In the vein of NPR’s “Sweatin’ to NPR”, let me debut my first in a series of workout-specific mixes. Got to shed those holiday pounds somehow! And no, no one is saying that you look fat. In fact, you look great. I know that the gym is crazy packed this time of year with all of those fair-weather workout-ers trying to make good on their own resolutions. But don’t worry: most of those cats usually fall away by mid-February. Just don’t be one of them! Which is why now is as good of a time as any to rework the gym playlists on your iPod so you don’t wuss out.

Disclaimer: This series of pieces will be a little self-serving since one of my New Year’s resolutions was to obtain my best. body. ever. Take that, Cheetos! But I also figured that the whole workout thing is basically the penultimate resolution for anyone who has made a resolution ever. So…win-win.

This week we are going to begin with a playlist specifically tailored for some good old fashioned weight training. Time to get some jacked-up arms. But sexy jacked like Evangeline Lily, not scary jacked like Madonna (no judgements!). In the coming weeks, I plan on tackling some more workout-specific playlists including: sculpting some killer abs, running (meh), hiking (more my speed), cardio dance, yoga, and stretching. I may even throw in a cool down mix for good measure…depending on my general mood.

Don’t see your activity of choice listed? Fear not! Simply post your requests (or aggressive demand) in the comment section below.

“Uprising” by Muse

Those English rockers really get the job done here in “Uprising”.  And when I say “get the job done”, I’m talking about forcing you to shake off the laziness and get your ass in gear for a good workout. The song, off the band’s fifth studio album The Resistance (2009), is HUGE. It has a larger-than-life sound, bombastic lyrics, and heavy beat that never lets up. And after one listen, it gets under your skin like a slow-moving fungus. But that can be a good thing when you need to snap out of your thoughts, get into your body, and just exercise. Seriously. The song is a little overstuffed and lacks specificity, making it less a song of political crusaders and more an arena rock staple, but sometimes that’s exactly what you need at the gym. Gym music is not necessarily meant to expose you to new musical artistry (with a few exceptions). It’s there to kick your ass.

Fun fact!  “Uprising” has been considered, by some, to have been based off of the ’80s new wave hit “Call Me” by Blondie.

“Uprising (LIVE)”, Muse 

Memorable Lyrics

Interchanging mind control
Come let the, revolution takes its toll
If you could, flick the switch and open your third eye
You’d see that, we should never be afraid to die
(So come on)

“Run This Town” by Jay-Z, feat. Rihanna & Kanye West

This may not be the world’s greatest rap/hip hop song, but it does feature three mega stars of the music community.  The beat is inescapable, and the song has a certain hardness that is apropos when you are trying to build muscles and feel like a superhero.

“Run This Town”, Jay-Z feat. Rihanna and Kanye West

Memorable Lyrics

Life’s a game but it’s not fair
I break the rules so I don’t care
So I keep doin’ my own thing
Walkin’ tall against the rain
Victory’s within the mile
Almost there, don’t give up now
Only thing that’s on my mind
Is who’s gonna run this town tonight

“Immigrant Song” (cover) by Karen O, Trent Reznor, & Atticus Ross

This badass cover of the Led Zeppelin original is a gritty, unstoppable force. Trent Reznor (of Nine Inch Nails), Atticus Ross, and Karen O (of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs) tackled the iconic rock song for use in the equally badass David Fincher film, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. The film was based on the Swedish novel by Stieg Larsson and features a force-to-be-reckoned-with female heroine in the form of Lisbeth Salander. And – SPOILER ALERT – if watching (or reading about) a petite woman beat the sh*t out of a murdering rapist with a golf club isn’t motivation enough to get strong, then I don’t know what is.

Fun fact! In 2010, Reznor and Ross won an Oscar for their work scoring another David Fincher film, The Social Network.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (English Language) Trailer, David Fincher

Badass Lyrics

Ah, ah,
We come from the land of the ice and snow,
From the midnight sun where the hot springs flow.
The hammer of the gods will drive our ships to new lands,
To fight the horde, singing and crying: Valhalla, I am coming!

“Rebellion (Lies)” by Arcade Fire

An anthemic number from awards darling and super classy indie rock group, Arcade Fire. “Rebellion (Lies)” comes from the Canadian rock band’s 2005 debut album, Funeral. The album was named such because, tragically, four of the band’s members had lost members of their own families within the two years prior. This song is brilliant on so many levels – artistically and intellectually speaking. And while it’s not exactly the type of song that would initially strike you a perfect fit for your gym playlist, you would be surprised how well the number will lift you up and carry you through multiple reps on the seated hip abductor machine.

“Rebellion (Lies)”, Arcade Fire

Memorable Lyrics

Sleeping is giving in,
no matter what the time is.
Sleeping is giving in,
so lift those heavy eyelids.
People say that you’ll die
faster than without water.
But we know it’s just a lie,
scare your son, scare your daughter.

“Cum On Feel the Noise” by Quiet Riot

Token ’80s song! It’s a requirement that every workout playlist has one. This song was written by Jim Lea and Noddy Holder of Slade, who originally recorded the song in 1973. A decade later, Quiet Riot’s producer’s suggested they cover the number in the hopes of producing a hit for the group. Quiet Riot hated the song and intentionally did (what they thought was) a piss poor job playing it in the studio. Unfortunately, the producer loved it and that version was later released, going on to become the #5 song in the U.S. Also, the video is (unintentionally?) hilarious.

“Cum on Feel the Noise” music video, Quiet Riot

Memorable Lyrics

Well you think we have a lazy time,
You should know better
I don’t know why
I don’t know why

“I Wanna Go” by Britney Spears

I’m a lady, so no hatin’ for my leanings towards certain pop divas for my workout motivation. After all, it’s Britney, bitch. Sure, her live performances are less-than-stellar *understatement*. I miss the time when Britney could/would dance; also, I am a curmudgeon who thinks artists should actually be, you know, singing since I paid for a ticket and parking and all. Sigh. That said, this uber remixed and catchy tune will get the job done at the gym.

“I Wanna Go”, Britney Spears”

Memorable Lyrics

Lately people got me all tied up
There’s a countdown waiting for me to erupt
Time to blow out
I’ve been told do what you do with it
We keep both my hands above the blanket
When the light’s out
Shame on me
To need release
Uncontrollably

“Different Drum” by Me First & the Gimme Gimmes

Listen to cover band Me First and the Gimme Gimmes’s give the dainty classic “Different Drum” a full-blown punk rock makeover. The original song was written by Micahel Nesmith in 1965, and later gained prominence in 1967 when it was recorded by the Stone Poneys, featuring Linda Ronstadt. The punk group’s version is a liberating, fiery slap in the face. You’ll be glad you had it.

“Different Drum (LIVE)”, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes

 Memorable Lyrics

Oh don’t get me wrong
It’s not that I knock it
It’s just that I am not in the market
For a boy who wants to love only me

Yes, and I ain’t saying you ain’t pretty
All I’m saying is I’m not ready
For any person place or thing
To try and pull the reins in on me

 “Black Tongue” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs

This song was pulled from Fever to Tell,  the debut album – and The New York Times 2003 album of the year – from the indie rock group the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Lead singer Karen O expertly throws her voice easily from uncontrolled orgasmic squeal to cool-as-a-cucumber authoritative hum. This song’s got undeniable style. It will pump you with enough swagger to look at yourself in those floor-to-ceiling gym mirrors and not hang your head in disappointment (pre-best.body.ever, that is).

“Black Tongue (LIVE)”, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Memorable Lyrics

You can keep your black tongue
well I found at the mortuary
you know you’re gonna want some, want some
we’ll hide in the backroom
gonna have a packed suit
with this so you don’t regret
just let it be yeah yeah yeah

“Airplanes” by B.o.B. feat. Hayley Williams

This number is mainly a showcase for Hayley Williams, aka the voice of the much-loved, in danger of being over-hyped, rock band Paramore. Williams has a huge set of pipes that plays well with the rest of rapper B.o.B.’s single (off his debut studio album, B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray). The song had a sequel, “Airplanes, Part II”, which featured Eminem along with Williams and B.o.B., which was later nominated for a Grammy in the “Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals” category.

Memorable Lyrics

Can we pretend that airplanes
In the night sky
Are like shooting stars? (Shooting stars)
I could really use a wish right now (Wish right now)
Wish right now (Wish right now)
Wish right now (Wish right now)

“What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger)” by Kelly Clarkson

This is the latest single from the inaugural American Idol winner and lady with one hell of a set of lungs, Ms. Kelly Clarkson. Yes, she recently received from backlash and a drop in record sales following a particular Tweet involving the Republican Presidential Primaries. But seriously, everyone just calm down (and I say that as a sensitive news and political junkie). Let’s at least choose to be outraged by genuine problems and atrocities, rather than a pop star’s political endorsement. It’s not like she punched a blind kitten, like I hear Colin Firth did. My source? Ricky Gervais.  Besides, from a gym-goers perspective, this song really hits the mark. And it’s topical.

“What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger)”, Kelly Clarkson

Memorable Lyrics

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
Stand a little taller
Doesn’t mean I’m lonely when I’m alone
What doesn’t kill you makes a fighter
Footsteps even lighter
Doesn’t mean I’m over cause you’re gone