steel, I’ve put together a Spotify playlist of Superman music. It includes the obvious candidates, plus one or two that reference Superman, and a few that were new to me but still worth including. Continue reading

33 Songs That Defined My 2012

17 Dec

fun-2012There’s a reason why everyone is falling over themselves to shower praise on Bruce Springsteen, Frank Ocean, and fun. right now.

It’s because they released damned good albums this year, ones that many of us are still listening to.

But they weren’t the only ones who put out great tunes in 2012. There were plenty of good singles and albums, and a good number of those really resonated with me.

Sure, it wasn’t all good: The eagerly awaited release from Fiona Apple (the one with the really long and crazy name), which I was looking forward to, barely made a blip on my radar. And I had had enough of Psy’s viral smash “Gagnam Style” within about 30 seconds of hearing it for the first time. But lets’s stay positive, alright?

Here, in no particular order, and with commentary where I have something to say, are 33 (mostly) new songs that I couldn’t get enough of this year — with apologies to #bFlat, who just missed the cut — and a Spotify playlist so you can relive my year in music with me.

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