In our continued effort to actually keep a New Year’s resolution and unearth our Best. Body. Ever, we come now to the inevitable: core strengthening. And when it comes to core strengthening, this is an area you don’t want to skimp on. Seriously. It can make or break you (and no one likes a wuss). That’s why it’s important to have a solid playlist to help focus your mind and help you power through your umpteenth set of crunches, Pilates bicycles, planks, and the like. Here is such a playlist:

“Don’t Hold Your Breath” by Nicole Scherzinger

With its upbeat sound and empowering lyrics (please forgive my use of such a cliched term), this club-pop tune by the former Pussycat Dolls lead vocalist certainly helps you start your ab workout right. It also helps you to forgive Scherzinger for being part of “When I Grow Up“.

“Don’t Hold Your Breath” by Nicole Scherzinger (Live)

Memorable Lyrics

You can’t touch me now there’s no feeling left
If you think I’m coming back don’t hold your breath
What you did to me boy I can’t forget
If you think I’m coming back don’t hold your breath

“Dog Days Are Over” by Florence + the Machine

In “Dog Days Are Over”, lead singer Florence Welch and a collection of musicians, aka “The Machine”, blend the likes of art rock and soul to create this exploding tour-de-force number. Welch has said that the song was inspired by a text installation near the Waterloo Bridge in London - “Dog Days Are Over“ - by mixed-media artist Ugo Rondinone. Pretty cool, yes?

“Dog Days Are Over” by Florence + the Machine (Live)

Memorable Lyrics

Run fast for your mother run fast for your father
Run for your children for your sisters and brothers
Leave all your love and your longing behind you
Can’t carry it with you if you want to survive

“You Shook Me All Night Long” by AC/DC

A signature song from Australian rockers AC/DC, from their 1980 album Back in Black. There’s no deep meaning to be found in this song, but we are talking about tunes to motivate you through as many crunches as possible. Yes, it’s 80s stadium-style rock, but it’s electric and fun. What more do you want from me?

“You Shook Me All Night Long” by AC/DC (Live)

Memorable Lyrics

She was a fast machine
She kept her motor clean
She was the best damn woman I had ever seen
[... that I, ever seen]

She had the sightless eyes
Telling me no lies
Knockin’ me out with those American thighs
Taking more than her share
Had me fighting for air

“Young Blood” by The Naked and Famous

“Young Blood” is a single pulled from New Zealand rock band The Naked and Famous’s debut album Passive Me, Aggressive You. The number is made rich with layers of synth-pop sounds and an incredibly organic build. The latter of which is certainly a rarity these days. For these reasons and more, this uplifting number is a perfect fit for the gym, in your car, or simply walking down the street.

“Young Blood” by The Naked and Famous

Memorable Lyrics

As it withers
Brittle it shakes
Can you whisper
As it crumbles and breaks
As you shiver
Count up all your mistakes
Pair of forgivers
Let go before it’s too late
Can you whisper
Can you whisper
Can you whisper
Can you whisper

“Wild Ones” by Flo Rida feat. Sia

Because you can’t go to the gym without listening to a number from Tramar Dillard. And yes, that is his real name.  There’s a reason Flo Rida’s music dominates the sound system at both gyms and clubs: they have fast, infectious beats that keep you moving. Though when it comes to Flo Rida’s tunes (that’s pronounced “Flow Ridah” not the expected “Flo…rida”, as in the state), I do my best to steer away from the misogynistic ones as much as possible. And believe me, it’s a challenge. Because there are a lot.

“Wild Ones” by Flo Rida feat. Sia

Memorable Lyrics

I want shut down the club
With you
Hey I heard you like the wild ones
Oooh

“American Slang” by The Gaslight Anthem

The title track from the third studio album of my second-favorite Jersey rockers.  American Slang followed the stunning achievement of an album, The ’59 Sound, and built upon the gravelly punk-rock foundation of what was thus laid there. It’s hard to beat Brain Fallon’s emotionally robust voice as it fills out these heartbreaking lyrics, whose weight are more than supported by a wicked strong tune.

“American Slang” live by The Gaslight Anthem

Memorable Lyrics

And here’s where we died that time last year
And where the angels and devils meet
And you can dance with the queen if you need
And she will always keep your cards close to her heart
So close to her heart
Before they tear you apart

“The One That Got Away” by Katy Perry

Let’s face it: most of us work out in the hopes that we will run into an ex looking smashing. For a successful exhibit of someone accomplishing this see: Reese Witherspoon, circa 2007. Of course, there’s the whole health thing and keeping your heart strong and how we really work out for ourselves, not to impress. Blah blah blah (I kid). But the idea of looking hot in front of someone who wronged you or “the one that got away” is a powerful motivator.

Fun fact! “The One That Got Away” was part of Perry’s hit album, Teenage Dream, which  was the second album in history to have five singles peak at number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 list.

“The One That Got Away” by Katy Perry

Memorable Lyrics

In another life
I would make you stay
So I don’t have to say
You were the one that got away
The one that got away

I was June and you were my Johnny Cash
Never one without the other we made a pact
Sometimes when I miss you
I put those records on (Whoa)

“Amor Fati” by Washed Out

Who says your workout tunes can’t have street cred? The elegant and subtly seductive “Amor Fati” was part of Washed Out’s accomplished 2011 album, Within and Without. The critically-heralded album was even included on SongLyrics’  “Top 100 Albums of 2011″. So you know it must be good.

“Amor Fati” by Washed Out

Memorable Lyrics

Relax, slow down
They’ll hope, design
Even though he’s hard to forgive
When you can’t just fall in love
Just to know your thoughts you know that
You’ll be all right in time

“Stereo Hearts” by Gym Class Heroes feat. Adam Levine

This song has a pretty great hook and, let’s face it: sometimes that’s all you need (…at the gym). Adam Levine’s vocals on the chorus make the song soar and while the metaphor weaved throughout the rest of the number by Travie McCoy (of Gym Class Heroes) is a bit of a light confection, this pop number is certainly catchy. Also, Adam Levine once made an appearance on 30 Rock so…mad respect.

“Stereo Hearts” by Gym Class Heroes feat. Adam Levine (Live on SNL)

Memorable Lyrics

My heart’s a stereo
It beats for you, so listen close
Hear my thoughts in every note
Make me your radio
Turn me up when you feel low
This melody was meant for you
Just sing along to my stereo

“When Doves Cry” by Prince

A good cool down number with a solid beat, though – fun fact! – there is no bass line. 80s music sensation Prince composed this sexy little ditty for the 1984 rock musical film Purple Rain, in which he also starred.  It’s a classic for a reason.

“When Doves Cry” by Prince (Live)

Memorable Lyrics

Dig if u will the picture
Of u and I engaged in a kiss
The sweat of your body covers me
Can u my darling
Can u picture this?