I hate running. That point cannot be emphasized enough. But I do it for two reasons: 1) to take care of my heart by doing some cardio exercise and 2) I want to be prepared to outrun any other human meat in a possible Zombie Apocalypse. So when it comes to making a playlist for running, good tunes to motivate (eh, distract) me through a workout is of the utmost importance. Here are just a few that will hopefully work for you as well:

“Best of My Love” by The Emotions

It is my firm belief that it is impossible to listen to this song and not smile. Released in 1977 on the album, Rejoice, the song would go on to win an American Music Award for “Favorite Soul/R&B Single” and a Grammy for “Best R&B Performance by a Group or Duo with Vocals”. And you know, awards are never wrong (sarcasm!). But seriously, this is a joyful number with an infectious energy, making it a great song to help combat the whiny side of you (*cough cough* I mean, me) who doesn’t want to do cardio.

“Best of My Love” by The Emotions

Memorable Lyrics

Goin’ in and out of changes
The kind that come around each day
My life has a better meaning
Love has kissed me in a beautiful way
And oh yea (my love, my love)
oh yea (my love, my love)
Oh you got the best of my love

“Domino” by Jessie J

I’ll admit, when I first heard this song last year I thought, “Wow. I didn’t know Katy Perry had a new single out.” Sure, the fact that the voice here is awfully similar to our own American Pop Star (Jessie J is a Brit!) could be considered a criticism; but the song got my attention and made its way onto one of my gym playlists so…mission accomplished? It’s a catchy, upbeat ditty that is pure pop candy. Also worth noting: this song won’t get on your nerves or make you feel like you should be slutting it up at a club in booty shorts and baring your midriff. Though if that’s your style, no judgements!

“Domino” by Jessie J

Memorable Lyrics

Rock my world until the sunlight
Make this dream the best I’ve ever known
Dirty dancing in the moonlight
Take me down like I’m a domino

“Keep the Car Running” by Arcade Fire

Okay, okay. I included this anthemic number brought to us by the great Arcade Fire in another of these “list” pieces here on SongLyrics.com. It was this one, by the way. But when a song is this good, there is bound to be some overlap. I’m only human! But back to the song: it’s a gorgeous indie rock concoction, where the intensity is more than palpable. And who said you can’t have high-brow music on a workout playlist?

“Keep the Car Running” by Arcade Fire

Memorable Lyrics

If some night I don’t come home
Please don’t think I’ve left you alone
The same place animals go when they die
You can’t climb across a mountain so high
The same city where I go when I sleep
Can’t swim across a river so deep

“We Found Love” by Rihanna (feat. Calvin Harris)

“We Found Love” is the latest in a string of hit singles from Barbados-born recording star Rihanna. The song talks about – you guessed it, smarty – finding love in a hopeless place. It was released as part of Rihanna’s 2011 album Talk That Talk which, which admittedly, wasn’t her best album to date. Many have argued that the quickly produced album was part of a blatant attempt to release as many hit singles as possible without accounting for, you know, song quality. And one listen to this song supports that argument. The lyrics are way repetitive and simple: but maybe that’s the point. After a while, the whole “we found love” incantation (used over 15 times in the span of 3 1/2 minutes) evolves from annoying phrase to hypnotic mantra. Whether it’s hypnotizing me into kinda liking a song that I wouldn’t otherwise, I can’t be sure. But the beat is strong and the production by Calvin Harris makes it good for some cardio.

Memorable Lyrics

Yellow diamonds in the light
Now we’re standing side by side
As your shadow crosses mine
What it takes to come alive

It’s the way I’m feeling I just can’t deny
But I’ve gotta let it go

We found love in a hopeless place

“Howlin’ For You” by The Black Keys

The bluesy stomp and retro sound of “Howlin’ For You” (part of The Black Keys‘s 2010 studio album, Brothers) always makes for a good time. So why not use it here?

Fun fact! The song’s kickass video features – cool people nerd alert! – Battlestar Galactica star (and fictional Cylon) Tricia Helfer. Check it out.

“Howlin’ For You” by The Black Keys

Memorable Lyrics

I must admit
I can’t explain
All these thoughts racing
Through my brain

It’s true
Baby I’m howlin’ for you

“Tonight Is the Night” by Outasight

A massively fun, uptempo pop-ish number from Outasight – aka, the hip hop, rap, and vocal artist, Richard Andrew – that is refreshingly not misogynistic. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of non-misogynistic songs out there, but when I see the likes of Tyga‘s “Rack City” and Chris Brown’s “Strip” moving up the Billboard Top 100, my heart breaks a little (ok, a lot). That is why I have a special appreciation for Outasight’s debut single, which is energetic, interesting, not pandering, and ripe for dancing.

“Tonight Is the Night” by Outasight

Memorable Lyrics

I’m feelin better than I ever did, impossible don’t exist
No, impossible don’t exist

 

“The Cave” by Mumford & Sons

Is the song a reference to Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave”?  Is that a shout out to Homer’s The Odyssey towards the end? I have my own feelings on the matter, but it’s not my place to decide that for you. All I know is that the song from Mumford & Sons is beautiful and it has a driving energy that is inspiring.

“The Cave” by Mumford & Sons

Memorable Lyrics

But I will hold on hope
And I won’t let you choke
On the noose around your neck

And I’ll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I’ll know my name as it’s called again

“Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” by the Eurythmics

This number, written by Annie Lennox and David A. Stewart (aka British pop duo, the Eurythmics)  was released in 1983 and went on to become the group’s most notable song. The androgynous look sported by Annie Lennox in the accompanying video was a sensation and helped drive the song to the top of the charts – making it a #2 hit on the UK singles chart and #1 on the U.S Billboard’s Top 100. The song is 80s synth pop at its finest. And let’s face it, every workout needs a little 80s.

“Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” by The Eurythmics

Memorable Lyrics

Sweet dreams are made of this
Who am I to disagree?
I travel the world
And the seven seas
Everybody’s looking for something.
Some of them want to use you
Some of them want to get used by you
Some of them want to abuse you
Some of them want to be abused.

“Crush” by Sleigh Bells

If The Breakfast Club was remade today and set in hipster-heavy locale, this is the song that would play at the end of the film as all of our lovable misfits exit the school, fist pumping the sky. The song, like the rest of Reign of Terror, has a dense arrangement and a whole lot of sound (in some opinions, too much). Many I have spoken with seem to have a love/hate relationship with the hook from “Crush”, as it has a certain punk pep rally aura to it. But I think that it is one of the stronger songs on the album, as it manages to maintain the distinct voice of Sleigh Bells without becoming too much of an over-produced parlor trick. And it has a good beat for running.

Memorable Lyrics

I got a crush on you, I got a crush
I got a crush on you, I got a crush on you now

You love it, you love it
You love it, you love it

“Part of Me” by Katy Perry

As a lady, I feel every workout needs an “empowering” song (that’s right; suck it, Onion News!). Is that cliche? Probably. But I don’t care. And though this song may feel like it was written in response to Perry’s semi-recent split from husband Russell Brand, Perry has stated that the number was actually written two years prior to the divorce. I would like to believe that is true. But, who knows? Either way, this is the latest single from Katy Perry so you know it’s going to be everywhere.

“Part of Me” by Katy Perry

Memorable Lyrics

This is the part of me that you’re never gonna ever take away from me, no
This is the part of me that you’re never gonna ever take away from me, no
Throw your sticks and your stones
Throw your bombs and your blows
But you’re not gonna break my soul
This is the part of me that you’re never gonna ever take away from me, no

“Break Me Out” by The Rescues

I have been a fan of The Rescues for a few of years now. The group was formed in Los Angeles in 2008 and each member of the four-person ensemble is bursting with talent: they are award-winning songwriters whose signature sound is the use of beautiful four-part vocal harmonies. Yup, each musician is both a singer AND a multi-instrumentalist. Impressed? I am. “Break Me Out” was used in an episode of “Grey’s Anatomy”; but if you aren’t a fan of the show, don’t hold it against the song. The lyrics are smart, eloquent, and thoughtful.

Fun fact! The Rescues have also recorded  an awesome cover of Katy Perry‘s “Teenage Dream”. Watch it here.

“Break Me Out” by The Rescues

Memorable Lyrics

The walls are caving in with no warning
This ship is sinking, I gotta swim for it
I’m running out of air

Break me out tonight, I wanna see the
Sun rising anywhere but here
Come with me, this could be
The only chance we get, we gotta take it
Don’t do it now, we’ll never make it
Lose this crowd, break me out

“Where the Streets Have No Name” by U2

Whenever I hear this song, I feel like what I am doing is far more profound than it probably is. But I don’t care: I allow myself that minor diversion from reality. So what’s the song about? It means different things to different people, but if you want to get all technical: Bono actually wrote the lyrics in response to a story he heard about areas of Belfast, Northern Ireland. The idea was that you could identify a person’s income bracket, as well as their social and religious views based simply on the particular street on which they live. And so he wrote “Where the Streets Have No Name”;  it’s an emotional “sketch” of a song speaking of a place that could transcend such assumptive boundaries.

“Where the Streets Have No Name” by U2

Memorable Lyrics

The city’s aflood
And our love turns to rust
We’re beaten and blown by the wind
Trampled in dust
I’ll show you a place
High on a desert plain
Where the streets have no name