Given our 21st-century fascination with playlists, here are a few suggestions for when, where and what to listen to.
Recently I’ve done a lot of driving. Zipping along the highways of southern Ontario on various jaunts I fell in love with Black Box Recorder. Again. It’s the best driving music ever written. After loving lead singer Sarah Nixey’s solo debut, the amazing Sing, Memory, I delved back into the band’s back catalogue and decided I haven’t nearly written enough about them. Currently on hiatus, Black Box Recorder is one part pop, one part chill-out and one part rock and roll. If this sounds like an enticing mix, check them out sometime, especially the albums The Facts of Life and England Made Me. They sound great cranked up loud, speeding along a dark highway. M83 are a great group for the road, too. My recommended driving song playlist includes: “The Art of Driving” by Black Box Recorder, “Behind the Wheel” by Depeche Mode, “Drive” by Client and “Shut Up and Drive” by Rihanna.
I hate flying and I have a ritual that helps. If you’re anything like me, it could come in handy. Pop a relaxant and listen to Zero 7 in your iPod or whatever MP3 player you own. I’ve recently chosen Zero 7 as the ultimate band to relax to, not least of all because of vocalist Sia’s comforting tones especially on songs like “Somersault” and “Speed Dial Number Two.” However, their song “Waiting to Die” is probably best avoided on any future flight. Other great flying music: “Fly Me Away” by Goldfrapp and “Burning Airlines Gives You so Much More” by Brian Eno. “Flying Foxes” is a great Moby track that will slow any racing pulse down
I find myself walking a lot. Which I like. But I have to admit it’s much more fun with headphones on. I’ve been known to glide right past friends on the street because I’m so into what I’m hearing. For walking, I’m hard-pressed to find any genre better than good old rock and roll. Something purposeful yet full of pomp and swagger does the trick. I’m not sure rock has evolved a whole lot in the past 20 years because everything really cool was done by 1979. So for the simple task of a nice brisk walk I’d suggest Bowie pre-Let’s Dance, T-Rex and maybe some Rolling Stones for good measure. Also “Walk on the Wild Side” by Lou Reed, “Eight Easy Steps” by Alanis Morissette, “Walking in London” by Concrete Blonde and that venerable classic “Walk like an Egyptian” by the Bangles, although this track is so fun it’s a bit distracting.
This has to be the playlist I’m most picky about. If I forget to bring my iPod to the gym I basically turn around and go right home. I can’t exercise without it. I need a specific type of dance music. Anything arpeggiated (you know, those ramped, broken chords) with a mechanical feel does the trick, like “I Feel Love” by Donna Summer or any of the 1,293 songs it inspired. Something tells me I’m not the only homo at the gym with Kylie’s “Can’t Get You out of My Head” or Madonna’s “Hung Up” spurring me on. Other new tracks on the workout playlist include “White Diamond (Elektrika’s Burning Radio Mix)” by Kylie, “I Want Your Soul” by Armand Van Helden and “Zdarlight” from the new Digitalism album.
Now get working on those playlists and see how much more fun basic movement can be. Over and out!