Music can motivate, commiserate and eviscerate. It’s the perfect accompaniment to our every step, whether tiptoed, galloped or stomped. So press play in your head as you make your way through six situations that can use a companion soundtrack. Occasion: When you absolutely have to, but you absolutely don’t want to. Fuel: Groove Is in the Heart by Deee-Lite Some days it’s just hard to muster a get-up and go. And when you’re having one of those days, this one-hit wonder—with guest vocals courtesy of the LEGEND that is Bootsy Collins of Parliament-Funkadelic—is the light-hearted banger you need. When the rapping wonder Q-Tip gets rolling, this tune becomes full-on rocket fuel for the soul. Groove should come with a warning that playing it can lead to spontaneous dance parties at the Delta Tau house. Or maybe that was just me in college. I’m dating myself.
Occasion: The walk of shame. Fuel: Sunday Morning Coming Down by Johnny Cash So the artist Pink actually has a track called, Walk of Shame, bless her heart. But this isn’t about scurrying out in the morning wearing the formal dress you wore the night before, this is about that post-canoodled (hopefully), slightly hungover haze. You just know you’re going to need an afternoon nap, and you could really use an IV of coffee. That feeling. This song was written by Kris Kristofferson after whom I am named. Why? Because my mom is obsessed with him. Hey, I could’ve been named Paul (Simon) or Mikhail (Baryshnikov), her other crushes. I’m cool with Kris.
Occasion: When that uncle is at the family gathering. Fuel: Up Above My Head by Sister Rosetta Tharpe Gone are the days when you didn’t know just how dreadful your uncle’s political leanings were. He’s always been a creeper, but with his conspiratorial meme-sharing game and his posts declaring ill will to certain factions of mankind, he has become an embarrassing pox on your family’s good name and a violator of your patience. But, he’s still family. And, he is still invited to Thanksgiving at grandma’s house. Situations like this need next-level strut music, as no amount of pumpkin pie will likely mask the bad taste in your mouth. So summon the divine in the form of a Gospel-playing rock goddess who taught Elvis, Chuck Berry and Johnny Cash what a guitar could do: Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Oooh, Lordy. Hear your prayer. Grace. Let there be grace.
Occasion: When you’re in a mood; an angsty, ornery mood. Fuel: Cheer by The Descendants There are days when the only apt response is to figuratively burn it all to the ground with some punk rock. Some frantic guitar. Some “woe is me” lyrics. It’ll be over before you know it. It's been so long since I've had a smile I've been down for such a long while If you could cheer me up, I could learn to love you And let me be clear, I’m not out here trying to incite actual arson unless we’re talking about those 4-story stick-frame apartments that are going up everywhere. I mean, Soviet-era Khrushchyovkas had more character. Ugh. Cheer.
Occasion: When your ex shows up at the party Fuel: Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like That) by Diggable Planets In this potentially dreaded situation, remember that now you don’t need to shave or pretend that you enjoy golf. I mean, you just might have a wave of gratefulness wash over you when you see him wearing that damned Yankees cap. Ew. Regardless of the feels, it’s best to hit play on this fresh-as-heck song that will induce a nonchalant saunter, you lioness, you. Upright bassing … fingers snapping … drums snaring … trumpets blaring. Because you’re cool like that; you’re calm; like that; you’re chill like that; and you’re better off without him, like that. We out.
Occasion: When toiling 9 to 5 and beyond Fuel: Any Song by Lizzo It’s hard to justify leaving one-third of our lives by the wayside and not brandishing the power of our female persuasion. So when we need to mentally transition from fleece PJs and Hulu series chill mode to in-it-to-win-it career mode, pop the cork on some Lizzo. Any tune does the trick. Lizzo is that encouraging, but not too Pollyanna’ed voice whispering our ears, “Baby, how you, feeling?” Good as Hell, Lizzo. Good as Hell.