Here are sample playlists put together from my own (admittedly limited) library, each one “arced” for a particular purpose. Then I asked a few folks who can really pick out a tune to share their sample lists.
It’s siesta time. I feel myself lapsing into food coma, eyelids drooping and motivation flagging. Flo Rida’s sunny dance beats shake me awake, and LMFAO’sdriving base gets me going. Calvin Harris evens out the energy level, and Cypress Hill’s vibrant melodies with Marc Anthony’s soaring vocals send my spirits flying.
“Good Feeling” by Flo Rida
“Party Rock Anthem” by LMFAO
“Feel So Close” by Calvin Harris
“Armada Latina” by Cypress Hill, featuring Marc Anthony and Pitbull
It takes me a step or two to transition from a ball of stress into lounge mode. “Electric Feel” by MGMT may be high-energy for some, but its otherworldly lyrics and sound transport me far from my troubles. Buffalo Springfield’s pensive lyrics bring the energy down, and Nikka Costa’s laid-back funk tells me to “take it easy.” Then I float away on Zero 7’s dreamy cloud of electronica.
“Electric Feel” by MGMT
“For What It’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield
“Like a Feather” by Nikka Costa
“In the Waiting Line” by Zero 7
WORK IT OUT:
When I want to push my limits, the Heavy’s vengeful driving funk can send me sprinting. Gwen Stefani eggs me on when I start to flag, David Guetta’s dance beats set a steady pace — but ultimately, I rely on Daft Punk’s relentless house beats to take me into the home stretch.
“How You Like Me Now?” by the Heavy
“What You Waiting For?” by Gwen Stefani
“Memories” by David Guetta, featuring Kid Cudi
“Touch It” by Daft Punk
RICO LOVE (singer-songwriter and record producer)
I wake up really early in the morning, no matter how late I am in the studio. I believe in no days off, so to get me up and moving before I go to the gym, I listen to:
“Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” by Michael Jackson
“Aguanile” by Hector Lavoe
“Why I Love You” by Kanye West and Jay-Z, featuring Mr. Hudson
“Hello Good Morning” by Diddy-Dirty Money, featuringT.I.
I’ve been really stressed out this past week, so what really gets me to calm down and focus when I have one of those kind of weeks:
“In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins
“Vicious World” by Rufus Wainwright
“The Sweetest Taboo” by Sade
“Losing My Religion” by R.E.M.
WORK IT OUT:
I can’t start any day without going to the gym — its gives me that extra burst of energy that I need to go through the day. So when I’m working out with my trainer, I listen to:
“Without You” by David Guetta, featuring Usher
“We Found Love” by Rihanna, featuring Calvin Harris
“Way Too Gone” by Young Jeezy, featuring Future
“Bangarang” by Skrillex, featuring Sirah
Garth Trinidad (DJ, KCRW-FM)
PICK ME UP:
Having kids means no matter what time I hit the sack, I’m up at the crack of dawn. For the ride to school, Murs has the whole fam head-bopping, while Yellow Alex and Big Moves provide bright, playful, high-energy indie rock and pop rhythms perfect for playground plans and, of course, the rest of Daddy’s daytime adventures.
“Fresh Kicks” by Murs and Terrace Martin
“Lisa Lisa Lisa” by Yellow Alex and the Feelings
“Inspiration as a Recurring Theme” by Big Moves
When the workday ends at 3 a.m., nothing like plugging in the headphones for some head nodding to chill those beta waves out. The down tempo swing and sublime vocal harmonies of Ana Tijoux and the Internet set me adrift to meet the Sandman, while Jensen Sportag’s remix for Madi Diaz lays down the final groove for REM sleep.
“Volver” by Ana Tijoux
“Love Song -1" by the Internet
“Trust Fall” (Down We Go Remix by Jensen Sportag) by Madi Diaz
WORK IT OUT:
We’ll call this one hypothetical, as it’s been a while since I’ve witnessed the fitness. Spirit Animal’s raucous punk funk is on repeat while we get the blood pumping on the treadmill. Then we go hard on benches, squats and free weights with the heavy monster sound of Blah Blah Blah and savage speed of Stiffed.
“Crocodile Skins” by Spirit Animal
“Why Am I the Only One Laughing?” by Blah Blah Blah
“What You Gon’ Do?” by Stiffed
Randall Roberts (pop music critic, Los Angeles Times)PICK ME UP:
These songs serve myriad inspirational purposes, as the psychic fuel in my life, from Arthur Russell’s ode to the dream life to the explosion that is Beyoncé's “Countdown,” along with jazz iconoclast Sun Ra’s wonderfully sloppy “Rocket No. 9" and L.A. punk band the Weirdos’ burst of fury.
“Come to Life” by Arthur Russell
“Countdown” by Beyoncé
“Rocket Number Nine” by Sun Ra
“A Life of Crime” by the Weirdos
These songs are comfort food for me: Shuggie Otis’ “Island Letter” is an exquisitely rendered musical note penned on a beach, and British pop minimalists the xx honor the warm feeling of a night on the couch. Joni Mitchell is, well, Joni Mitchell, and British composer Gavin Bryars’ 74-minute version of his work “Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet” is among the most ethereal music I know.
“Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet” by Gavin Bryars
“My Old Man” by Joni Mitchell
“Island Letter” by Shuggie Otis
“VCR” by the xx
WORK IT OUT:
Hard rhythms are natural performance enhancers, and given the right song, a workout can transform what’s often a daily drag into a virtual dance party. Before you know it, LCD Soundsystem’s “Losing My Edge” is igniting your heart, or the Stones’ classic “Street Fighting Man” is pushing you forward. Kanye West’s “The New Workout Plan” is a literal aerobics ditty, and the Detroit techno wind-sprint “Knights of the Jaguar” is a 138 bpm, six-minute boot camp.
“Losing My Edge” by LCD Soundsystem
“Street Fighting Man” by the Rolling Stones
“Knights of the Jaguar” by DJ Rolando
“The New Workout Plan” by Kanye West
— Amina Khan