Friday, October 16, 2009

Songs to Seduce Your Crush, Whomever They May Be

I’m amazed at the number of people who find this blog through googling “songs for crushes.” But then again, I’m not: I spend a really embarrassing amount of my time thinking about boys that I want to make out with, even though that time would probably be better spent doing work, or reading a book, or taking care of the truly sickening pile of laundry threatening to avalanche forth from my closet, or looking both ways before wandering into the street. It seems that despite getting older, my power to crush powerfully has only increased. I’m like the world’s most easily charmed superhero. Is it a date? Is it a friend? No, it’s Falls for Everyone Girl! But I’m not alone, judging by both the searches we get and the sheer number of songs written for crushes of all varieties. Here is our musical guide to winning over the many types that could’ve caught your fancy. Record ‘em, burn ‘em, send ‘em forth anonymously with lipstick prints and smelling like perfume.

Songs to Seduce Your Crush, Whomever They May Be
Side A: Kathy's Picks

(Complete mixtape will be linked later!)

1. The Pretenders – Don’t Get Me Wrong
This one’s for the instant crush, which happens to me at least six times a day. You see a boy on the sidewalk, or down at the end of a subway car, or buying a banana at the bodega, or in the elevator at work and wha-BAM are you in love or what?

2. The Republic Tigers – Get Up the Nerve
For the crush you’re going to tell, for real. I have little experience with this, as I mostly keep my crushes to myself and my highly embarrassing journal, but I know the feeling of being on the verge of blurting out how much you love someone whenever you see them. It blows.

3. Waylon Jennings - Love Denied
This song is for the crush you’ve had so long you’ve not only imagined a relationship with them in your head, the fictitious relationship has already gone south. Waylon’s good company for the imaginary daters.

4. Fruit Bats - Canyon Girl
This one’s perfect for the girl you fall in love with on vacation and think about fondly (read: inappropriately) from your desk, or traffic, or the line at the bank.

5. Girls - Lauren Marie
Excellent for drinking buddy crushes, those feelings that develop three beers in and dissipate with your headache the next morning. Some may call that a sign of alcoholism. I prefer the term “alcamour.”

6. Japandroids - Heart Sweats
This one is for hate crushes—when your genitals have a crush on someone your brain can’t logically abide. She’s icy, she’s mean and she’s a mess, but he wants her anyway, so fuck it.

7. The xx – VCR
This might be my favorite crush song on this whole list because it’s about having a very subtle crush on the Duckie in your life. I have this chip on my shoulder about Pretty in Pink and the Duckies of the world not getting their due, but this song seems fit for falling in love with that person who’s always just been there. You sit around and watch TV together and shit is just better with them because they get you on some wonderful, teen-romance, 1985 level.

8. Tegan and Sara – Nineteen
The flipside to The xx crush. This one is for the teen-style crush who makes you psychotic.

9. Bikini Kill - Rebel Girl
For your girl crush. Beware that she might get weirded out if you actually make a mixtape for her, but feel free to listen to this one on repeat while you think about how awesome she is and how cool it is that her hair looks like that without doing anything and how that one time she totally high-fived you hello was the best.

10. Superchunk – Detroit Has a Skyline Too
A song for the crush you just plain fucked up but haven’t gotten over. (I listen to this one a LOT.) (Because I am a very successful dater.) (I also knit and like crossword puzzles.) (I am really fucking cool and not an old lady.) (Have I charmed you yet?)

11. The Lucksmiths – Adolescent Song of Mindless Devotion
For any and all crushes of the slightly twee variety. Y’all can wear cute scarves together.

12. The Lemonheads – The Outdoor Type
For the crush you kinda lied to about what you like in order to make a good impression. Evan Dando may not be the camper this lady was looking for, but I’m fairly sure he was up to his knees in poon in the nineties. Don’t feel too bad for him. Or yourself.

Songs to Seduce Your Crush, Whomever They May Be
Side B: Kai's Picks

1. Sophie B. Hawkins – Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover
For the crush that’s already taken and needs some serious, over the top pleading to make them yours.

2. Smashing Pumpkins - Lily (My One and Only)
For the crush you watch from afar. I think in legal parlance this might be referred to as stalking, but you know, whatever.

3. The Gossip – Ain’t It The Truth (I Got A Crush On You)
For your classic, weak in the knees, stomachache-inducing crush.

4. Green Day – At the Library
For the crush who sits around the library horribly (wonderfully) reading your favorite book.

5. Marilyn Manson – I Put a Spell On you
For seducing your fishnet-wearing Goth crush.

6. Madonna – Crazy For You
For the guy who dances at 80s Night that you totally love.

7. Garbage - #1 Crush
For the crush you should probably put on the back burner before you tie them up and hold them hostage in your closet.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Songs for Two

Duets are weird; they can be so right (Johnny Cash and June Carter) or so completely wrong (Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock). There are some fantastic girl/girl duets (Enough is Enough, by Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer) or guy/guy duets (Under Pressure, David Bowie and Freddie Mercury) but there’s something uniquely appealing about a guy/girl duet. Like watching kids you know play the lead roles in a high school production of “Bye Bye Birdie,” just waiting for that weird moment when they have to kiss.

Songs for Two
(Complete mixtape available on

1. Bouncing Souls – Wish Me Well ( You Can Go To Hell)
Kai says: A duet complete with bickering!

2. NOFX – Lori Meyers
Kathy says: I once got into a long argument with a dude about whether or not this is Courtney Love (it’s not, I won), but the fact that it’s not is kind of why I love this as a duet. This is actually the girl from the Muffs and she manages to entirely steal this song in about a dozen lines. She outsnarls and outgrowls Fat Mike like it ain’t no thing, making this kind of a hate fuck of a perfect duet.

3. Meatloaf (and Ellen Foley) – Paradise By the Dashboard Light
Kathy says: Ellen Foley doesn’t get the equal billing she deserves on this song, which is 90% Meatloaf jam, 10% Ellen, but would be 100% lame if it weren’t for her “Stop right theeeeeere!” My life is a constant search for the perfect guy to star as the Meatloaf in my dream karaoke rendition of this song, convinced that when I do it will become sword-in-the-stone-apparent that we are meant to be together.

4. Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin – Je t’aime…Moi Non Plus
Kathy says: Dirty. This is a dirty duet. So good that the Vatican denounced it.

5. Grizzly Bear and Feist – Service Bell
Kai says: A haunting duet about loving someone who is sleeping around. A LOT.

6. Peaches and Herb – Reunited
Kai says: A couple reuniting and it sounds so good.

7. Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond – You Don’t Bring Me Flowers
Kai says: When I think of Duets, this is the first song that comes to mind. Neil and Barbra sing about a relationship falling apart with sweet seventies sadness.

8. Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes – I’ve Had the Time of My Life
Kathy says: Shut up and let me have my estrogen moment.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Songs to Make Your Skin Crawl and Your Heart Skip a Beat

Virtually every pop song ever written boils down to love. I love you, or I miss you because I loved you, or why don't you love me, or how can you possibly love that guy? Teen love, true love, lost love, unrequited love: it's all pretty legit and, more importantly, plottable somewhere along the nutty graph of human emotion. However, just like shooting stars and subway cars that don't smell a little bit like armpits and french fries, once in a great while a love song will skew accidentally creepy, or dark, or psychotic, or macabre. This is a mix for the crazy gleam in your eye, the part of you that wants to whisper awkward things, your inner peeping tom, your inner garbage picker and diary reader, your inner poison-swigger and passionate strangler, and that one person you love so much you could just eat them up. With some fava beans and a nice chianti.

Songs to Make Your Skin Crawl and Your Heart Skip a Beat
(Complete mixtape available on

1. Blood Bank- Bon Iver
Kai says: He's talking about a pair of lovers in a car and it's a pretty image, with snow falling, but some big secret looms over them. Plus, the references to blood make it a little creepy.

2. The Toadies - Possum Kingdom
Kai says: This one starts out with a nice romantic walk by the lake and then may lead to lyrics of wanting to kill her and keep her forever. Real healthy.

3. The Decemberists - We Both Go Down Together
Kai says: A girl from wrong side of the tracks secretly meets her wealthy high society lover. Then? Joint suicide.

4. The Cars - Drive
Kai says: This one sounds like a slow dance, but it's really just a codependent anthem.

5. Cyndi Lauper - I Drove All Night
Kathy says: "I drove all night to get to you...crept into your room. Is that alright?" No, Cyndi, it's not. It's not alright.

6. Kate Bush - Hounds of Love
Kathy says: Nothing quite like comparing love to a pack of dogs about to tear a fox limb from limb to make relationships seem enticing. The kind of love I envision for myself doesn't "come for me through the trees." That's what Bigfoot does. Also, she kind of barks.

7. Heart - Alone
Kathy says: Presumably the Wilsons want to get their men to finally confess their love. Or else knock them the fuck out and tie them up and drug them almost to the point of oblivion and skin him and wear him like a big man suit.

8. Meatloaf - You Took The Words Right Out of My Mouth
Kathy says: The intro to this song is the upper limit of creepiness. The rest of the lyrics are sort of whatever, intense and cheesy, but acceptably lovey-dovey. Although the implications of taking anything out of Meatloaf's mouth, whether via your tongue or your fingers or forceps or whatever, is horrible.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Songs for Those Dreamy Girls (...We Wish We Were)

There are girls who listen to music and record tapes for themselves and each other that are filled with songs by guys who feel deeply enough to whip out a guitar. These are rarely (but most often not) the kind of girls who receive similar tapes from real life guys who adore them. There are plenty of both kinds of girl in the world—the kind who spend Valentine’s Day with friends and Bon Jovi vs. the kind who receive single roses and dinner offers. Few and far between, however, are those unicorn ladies who inspire a song. It’s easy to picture the Rosannas and Sharonas and Peggy Sues all wearing very red lipstick and giggling together behind the velvet rope of utter desirability. For the rest of us, though, sometimes it’s enough just to have a guy crooning in second-person in your headphones.

Songs for Those Dreamy Girls (…We Wish We Were)
(Complete mixtape available on

1. Simon & Garfunkel – Kathy’s Song
Kathy says: I’m not usually one for an acoustic love song. This one only caught my attention when raiding my mom’s record collection when I was twelve because it had my name in the title, but this one’s sad and pining enough melt even my frigid heart. “There but for the grace of you go I,” really gets me—there’s something about a girl who’s love is redemptive (as opposed to just enjoyable) that’s a kick in the pants to us merely mortal ladies.

2. Rivers Cuomo – I Don’t Want to Let You Go
Kai says: Rivers just gets it. This is the sweetest song about getting a girl ever, and I want that girl to be me.

3. Echo and The Bunnymen – Lips Like Sugar
Kai says: I have lips like cherry Lip Smackers. Sugar would be better.

4. Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run
Kathy says: If I’m gonna pick songs that I wish had been written about me, I’m gonna go big. Yes, I’ll say it: I want to be someone's Wendy. It took me a while to decide between this song and “She’s the One,” but when I really thought about the lyrics this one’s the obvious winner. “She’s the One” is all about a pretty lady and French kissing and how wonderful she looks. But Wendy? She’s so cool that The Boss’s scrappy dream of Making It involves her. That’s love.

5. The Smithereens – Behind the Wall of Sleep
Kai says: This girl is tall, cool, pretty and she plays the bass in a band. This guy just lays in bed dreaming about her, which sounds pretty much perfect.

6. The Troggs – Wild Thing
Kathy says: There are about five lines to this song and the girl doesn’t even get a name beyond “Wild Thing,” and, thinking about it, who’s to say that’s even a girl? It could be a motorcycle or a horse or something. Whatever. My point here is that when I hear this song, I picture a very particular girl with big hair and a walk killer enough to inspire that skanky guitar. Dear Jesus, let me grow up and be that girl.

7. The Beastie Boys – She’s Crafty
Kai says: Okay, so, she’s a little loose and a thief…but she’s crafty and she’s just his type!

8. The Damned – Love Song
Kathy says: Another quasi-jokey choice from a bunch of morons. I realize a lot of ladies would probably want to steer far clear of Rat Scabies and crew, but if I was the subject of their theoretical metaphors I’d be so charmed I’d be rendered immobile.

9. Art Brut – Emily Kane
Kathy says: This one walks the fine line between sweet tribute and uncomfortable obsession, but I like my guys a little nuts. Who wouldn’t want to be the girl who was so cool when she was fifteen that someone still holds her up as the gold standard of female kind? When I was fifteen I was fat, wore men’s carpenter jeans and had not yet discovered the allure of plucking my eyebrows. Hats off to you, Ms. Kane.

10. Paul Westerberg – Stain Yer Blood
Kathy says: My favorite song about a girl because Paul Westerberg is kind of my favorite guy. This one hits close to home because of how real it is: she’s hanging around, he knows she wants him, he’s all let’s do this thing tonight, whatever, no big deal, people are gonna talk about it, fuck them. But then! Transcendent musical magic that differentiates the pop muse from my average self: “Is it love?”

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Songs for Starring in Your Own 1990s After School Special

Apparently meteorological and hormonal forces aligned in such a way in the 1990s to create a perfect storm of overwrought songs about teenage drama. For a decade that produced a whole lot of great music from weird-looking kids as an antidote to packaged 80s pop, there sure were enough “Reviving Ophelia”-style issue songs and over the top pop anthems to fill every notebook margin in the country with significant nobody-gets-me-oh-god-but-Mark-Hoppus-gets-me quotage. With at least a decade’s distance from most of these songs it’s easy to find them funny, but, shamefully, it’s way more fun to sit in an office chair and secretly pine for an issue that requires your family to stage an intervention.

Songs for Starring in Your Own 1990s After School Special
(Complete mixtape available on

1. Offspring - The Kids Aren’t Alright
Kathy says: This song is basically the teen issue equivalent of “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” Teen pregnancy, drop outs, unemployment, drug abuse, suicide, and overdose. And that’s just the second verse.

2. Everclear – Father of Mine
Kathy says: His daddy gave him a name, and then he walked away. Pure Banana Splits-style tragedy. (Which I’m sure was at least slightly vindicated by the fact that Art Alexakis got to call out his dad six times an hour on Z-100 for at least 6 months during 1997.)

3. Blink 182 – Adam’s Song
Kai says: Ah, teenage suicide! “Sixteen just held such better days…”

4. K’s Choice – Not an Addict
Kai says: This song manages to make drugs sound cool and melodramatic while simultaneously being all “oooh, but watch out!” It’s a teenage drama explosion.

5. Silverchair – Ana’s Song
Kai says: What’s better than a song about anorexia from the hot Silverchair guy? It just pulls my teenage heart strings. Also, it seems the formula for a teen drama song is name + “song.” Name should preferably start with an A.

6. The Verve Pipe – Freshmen
Kathy says: Guilt-stricken, sobbing with my head on the floor…for inflicting this on anyone listening to this mixtape. I fucking hate this song—I hated it when it came out—but it’s so perfect I had to put it on here. This was a song not for cutters, but for kids who sat in their room contemplating possibly cutting, thinking the better of it, and writing horribly poetry instead. This song makes the ill-fated week’s worth of Valium sound really enticing.

7. Jewel – Foolish Games
8. Edwin McCain – I’ll Be

Kathy says: The equally important soundtrack to a snotty, sobbing teenage love scene after everyone’s hit (a flannel-cushioned) rock bottom.

9. Soul Asylum – Runaway Train
Kai says: Runaways equal teenage drama to the extreme. Every episode of Sally Jesse Raphael and every issue of Seventeen with a runaway teen story was pure gold. The video for this song was practically a Lifetime movie.

10. Bone Thugs -N-Harmony – Crossroads

Kathy says: A melodic pouring out of 40s on the curb, if you will. The video to this song was so over the top, with the church and the flashing lights and the shooting reinactments and everything, but the song gets kind of heartbreakingly sincere at the “I miss my Uncle Charles, y’all” line.

11. Blessid Union of Souls – I Believe
Kathy says: The 90s melodrama ace up my sleeve. Beat it, I dare you.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Songs that Will Play on a Loop in Your Head ‘Til You Die…But Still Kinda Rule

A researcher at the University of Cincinnati reported in 2001 that the theme from Gilligan’s Island, We Will Rock You, the Macarena, Whoomp (There It Is), and It’s a Small World After All are some of the most frequently reported songs playing on a psychotic loop inside brains cross the country. He asserts that what these songs have in common is a melodic simplicity and inherent repetitiveness that render them not songs, but a “cognitive itch” scratched by mentally singing the tune over and over. We assert that what they have in common is grave levels of abject suckitude. While we know that individual on-repeat songs are personal (a roommate wakes up singing ODB’s Shimmy Shimmy Ya every day, a friend has had Electric Avenue on brain repeat for two decades), these are ours. For the most part, we forgive them.

Songs that Will Play on a Loop in Your Head ‘Til You Die…But Still Kinda Rule
(Complete mixtape available on

1. Squeeze – Another Nail for my Heart
Kai says: It never stops. I basically make up my own words to it. Well, I also sing the line “I’ve had a bad time, now love is resigned, I’ve been such a fool, I’ve loved and goodbyed” pretty damn dramatically.

2. Wham! – Careless Whisper
Kai says: I once tried to teach my bird the saxophone solo.

3. The Left Banke – Walk Away Renee
4. The Rolling Stones – Under My Thumb

Kai says: I blame these on years of working at a health food store that only played an oldies station. Something about the repetitiveness of pricing vitamins and the dire, gloomy feeling of knowing you still had hours to go, all while stuck in that awful health food smell put these songs on a permanent loop in my head.

5. Outkast – Hey Ya
Kai says: The part about lending me some sugar, I am your neighbor is basically what’s in my head if I’m not actively thinking something else.

6. Ghost Town DJs – My Boo
Kathy says: I didn’t even know who did this song until I had to find it on Blip for this mix, and then when I brought it up to other people they insisted they didn’t know it. It’s one of those songs where you have to sing the first two lines of the chorus and then everyone’s all, “Oooooh, I know that sonnnnng.” But then everyone loses. Because you’ll be singing it until you die.

7. Blake Babies – Temptation Eyes
Kathy says: There’s a couple good cover versions of this song by the Grass Roots (the Replacements one is really good too), which is a small relief when you have it lodged in your head. At least you can swap lead singers in and out like a wrestling tag team.

8. Rod Stewart – Young Turks
Kathy says: It’s really hard to think of songs that you get stuck in your head when you don’t currently have one stuck in your head. This was not the case with this fucker, which I remembered almost instantly. The kicker was searching my own blog for the phrase “stuck in my head,” and turning up ONLY this song.

9. Dinosaur Jr. – Not You Again
Kathy says: I actually love this song and look forward to the weeks when I can do nothing but sing “just fuck it up yourself” or “driiiive me home again” every time I open my mouth.

10. Social Distortion – Ball and Chain
Kathy says: This song is the soundtrack to an endless drunken bar singalong in some wrinkle of my cerebellum.

11. Lisa Loeb – Stay
Kathy says: You know how on South Park, Cartman has to sing the entirety of “Come Sail Away” if he hears the first few words? Yeah. I know how he feels.

12. The Crew Cuts – Sh-Boom
Kathy says: Yes, this is enough to drive you to homicide. Yes, it was in Clue. Yes, it was me, in the parlor, with the candlestick. Pounding on my own skull.

13. The Monroes – What Do All The People Know?
Kathy and Kai say: This is the first song to show up on both of our lists. This means it is the end all of repetitive songs. It’s the red phone. Listen at your own risk.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Songs for Nights When Sleep Is Just a No Go

There are few feelings as fucked as being awake in your bed at 4:45 on Sunday night. Or rather, Monday morning. You’ve watched the clock flip past all of the hours when you calculate how much sleep you could still get and into the hours when you calculate how soon you have to get up. The sky is getting suspiciously cobalt. Even your neighbors have shut the fuck up. Just prior to birds and garbage trucks, just after the last laps of the really loud cars full of kids about to get in trouble for staying out, you’re the only person awake in the world. Here’s your mixtape, insomniac.

Songs for Nights When Sleep Is Just a No Go
(MOST of the mixtape available on

1. Low – Tonight
Kathy says: This one’s slow and twinkly and belongs at the beginning of every insomniac’s mixtape. If there’s any song in the world that might possibly lull you to sleep after hours of staring at the ceiling and listening to your neighbors fight in Spanish on the stoop (which is what I get to do, at least), this is the jam.

2. Bruce Springsteen – I’m On Fire
Kai says: Maybe it was just growing up in the NY Metropolitan area, but I swear, this song is always on the radio in the middle of the night. Turn on any rock station around 3:00am and you’ll hear “At night I wake up with the sheets soaking wet and a freight train running through the middle of my head…”

3. The Gossip – Dark Lines
Kai says: Even heavy makeup can’t conceal her sleepless nights.

4. Smog – The Orange Glow of a Stranger’s Living Room
Kai says: This dude can’t sleep, feels restless, goes out walking and notices the glow of a stranger’s living room. It looks warmer than his own.

5. M Ward – O Lazy Days
Kai says: Crooning about not having a good night’s rest in a long, long time.

6. Elliott Smith – 2:45 AM
Kathy says: The truly sleepless know that feeling when you’ve been awake for hours, there’s no hope you’ll go to sleep, and suddenly you’re all, wait a minute, I don’t just suck at being asleep. I completely suck at everything. Elliott gets it.

7. Grizzly Bear – Lullabye
Kathy says: I like that this song is called “Lullabye” but it doesn’t even pretend to put you to sleep; the song’s about sitting in a folding chair with a glass of gin by a wading pool and the repeated line is “restless nights.”

8. Atlas Sound - Recent Bedroom
Kathy says: This song’s got about three lines, and none of them are about sleeping. But bedroom’s in the title and it’s about walking around and not being able to cry, and somewhere on a particularly sleepless night you’re doing to have to do this. Take your iPod when you pace around the kitchen and drink out of the orange juice because you’re bored and frustrated—this is the song for that.

9. The Evangelicals – How Do You Sleep?
Kai says: Here’s a guy who can’t sleep because he’s too preoccupied by nightmares and bumps in the night.

10. Heartless Bastards – Wide Awake
Kathy says: I think this one’s about being metaphorically wide awake, but fuck it. I like this one because it has some balls. When you’re tired, this one’s about being angry you’re still awake. “I’m so wide awake,” it starts, “so wired and I don’t like this state.”

11. Free Energy – Dream City
Kathy says: There’s a difference between being up all night and staying up all night. After a certain point (say, a whole playlist’s worth of insomnia jams), it’s time to get up and find the other kids still awake. Because seriously? Fuck work.