What I'm Listening to at the Gym: Hip Pop

I’ve been running and otherwise working out at the gym a ton lately, and for me they key to success is super-motivating music. You know, the kind of songs that get you to kick it up not just one notch but maybe two whole notches just so you can get your booty shakin’ even more.

I have a tendency to enjoy semi-bad top-forty hip hop in these situations, but I’m also into anything with a strong driving beat – bonus points if it has uncomplicated lyrics that have anything to do with racing, running, dancing, walking 500 miles and then 500 more, shaking it, moving, or getting up offa that thing. I am nothing if not literal in my running music needs – no artistic metaphors for me; nothing that provokes too much thought! I like for my mind to wander around on its own, only dropping in by the music when I need to be told to be the one who’d walk a thousand miles to fall down next to this treadmill.

My running playlist has about 100 songs on it which I rotate around every now and then, but here are my current favorites (note: some are better for walking/warming up pace, some are better for a lighter run, some are better for ripping shit up – you get the picture):

1. Paper Planes – M.I.A.
2. Get up offa That Thing – James Brown
3. Poker Face – Lady Gaga
4. Heartless – Kanye West
5. Live Your Life – T.I. (featuring Rihanna)
6. I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) – The Proclaimers
7. Sports & Wine – Ben Folds
8. Stronger – Kanye West
9. Don’t Stop the Music – Rihanna [This one is KILLER – Ed.]
10. Way I Are – Timbaland (featuring Keri Hilson & D.O.E.)
11. Let it Rock – Kevin Rudolph and Lil Wayne
12. Disturbia – Rihanna
13. Just Dance – Lady Gaga
14. The Distance – Cake
15. Today is the Day – Apollo Sunshine [If you’ve never heard this one go here – it’s perfect for running! – Ed.]
16. Hey Mama – Black Eyed Peas
17. Gold for Bread – Blitzen Trapper
18. No Sleep Tonight – The Faders
19. Survivor – Destiny’s Child [Good for when you feel like you’re going to die. – Ed.]
20. Iko Iko – The Dixie Cups
21. Bad Things – Jace Everett
22. I Want You Back – The Jackson 5
23. Still Dre – Dr. Dre
24. L’Ami Cahouette – Serge Gainsbourg
25. She Bangs the Drums – The Stone Roses

So, do you have any suggestions for what I should add to my playlist?


  1. Sharon Jones helps me work out, and she fits the classic soul thread you have going on there. She does a cover of “Just Dropped in to See What Condition My Condition Was In” that is perfect for you and you Lebowskiesque ways.


  2. Let’s see… (These are going to be really random.)

    Tilly and the Wall – Pot Kettle Black
    Lykke Li – I’m Good, I’m Gone [“I’m workin’ a sweat, but it’s all good.”]
    St. Vincent – Actor Out of Work [It has a pretty good tempo.]
    Thao with the Get Down Stay Down – Beat (Health, Life, and Fire)
    Okkervil River – Unless It’s Kicks


  3. i’m about a month behind the times here, but i’d like to suggest some propellerheads. (not that i run, or walk, or otherwise exert myself in any way, but i do love me some music.)


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