Make It Work

Music to get down with

The New York Times ran an article on Jan. 10 about the inseparable connection between music and exercise, “They’re Playing My Song. Time to Work Out.” Believe it or not, “Studies have shown that listening to music during exercise can improve results, both in terms of being a motivator (people exercise longer and more vigorously to music) and as a distraction from negatives like fatigue.” It seems obvious. I can’t walk down the hall without having a song in my head. Music and movement go together like coffee and cigarettes. Okay, it’s a weird comparison.

However, exercise and I are just now getting to be close. All those nights spent drinking in bars, eating at restaurants, and generally enjoying the bounty of Austin caught up with me. Urged on by a landmark birthday coming up this summer, I decided it was time to get to work.

I bought an iPod Shuffle and started searching. What album would make the fat just melt away? Which track could motivate me to run a half-marathon? We’re talking magic bullet here. Alas, nowhere in the expanses of the Internets could such bullet be found. I Googled “workout music” and was met with hundreds of premade discs jumping with that horrid Top 40 crap echoed in gyms worldwide. I can’t do my usual indie rock in spandex; it just doesn’t work for me. I need something to get me moving, and being a former Golden Girl – the Conroe High School drill team, not the awesome Eighties sitcom starring Rue McClanahan as Blanche Devereaux – I need something with a beat. I need to feel like I’m dancing. I need music to trick me into thinking that I’m enjoying what I’m doing.

Steven Kurutz’s NYT article cited a Dr. Costas Karageorghis, who sounded pretty official, saying that a song’s tempo should be between 120 and 140 beats per minute. Yep, indie rock is out. My sister has been cramming Justin Timberlake down my throat for years without much success (all right, I do like “SexyBack”), so maybe now is the time to learn to appreciate dance pop.

I sent out a plea for help via MySpace, and surprisingly, quite a few of you put a lot of thought into your workout jams. I got everything from Rush’s “Moving Pictures” to L7’s “Wargasm,” but that didn’t feel right to me. I want to feel like my heart will propel the rest of my body without any help from my brain.

Local musician Anthony Romero suggested I check out John Bourke’s “Dance Robots Dance” mix. Bourke is an Oklahoma City DJ with a penchant for the hip and fast. His mix started to rock my world, but I needed more diversity. Same goes for Daft Punk’s Alive 2007, which is electrifying, and LCD Soundsystem’s 45:33, which was made for running. After some research and with the help of your suggestions, I’ve put together an hourlong playlist, a roundup of workout jams, that I think might do the trick. I hope I make my sister proud. Most of the tracks were released in the last year, and many bring a new definition to the word “electronic.”

1) “Atlas,” by Battles from Mirrored (Warp), May 2007
2) “Gum,” by Cornelius from Gum (Everloving), January 2008
3) “Let There Be Light,” by Justice from (Ed Banger), July 2007
4) “Stronger,” by Kanye West from Graduation (Roc-a-Fella), September 2007
5) “Bonafied Lovin’,” by Chromeo from Bonafied Lovin’ EP (Vice), December 2007
6) “Boyz,” by M.I.A. from Kala (XL), August 2007
7) “The Girls,” by Calvin Harris from I Created Disco (Sony), June 2007
8) “Peak Out,” by Girl Talk from Night Ripper (Illegal Art), May 2006
9) “Umbrella” (Seamus Haji & Paul Emanuel Club Remix), by Rihanna featuring Jay-Z from the “Umbrella” single (Island), July 2007
10) “LoveStoned/I Think She Knows” (Tiësto Remix), by Justin Timberlake from LoveStoned/I Think She Knows (Remixes) EP (Zomba), September 2007
11) “Bodywork,” by MSTRKRFT from The Looks (Last Gang), July 2006
12) “Get Up” (DJ Mel Remix), by Ciara, online download
13) “15 Steps,” by Radiohead from In Rainbows, December 2007

That’s it. 62.5 minutes of straight-up jams. I wish I knew the BPM of every track, but my DJ skills are lacking. Or are they?

I know this one won’t last long, however. I crave variety. I’d love to know what you think, and I would love even more to hear about local musicians who energize people. I’m open to suggestion, folks. Post ideas like crazy. Please. My health depends on it.

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workout music, Justin Timberlake, Rihanna, Calvin Harris

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