June 11, 2023

Golden Age Golds

Take Advantages of Your GOLDEN AGE

Readers’ Picks: 12 Motivating Workout Songs

Last week, I shared a workout playlist and asked you to submit a song that motivates you to move. I thought I’d publish a few of the responses at the end of a future newsletter. But so many of you suggested such fun and varied selections that I’ve decided to do something completely unprecedented in the whole history of The Amplifier: create a playlist composed entirely of reader recommendations.

I know, I know, “the whole history of The Amplifier” is, like, a month and a half at this point. But still — it’s unprecedented!

As I wrote last week, for me, a good workout playlist combines familiarity and novelty. I kept that in mind when selecting and sequencing these tracks, so you’ll hear a mix of the new and old, the popular and the obscure. I loved reading about why these songs motivate you and what they inspired you to accomplish, so I’ve included your comments below.

I also had fun seeing which tracks recurred in the recommendations; the one song that was far and away the most frequently suggested had to make it onto the list, and it appears here as track 11. (In the interest of suspense, scroll down for the reveal.) Bluegrass, baroque orchestral music, Beyoncé: Your picks truly encompassed a vast musical spectrum. More than one of you admitted to loving Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch’s “Good Vibrations,” which, honestly, you do you.

I’m so happy we’re creating this musical community together — I think the collaborative nature of today’s playlist really speaks to that.

Listen along here on Spotify as you read.

I love how the song starts quiet and slow and builds and builds and builds on itself. I’ve seen it performed live and it puts a zing in my blood. I find it ideal for the warm-up that leads right into the workout. — Virginia Moench, N.C. (Listen on YouTube)

The lyrics and beat are uplifting and encouraging. It’s great to walk, run, bike or lift to, plus you can take dance breaks! — Alexa, Philadelphia (Listen on YouTube)

This song has it all, and let’s not forget that epic video! If you have soul, “If” is guaranteed to make you break a sweat. Now drop and give me 20! — Paige Getz, Conn. (Listen on YouTube)

It has the highs, the lows and the perfect crescendo at the end. I had a spin instructor that knew it was my favorite and would drop it in for me pretty regularly. — Shelley, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Listen on YouTube)

It’s gritty, rhythmic, has great energy and drives me to move the weights in the opposite direction than the pull of gravity. — Rick Gaston, Oakland, Calif. (Listen on YouTube)

My best runs help me recall the bodily sensation of losing myself on the dance floor. This song gets me there! — Greta, Chicago (Listen on YouTube)

Back in the day of aerobic classes, this was one of the songs we used on a regular basis — never got tired of it or the exercise. It’s also a great song to dance to! — Betsy Wendt, Silver Spring, Md. (Listen on YouTube)

This song is just what your neurons need when you want to shut the world off and pump through something in hyper-focus. I play it to work or jog and it makes me feel like I’m putting on sunglasses and rocketing into the matrix. Every single time. — Natalia, Manhattan, N.Y. (Listen on YouTube)

If I’ve got to do three minutes on a treadmill to spike my heartbeat in a strength session, it’s Grimes’s “Kill v. Maim.” Pretending you’re a vampire gangster (or whatever it’s about) frothing at the mouth is extremely motivating! — Laura, London (Listen on YouTube)

I made a mix a few years ago for a half-marathon I was preparing for. The fifth or sixth song I selected was Outkast’s “Bombs Over Baghdad.” On the day of the race, when I got to that song about 30 minutes in, it inspired me to pick up the pace. From there, I hit repeat for the next 90 minutes and felt amazing! “Bombs Over Baghdad” gives me a lift like no other. — Michael Pittman, Durham, N.C. (Listen on YouTube)

It’s a cliché, but it is undeniably one of the greatest workout songs ever created: “Lose Yourself,” by Eminem. The believe-in-yourself lyrics, the dramatic tension heightening throughout the song, and the fact that the b.p.m. perfectly accompanies a cardio workout. — Joe Stracci, Cold Spring, N.Y. (Listen on YouTube)

It’s like someone took Runner’s High and sonically bottled it into this recording. The initial beat drop! The horns! “Knock it out the ballpark, Frankie!” This song never fails to give me the extra push I need to finish a particularly tough run or workout. — Andre Plaut, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Listen on YouTube)

Mom’s spaghetti,


Listen on Spotify. We update this playlist with each new newsletter.

“Readers’ Picks! 11 Motivating Workout Songs” track list
Track 1: Fleetwood Mac, “Tusk”
Track 2: Mary J. Blige, “Just Fine”
Track 3: Janet Jackson, “If”
Track 4: TV on the Radio, “Wolf Like Me”
Track 5: Gang of Four, “I Found That Essence Rare”
Track 6: Hot Chip, “Flutes”
Track 7: Sylvester, “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)”
Track 8: Jamie xx, “Gosh”
Track 9: Grimes, “Kill v. Maim”
Track 10: Outkast, “B.O.B. (Bombs Over Baghdad)”
Track 11: Eminem, “Lose Yourself”
Track 12: The Avalanches, “Because I’m Me”

Two weeks ago, the enigmatic underground pop star Jai Paul made his live debut — 12 years after the release of his debut single. Tonight, he plays the first of two shows in New York City. In honor of this occasion, why not revisit the gorgeously glitchy pair of tracks that started it all, the menacing “BTSTU” and the shyly sensual “Jasmine”? And if you want a primer on why so many people care about this guy in the first place, I would humbly suggest this Pitchfork article I wrote about him almost exactly a decade ago (!) which doubles as a time capsule of 2013 internet ephemera. Were we ever so young?