There’s a special breed of pop song that I am totally apeshit for. I will crank the radio to top volume and dance while driving my car if this kind of stuff comes on (I am pretty sure it’s totally hilarious if you see me, and I’m good with that (no, I have never caused a car accident through this behavior, I can only dance from the waist up)). I have a lot of trouble categorizing it, and Pandora was pretty useless when I tried to – usually what happens when I try to find stuff that sounds like this is I come across lots of shit I hate and then I give up and just listen to country music or something. Anyway, it’s sort of a cross between 70s dance pop and new wave? I think it might be both 70s dance pop and new wave in parallel and they just sound really similar because there was cross-pollination? I don’t know, I’m really bad at genres. It’s very upbeat, very dancey, usually pretty electronic, and usually features some cool harmonies but not always. (Cool harmonies always get me on account of I’m a choral singer and when cool harmonies happen I am presented with choices. This is dizzying.) But so. Here are some awesome pop songs. Sing them and dance in your chair with me.
What Do All the People Know by The Monroes
The Monroes basically only ever did this song due to some drama with their record company. On the one hand, that sucks, because this song is a perfect little piece of pop music and I want to hear ninety-seven more like it. On the other hand, this song is a perfect little piece of pop music and maybe I just want to hear it ninety-seven times. Maybe if there was more it would destroy the perfection of this. I don’t know. I do know that listening to it only once is basically impossible.
Take a Chance on Me by ABBA
Seriously, if you don’t like ABBA, suck me.
Or, more maturely: I didn’t want to enjoy Mamma Mia. My mom put it on one morning and I rolled my eyes and said something cynical. Approximately three minutes later – and no, I’m not being hyperbolic – I was bopping in my chair like you wouldn’t believe with a grin from ear to ear, because Meryl Streep is the most beautiful woman in the world and probably the best living actress and she is having so much goddamn fun in this movie that it rolls off her in waves, and by the way homegirl has some pipes. Prior to this the entirety of my exposure to ABBA consisted of Dancing Queen and thirty-second snatches of Take a Chance on Me, which I could never keep straight with Take on Me, and through this movie I learned that ABBA is basically the most fun four people have ever had with a synthesizer. (Although I still think Meryl Streep is better at singing ABBA than ABBA was.) So, yes, I love ABBA, and I love Mamma Mia, and I love this song, and if you don’t like it you’re probably dead inside. The end.
Faith by George Michael
George Michael guesses it would be nice if he could touch your body. He knows not everybody has got a body like you. But he’s got to think twice before he gives his heart away. He knows all the games you play because he plays them too.
In fact, he needs some time off from that emotion, time to pick his heart up off the floor. GEORGE MICHAEL IS PRACTICING SELF-CARE. HE’S GOT TO HAVE FAITH.
Seriously, this song is amazing for a million reasons, not the least of which is George Michael’s ass in the video, but my favorite reason might be how brave it is. This is not a love song. This is a song about figuring out what you want and holding out for it, because you deserve better. It’s a song about admitting that you’ve been hurt, and that it sucks, and that you’ve learned from it and want better for yourself. And that’s so fucking cool. There are not a lot of songs about this, and there really aren’t a lot sung by men. It’s a very specific kind of vulnerability that men are culturally denied – the vulnerability to love and learn and move on, rather than cling and try to win someone back – and George Michael made a whole pop tune about it.
Also, have you heard that guitar riff. I dare you not to dance. I am currently losing that dare spectacularly.
500 Miles (I’m Gonna Be) by The Proclaimers
How I Met Your Mother‘s mini-obsession with this song definitely helped me remember how amazing it is. It’s one of those songs that sort of permeates the culture, so you’ve never really heard it beginning to end but you’ve heard snatches of it a million times. And then you hear it beginning to end and you feel like Ted and Marshall in the Fiero. Also, nerdy twins in giant dorky Buddy Holly glasses. Adorbz.
Land Down Under by Men at Work
My relationship with this song is very new. I’ve only heard it a handful of times. But that handful was loud. This song is ridiculous on a number of levels, not the least of which is the rhyming of “muscles” and “Brussels” in what I’m almost positive is not a reference to Jean Claude van Damme, but I kind of love it. It makes me bop, and demands to be played super loud. Those are basically the criteria for being on this list.
Like a Prayer by Madonna
Me: Like a Prayer on the radio. Best part of my day.
BFFL: I’m working at the only LGBT center in the Bronx! Of course, that doesn’t compare to Madonna’s longitudinal impact, let’s be clear.
BFFL: I take what I can get, especially on Madonna-less days.
I hope you enjoy bopping to these songs. If you can recommend others you think I’d like based on this list, I would love to hear about them. I promise to listen to them really fucking loudly and make an ass of myself bopping, if appropriate.