From Our Readers
December 06, 2014 7:00 am

Let’s be real: mornings are the worst. The second you lift the warm, cozy covers from your body, is the second you wish you could sleep for at least three more hours. But ALAS, life requires you to be awake and active and functioning, so what’s a guy to do?

Coffee is one solution, but you know what’s more fun? MUSIC. Fun, dynamic, positive beats get me going like nothing else. I’m a teacher, so I basically need all the energy I can get. Upbeat, empowering songs make me feel more confident, awake, and ready to take on my day.

I’ve selected ten songs that you absolutely need on your playlist in order to prepare yourself in the best possible way, ever. So open your iTunes, get that coffee going, and wake up that inner powerhouse so you can rule the world —nay— universe:

Willie Hutch – “The Theme from Foxy Brown”

Wake up to this “Super Bad” (James Brown coined the term, but I had the mental image of Jonah Hill and Michael Cera when I first heard it in 2007) hit. Blaxploitation of 1970s left plenty of great soul songs, and this is my favorite besides Curtis Mayfield’s “Freddie’s Dead” and Four Tops’ “Are You Man Enough?” A spiritual sequel to Coffy, Foxy Brown is the definite identity of Pam Grier. Foxy is an iconic heroine, especially since she busts the bad guys.

Swing Out Sister – “Breakout”

I’m happy that this song is still a staple of adult contemporary radios worldwide. Some kids may recognize it when playing “The Ballad of Gay Tony,” a “Grand Theft Auto IV” spin-off. This is my chosen representation of the 1980s and of Britain. Extra point if you’re in the fashion industry.

Luscious Jackson – “Here”

I was crazy about everything Clueless. Maybe it’s Alicia Silverstone. Maybe it’s the glimpse of life in Beverly Hills. Or maybe it’s just the fabulous soundtrack. This video is a perfect representation of the grrl movement: Luscious Jackson and roller derby. I was aware of the sport because of this music video. Too bad it wasn’t on the Whip It OST.

Pro tip: Repeat the “Here I come, you can’t stop me now” mantra and then proceed to take on the world.

Bjork – “Army of Me”

Here’s another souvenir from the 1990s: the Tank Girl. The Icelandic singer says that this is a “granny song,” blasting over people who are sorry for themselves yet who don’t smart up. This is a catchy, tough love song. You can take it as your ultimatum song.

Lauryn Hill – “Doo Wop (That Thing)”

This is the song that inspired me to start this article. It’s featured on NBA 2K15, I checked out the video, and, wow. So what’s that thing? It might be your blind spot —the blind spots that can ruin your relationship and yourself. And it works for both men and women. So you better watch out.

Alicia Keys – “Unbreakable”

“Unbreakable” is essentially about wanting to be fabulous. But don’t sweat it —you already are.

Mary J. Blige – “So Fine”

Somebody said this to me once: “Gather your happiness for the time of sadness.” This is a happy song to prepare you for when the downtime comes.

2NE1 – “I Am the Best”

Representing Asia, this K-pop number was wildly popular among Asian-American youth and, naturally, in Asia three years ago. The words are along the lines of what the title says, but does not go overboard. Like the video, this is a right dose of ego song. If you want to say “I am the best” in Korean, it’s, “Naega jeil jal naga”.

Sara Bareilles – “Brave”

Miss Bareilles wanted this song to be a civil rights anthem. Maybe it’s too radio friendly, maybe it’s not as classic as a civil rights anthem of the 1960s, but let these words sink, or rise, to your head: “Say what you wanna say, and let the words fall out.” Now be brave.

Pharrell Williams – “Happy”

Pharrell seems to get everything right these days. I’m glad we have this song in our time, because it’s a good song for everyone. Here’s to a good day ahead.

Mario Rustan listens to so many songs in a day but he’s still an awful keyboard player. He really wants a color-coded electronic piano so he doesn’t confuse F & G keys anymore. He writes to The Jakarta Post and Magdalene.com and taught History and Australian culture.  Check out his collection of Cristin Milioti saying funny things. 

(Image via.)

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