Now that the summer is over and we’ve crowned its song (I have to give it to Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” in a decision over “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk), it’s time to add some new tracks to your workout mix to get you moving for the fall.
As a DJ, I’m always searching out for a great beat of any type that I think will get the dance floor moving. The same is true for music you listen to while exercising. It should help inspire you to push further than you would otherwise. Scientific research proves music helps you work out. And the same drab mix of ’90s rap songs will only work so long before it just doesn’t feel fresh and inspirational any longer.
Here are 11 songs that I have in the “WORKOUT” folder of my iPod. Perhaps you’ll want to add a few to your own. And if you like ‘em all, I’ve made a Spotify playlist for the entire “Fall 2013 Workout Mix”.
Avicii, “Wake Me Up”
As soon as Mumford & Sons won the Grammy for “Album of the Year,” the music industry put out the call for more “stomp rock.” And that bled into the electronic dance music scene with this song, which I call EDM-ford & Sons. It’s fairly polarizing when I play it … half the dance floor stomps, and the other half stomps off to the bar. But it will raise your pulse either way.
Bingo Players, “L’amour”
These Dutch music producers created the track that Flo Rida used for his hit “I Cry.” This track is a perfect example of the build, build, build, EXPLODE approach to a lot of popular dance tunes these days. And it should help you raise your tempo in any aerobic activity.
Capital Cities, “Safe and Sound”
This is one of those times that a song does well at “alternative” radio (does that term even mean anything in 2013?) before crossing over and finding success on Top 40 stations. The band does a good job of recreating a poppy ’80s new wave vibe with a pastiche of synths, drums, and electronic horns to make for a bouncy three minutes of audio cheer.
Cedric Gervais and Howard Jones, “Things Can Only Get Better”
Speaking of poppy ’80s new wave, few did it better than Howard Jones when he recorded “Things Can Only Get Better.” Now dance music producer Cedric Gervais has taken clips of HoJo’s singing and mixed it over a contemporary track that makes the song sound fresh and new. And the positive message is always reinforcing when you’re digging deep.
Icona Pop, “All Night”
Possibly the most rousing female empowerment singalong since Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” in 2008, Icona Pop’s “I Love It” is the snotty brash anthem that can’t be denied. Now the duo tries to avoid one hit wonder status with the first single from their debut full-length album. While not quite as over the top as “I Love It,” I think they’ve got another winner on their hands.
Knife Party, “Bonfire”
I shouldn’t like this song. There’s a very good chance you’ll hate it. Dubstep just isn’t my cup of tea. And yet … this track, sounding like a Transformers attack on a beach in Montego Bay, works. The combo of the lilting reggae beat that builds to the bass drop makes me want to try and crush barbells like aluminum cans. And isn’t that what you want from a workout mix?
New Politics, “Harlem”
All good mixes should have a wide array of styles and genres, which means you need to have at least one pure power pop chestnut. “Harlem” sounds as if the bass line from “My Sharona” and clap-along drums of an All-American Rejects track have been melded together into this chewy goodness.
Martin Solveig & The Cataracs featuring Kyle, “Hey Now”
Solveig is best known for giving the world “Hello,” one of my favorite songs from the end of 2010. The Cataracs are best known for teaming up with Far East Movement for “Like a G6.” Kyle is a rising rapper, and I know that only because I went to Wikipedia. The song is another mover and shaker like “Hello” and I think I enjoy it so much because they use real drums on the song. How … refreshing for a dance tune these days.
Michael Franti & Spearhead, “I’m Alive (Life Sounds Like)”
Few people have released such a consistent string of uplifting, positive message songs than Franti these past few years. From “Say Hey (I Love You)” to “The Sound of Sunshine” to this, his latest single, Franti and Spearhead are all about bringing happy energy to the planet. And happy energy to your workout mix as well.
Robin Thicke with Kendrick Lamar, “Give it 2 U”
Following up his summer smash, Thicke’s next single is just as solid for providing a danceable groove. I’ll make no such comments on the quality of the lyrical content, however, but it’s no worse than any other “Hello, ma’am, may I say how much I would enjoy having sex with you?” efforts that you can find up and down the radio dial. Focus on the beat and not the boast and this one will work fine for you.
TJR, “Ode to Oi”
The final track on the list could easily find its way onto future “Jock Jams” CDs (if CDs continue to be produced in the future … ). The repeated chants of “Oi!” will easily find their way to arena sound systems to stir up a crowd cheering on the home team. Too bad the stadium DJ will likely dump out before the crazy good musical breakdown comes into play. A winner from start to finish.
And speaking of finish, we have reached the end of the list. If you’d like to hear the entire mix of songs, just check out my Spotify playlist below. What are some of YOUR favorite new songs to workout to?
photo credit: Robert Woo