#Playlist – My Running Dozen


Since I’m on forced rest days again, and I don’t feel particularly introspective, I thought I’d share something that truly motivates me – my playlist! I know this music won’t be to everyone’s taste, but here are ten twelve songs that have accompanied me on many of my long runs! Some of the songs are important to me for a reason, or have a story behind them. Others are just plain fun. Enjoy!

NOTE: I’ve linked each song to a YouTube video. Many of these have ads preceding them, which can’t be helped. But be patient – the songs are worth the wait! Also, please forgive some of wistful cheesiness in some of the commentary below. Sometimes it’s better to let the music speak for itself. And for the innocents among you – NSFW = ‘not safe for work’ – my warning that a video may not be appropriate for all audiences!

1) “Let It Go – Dragonette
I thought I had never heard of Dragonette when I had the opportunity to see them in concert 3 years ago. The North American Outgames were held in Vancouver, and the closing headline act was Ace of Base (more on them later…) – with Dragonette opening the concert at the Plaza of Nations. When I heard their Martin Solveig collaboration “Hello” – well, then I recognized them! They put on an amazing show, and I’ve been a fan ever since!

“Let It Go” fills me with such joy – partly because of the fun, upbeat music – but also because whenever I hear it I’m taken out of whatever blue funk I’m in, and smile.

2) “Celebration (Benny Benassi Remix)” – Madonna (sorry – only audio for this YouTube link…)
I cannot lie, Madonna is a favourite. Over the years, she’s had a lot of catchy tunes. But “Celebration”, though a 2009 song, keeps me moving. The Benny Benassi remix is the best, because it gets right to the beat. When you’re running, transitioning to the next song, you don’t want to wait through a long intro.

For a while, it was “Miles Away that I included on my running playlist. Partly because of the title, it made me feel motivated to go the distance. But the lyrics are kind of a downer – it’s really a break-up song – so I stick with the positive.

3) “Woman’s World” – Cher
I spent a lot of my post-college ‘formative’ years in Japan. It was a time of firsts:  first time living on my own; first time living overseas; first ‘grown-up’ job; first relationship; and first time hearing Cher sing. At least, first time hearing her sing dance music! When “Believe” was first on the radio and in the clubs, I actually thought it was a male singer – and no Shazam to tell me who I was listening to! And then I learned about Cher, bought her album, and sang along.

Another Cher hit that I had on my playlist for a while was “Runaway” – thematic, right? But this is yet another breakup song, so it was time to move on.

“Woman’s World” is from Cher’s latest album, and it’s now a favourite. I kind of love the video (especially her newspaper hair) – please watch it! – as well as the message. I’m inspired but the women who have been and are still in my life. And when it comes to running…well, I want to run #LikeAGirl.

4) “Scream & Shout” – will.i.am feat Britney Spears (NSFW ‘explicit’ lyrics)
Britney has had her ups and downs. Sometimes she’s been downright trashy. But this co-production with the Black Eyed Peas’ will.i.am is, from my perspective, a success.

5) “Halfway Around the World” – A*Teens
When I was living in Japan, a Swedish teen pop group released an album of ABBA cover tunes – they were A*Teens, and I was instantly a fan! My absolute favourite song on their follow-up album was “Halfway Around the World”. The video is awfully cheesy (and probably uploaded to YouTube from a VHS tape), but it’s a happy, positive song. And because I was living across the world at the time, it resonated with me.

During a long run – sometimes it feels like the finish line is half a world away…so, again, it resonates.

6) “Beautiful Life” – Ace of Base
When I finished college, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life. At the time, I was working a dead-end job at a flower factory, making boxes. Yes, that’s right, boxes. Waxed-lined cardboard boxes for putting potted plants in. It was an exhausting and unfulfilling job. I didn’t have a CD Walkman at the time – no iPods in those days – so the hours on the factory floor were long and tedious. When I got home, I would listen to “Beautiful Life” and try to eek out some sense of optimism in my dreary existence. Honestly, this song kept me going.

The video is extremely dated – some very interesting use of green screen – but that was the 90’s. When I finally got to see Ace of Base at the Outgames closing party (see Dragonette above) – it was such a surreal experience! The two guys are the same, different girls in the group now – but we were right in front of the stage, dancing on a speaker and it was a flashback to those college days. But with a happier spin – truly a beautiful life!

7) “Don’t Say Your Love is Killing Me” – Erasure
For various reasons, I didn’t listen to a lot of ‘Top 40’ music throughout the 80’s. It wasn’t until I met my college roommate, who was really into 80’s music, that I was introduced to Erasure. I love their early stuff, of course, and their ABBA covers in the early 90’s were fantastic. And their iconic “Always” was one of my favourites.

During my first year living in Japan, I was looking for familiar things. Erasure released their album Cowboy. Not every song was a winner, but “Don’t Say Your Love is Killing Me” really is!

8) “Taylor Swift – Trouble & Justin Bieber” (mashup) – Mike Tompkins
Mike Tompkins is an extremely talented young Canadian musician and artist. He performs acapella, and produces all the vocals and instrumental sounds in his songs with his voice and mouth – ALL the sounds. The first time I heard Mike Tompkins was his cover of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” – and I was amazed! But, much as I love it, it’s not really a running song.

However, this mashup of “Trouble” and “As Long As You Love Me” – this is a running song!

9) “Take a Look Around” – The 2 Bears
The closing credits of HBO’s premier episode of  “Looking” (wildly NSFW TV show) featured this song. It had such a great beat that I had to Shazam it right away. Awesome for running (and dancing). No video to watch, but fun to listen to.

10) “Bom Bom” – Sam and the Womp
You’ll probably recognize this from the Joe Fresh commercial. I’m not even sure how I came across the actual song, but this silly tune is just so much fun! That’s it. That’s why I love it. That’s why it’s on my playlist.

11) “Into the Blue” – Kylie Minogue (video is slightly NSFW – in fact, please assume that all Kylie videos may be a bit risque!)
Kylie has been around for ages, and a lot of folks know the Australian diva from the “Loco-motion” days in the mid-80’s. But Kylie really impacted my life with the release of her album Fever. In 2002-03, we were travelling from Japan, through Thailand, to New Zealand – and back. It was a tumultuous time – there were a lot of challenges, a lot of drama, a lot of excitement, a lot of fun. And there was Kylie. “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” was playing in all the clubs throughout Asia. Over a decade later, this song evokes fairly vivid memories and emotions.

I have a couple of other Kylie songs in my playlist rotation: “Sensitized” and “Cherry Bomb” (fun concert video!) – but I like to freshen things up. This year, Kylie released a new album, Kiss Me Once. “Into the Blue” is one of the standout tracks. OK, “Million Miles” is pretty awesome, too. Kylie is forever!

12) “You Spin Me (Like a Record)” – Dead or Alive
Just one final 80’s flashback. And 80’s hair. If you haven’t seen the video, please do. If it’s the only link you click today, click this one!


Thanks for sharing this musical journey with me! I hope you found a song or two that you want to add to your playlist! Please – in the comments below – tell us about your running playlist favourites!

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