Saturday, April 28, 2012

Songs to Run to: The Best Exercise Mix "Tape" Ever

Running and music go together. They just do. If I had to choose between no iPod and punishing heat as a potential deterrent to an hour of hard road labor, boiling temps would win out every time. I can take the heat, but if I don't have tunes, I'd prefer to stay the hell out of the kitchen.

Several years ago when my iPod was stolen in Buenos Aires (astonishingly, the one and only time I've ever lost one), I had to go running around the parks of Palermo for a few days with nothing but my thoughts to keep me going. That was possibly my toughest period of exercise ever, harder than all of the combined weeks of sweltering afternoon heat I'd endured over the previous few years of jogging outdoors.

During those years, which began shortly after I arrived in BA in September of 2006, and the ones after, I've compiled a mental list of the tunes that always get me going on the running trail and keep me there. In general, I prefer to let my iPod's shuffle play DJ and land on them by chance. There's something about an unplanned favorite popping up, a surprise treat while running up that hill (if you happen to be going around Melbourne's Royal Botanic Gardens), that feels like Christmas Day as a kid, when the gifts are always better when you have no idea what's underneath the wrapping paper.

Maybe I'm starting to go a bit overboard here, so let me get to the point of this post. The next time you've got 55 or so minutes to spare and you feel like going on the run, here's the perfect soundtrack to put you in the mood, and keep you there -- at least for just under an hour.

"B.P.M." Kylie Minogue Anomaly No. 1: One of those rare times when the B-side of a single kicks the A-side's firm, tight ass (which, in this case, would belong to Minogue's 2004 No. 2 UK hit "I Believe in You).


"Crash" Ric Ocasek Who would have guessed that nearly three decades after the Cars '80s heyday, I'd be listening to a barely known track by the band's lead singer (from the 1994 Speed soundtrack) with more regularity than any of its greatest hits?


"Get Off (You Fascinate Me") Patrice Rushen An '80s classic that you won't hear everywhere else.


"A Pain That I'm Used to" (Jacques Lu Cont Remix) Depeche Mode 7:51 of electro bliss that I can listen to on repeat about eight times while making my way around three Palermo parks.


"A&E" (Hercules & Love Affair Remix) Goldfrapp See above. It applies here, too (only to a song that's 45 seconds shorter).


"Young Hearts Run Free" Kym Mazelle Anomaly No. 2: The rare remake of a classic song (in this case, Candi Staton's 1976 hit) that renders its source material thoroughly unnecessary. My favorite thing about Baz Luhrmann's 1996 film William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet.


"Zero" Yeah Yeah Yeahs Though I've rarely devoted an entire run to one act not named ELO, Yeah Yeah Yeahs is one of the few that can keep me moving for close to an hour all on its own.


"Machine Gun" Portishead The unfortunately frequently MIA British trio generally crafts tunes that are more like music to be depressed to, which makes this aberration from the norm all the more thrilling.


"Lost Ones" Lauryn Hill Her crowning achievement, this is anger at its most cathartic and inspiring.


"Running up That Hill" Kate Bush If this doesn't get you to the top, to the finish line or simply to the end, what will?

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