Tag Archives: mixtapes

My Mixtape Monday – June 27, 2016

First Name: Kate Mickere
Twitter: @katemickere
Sex: Female
Age: 28

Occupation: Writer // Assistant at Comedy Central

Mixtape Name: Obsessions

Side A
1) Ram On by Paul McCartney
2) The Love Cats by The Cure
3) Wig in a Box by Hedwig and the Angry Inch
4) Jesse by Carly Simon
5) Beast of Burden by The Rolling Stones
6) Hey Ya by Outkast

Side B
7) Long John Blues by Dinah Washington
8) Let’s Spend the Night Together by David Bowie
9) Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush
10) Teeth by Lady Gaga
11) Another Day by Paul McCartney
12) Me & Liza by Rufus Wainwright

Bonus Track (since it’s not on Spotify): I Can’t Wait for Christmas to Come by The Loose Tapestries

Liner Notes: “Life is nothing if you’re not obsessed.” – John Waters

Confession: I’ve basically only been listening to podcasts and Paul McCartney’s Ram for the last year or so. Instead of hiding this (possibly) worrying behavior, I’m going to embrace it… with a playlist full of my musical obsessions.

Side A is a sampling of my current favorites. These are the songs that I just can’t get out of my head. Note: “Hey Ya” is just as delightful now as it was in 2003, when I was trying to avoid my homecoming date and only came out of hiding to dance to this song. (Sorry, Steven.)

I’m so obsessed with the songs on Side B that I’ve actually put them into plays I’ve written. From singing “Long John Blues” in my one-woman show Sprinkles & Shame at the Playground Festival at Carnegie Mellon to the current play I’m dreaming up about Liza Minnelli and Bianca Jagger being disco friends, these songs have inspired me in countless ways.

Bonus: Is it weird to listen to a Christmas song in June? This one is too delightful to be confined to a calendar. Kasabian’s Serge Pizzorno and Mighty Boosh comedian (and my imaginary boyfriend) Noel Fielding teamed up to create a surrealist Christmas song that features a rap from Idris Elba. I’m swooning.

Spotify Playlist Link: Obsessions

Apple Music Link: Obsessions

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My Mixtape Monday – June 13, 2016

First Name: Alicia
Twitter: @alicia_staples
Sex: Female
Age: 30

Occupation: Social Media Director and Consultant, Bartender (@mrsmallstheatre), Podcast Host (@mmoviespod)

Mixtape Name: Alicia_Staples Mixtape

Side A
1) Tenderness by General Public
2) In Between Days by The Cure
3) Desperate Guys by The Faint
4) Speakers Push Air by Pretty Girls Make Graves
5) Gold Guns Girls by Metric
6) Bruise Pristine by Placebo

Side B
7) Saddam A Go Go by Gwar
8) Whamola by The Les Claypool Frog Brigade
9) Venus Fly by Grimes
10) Disparate Youth by Santigold
11) Space Age Love Song by Flock of Seagulls
12) Damn These Vampires by The Mountain Goats

Liner Notes: It’s exceedingly difficult and endlessly entertaining to capture your own personality in a 12 song mixtape. I tossed around some theme ideas – “Movie theme songs that are deservedly under appreciated”, “Best songs to stoically cry to while in public”, “Songs I pretend not to know every word to” – all of which I could easily build. However, I decided autobiographical (in the style of Rob Gordon) was more appropriate for this task.

Each song links to an important event, relationship, or time frame for me – ever so lovingly arranged for a listener who has no idea and/or no interest in the personal baggage I have attached to each. Side A has a nice easy new wave into post punk/glam rock thing going on while Side B is frenetic and soothing crossing the genre map.

Spotify Playlist Link: Alicia_Staples Mixtape (with bonus tracks)

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My Mixtape Monday – June 6, 2016

First Name: Samantha
Twitter: @s4m4nth4x
Sex: female
Age: 32

Occupation: Saving lives by day, saving deaths by night. Lifeline personal response associate/Owner funerealephemera.etsy.com

Mixtape Name: Living Dead Girl

Side A

1) Living Dead Girl by Rob Zombie
2) Heart-Shaped Glasses by Marilyn Manson
3) Heaven Knows by The Pretty Reckless
4) Head Like a Hole by Nine Inch Nails
5) Wait and Bleed by Slipknot
6) Last Child by Aerosmith

Side B
7) Enter Sandman by Metallica
8) Dragula by Rob Zombie
9) Date With The Night by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
10) Malibu by Hole
11) Voodoo by Godsmack
12) Mama, I’m Coming Home by Ozzy Osbourne

BONUS TRACK! Dwarf Invasion by Reggie and the Full Effect featuring Common Denominator

Liner Notes: It took me far too long to create this playlist – I’ve seen High Fidelity too many times, I put too much thought into creating the perfect mix tape. I decided to put together a mix of new rock songs, songs that make me feel a bit nostalgic, and songs I remember listening to when I was a lot younger.

I grew up listening to rock and roll – My mom’s favorite band is Aerosmith, and I feel like their music has always been on the background, forever. I can remember long car rides, with the whole family in the car, listening to Metallica. While my music tastes to vary, this is what I always come back to.

Spotify Playlist Link: Living Dead Girl

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My Mixtape Monday – May 30, 2016

First Name: Toby
Twitter: @theanalogdivide
Sex: Male
Age: 36

Occupation: Director of Digital Strategy, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

Mixtape Name: This Song Will Save My Life

Side A
1) Blinded By the Lights by The Streets
2) I Let It Go by The Thermals
3) How We Land by P.O.S.
4) Pneumonia by Fog
5) It’s Gonna Take an Airplane by Destroyer
6) Get Up by Sleater-Kinney

Side B
7) Whatever Happened To You? by The Mendoza Line
8) Time Machine by Robyn
9) The Actress by The Delgados
10) The Past is a Grotesque Animal by Of Montreal
11) Brother’s Keeper by Aimee Mann
12) Smog Moon by Matthew Sweet

Liner Notes: November 2004. My girlfriend and I were making the drive down from Chicago to a wedding in the tail-end of southern Illinois. I had finished grad school four months earlier, and roughly 30 job applications had yet to bear fruit. I had depleted my savings and had no idea how long I could float by without getting a job.

Cut to the transmission falling out of my car, just outside of Champaign-Urbana.

One day later, we’re driving back home in a rental car, adding more on to my growing pile of credit card debt. I’m not sure where I’m going next, or even how I’m getting to my next job interview the next day. And if I do figure out how to get out there, I’ve got to interview in a suit jacket two sizes too large, thanks to my inadvertently swapping my own with another wedding guests’. I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to make it through the year, when The Streets’ “Blinded By the Lights” comes on the stereo.

Who knows what will happen tomorrow, but Jackie Rawe’s hook may have saved my life on this day.

The next day, I cajoled a friend to give me a ride to the suburbs, where I was offered my first professional job.

These are the songs that have appeared for me at precisely the right moment. Some are melancholy, some are bangers, some are in-between, but each one has been there right when I needed it. I hope you enjoy them.

Spotify Playlist link: This Song Will Save My Life

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My Mixtape Monday – May 23, 2016

First Name: Patrick
Twitter: @parkingchair
Sex: Male
Age: 50? Really?

Occupation: (Writer)

Mixtape Name: Music for Manic Depressives

Side A
1) Tether by Sarah Harmer
2) Two Star by Everything But the Girl
3) Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want by The Smiths
4) Good Day by Paul Westerberg
5) Until I Die by Ben Kweller
6) Promises by Badly Drawn Boy

Side B
7) Summertime by The Sundays
8) St. Croix by Family of the Year
9) Just Like Heaven by The Cure
10) Hard to Beat by Hard-Fi
11) Gimme Some Lovin’ by The Spencer Davis Group
12) Like Wow Wipeout by Hoodoo Gurus

Liner Notes: While I have never been clinically diagnosed as manic depressive or bipolar, I have always been one moody sonofabitch. In a good way. And music has been my companion on this lifelong journey of indecisive feelings. But I’ve never used music to alter my moods; rather, it has been an affirmation of the way I feel at any particular time. As it relates to Pittsburgh, this playlist could be organized by the times I am away from my hometown and missing it terribly—and the times I am actually there, remembering why I love it so much.

Side A is all about those times I feel like the world is terrible and no one sees things the way I do—or appreciates my brilliance. You know, the kind of world that could potentially elect a bombastic, fraudulent, hatemonger to the highest office in the land. Fortunately, we don’t live in that kind of world; it just feels that way. I think. I hope. Oh God, this may all be real! It’s a collection of six tunes I can always count on to ease me through a lousy day. With just a dash of hope in there to remind me that it always gets better.

Side B offers a glimpse into the flip side of my personality. Six songs that, no matter what’s happening, always make me smile. Songs that are infectiously happy, each with their own unique form of exuberant swagger. I dare anyone to listen to this group of songs and not feel like they just kissed Charlize Theron while swimming in shimmering blue Caribbean waters as your catamaran is anchored just off a secluded white sand beach. You’re welcome.

Indeed, everybody does love Alex, and I thank him for allowing me to take up a little space in your world with this rambling collection of words and music.

Spotify Playlist Link: Music for Manic Depressives

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My Mixtape Monday – May 16, 2016

First Name: Marisa
Twitter: @mcsuquet
Sex: Female
Age: 26

Occupation: Social Media Copywriter + Strategist, SapientNitro

Mixtape Name: High Good, Low Feel

Side A
1) The Treme Song by Treme Brass Band
2) Aaron Burr, Sir by Original Broadway Cast, Hamilton
3) Sabor a Mi by Monsieur Perine
4) Dog Days Are Over by Florence + The Machine
5) S.O.B. by Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
6) Oye Como Va by Tito Puente

Side B
7) When We Were Young by Adele
8) Love Yourself by Justin Bieber
9) Midnight Train to Georgia by Gladys Knight & the Pips
10) Close To My Fire by Slackwax
11) Roll Up Your Sleeves by Meg Mac
12) Buona Sera by Dean Martin

Liner Notes: I’m a singer, so I have a pretty eclectic palette. In short, there are two things I look for in every song: 1. Can I sing to it? 2. Does it make me feel good? If the answer is yes, chances are, it ends up in my library. “Good” is relative and I consume music with all 5 senses – so the A Side transports me to moments spent cruising through Miami, tunes blasting, salty coastal air wafting, sun streaming in.

I’ve always been a fan of B sides, so for this mixtape, I chose to slow it down. These aren’t necessarily ballads – each one has a major hook – they’re more for those cozy Friday nights with a wine glass in hand and dim, intimate lighting. Hence the title, “High Good, Low Feel.”

Spotify Playlist Link: These songs are peppered throughout a number of playlists, check out the rest here!

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My Mixtape Monday – The Best of the Boy Bands

R&B-tinged “boy bands” have enjoyed popularity since as far back as the 1960s with The Jackson 5. The stranglehold of boy bands on pop culture, specifically with the tween demographic, really hit a new stratosphere in the 1980s with the help of MTV and breakthrough acts like New Edition, New Kids On The Block and Menudo.

A general shift in musical tastes to pop-punk and hip-hop, along with repeated nut-punchings from Eminem, put the musical genre in hibernation as the 2000s wore on. Thankfully One Direction, 5 Seconds of Summer and The Wanted have showed up this decade to usher in another renaissance of irresistibly catchy tunes delivered by a group of guys with trendy haircuts.

Below is a collection of some of the best boy band songs of the past thirty years, put together by me and a bunch of my music-loving friends. Please enjoy!

Mixtape Name: Everybody (Boy Band’s Back)

Side A

1) I Want It That Way by Backstreet Boys (@prettiestpigeon)
This is “the song” I think of when I think of Backstreet Boys, even though they have catchier songs including Everybody (Backstreet’s Back). The verses don’t make much sense and are paced weird, but the chorus is catchy af and the iconic video elevates it to quintessential boy band status. It was nominated for a Grammy as 2000s Song of the Year, but somehow lost to that terrible Smooth by Santana & Rob Thomas because obvi the voters have terrible taste.
2) Bump, Bump, Bump by B2K feat. P. Diddy
A melodic lacing of acoustic guitar and a scene-stealing verse from Diddy is enough to earn this R. Kelly-penned joint a spot on this list.
3) Hangin’ Tough by New Kids on the Block (@alnarcisi)
Hangin’ Tough was the first time that these guys attempted to break away from the Pretty Boy image that everyone put them in. They wanted to sound tough, and decided the best way to accomplish this was a healthy dose of “rapping”. Regardless, it was one of their catchiest tunes and still compels people to hit the floor to “do the new kids’ dance”.
4) Tearin’ Up My Heart by *NSYNC (@prettiestpigeon)
This song was their second single and the music video is poorly edited and weird. The song is such a stupid “I can’t live with or without you song”, but what teenaged girl doesn’t love the idea of a dreamy boy band’er getting down on their knees and begging to be loved?
5) Give Me Just One Night (Una Noche) by 98 Degrees
Known mostly for ballads, 98 Degrees turned up the heat on this up-tempo dance song with some Ricky Martin-inspired Latin flavor. ¡Ay, caramba!
6) Faded by Soul Decision (@chelseyrovo)
Soul Decision, who I would accurately describe as the ALDI version of LFO or BBMak, created one of the best one-hit wonders of the early 2000s with Faded. It’s the boy band song that you forgot existed, but you still somehow know all the words to it whenever it comes on at the bar. And if you ever do hear this song at the bar, it’s probably because I’m also there controlling the Touch Tunes.

Side B
7) Iesha by Another Bad Creation
Along with the music, setting fashion trends is another HUGE part of a boy band’s impact. Another Bad Creation (ABC) made their mark with airbrushed overalls and inside-out sweatshirts. Unfortunately their reign at the top was short-lived once Kriss Kross came along and let us all know that they were “wiggity wiggity wiggity wack”.
8) Step By Step by New Kids on the Block (@prettiestpigeon)
According to Wikipedia, this song is the biggest-selling hit single for the group. I picked it because it’s the first NKOTB song I ever heard. And to listen to them “breakdown” the steps is literally the most hilarious thing I’ve ever heard. Step 5 is “Don’t you know the time is right?” That’s not an instruction or step for anything. Ultimately the draw is the catchy chorus, and not necessary the insightful lyrics!
9) Summer Girls by LFO (@alnarcisi)
This song is still in my mind every time I see an Abercrombie & Fitch store. Furthermore, I used to work at a Starbucks in New Hampshire and the lead singer came in once and asked my WAY younger coworker if she knew of the song. She laughed and said no and he proceeded to sing a few of the lines to her and she just kept laughing. #BoyBandFail
10) Live While We’re Young by One Direction (@prettiestpigeon)
This is the lead single from their 2nd album and showcases the greatness of the entire group. The music video is also a hot mess. And really, isn’t living while we’re young the real reason boy band music is essential?
11) If It Isn’t Love by New Edition
Over New Jack Swing-style keyboards and percussion, Ralph Tresvant uses his silky smooth tenor to sing about coming to grips with his own vulnerably to falling in love.
12) Bye Bye Bye by *NSYNC (@RussoJustineA)
This may be the most perfect pop song ever. First, it’s super-catchy. Second, it comes with its own dance! Third, it includes the pop genius of Mr. Justin Timberlake. Fourth, that damn video. Fifth, this is how you start a millennium. IMHO “Bye Bye Bye” was the pinnacle of early 2000s boy band oeuvre before hip-hop came and kicked pop’s bony white butt to the curb.

Bonus TrackABC by The Jackson 5
The fact that this song knocked Let It Be by The Beatles off of the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 back in 1970 is really all that needs to be said…

YouTube Playlist Link: Everybody (Boy Band’s Back)

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My Mixtape Monday – April 18, 2016

First Name: Zain
Twitter: @Insane_Zain
Sex: Once 6 years ago. Oh, I mean Male.
Age: 25

Occupation: Mindless-Job Worker/Comedian

Mixtape Name: The Brown Album

Liner Notes: There are 2 genres of music have had a huge impact in my life: hip-hop and angsty rock. I appreciate hip-hop for the motivation and clever lyrical ability, and I appreciate angsty rock for the MSN statuses it provided me. I decided to devote each side to one of those genres (using each artist only once), to give you guys my very own musical masterpiece. Here is the mixtape that critics everywhere are calling “can you please stop emailing me your shitty song list?”

Side A
1) Hiiipower by Kendrick Lamar
This was the first Kendrick Lamar song I ever listened to, and still is probably my favourite one. It is weird looking back now at how he’s always been that one guy who has more to say than you would expect on a song. It’s produced by J. Cole too so it’s like a 2-for-1 special. Also, it is a perfect segway to the 2nd song.
2) Killers by J. Cole
It took me longer than I care to admit to finally pick just 1 J. Cole song. 99% of his songs are amazing; he’s like the Heisenberg of the rap game. I had to pick the one that best shows just how great J. Cole is. On Killers he sounds like Nas and Tupac did the DBZ fusion dance and made a song immediately after.
3) Hate Me Now by Nas feat Puff Daddy
I’m no historian, but I’m pretty sure the first gym was built after this song was released. It’s impossible to not be pumped up and motivated when listening to this song. Nas gives you great lyrics on a beat that doesn’t even need it, and Puff Daddy (Diddy/P.Diddy/Puffy/Drake-Slapper) provides a hook that inspired douchebags everywhere.
4) The Way I Am by Eminem
Every brown person has a special place in their heart for Eminem. Just the passion in every line of this song is so impossible to ignore. I can’t help but feel like I’m having problems with record labels and critics myself whenever I hear it. He’s another guy that has so many good songs that it’s virtually pointless to just pick 1.
5) Diamonds From Sierra Leone (Remix) by Kanye West ft Jay-Z
My personal favourite collaboration from “The Throne” is this classic from Kanye’s 2nd album. We get the best version of Yeezy on this with lyrics focused on social issues, personal guilt, and clever takes on a very serious topic. This is the Kanye that probably made Kanye fall in love with Kanye. Jay-Z pops up for an iconic 2nd verse. That businessman line increased the amount of entrepreneurs everywhere by roughly 300% (give or take 299%). I also got to see them perform this live during the Watch The Throne tour (#humblebrag), and it felt like a religious experience, so I may be biased.
6) Something You Forgot by Lil Wayne
This guy absolutely dominated my iPod in High School. This song specifically hit hard for every guy who believed that one Grade 9 break-up would be their biggest regret in life. He samples the classic “What is Love” by Heart (that’s not a joke btw) and gave the world the first Drake sounding hip-hop song. Lil Wayne might barely be able to speak now, but damn did he have an amazing way with words in his good old days.

Side B

7) The Scientist by Coldplay
What better way to start off the angsty rock side than with the least angsty song of all-time. This song is just too great to not have on here. The piano hits you with every note, and Chris Martin makes me jealous of his vocals with every line. It also had one of the cooler music videos that I’ve seen, and major props to him for memorizing the entire song backwards for it. No lie, he actually did that.
8) Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana
Smells Like Teen Spirit might be the catchiest angry song of all-time, and Cobain’s voice is so haunting and perfect on every line that it really makes you wish he could have been alive for longer. I think the only thing more unfortunate than Cobain’s early death is that people use this song to mix with house music.
9) In The End by Linkin Park
If you were a foreign kid in North America in the early 2000’s, chances are that Linkin Park was your favourite band. They’re the Eminem of Rock music. This song is great for people who love being reminded about how pointless life is, and I’m almost positive was ghost-written by Vegeta (that’s TWO DBZ references!). Mike Shinoda was my first favourite rapper, and Chester has such an amazing screaming voice that his kids probably get in trouble on purpose.
10) Talk Show Host by Radiohead
I could listen to just the guitar from this song for the rest of my life and I think I’d be happy. Well, maybe “happy” isn’t the right word to describe how it makes me feel. Really you can place any Radiohead on to this mixtape and I wouldn’t be mad at you. This song also gets bonus points for being on the soundtrack for the great 1996 Shakespeare-inspired movie, Leonardo DiCaprio & Juliet.
11) Time Is Running Out by Muse
I heard of Muse for the first time when I visited England as a child in 2004, and this song made me a fan immediately. I remember coming back to Toronto and telling all my friends about this song, so I’m pretty sure I deserve SOME credit for it being their first top-10 hit.
12) Pieces by Sum 41
Being a Toronto kid, I had to throw some Sum 41 into this mixtape. They were one of my favourite bands growing up, and not just because their guitarist looked exactly like me. This song still gives me chills when I hear it, and reminds me about how unnecessarily depressed I must have been at a young age. Also, after 5 insanely popular and iconic bands, I had to throw a random curveball in here to keep it fresh.

YouTube Playlist Link: The Brown Album

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My Mixtape Monday – The Best of Grunge

My main objective when putting together this playlist was to avoid curating a hackneyed list of omnipresent hits from the grunge era (i.e. Smells like Teen Spirit, Jeremy, etc.). However, I also didn’t want to catalog a pretentious “deep dive” collection of influential but ultimately vestigial music from the scene’s pioneers (i.e. Mother Love Bone, Tad et al).

Hopefully what I arrived at is a nice selection of songs from the seminal artists that defined the time period, along with some unpolished gems of early nineties alternative rock. Now let’s throw on our flannel shirts and start choppin’!

Mixtape Name: Alternative Nations

Side A
1) Drain You by Nirvana (1991)
Infectious (literally) lyrics, an equally catchy guitar riff and a rubber ducky solo infuse this song with a playfulness missing from most of Nevermind’s gloomy Side B.
2) Release by Pearl Jam (1991)
With lyrics that play out like poetry, Release captured Eddie Vedder’s songwriting and singing at their cathartic best.
3) Hunger Strike by Temple of the Dog (1991)
More classic baritone beltings from Eddie Vedder, this time with Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell assisting with his soulful high register.
4) Nearly Lost You by Screaming Trees (1992)
This Singles Soundtrack highlight nails the three hallmarks of grunge: gruff vocals, yearning lyrics and crunchy guitars.
5) 100% by Sonic Youth (1992)
Sonic Youth possessed an avant-garde aesthetic that did not fit wholly under the umbrella of grunge. Regardless, the bouncy punk strains of 100% sounds quite nice nestled into this mix and reflect a similar spirit of relentlessness.
6) Would? By Alice in Chains (1992)
To me, grunge was the intersection of a Venn diagram made up of punk rock, indie rock and heavy metal. Along with Soundgarden, Alice in Chains embodied the sludgy, dark side of grunge and Would? captured them at gritty best.

Side B
7) Plush (Acoustic from Headbangers Ball) by Stone Temple Pilots (1992)
STP’s music added a pop-inspired veneer to grunge music that was controversial at the time and caused many journalists to label them as derivative poseurs. Retrospectively, the strength of their catalog now finds them inarguably one of the most talented bands of the grunge era and the undeniable Plush is a shining example of their melodic song craft.
8) Start Choppin’ by Dinosaur Jr. (1993)
#JMascisIsGod
9) Accelerator by Gumball (1993)
10) Under My Skin by Dandelion (1993)
Though these East Coast bands did not achieve the breakthrough success of their Seattle brethren, both of these songs are perfect examples of guitar-driven grunge rock.
11) Rocket by Smashing Pumpkins (1993)
Just try to not sing along with Billy Corgan as he triumphantly repeats “I shall be free!”
12) Violet by Hole (1994)
Fitting that we end this playlist with an artist some regard as being responsible for the death of the era’s spokesman Kurt Cobain. Regardless of your opinion of Courtney Love, the quiet-to-loud grunge ethos are on full display here along with a feminine fury that seems just as vital today as it was in 1993.

YouTube Playlist Link: Alternative Nations

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My Mixtape Monday – April 4, 2016

First Name: Kasey
Twitter: @SMASEY
Sex: Female
Age: 23

Occupation: moonbounce cleaner. it’s a thing.

Mixtape Name: a random sampling from a playlist of all of my favorite songs which I believe at this point is nearing 800 songs

Side A
1) Young Folks by Peter Bjorn and John
2) Flawless (Remix) by Beyoncé ft. Nicki Minaj
3) No Hands by Waka Flocka Flame ft. Roscoe Dash and Wale
4) Radar by Britney Spears
5) First Day of My Life by Bright Eyes
6) Hit ‘Em Up Style (Oops!) by Blu Cantrell

Side B
7) The Rose by Bette Midler
8) My Drink N’ My 2 Step by Cassidy
9) The Joker by Steve Miller Band
10) Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too by Say Anything
11) Santa Fe by Beirut
12) American Woman by Lenny Kravitz

Liner Notes: i simply put the playlist on shuffle and did the first twelve songs that played. it was hard to not be a snob and just put the “cool” songs but i figured this would be more fun, anyway

YouTube Playlist Link: a random sampling…

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