Well friends, we’ve made it past 2020. I figured we could all use a bit of a pickup after that, so I’ve created “That 2021 Energy Mix” – songs sure to pump you up, in a thematic playlist. Let’s walk through it!
Neutron Dance (12” Remix), performed by The Pointer Sisters, written by Allee Willis & Danny Sembello
We start our list with the song that I’ve heard most this past year – because it leads off my Workout playlist that my Apple Watch defaults to start playing when I start a new workout! So obviously, a theme here is energy and activity. But there’s more to that. Allee Willis describes the lyrics of her infectious ear worm as due to “all this stuff going on in my life: I don’t want to take to anymore, I’ll just stay here locked behind the door. Just no time to stop and get away, because I work so hard to make it every day” Source. Willis, who would later go on to write the theme song to Friends, I’ll be there for you, and other music you’ve heard, describes a sentiment a lot of us have felt in 2020 – and offers a way out, perhaps, in this nuclear dance option.
Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me, written and performed by U2
While released in 1995, this often overlooked U2 power tune has origins dating back to the song “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me” released in 1952. Always a good “pump up” tune, I figured this one would nicely keep us active while also moving us from the 80s to the 90s. And guess what, we’ll then keep up this decades theme with a jump of 14 years to our next entry!
Uprising, performed by Muse, written by Matt Bellamy
Ah the 2000s, a decade that started with a false scare (I’ve heard that 2020 is the Y2K we never got), and contained some of the most formative times for things we take for granted today. Smartphones, social media, and so much more. But turning to specifically this tune – how many of us have wanted to stage our own rebellion in 2020? A sense of despair hard to avoid, the only way we move forward is by resisting it We Will Be Victorious!
Burning Up, performed by Marianas Trench, written by Josh Ramsay
Moving to the 2010s, one of my favorite finds in 2020 was this track. Initially added to my “Get Up!” Apple playlist (Generated each week automatically), Burning Up is actually off of an amazing album, Astoria, a concept album by Canadian rock group Marianas Trench. Really I could have included most of the album on this playlist! Pure energy in this track (Made better by the fact that Marianas Trench also put the whole album out in instrumental form if you want some good “jam” music without words), sounds harkening back to the 80s, and a song you can just enjoy without thinking too much. Speaking of the 80’s…
Why Can’t This Be Love, performed by Van Halen, written by Eddie Van Halen, Michael Anthony, Sammy Hagar, & Alex Van Halen
A good energetic track that starts our love story with 2020. You see, a year ago in January, 2020 seemed like it could be a great year. The opportunity for change in the air with the new decade, enthusiasm for a strong economy, and a relatively peaceful world (to the perception of most Americans, at least), there was no reason to believe 2020 would give us trouble. Sure, there was this thing in China that seemed really annoying, but most of us figured it wouldn’t grow out of control. After all, it hadn’t yet. Too bad that 2020 would soon show us why it couldn’t be love.
Hit That, performed by The Offspring, written by Dexter Holland
A song released on my birthday in 2003, “Hit That” tells us All the world is getting with, I say. Consequences are a lot but hey, that’s the way, that’s the way things go. 2020 definitely got with everyone, in ways we didn’t really enjoy.
Humpin’ Around, performed by Bobby Brown, written by Antonio Reid, Kenneth Edmonds, Daryl Simmons, Bobby Brown, Thomas Keyes, & Jan C. “Stylz” Styles
I think it was probably somewhere around March we started to think that perhaps 2020 was, to use the rumored original title to this song, F***ing Around on all of us. We became a bit more guarded!
You Win Again, performed by The Bee Gees, written by Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, & Maurice Gibb
With it’s pulsing bass line, You Win Again tells a story of defeat that we started to feel in mid-2020. I recall thinking in April “Well, this sucks, but it will be better again in July”, only to have July be, personally, my worst month last year. I’m going to hit you from all sides, lay your fortress open wide
I Blame Myself, performed by Sky Ferreira, written by Sky Ferreira, Ariel Rechtshaid, Justin Raisen, Daniel Nigro, & Jordan Benik
How many of us sat around feeling like we couldn’t pull ourselves out of the 2020 funk? Blaming ourselves for our mood. A comment often made to me was “I feel really depressed, and then I realize I have nothing to be upset about – I still have a job/loved ones/my health”. 2020 abused us all and even though some were hit harder than others, it’s perfectly fine to understand that your losses and stresses are valid. Stop blaming yourself for your reaction, and start moving forward. Damage can be repaired.
Big Girl (You Are Beautiful), performed by Mika, written by Mika, Jodi Marr, John Mercant, Andres Orue, & Dan Warner
An easy to have missed 2008 track from Mika, this is the turning point of our little 2020 story. One quote that I heard in 2020 that cracked me up was “You either come out a monk, a hunk, a chunk, or a drunk”. No matter what you came out fo 2020 as, self-value is something you should never doubt. We’re all beautiful, even if we’re works in progress.
Born This Way, performed by Lady Gaga, written by Stefani Germanotta & Jeppe Laursen
Another power tune to push us back in the right direction!
New Divide, written and performed by Linkin Park
As one of my wife’s favorite bands, Linkin Park makes an appearance in a lot of my lists. But like the previous two tracks, this echos a positive turn around. While there is still so much to do to get back to normalcy in the world, we all have reason to fill this hole [and] connect the space between… across this new divide
Freedom Must Be Now (W/ Mykal Rose), performed by Third World and Ibhola Lethu, performed by Juluka & Johnny Clegg
Two great songs filled with energy. In the case of the latter, you really don’t need to know what the lyrics mean, but if you want a hint, here it is
This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race, performed by Fall Out Boy, written by Pete Wentz, Patrick Stump, Joe Trohman, & Andy Hurley
Moving into 2021, we can recognize the truth to lyrics like I’m a leading man, and the lives I lead are oh, so intricate, and hopefully But the real bombshells have already sunk!
Cult of Personality, performed by Living Colour, written by Corey Glover, Vernon Reid, Muzz Skillings, & Will Calhoun
Not only a great energy song, Cult of Personality reminds us that it can be really easy to fall into the crowd following each other toward whoever or whatever promises us hope. Let’s try to avoid that one in 2021 – because it’s only through our own independence that we can conquer the challenges we have.
Water Under the Bridge, performed by Adele, written by Adele Adkins & Greg Kurstin
2020 man, it’s water under the bridge!
Better Country, performed by Paul Brandt
Canadian country singer Paul Brandt released this track in 2018, but it sure seems applicable to a different year and different country than Canada!
Family Tree, performed by Kings of Leon, written by Caleb Followill, Nathan Followill, Jared Followill, & Matthew Followill
Relaxing the beat a little bit in this one as we get toward the end of the playlist. Thanks for being part of my family tree by reading this!
Help Myself, performed by Maggie Rose
If there was ever a song about coping with 2020, this one is it. I’ve spent a lot of time walking this past year, and some of that was jamming to the lyrics:
Maybe we’re all just out of minds,
One step away from fine and dandy,
Pills and candy,
Gotta cut straight to the happy ending,
Maybe we’re all just out of our heads,
Despite what the experts said,
I’m only here to help,
I just can’t help myself
DuckTales Theme, performed by Felicia Barton, written by Mark Mueller
A fun one to wrap us all up, with a modern twist thanks to the reboot of the past few years on Disney. What 80s kid doesn’t smile when hearing this (or a kid of any decade, perhaps!)
I hope you’ve enjoyed my little journey through 2020 and on to 2021. Keep the energy moving!