Fun playlists to get out of the funk and into the zone
March 5, 2019 1:19 PM   Subscribe

I have a really hard time bouncing back when I get in a funky mood, and it's hard to get back into the zone when I want to get work done. I realized recently that poppy, upbeat music is really helpful to get me back on track, but I could use some more recommendations!

I have a work playlist that is entirely instrumental and is mostly electronic/beat-driven stuff. I also love and listen to a lot of video game and film scores! Normally stuff with lyrics is too distracting to work to. But when I'm in a funk for basically any reason, it's a struggle to get out of it and get back to work, and these playlists doesn't really help. And I'm tragically a funk-prone person!

I put on CHVRCHES the other day on such an occasion and after a few tracks it completely boosted my mood. I'm picky when it comes to poppier music, but I know I really love upbeat 80s style music and more electronic-y sounding stuff. The music/lyrics don't need to be cheerful necessarily, but a dance-y or 'forward moving' energy is really nice. I feel like I don't get very far by looking at Spotify's "people who like this band also like" suggestions.

What else is generally fun and upbeat, with vocals, that I can spin up on such occasions?

Things I like for this –

CHVRCHES (first two albums, not so much a fan of their latest album though)
Tame Impala (Currents)
Janelle Monae

General stuff I don't like –

A lot of standard pop stuff. I'm not really into, say, Taylor Swift or Ariana Grande (but heck, I'm open to suggestions along these lines anyway!)

That might be it! I'm picky about what I end up liking but I'll give anything a try!

Thanks so much!
posted by caitcadieux to Media & Arts (17 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Our music tastes seem to overlap, especially with Prince, CHVRCHES, and Janelle Monae. I tend to be more pop-oriented though (Ari's getting heavy rotation on my phone, admittedly). Keep that in mind as I pull some stuff out from my library that have an electronic, 80s-inflected sound to them:

Emotion by Carly Rae Jepsen gets characterized sometimes as the sugar-pop album for hipsters. Very 80s influenced, and definitely veers in a different direction after her Call Me Maybe moment. Surprisingly became a staple in my collection and is pretty well reviewed critic-side

Paramore kinda took this turn with After Laughter. Definitely a case where the lyrics are melancholic compared to the music, but very much poppy synths at play.

Chris by Christine and the Queens might resonate too. Dam-Funk appears on this album, who I also like, which might also be up your alley? (He's got "funk" in his name).

Robyn's entire output, maybe The 1975 and LANY, too? Those lean away from the current pop playbook to varying degrees imo, but still source the 80s. Or throwbacks too, like ABBA's The Visitors or Whitney Houston's first album. I also think that Stevie Wonder's output in the 80s gets a bad rap (between Secret Life of Plants to In Square Circle), but that might be my nostalgia at play more than anything else. My exposure to more DJs/EDM artists is limited toward music labeled "future funk", so that might be a keyword to use in your searches.

Maybe see what sticks from there?
posted by galleta monster at 2:00 PM on March 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

Came in to make the Carly Rae Jepsen's Emotion recommendation, but see it's above, so consider it strongly seconded. Its release was completely botched, so despite it being probably the best and most interesting pop album of the decade, it was utterly ignored. Also it never fails to cheer me up.
posted by General Malaise at 2:03 PM on March 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I think to get out of a negative funk, you need the good kind of funk. The fun kind of funk.

It could be Old school, like The Spinners (e.g. Rubberband Man), Bill Withers (e.g. Use Me). Or Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, etc.

Or maybe you want modern revival funk, like The Bamboos (e.g. In The Bamboo Groove) or Vulfpeck (e.g. Lost My Treble Long Ago ADVISORY: This video features explicit bass). See also Tuxedo.
posted by SaltySalticid at 2:09 PM on March 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

Two songs that have had me dancing around the living room a lot lately are "Juice" by Lizzo and "Go To Town" by Doja Cat. (Note: NSFW.)
posted by Lexica at 2:11 PM on March 5, 2019 [4 favorites]

I actually explicitly have a "party playlist" on Youtube of dancy pop, with a lot of ethno-pop, and maybe our tastes will overlap - I'll put it out here and maybe something from it will strike your fancy:

posted by LSK at 2:15 PM on March 5, 2019

Louis Cole! F It Up and Thinking are incredibly funky and catchy. (He's also played with Vulfpeck)
posted by JoeZydeco at 2:19 PM on March 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

MPeople: Moving on up
Yazz: The only way is up
Londonbeat: I've been thinking about you
The Communards: Don't leave me this way
are all fun and upbeat.
posted by Calvin and the Duplicators at 3:48 PM on March 5, 2019

Girl Talk - All Day
posted by nathaole at 3:50 PM on March 5, 2019

Best answer: When I was listening to the first two CHVRCHES albums, I was also listening to Grimes, Mr. Little Jeans, Børns, Broods, HAERTS, this old Halsey album, M.I.A., Madonna's The Immaculate Collection, Miley's Bangerz album, , Twin Shadow, and Yumi Zouma.

I think you would particularly like Børns' song Electric Love, which is just solid shimmering ear candy and never fails to put me in a good mood!
posted by stellaluna at 5:17 PM on March 5, 2019

Bjork's Debut is my go-to for this sort of thing.
posted by TrialByMedia at 7:07 PM on March 5, 2019

I have been in a similar situation all week, and what’s keeping me alive is The B-52’s back catalogue. Try out Party Mix!
posted by xil at 7:40 PM on March 5, 2019

These are some songs I play around the house when I have to do things I don't want to do:

Wombats - Emoticons, White Eyes, Black Flamingo
We Are Scientists - Second Acts, Not Another Word, Chick Lit
Paramore - Hard Times
Hot Hot Heat - Middle of Nowhere
We Were Promised Jetpacks - Moving Clocks Run Slow
The Kooks - Bad Habit, Happy (Junk of the Heart)
Black Kids - I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You
Two Door Cinema Club - What You Know
posted by wheek wheek wheek at 3:24 AM on March 6, 2019

Weird that it's been 8 years since its release, but Tune-yards' WHOKILL is perfect for this. Santigold is kinda in the same space - 99 cents or her debut. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Show Your Bones. TV on the Radio - Return to Cookie Mountain. Sylvan Esso - "Kick Jump Twist" or "Die Young."

Early Cure might work as well given your likes, at least individual tracks. I like stuff from Head on the Door or Wish - "Push" or "Doing the Unstuck" or "Hot Hot Hot."

The Foals - What Went Down

Little Dragon - just about anything? I lean toward Ritual Union or Nabuma Rubberband? The latest release, Lover Chanting EP is good too.

The Julie Ruin - "Just My Kind"
posted by SoundInhabitant at 6:14 PM on March 6, 2019

Response by poster: Wow, thank you all so much for these recommendations! I have listened to very little of this and am finding some gems. Thank you!
posted by caitcadieux at 10:37 AM on March 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

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