I don’t know if you guys have been paying attention, but the world has been conspiring to be a ginormous buzzkill lately. We’ve got the usual election year mudslinging, more terrifying violence in the Middle East, dour economic forecasts and enough accompanying bombast to make me wish for a universal mute button. Not only that, but just when we all have tried so hard to embrace healthy eating, some nosy guys in lab coats just figured out that rice — pure, simple, Whole Foods staple rice — contains dangerous levels of arsenic.
I say we all need a little cheering up. Even though it’s Sunday, it’s time for another installment of Laurie’s Friday Playlist! Heck, if you play these tunes long enough, it will feel like Friday. You might even decide to ditch this week’s duties all the way to next Friday, in which case I offer the usual disclaimer:
In no event will we be liable for, including without limitation, indirect or consequential loss of reputation, dance injuries, shirked responsibilities or public displays of silliness arising out of or in connection with the use of Laurie’s Friday Playlist. Play these songs at your own risk, and make sure to turn the volume up to 11.
As usual, you can find all of these songs on iTunes, Amazon and most other MP3 sites. Remember, I tend to jump around the musical spectrum and might follow the Cotton Eyed Joe with Mozart’s Requiem. Why? Because when life offers you a buffet, it’s best to pile your plate high and sample everything.
So, put on your dancing shoes because today I bring you Laurie’s Shameless Dance Party … a Playlist for Cutting Rugs and Shaking Booties! Don’t worry, there’s not a Macarena or Chicken Dance in the whole mix…
Let’s start with an a fantastic classic from the swing era. Anyone who thinks radical music was born with the electric guitar hasn’t really checked out the wild carryings-on from the age of jitterbugs. If the Andrews Sisters were the 1940s versions of Disney pop stars, Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey were the ones your mother warned you about. (Even Keith Moon had nothing on swing drummer Gene Kruppa.) Here’s one of my favorite recordings of Sing Sing Sing with Benny Goodman’s orchestra, a fantastic Harry James trumpet solo and Kruppa himself in all of his wild glory.
Don’t sit down yet, I’m just getting started. Next, I bring you something that has probably already blown up your Facebook feed. But in case, like me, you never check Facebook, I bring you the Korean sensation Psy with his infectious dance track Gangnam Style. It proves to everyone that groove is the universal language and dancing like nobody is looking is probably the key to peace between nations.
Speaking of dancing like nobody’s looking, let’s slow it down for a few minutes and trance out with Radiohead’s front man Thom Yorke as he offers wonderful weirdo choreography to accompany Lotus Flower.
Like this mellow vibe? Then hang out on the dance floor for some classic psychedelic naval-gazing with the Beatles Tomorrow Never Knows. Who needs electric guitars when we have a sitar and a tamboura?
Feeling warmed up? Then rave on into the classic nineties dance track by Underworld that always makes me feel like anything is possible. Karl Hyde and Rick Smith are now considcered the elder statesmen of electronica — even acting downright responsible by serving as musical directors for the opening ceremonies of the London Olympics. But here, in Rez, they’re the hypnotic pied pipers of party fun.
Don’t put down those glowsticks! This past week, Shannon Leto of Thirty Seconds to Mars dropped a brilliant remix of the band’s song Night of the Hunter. It turns an epic track worthy of a Kubrick-directed rock opera into an infectious electronic dance piece.
Okay, everybody can come back to earth now, grab a partner and show off your best Texas two-step with this catchy country rock song City Lights by Jeremy Williams. (Hint: the brilliant Austin singer/songwriter just happens to be my nephew — and you can get his entire album on iTunes.)
We’ve all heard the old saying, “I’m dancing as fast as I can!” Well, those behind South Africa’s Shangaan Electro Dance have gone literal. 180 beats per minute? Why not?! Or, in the words of Richard Hlungwani during a CNN interview, “The world will go faster. It won’t go at the pace it’s going now, It will go a little bit faster, because Shangaan electro is going to do that.” Check out the Electro Dance here with Nwa Pfundla.
I know what you’re thinking … what we need right about now is some good, sixties-inspired Brit-Rock with a beat that makes you want to put on your GoGo boots and do the Pony! Gotcha covered with Miles Kane’s impossibly hip Rearrange. All I know is that I want this guy to score the next James Bond series.
Which brings us to our final number, by a woman who is no stranger to GoGo boots. Most of the Best Of lists choose Vogue as Madonna’s most fabulous dance song, but I have always been partial to Ray of Light. It’s utterly goofy with melodic optimism, and that’s just what I want. It’s unbridled hope and inspiration set to a beat that everyone can dance to.
Keep dancing, everybody.
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