14) The Beach Boys – God Only Knows

god only knows

I seriously had no idea I listened to that much Baroque Pop, but apparently The Beach Boys ‘God Only Knows’ falls into this category as well. I’m seriously going to have to do some research on this genre. I have a feeling I’ll love it.

This may not be the happiest song on the mixtape. It may also not be the best Beach Boys song ever written. But there’s something soft, and sweet, and beautiful about it. Reflecting on the people we’ve lost is normal this time of year. It can also make it an incredibly difficult time of year. There is no right or wrong way to deal with it, whether it’s fresh or a very healed wound. It can be overwhelming, especially if you feel like you have so much to be grateful and happy for. (Guilt, guys, it’s THE WORST.)  I work on finding the little bit of sweetness, beauty, and joy of the people and memories I carry with me. Even if they’re hard or painful. The goal is to embrace.

If you’re feeling sad this holiday, it’s ok. The Beach Boys get it, and I get it too.

Who else gets it? The BBC and their cast of stars:

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13) Whitney Houston – I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)

Whitney dance

Whitney Houston. I am still obsessed with her 80’s looks. I still wish I could be Rachel Marron in ‘The Bodyguard’. Her death still makes me sad. While I can’t deny she had some serious demons, she was remarkable. When I listen to 80’s and 90’s Whitney I am transported back to a younger, more carefree self.

Every time I watch this video, I wish my closet was a shrine to all the costume changes in it. I also wish my mom had let me get a perm (even though that was probably for the best).

My favorite part of this song is the ‘Somebody. WHO. Somebody. WHO.’ It’s fun, it’s catchy, it’s colorful. Poor Whitney. She’s tired of her relationships going nowhere. She just wants to dance with somebody who is going to want to dance FOREVER and stick around. And if you don’t want to dance FOREVER – boy, bye.

There’s something about 80’s music (and pre-grunge 90’s music). It’s colorful, and carefree, and gets your heart rate pumping from all the jumping around. We should hold on to those feelings year round, it will probably help us get through when my lonely heart calls.’ 

‘Don’tcha wanna dance, Say you wanna dance, Don’tcha wanna dance.’

12) The LeeVees – Kugel

kugel

Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah and I wanted to give a shout out to all my Jewish friends and family! I found The LeeVees a couple years back because their lead singer is also in Guster, one of my favorite bands. I love their album ‘Hanukkah Rocks’ because there isn’t a lot of Hanukkah centric music out there and it doesn’t get very much play on the air waves. I highly recommend The LeeVee’s album, no matter what you celebrate (and even if you don’t celebrate anything). The album includes awesome tracks like – ‘Latke Clan’, ‘Jewish Girls (At The Matzoh Ball), and ‘Gelt Melts’. It’s catchy and hilarious. It centers around food and fun, not so much the religious aspect of it, making it more attractive to me. It’s remarkably clever and I hope you gain a new appreciation for the Festival of Lights.

For reference – Kugel is this noodle casserole that is sweet, and is kind of bread pudding-y, but because it has the noodles it’s different. I can’t quite describe it, but it’s delicious and I love it. If you don’t know much about Hanukkah, do some research. It has a wonderful story and great traditions. I won’t go into it, besides the food, because I’m here for the music, not the religious side.

Full disclosure, I am not Jewish. My sister’s DNA test, and therefore mine, came back 0.4% Ashkenazi Jewish. (It was one of those exciting surprise DNA results that end up on the commercials). At one point, as a young adult, I thought maybe? I could be Jewish? (Love, man, it’s weird, eye roll….) I did develop a deep respect and admiration for some of the traditions and sense of community. But, let’s face it, I especially like their holiday food: latkes, kugel, challah, brisket, and doughnuts. My mouth is watering at typing out all this food.

No matter your beliefs this holiday season, if you’re in darkness, I hope you find a bright light to shine your way out of it. It may take more than 8 days, but be patient and positive and by this time next year, I hope your life is a glow. If your life is already bright, I hope you are able to find ways to make it brighter and share it with all.

While you’re working on your light, go enjoy some kugel!

PS – I wanted to draw a picture of Kugel for this card, but it really wasn’t the coolest looking picture and would not have done it justice. If you haven’t had kugel, it might have made you reconsider.

11) Jon Bon Jovi – R2-D2, We Wish You A Merry Christmas

R2D2

Before Jon Bon Jovi became Jon Bon Jovi, he lent his voice to this 1980’s record – ‘Christmas In The Stars – A Star Wars Christmas Album’. We had this on vinyl growing up and the cover art is every child Star Wars holiday dreams come true. It also included great songs like What Can You Get A Wookie For Christmas (When He Already Owns A Comb)? and The Odds Against Christmas. C-3PO singing Sleigh Ride pretty money too.

The first movie I ever remember seeing was ‘Star Wars’ at an old drive in theater in El Dorado in Panama. I was probably like 3 or 4 or some ridiculous young age. R2-D2 was my favorite, always. I wanted an R2-D2 piggy bank, so my mom made me one. This was before there was merchandise for everything and before there were box sets and live streaming. You could say that it is probably the only thing from my childhood that I haven’t outgrown as an adult. (I’ve definitely outgrown Sesame Street.)

So I had to include R2 in this holiday mix. He’s a little out there – literally in space. Plus C-3PO is so absurd, he should make you smile, even on your darkest day.  R2-D2, we love you, it’s true! And if the snow becomes too deep, just give a little beep. We’ll go in by the fire, and warm your little wires…

I’d like to dedicate this song to the Hasselbring’s, as they’re the only other family that I know who also had this vinyl growing up. (A fun fact we figured out in the early 2000’s.) And if you had the vinyl and I’m just finding out about it, I’m dedicating this song to you too! If you didn’t, stream it on YouTube. I promise it will make your holidays more merry and bright.

R2- I love you! Spread a little R2 JOY!

10) Four Tops – I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)

sugar pie

What do the holidays need? MOTOWN!

Motown goes well with Menorah’s, elves, gingerbread cookies, pine scents, and wine.

This is the perfect baking/cooking in the kitchen music, whether you’re cooking for others OR just cooking for yourself. You could be getting your Hanukkah latkes ready, or heating up a Lean Cuisine. The kitchen is the best place to dance, as long as you don’t have a knife or something that’s boiling in your hands. (Trust me on that one.)

You don’t need a big kitchen to dance in. You don’t need to be making anything fancy. You just need a little Motown and some space to add a grapevine or box step in. (Those are the only technical dance terms I know besides jazz hands and I don’t REALLY know what they mean.) Bonus points if you wear an apron, it helps with the twirling. Those of you that know me, know I love to twirl.

Put on some Motown, get your booty in the kitchen, and dance around like the Four Tops.  They make it look like we can all do it. Even if it’s just your weekly meal prep, make it fun and funky! My door is always open to baked goods. If you want, I can help.

9) Smash Mouth – All-Star

all star

Hey Now! You’re an all-star! Get your game on! Go play!

No, really, you’re an ALL STAR!

This may not be the most complex, well loved, or intellectually stimulating song on this Mixtape. It’s ‘dance-ability’ is also questionable.

It’s totally going to get stuck in your head. It might get a little annoying, but if you go with it, you’re going to laugh every time you start singing it! (It is that ridiculous.) And if you’re stumbling with it, just imagine me singing it. You’re going to love it even more after that visual.

I was the ‘All-Star’ jukebox at my brother’s wedding. Who knows why it got stuck in my head that weekend, but it was amazing. (Well, I thought it was amazing and it did lead to drinking whiskey literally in the trunk of a car – trunk whiskey for short.) Laugh, smile, embrace the weird.

My world’s on fire, how about yours? That’s the way I like it and I never get bored.

Don’t forget, you’re my holiday ALL-STAR! We’re 9 days in, we’ve got this!

8) Passion Pit – Carried Away

carried away

Fake friends. We all have them. They might be a co-worker, or a neighbor, or someone we no longer have anything in common with. We’re polite. We show up. Are you invested? I hope not, because I’m not either. Let’s call a spade a spade and own it. We don’t really know much about each other anyway, and that’s ok.

Sometimes we aren’t always the most honest with ourselves or with others. Relationships are hard. Relationships with your friends, family, spouses, lovers, even with yourself. Starting a new relationship is exhausting. Nothing is ever easy and as we get older, it’s harder to invest time and energy, especially leading up to the holidays.

Sometimes we fake it and phone it in. Sometimes we say things without thinking and end up hurting ourselves or others. As someone who has relocated several time over the past couple years I know how hard it is to pick up and start your network (or friend-work) from scratch. The best people in your life may start as a random acquaintance, but if you nurture the connection, they become some of the most important people in your life. Trust me. My best Dallas friends are a great group of women I met through my old friend from high school that I hadn’t seen in 15 years, but he and his wife lived in Dallas, and my good vibe tribe of ladies I met at the gym. Super random. I took a chance, they took a chance, and these are my soul sisters.

Sometimes we opt out, just like spam email. This season, OPT IN!

Be conscious of emotions and how the season can put you, or others, on edge or spread people very thin. Don’t pretend, be real friends! Be patient with yourself and with others. Listen. Be thoughtful. You don’t have to become besties, but you never know what will happen. Friends are the BEST present ever.

7) Katrina & The Waves – Walking On Sunshine

Walking on sunshine

In keeping with yesterday’s sunshine vacation theme, I bring you an 80’s classic from Katrina and The Waves. If she can live in the gloomy UK and dance around like she’s ‘Walking On Sunshine’, there’s hope for all of us.

She is optimism at it’s brightest! Girl, knows what she wants and she’s not afraid to ask for it. Plus her Footloose style dancing is contagious. I hope whoever she’s waiting around for felt the same way, or, at least, was seduced by her sweet moves.

And I don’t want to spend my whole life, just waiting for you. Now I don’t want you back for the weekend. Not back for a day, no no no. I said baby I just want you back And I want you to stay (Oh yeah now!)

Here’s how I’m going to celebrate Walking On Sunshine: It’s a two part plan. 1) I’m going to turn on all the lights in my apartment (so it’s super bright), dance around, and pretend I’m in an 80’s music video. Basically, dance until I’m super out of breath and have given myself mild whiplash.

2) I’m going to shake my tail feather to music in a public place. Maybe it’s a bar (which would be totally acceptable), maybe it’s a grocery store while I’m pushing the cart, maybe it’s at a coffee shop while I’m grabbing my table, maybe it’s in a parking lot because that’s all the space you need with a little bit of danger mixed in. Just going to add a little booty shake to my regular programming. If you’re not paying attention you’ll miss it, but if there are security cameras, it will go down in history.

I suggest you do the same. Be like Katrina – know what you want and walk on sunshine. And don’t it feel good?

6) Vampire Weekend – Holiday

Holiday VW

Vampire Weekend is a band of dudes from New York. However, I think in this song they’ve adopted the British version of holiday.  Let’s give it up for VACAY!

It’s all about enjoying your vacation/time off, primarily in the summer. Who doesn’t love the summer? This weather has got me bummed out. It’s chilly and grey. I’m wearing a fleece that resembles bear fur as I write this. It’s cozy, but it doesn’t make up for the fact that I have to wear it.  Yesterday was the first cold day. It was only 50 degrees, which I know all you Northerns are laughing at me, but lets be real – I hate the cold. Not to mention, this past weekend it was 80 degrees and glorious.

If the weather’s got you down, take this time to dream about summer days and beaches and real vacations with sunshine, birds, fresh air, and drinks with umbrellas. Maybe you’re going to do some hula dancing in a coconut bra and grass skirt. Maybe you’re going to go for a bike ride around the lake (even if it’s a little chilly – I think I’m going to do that). Maybe I’ll finally re-teach myself the ukulele so I can hula.

Visualize sunshine. If you build it, they will come. ‘But if I wait for a holiday, Could it stop my fears? To go away on a summer’s day, Never seemed so clear.’

And if that’s tough right now, I will leave you with this fact. Vampire Weekend’s Wikipedia page has one of their genre’s down as ‘baroque pop‘. That’s some serious Louis The XIVth shit right there and their costumes really say it all in the video. In the immortal words of Beauty and The Beast – ‘If it’s not baroque, don’t fix it.’ Bop around and enjoy this vacation summer music.

5) Bomba Estéreo – Soy Yo

Soy yo

I LOVE this song! The video is awesome, the message is awesome, the personality of it all is awesome! It translates to a very basic message – In life you fail, you learn, you fall down, you go against the grain. No matter what you keep going. You keep doing YOU! And if they don’t like you or criticize you – Who cares. You’re YOU! SOY YO. 

No matter what age or stage in our life we are, everyone’s situation is different, but there is still an inherent need to feel accepted and to be a part of something and fit in. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but being untrue to yourself can come at a cost.

As I’ve gotten older, I worry less about saying “the right thing”. I care less about portraying myself as pleasing and amenable. (After going on too many bad dates, that varnish wears off.) I know sometimes I’m going to have an unpopular opinion and I hope that people respect me as human enough to listen to it. No need to agree, no need to like it, but maybe it moves us forward.

Plus I see a little part of me in the sassy girl in this video. And I wish at that age I had been more like her, or a little more like me today. (The only issue I really have with this video is her Crocs. But I have a strong, personal opinion towards this style of footwear.)

This holiday season (and every season), remember: You don’t need to fit a mold. Celebrate what makes you unique and awesome. Be confidant. Walk a little taller. Smile a little brighter. Wail on that recorder. Do a little sprinkler dance. Be yourself. You are the best YOU, hands down, no matter what, good day/bad day. You are still the best YOU!

And in an effort to ‘bare my soul’, here’s 4th grade me. I had just gotten glasses and thought really short hair was cool. I look like a young boy, but don’t worry, I eventually got braces, which made the whole combo that much more awesome. I didn’t win any style awards as a kid, and that’s ok. Color outside the lines. Embrace your awkward. Soy yo!

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