Best Workout Tunes - Volume 1

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I've been meaning to write this post forever, because I love music as much as books, computer games, movies, and TV. And I love those things a LOT. Anyway. My boyfriend's work gives you free gym memberships, however we missed last year's cut-off for the year, so we didn't get them until this year...I think we got them *right* at the end of June. This gave me the opportunity to create a workout mix, load up ye ol' iPod Shuffle (because who cares what happens to a six-year-old Shuffle at this point), and sweat to the newbies, and the oldies.

Whilst drafting my mix, I did a bit of searching for ideas to populate my mix with, beyond the 439 songs I currently have on it. There were a lot of classic suggestions - Eye of the Tiger anyone? - but I have to say, I'm pretty happy with my mix.

So I'm going to add my two cents. If you're looking for workout music suggestions, look no further. For now anyway - I've got a lot of great ideas, so this is just volume 1!

My general criteria for good workout music:
- It's got a consistently upbeat tempo (i.e. you're not twiddling your thumbs through a 45-second intro or outro)

- It's distracting enough that you can sometimes forget about the fact the song is 4:38 seconds, and thus you count every. single. second. as you run

- I also love songs that surprise me with some sort of upbeat messaging - not quite as literal as 'I've Got The Powah!' but the chorus of songs like Katy Perry's "Firework", Britney Spears' "(Drop Dead) Beautiful" and Jamiroquai's "Use The Force" are all great examples.

- Of course, you've got to like the artist. If you can't stand Britney as a vocalist - ignoring the fact you might not respect her as a musician - then skip my song suggestions there.

Britney Spears
Are you surprised? I think Entertainment Weekly reviewed her last album with the words "plenty of great tunes for the treadmill" included in there. Her last three albums in particular are goldmines for upbeat, supercharged songs. Here's a quick list of my top ten Britney workout tunes, in no particular order other than my iTunes organizing stuff by album title.
10. Break The Ice (Blackout) - bit of a slower intro, but I adore this song. I dare you not to swivel your hips on the elliptical.
9. Toy Soldier (Blackout) - consistently upbeat. Army theme works well for working out.
8. Womanizer (Circus) - awesome tempo and beat. Fun to sing along to in your head as well.
7. Till The World Ends (Femme Fatale) - electric and pretty much demands a high-level of energy, particularly once the beat kicks into overdrive a minute in.
6. Hold It Against Me (Femme Fatale) - probably one of the fastest songs she's ever done, although weirdly the chorus is a little slower. Still a great one for working out.
5. (Drop Dead) Beautiful (Femme Fatale) - I love when this song comes on. It's all about 'looks' and body image, so you'll definitely feel motivated to give it when the chorus hits.
4. Toxic (In the Zone) - I mean, obviously. String quartet on acid.
3. Me Against The Music Justice Remix (B In the Mix) - For the record, the original is also good, as is the 'In The Zone' Reshi Rich remix.
2. Crazy (Baby One More Time) - you want the 'Stop' Remix here, clearly. Lots of Britney's early stuff is a touch too slow to qualify as good workout tunes, but Crazy is a classic.
1. Selfish or Up 'n' Down (Femme Fatale bonus tracks) - Torn between these two.

Honestly, I have about 25 Brit songs on my overall workout mix. Her stuff is super upbeat and energized, you really can't go wrong.

Interesting story about these guys. I was watching something on my DVR, and caught about 10 seconds of the 'Party Rock Anthem' video while scanning through my playlist. I was kind of intrigued, but thought nothing of it...until I finished watching whatever show it was, and this video was on AGAIN. I sat and watched the whole thing, mesmerized. I literally listened to this song about ten times a day, and I'm STILL not sick of it. What's amazing is it's a relatively pedestrian song. It evokes so many things, yet sounds like nothing. That's good pop music.

Anyway. 'Party Rock Anthem' is a give-in, but if you haven't listened to the boys' album, I literally put the entire thing on my workout playlist. It's all thrummy, bass / electro-driven pop music at its finest. You might prefer some songs to others (I do), but it's all the right tempo for a workout mix.

Black Eyed Peas
A hybrid of Britney's pop and LMFAO's electro-thrumminess, BEP are one of my top, top, top picks for workout music ever. Their lyrics are interesting and distracting if you can focus on them instead of the painnnn, but their tunes are also super fun, upbeat, and easy to sing along to. I have a funny relationship with the Peas when it comes to workout music. The first MP3 player I ever owned was a freebie that held approximately 25 songs, via one of those little cards you put in a digital camera. I loaded up BEP's 'Monkey Business' album plus maybe five other songs. And I guess I found it such a pain, I never bothered RELOADING it, so for the year that I had a gym membership at that time, I listened to that album every. single. session. I now have really bad associations with that album and elliptical machine death, but that won't stop me from giving you 10 picks from the BEP's collection of infectious tunes.

10. Rock That Body (The E.N.D.) - Reminiscent of LMFAO (or vice versa), plus the whole 'rock your body' thing works well for working out.
9. Let's Get Retarded / Restarted (Elephunk) - It takes 30 seconds to kick into high gear, but it goes down in history as one of my fave, super upbeat, hip-shaking Peas songs. Before they remixed it to Restarted. Dammit.
8. Pump It (Monkey Business) - One of the few songs off of 'Monkey Business' I can still listen to without having painful memories of my year of working out and listening to this album. Surfer-tastic.
7. Feel It (Monkey Business) - Although this seriously brings back negative workout memories, the theme of the song is too good not to pass up for a workout mix.
6. I Gotta Feeling (The E.N.D.) - You probably think this song is done to death. And it is, but it makes for a great workout song.
5. Hey Mama (Elephunk) - Get a little reggae booty-shaking going on while you're on the treadmill.
4. Boom Boom Pow (The E.N.D.) - Not my favourite song ever, but the theme of it works well. Try and find a radio edit somewhere without the super long intro!
3. The Time (Dirty Bit) (The Beginning) - To me, the entire 'Beginning' album is a dialed down, over-produced, fuzzy electric disc that seems muted by the overuse of autotune. In fact, their singles have all been kinda ballad-like compared to the high-energy picks off of 'The E.N.D.' The Time's buzzy electro sections are good though.
2. Party All The Time (The E.N.D.) - Man the E.N.D. was jam-packed with good picks, including this alternate riff on 'I Gotta Feeling'.
1. Anything off The E.N.D. bonus disc - I believe it was only packaged with a version of the disc sold at Target, but it may be available on iTunes or the like. They basically included a few b-sides and remixed five of their classic tunes. I have 'Pump It Harder', 'Let's Get Restarted', 'Shut the Phunk Up' and 'Don't Phunk Around' - all high-octane versions of their hits - on my mix.

Basement Jaxx
I love me some BJ. Their stuff is built for working out - the other artists on this particular list are all derivative of Basement Jaxx to some degree. Here's my top 10 picks.
10. Plug It In feat JC Chasez (Kish Kash) - JC doing JT. Great theme for a workout song.
9. Good Luck feat Lisa Kekuala (Kish Kash) - One of my fave BJ songs, period. Starts a little slow, but FULL of swagger.
8. Raindrops (Scars) - One of their more recent singles, full of life and positive energy. The chorus is electrifying.
7. Do Your Thing feat Elliot May (Rooty) - I'm breaking one my rules. It has a long, quiet intro. But few songs will make you feel as upbeat as this one. I love it.
6. Red Alert (Remedy) - The boys worst album imo, was also their first one. But it includes this high-energy gym gem.
5. Where's Your Head At (Rooty) - Another song with a good theme for working out - focus!
4. Cish Cash feat Siouxsie Sioux (Kish Kash) - This song isn't for everyone, but it's definitely one of their most turbo-drive in overdrive songs.
3. Right Here's The Spot feat Meshell Ndegeocello (Kish Kash) - Another good tune about moving your body and shimmying ahoy!
2. Romeo (Rooty) - The first song I ever heard by the boys has a soft spot in my heart. It's full of East Indian-inspired fun.
1. Jus 1 Kiss (Rooty) - I can't get sick of this song. It's a little lower-key and prettier than the rest of these, but it has such a phenomenal beat, I can't not include it.

Lady Gaga
Few artists are better for making you want to get up and go. Plus the huge number of hits she has means endless stuff to sing along to in your head. Here's my top 10 Gaga workout picks.
10. Just Dance (The Fame) - Just dance or just work out? Doesn't matter. Just listen.
9. Telephone (The Fame Monster) - After the lovely harp intro the song kicks it up a few notches, but it's Beyonce's swaggerrific verse that makes this a particularly good pick to workout to.
8. The Fame (The Fame) - Not a single, but easily could have been. It's a little disco, a little 80s, a lotta fun.
7. Born This Way (Born This Way) - Yay title tracks! A positive message and upbeat vibe make this a surefire addition to your workout mix.
6. Americano (Born This Way) - I'm not a big fan of the Born This Way album, as I previously riffed - I felt like a lot of it was retakes of her existing library. But I kind of like Alejandro part 2, the Euro-trashy Americano. It's uber cheesy, but kind of transformative when listening to it as well.
5. Poker Face (The Fame) - Infectious lyrics? Crazy upbeat bassline? Non-stop energy? Sold. Also, the LLG vs. GLG Radio Mix on her remix album is quite good as well.
4. Lovegame (The Fame) - Is it a little slower than others on this list? Sure. But the on & on rhythm works well for the on & on running on a treadmill.
3. Paparazzi (Stuart Price Remix) (The Remix) - I was never a big fan of Paparazzi, and I feel like it's a little slow for working out. The Stuart Price remix however does a really nice job of reinventing the song with a sort of melancholy fallen starlet vibe.
2. Bad Romance (The Fame Monster) - Probably the synthesis of everything Gaga has stood for to date, Bad Romance is again, a touch slower than some of my other picks. But Gaga's passion will sell you on pushing harder when doing those tricep dips.
1. Alejandro (The Fame Monster) - Torn between this and another 'Born This Way' track, but this is such a fun, upbeat song I had to include it. As is the 'Sound Of Arrows' remix off her remixed album.

K well, I'm out...but those are fifty songs and five artists with many, many more tunes that what I listed here to get you started. They easily take up the most songs (per artist) on my overall playlist, but stay tuned for some great top 5's from a few others!

- Britt's On


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