Gray days getting you down? These tracks, both new and familiar, will get you moving instead:
1. “Concrete Jungle” – Au/Ra
Ibiza-born artist Au/Ra’s debut track speaks to being fearless and instinctual in the competitive urban environment. Her shimmering vocals tell a surrealist story over a pulsing bass line, and you’ll want to turn the volume up to grasp every beautiful detail. If you’re going to SXSW this year, make sure you catch Au/Ra performing this powerful anthem live.
Image Source: Au/Ra Facebook page
2. “Clearest Blue” – CHVRCHES
This 2015 track by Scottish indie pop band CHVRCHES is one of the group’s most emotional songs. Synths build and build with intensity as singer Lauren Mayberry pleads for her love to hold on should she get scared of being vulnerable. Her vocals finally culminate in a shout, “Tell me, tell me you’ll meet me/Will you meet me more than halfway up?,” and the song has a cathartic release that’s nearly impossible not to dance to.
3. “Let Go For Tonight” – Foxes
“Let Go for Tonight” from the 2014 album Glorious begins with crashing pianos and handclaps, and the song only progresses in energy from there. Louisa Rose Allen, also known as British singer/songwriter Foxes, sings of releasing inhibitions, and immersing yourself in an all-night party. The music video is visual candy, with Foxes and her friends throwing food and paint in abandon.
4. “Kiss The Sky” – The Knocks (ft. Wyclef Jean)
The Knocks, a prolific New York City based production and DJ duo, do incredible collaborations with other artists. “Kiss the Sky” (featuring Wyclef Jean) from the 2016 album 55 is one such magical meeting of the minds. Jean’s spitfire rapping about an amazing girl elevates the excitement of the song, and the chorus is an emancipation of disco inspired joy and swagger.
5. “Surfin'” – Kid Cudi (ft. Pharrell Williams)
Cleveland-born Kid Cudi’s newest album Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin’ is full of contemplative, somewhat somber tracks, which is understandable given that the artist has grappled with depression throughout his life. “Surfin’,” however, is funky and celebratory. The Pharrell produced song (which he also lends his vocals to) features a message of fortitude from Cudi: “Now, I ain’t riding no waves/Too busy making my own waves, baby.”
6. “Big Ideas” – The Boxer Rebellion
London-formed band The Boxer Rebellion’s track “Big Ideas” from their 2016 album Ocean by Ocean is soaring and sincere. Singer Nathan Nicholson wistfully pines for someone wonderful he met at the wrong time in his life. Many of us have had a similar “bad timing” experience when it comes to relationships – check this single out if you’re feeling nostalgic, but still want a song to move along to.
7. “Run Right Back” – The Black Keys
“Run Right Back,” the 2011 song by Ohio-formed band The Black Keys, starts with a wailing guitar, perhaps emblematic of the frustration Dan Auerbach feels about the intoxicating/toxic woman he’s singing about. Forceful drums and a three guitar arrangement paint the picture of being fed up with love. If you’re feeling romantic aggravation this winter, let your feelings out with this dynamic track.
8. “Wolf Like Me” – TV on the Radio
This 2006 song by Brooklyn indie rockers TV on the Radio launches with a vigorous drum beat and a fuzzy guitar line, creating a frantic mood that you can’t help but move to. The lyrics are carnal – singer Tunde Adebimpe likens his sexual desire and lack of control as to transforming into a werewolf. Midway through the song, the tempo suddenly drops, and haunting synths creep in, before the restless guitars return to close out this dark, but danceable single.
9. “Safe and Holy” – Christine and the Queens
French musician Héloïse Letissier, who performs under the name Christine and the Queens, is pansexual and gender fluid, and much of her eponymous 2015 album explores these themes. “Safe and Holy” discusses the negotiation with the world and with herself on queer identity. The song, with sliding synths and lots of hi-hat, is moody in its feel, but made for dancing.
10. “Couldn’t Believe” – Broods
New Zealand-born Georgia and Caleb Nott are the brother and sister duo that comprise the band Broods. Their electropop style is infectious and beautiful, and the 2016 track “Couldn’t Believe” off of their second album, Conscious, highlights this perfectly. Georgia sings over exuberant synths about the luck she feels in finding a great partner in life – her joy is palpable and you’ll want to join in.
11. “Drove Me Wild” – Tegan and Sara
Canadian indie pop band Tegan and Sara is composed of twins Tegan and Sara Quin. The two have released eight studio albums, and their style has changed over the years from a grunge-influenced sound to a polished New Wave pop. 2013’s album Heartthrob is full of buoyant songs about love, including “Drove Me Wild.” The track hits the pavement running, with quick paced synths supporting Tegan as she sings about someone who won’t emotionally let her in.
12. “Running With the Boys” – Lights
Valerie Anne Poxleitner, another talented Canadian musician, legally changed her name to Lights when she was starting out in her career. Lights is known for her melodious electropop style and sweet vocals. The 2014 track “Running With the Boys” from her third studio album, Little Machines, is true to her signature addictive sound as she waxes nostalgic about the innocent and imaginative times of childhood.
13. “High Society” – Betty Who
Australian singer-songwriter Betty Who’s 2013 track “High Society” is pure pop ecstasy. Who (given name Jess Newham) wrote the song while still a student at the Berkelee School in Boston, and her descriptions of running away with a lover and sneaking into country clubs are mischievous fantasies that frankly we would all have fun participating in. Blast this song when you’re snowed in and daydreaming of your next adventure.
14. “Thunder” – Brooke Fraser
New Zealand native Brooke Fraser is a worship leader with Hillsong, and her gorgeous voice lends itself well to the folk compositions she writes for the church. Fraser’s 2014 album Brutal Romantic is a testimony to her versatility. The LP is a far departure from her previous work, done in a futuristic synth pop style with lyrics that discuss secular themes. “Thunder” is an impassioned track about world conflict, with island beat drums maintaining a foundation amidst the sweeping wildness of the chorus.
15. “Busy Earnin'” – Jungle
Jungle is a neo soul band from London enveloped in a bit of mystery. A group of musicians centered around producers Tom McFarland and Josh Lloyd-Watson, Jungle doesn’t appear in their beautifully stylized music videos, and even their names weren’t initially revealed. Their music is far from subdued, though – “Busy Earnin’,” from their 2014 debut album Jungle, discusses the monotony of capitalism in the most dance-worthy way possible.
16. “Best to You” – Blood Orange
The 2016 single “Best to You” wrenches your heart, yet still makes you want to move. New York City-based Dev Hynes, also known as Blood Orange, is a master of this juxtaposition. His sexy electronica and R&B influenced songs are often stories of pain wrapped in a sleek package. In “Best to You,” guest singer Empress Of says honestly, “And I can’t be the girl you want/But I can be the thing you throw away.” You may not hear the sadness in this song’s lyrics until you get past the captivating, percussive music Hynes has created first.
17. “Undercover” – Kehlani
Bay Area-raised hip hop musician Kehlani recently released “Undercover,” a sensual track from her upcoming album SweetSexySavage. The single begins with a guitar riff and gives way to a plucky synth line and Kehlani’s confident vocals about loving freely. This song is vivacious, and a perfect antidote to a gloomy winter day.
18. “Say Anymore” – Kiiara
“Say Anymore” by Illinois-born Kiara Saulters (artist name Kiiara) is full of attitude and passion. “It’s your eyes that I really adore/If I say anymore/I might just fall in…” Kiiara’s rhythmic vocals trail off as the song continues on with its glitchy synths and heavy bass. Listen to this track as you’re getting ready for an adventurous night out.
19. “Dance” – POWERS
L.A. band POWERS recently released their newest single “Dance,” a riotous anthem about dancing in the face of global warming and clueless presidents. You may be feeling strong emotions about these things, as well, so take POWERS up on their suggestion to distract yourself with some fun. As the spoken intro to the track says, “I think it’s very important, no matter who you are, to enjoy life and to dance.”
20. “Bright Side” – Vicetone (ft. Cosmos & Creature)
Dutch producers Ruben and Victor, known together as Vicetone, have said in interviews that their goal is to create progressive house music that is all about “positive vibes.” 2016 single “Bright Side” is a choice example of their effervescent style. In the track, pop duo Cosmos & Creature sing over a sparkling soundscape that includes lighthearted violins and an electronica infrastructure. This is feel good music to help get you through long winter days.