“Hey, just wondering if you’ll have that report done by 3 p.m. today?”
“Yes, of course!” you reply instinctively. You look up at the clock — “Wait, what do you mean it’s almost 2?!”
We’ve all been there: we spend so much of our time rushing from one task to the next that even a slight hiccup or oversight in our personal organization can turn our world upside down. But enough with the wordy pontification: you have a deadline to make, and I’m here to help! Here are 10 songs to help you power through your work:
1. MssingNo — M1 Personal Trainer
This “track” is closer to a self-contained mixtape than it is a typical single, but clocking in at almost 24 minutes, the London-based producer delivers a driving force that infuses both US and UK club sensibilities with the sounds of grime and trap. The twist: a copious amount of pop vocal overlays mutilated into near unrecognizability. Never did I think I’d find myself jamming to bass music featuring the lyrical stylings of Ariana Grande pitched up far enough as to invoke Alvin & The Chipmunks, but when it’s time to get down to business, MssingNo’s “M1 Personal Trainer” is an absolute go-to.
2. Daft Punk— The Prime Time of Your Life / The Brainwasher / Rollin’ / Alive
Our second selection is another electronic odyssey, though this time delivered by everyone’s favorite French dance robots. Coming from their Alive 2007 album and lasting over 10 minutes, this track has a similar quality to “M1 Personal Trainer” in that you can press play and allow yourself to lock into the relentless, pounding beats being blasted into your brain. What’s more, a second source of similarity comes from the extensive sampling in both tracks. However, while MssingNo incorporated vocal samples in a mashup style, Daft Punk’s track (which I’ll abbreviate as TPTOYLTBRA… for short) is more of a live-produced remix, interweaving elements from four of their own songs into a brand new composition in which the whole is far greater than the sum.
BONUS: You can listen to the full Alive 2007 album as part of a here for an hour-plus dance music master class.
3. The Chemical Brothers — Saturate (Live)
I promise, the next addition to this list won’t be anything electronic.
Moving back across the channel to England, Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons have been together in the world of music for over two decades (“longer than quite a lot of marriages,” quips Simons in this article from The Guardian). The recording comes from their 2011 live performance at the Fuji Rock Festival in Japan. Hearing “live” in the context of dance music might strike some as a bit of an oxymoron: what does it mean for an electronic performance to be labelled as such? This article detailing the nuances of their live setup provides the answer; it’s unnecessary to understand the technical terms to appreciate that the entire ensemble of equipment might outmatch what could be found in a high-end recording studio. For a peek at what part of the Brothers’ performance looked like, check out this video of “Don’t Think”, which you might recognize from the club scene in Black Swan.
4. Motörhead — Overkill
As we cross into a new genre, a common thread is starting to emerge from the musical offerings I’m putting forth, in that each song is uptempo, of some length, and carries a strong beat. I’m of the mind that the last two of these elements allow a psychological and physiological connection to form such that the listener can lock into the repetition, while the quick tempo is there to provide an extra boost and push you forward toward achieving your goal.
5. Jane’s Addiction — Stop
This is my go-to for I need a second wind. You might notice that the above version isn’t the original, and that’s for a very specific reason which goes back to the point I made following the previous write-up. Being a big fan of loops for productivity — both in a song’s composition as well as from listening to a song a few times a in a row — the original contained a spoken word intro that I found broke up the flow when the song repeated. That said, maybe Jane’s Addiction isn’t meant to be listened to more than once…
6. Raumakustik — Dem A Pree (Patrick Topping Remix)
This song has been huge in the underground dance scene since debuting to the masses in Jamie Jones’ set at Tomorrowland 2016, and it’s not hard to see why: the quick, snappy percussion and interspersion of vocal cuts atop one of Topping’s signature basslines make this an instant earworm. The masterful manipulation of loops found here are the perfect recipe for getting those fingers flying across your keyboard.
7. Chance the Rapper — Angels
I’d be remiss if I were to omit a contribution from the patron saint of Chicago, and I didn’t feel like using “No Problem”. Chance is one of my favorite artists on the planet — I listened to Coloring Book (without “Mixtape”; even the greats can lose their way) at least once daily for the better part of 2016. As a bonus, this song includes production from Norwegian electronic wizard Lido, who also collaborated with Chance on “Same Drugs” and chopped up Kanye’s The Life of Pablo into an 8-minute megamix in addition to creating his own works.
8. Kiki Gyan — Disco Dancer
And now for something completely different…
I’ve been hooked on this track since I heard it in Hunee’s Boiler Room set from Dekmantel Festival 2015. I’ve also placed it at 8th for a very deliberate reason, and that’s to provide some variance in tempo and sound. One of the pitfalls a DJ can fall into is playing too similar of tracks for the duration of a set, and for this pseudo-playlist, I wanted to make sure I avoided doing the same. The rounded, warm sounds and bouncy feel of “Disco Dancer” serve as a musical palate cleanser from the sustained intensity to this point, especially as we enter the final furlong.
9. Al Zanders — Long Gone
Building on the shift in sound from the previous song, “Long Gone” is one of my favorites for listening and DJing, as it gently inspires with its delicate instrumentation. Marvin Gaye vocals laid over top the absolute grooving beat add the perfect finishing touches, both in sound balance and texture.
10. The Heartists — Belo Horozonti (Classic Reprise)
A song for crossing the finish line! One of my favorite parts about the Rio 2016 Olympics was the influx of Brazilian music that came from it, especially being a fan of bossa nova since childhood. David Morales is responsible for this Classic Reprise of what is, indeed, a classic, as the original captures all of the energy one might find at a street festival during Carnival. Play this song as you hit the ‘Submit’ button, and bask in the achievement of what you’ve accomplished in such a short amount of time. Well done!
What’d you think of the music? Love it? Hate it? Want more of it? Sound off in the comments below!