Welcome to The Playlist Project, where we’ll be posing musical questions to Paste staff, interns and writers and then compiling their responses into a handy playlist before opening it up for discussion in our comments section.
Some songs make you sing along with them as soon as you hear the opening notes. These are the songs that cause you to stop in aisles in grocery stores to bust a move, that give you confidence to dance in the streets on your walk home. You could be in the middle of an important conversation or the most mundane task, but when that chorus hits, everything else stops. It happens to the best of us, so we polled the Paste team for this month’s Playlist Project…
What songs make you sing along, no matter what?
Bonnie Stiernberg, Music Editor
Mariah Carey, ” Vision of Love”
Last night I sang along to the entirety of “Vision of Love” in a bodega and didn’t even fully realize I was doing it until I got to the “the answer that heaven has SENT. DOWN. TO. ME.” part and got a weird look from one of my fellow shoppers.
Rachel Brodksy, Music Writer
The Outfield, “Your Love”
Ah, the yearning cheese of The Outfield’s “Your Love.” Why do I adore this song so much? I’ve been asking myself this since college, and I’ll try to roll out an answer for you now. First off, its Reagan-era power-pop is catchy in the easy, repetitive way that made Carly Rae Jepsen’s 2012 gem “Call Me Maybe” so frustratingly unforgettable. It’s also way more laughably self-serious than it should be, with a bummed out Tony Lewis whining, “I ain’t got many friends left to talk to / No one’s around when I’m in trouble.” But what would make him feel better? An illicit affair with a girl who’s “a little bit older,” of course! But beyond the proto-MILF / “Stacy’s Mom” vibes, this song rules due to its sheer thematic simplicity: hungering for that forbidden fruit.
Adrian Spinelli, Assistant Music Editor
Journey, “Don’t Stop Believing”
No matter how many times I’ve heard drunk idiots karaoke this song, I am uncontrollably drawn to singing along until I check myself.
Sarra Sedghi, Assistant Food/Science Editor
Steven Universe,“Haven’t You Noticed I’m a Star?”
Steven Universe’s “Haven’t You Noticed I’m a Star?” written by Rebecca Sugar and initially performed by Olivia Olson (better known as Marceline the Vampire Queen’s voice actress) pokes fun at catchy radio hits, with simplistic lyrics like “Everybody needs a friend, and I’ve got you and you and you/ So many I can’t even name them! Can you blame me? I’m too famous!” Of course, that makes it even catchier, and I await the day that I, too can sing a cartoon song in front of an audience. I will never stop singing this song. Also, I came very close to adding it as an honorable mention on this list.
Garrett Martin, Games/Comedy/Wrestling Editor
Looking Glass, “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)”
Maybe because it’s been my go-to karaoke jam for almost 20 years, but I am basically always singing “Brandy” by Looking Glass.
Sean Edgar, Comics/Live Music/Photo Editor
Don McLean, “American Pie”
Don McLean’s “American Pie” is practically programmed into the human subconscious. It’s a campfire singalong for the first minute and a half before driving into a domestic beer folk anthem. It’s the story of America and the precursor to 90% of all my hangovers.
Scott Russell, News Editor
The Tallest Man on Earth, “The Gardener”
I am bound to sing along with almost anything that was on ‘90s alt-rock radio—”Shimmer” by Fuel and “Loser” by Beck come immediately to mind—but of all the songs that demand my accompaniment, none are so insistent as The Tallest Man on Earth’s “The Gardener.” It’s a lyrically dense number, so my renditions always fall just short of 100-percent fidelity, but it’s a fascinating story that I love to try and tell along with Kristian Matsson.
Jacob Weindling, Business/Media Editor
Lustra, “Scotty Doesn’t Know”
I have to go with “Scotty Doesn’t Know” because it’s impossible not to get stuck in your head, and because it’s Matt Damon’s greatest performance to date.
Jason Rhode, Staff Writer (Politics, Media)
All this year, all three months of it, you’ve probably heard reports of me singing a particular song over and over again until my sing-hole and its many pipes are sore. Well, those wild stories are not the stuff of country-time legend, but honest-to-God truth. As of this date I am invulnerable to vampires, the poetry of Neruda, and any sense of human shame, but by God, I am helpless as a drunken lamb before the might of “Popular,” from Wicked. This musical, as you may remember, is a story about a community comes together to shame, then kill a magical woman. But why? Is it because of this literally unstoppable, all-consuming melodic frolic, and its hideously beguiling power over man, beast, and man-beast? All signs point to yes. Who knows if it’s due to the beautiful vocal prowess of Kristin Chenoweth or the raw human need for song in a world that, until the dawn of man, only knew the bone-chewing howls of ravenous wolf packs at night as they danced on clawed paws beneath the blood moon. Possibly both. How do the lyrics put it?
“Popular! You’re gonna be popular! / I’ll teach you the proper ploys when you talk to boys / Little ways to flirt and flounce.”
And Chenoweth sells it.
N.W.A., “Straight Outta Compton”
For other jams, take “Straight out of Compton.” In a world that has grown monocultural and where all places are smoothed under the steamroller of ubiquity, N.W.A.’s ” Straight Outta Compton” is a controversial, profane reminder of home never straying far from where the heart is. The track is not just a north star for hip-hop and popular music, but a confrontational, bracing, heartfelt ode to where you come from, in whatever form we find it.
Brad Wagner, Videographer
Lynyrd Skynrd, “”Simple Man”
I don’t always sing songs, but when I do, I prefer “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd (preferably in the Koreatown of whatever city I’m in).
Monica Hunter-Hart, Contributing Writer
Queen, “”Bohemian Rhapsody”
This song is a ballad, an epic, a head-banger, and a million kinds of infectious. Freddie Mercury’s voice conveys the kind of thrilling melodrama that demands participation.