21 Songs You Hear on a Retail Store’s Playlist

Hi, I’m Trey Buzzfeed presenting you video gifs of Jennifer Lawrence going “good job” or whatever. I feel like listing things has gotten to be the sad land of the uncreative but whatever, I have a job. That clearly excuses not trying. So anyway, I do my best thinking in the more aimless moments of retail, namely the times when you stand at the register and can’t leave because a customer is really close (but so far away from actually wanting to check out). That is what this comes out of. Also, I’m going to number these things because my new last name of Buzzfeed forces me to adopt everything in their site’s model.

1. Switchfoot – “Dare You to Move”

My worst nightmares are all about faux-motivational songs that because they have a positive message, every white person has to listen to it incessantly. Switchfoot tows the line between secular horseshit and Needtobreathe-like bullshit. Neither are good things to tow the line on. Also, the song has the lyric “I dare you to move like today never happened before.” Well, no shit, of course it’s never happened before because you can’t fully predict how a day will go, numbnuts.

2. One Direction – “What Makes You Beautiful”

I don’t hate One Direction, actually. I don’t really like them too much, but they tow the line of being innocuous enough to not hate and they don’t delve into the line of kind of gross double entendres like their contemporaries The Wanted (more on that later). This is probably their weakest single, though. It also does that annoying thing were music is a personal neg to its listeners. You don’t need a band of faceless pop stars to tell you that you’re beautiful. That never ends well.

3. Real McCoy – “Another Night”

Very rarely, store playlists will remind us of the period in pop where Ace of Base were the kings and Eurodance was some great shit. Also, I’m going to steal this from the Wiki for the video: “O-Jay is Real McCoy, the DJ of a pirate radio station which is powered by four men with handcycle-mounted generators.” 1994 was an epic time where Tron was a logical means to power a pirate radio station which presumably only played house music and graduated to Cibo Matto by 1997.

4. Jordin Sparks – “Battlefield”

I guess this song is supposed to be a takeoff on Pat Benatar’s famous “Love is a Battlefield” by asking “Why does love always feel like a battlefield?” But the big trouble is that it’s Jordin Sparks’ milquetoast ass asking this question. Why does love always feel like a battlefield? Because you found out your boyfriend likes video games and you freaked out that there was one outlier to your bland coupling. Or something. I think I’m projecting too much into this.

5. Bastille – “Pompeii”

Random note: I hate James Blake. I feel bad for not enjoying a guy that a lot of smart people I know do enjoy, but I can’t stand his “let’s make dubstep into a quiet genre with vague soul undertones, also I’m a British white dude” thing. That said, he’s way fucking better than Bastille. Bastille’s vocalist Dan Smith sounds like how I’d poorly impersonate James Blake’s vocals. And instead of some weird form of dub or whatever, it’s listless indie rock behind these vocals that truly claw at my face and ears.

6. OneRepublic – “Stop and Stare”

This has a parallel to the Switchfoot song, but with even less of the “oh, this is about Jesus” theme to make it mean something to the listener in a way that’s deeper than “oh, just be yourself or whatever.”

7. Bodeans – “Closer to Free”

This is the part of the playlist where 90s alt rock nostalgia hits. Well, 90s alt rock bullshit nostalgia, anyway. Also, this was the theme for Party of Five. So, umm, that’s about all I can say. The Bodeans are from Wisconsin so, umm, go Packers?

8. Muse – “Madness”

For the longest time, I was obsessed with Muse. My belief was that their 2003 record Absolution was one of the best records I’ve ever heard and despite what I’m about to say, I do still like the three or four albums that opened up their mainstream career. But I guess I grew up. And I admit, it’s not like Muse were this great artistic endeavor. They have gotten slagged for either sounding like Radiohead (in their earlier stuff) or Queen (in their far later stuff). They made absurd rock operas about the apocalypse. Still, this Muse is not very good. It’s only a little better than the one that “wants to reconcile the violence in your heart.” Alas, we just grow older and more absurd, I guess.

9. Bruno Mars – “Just the Way You Are”

I feel like the cottage cheese industry that brought us One Direction has a hand in Bruno Mars songs as well. Just a hunch. Literally everything I said about One Direction applies here. Other than a few missteps, like not figuring out that gorillas have really short sex sessions or being a massive whiner on “Grenade” or the existence of “The Lazy Song,” Bruno’s pretty good. This song really isn’t, though. It’s the type of hollow falsehood that it takes a man like Bruno Mars to say a person is beautiful. But whatever. Pop music and all that horseshit.

10. Tonic – “You Wanted More”

In high school, I had the biggest damn crush on a girl who said her favorite band was Tonic. For context, that was several years after this song was released. Also, the Tonic thing was unrelated. I just liked brunettes who looked like Devin from Friday Night Lights (which explains why I’ve been single for three years, since most of those crushes tend to end like Landry’s attempt at romance with Devin; at the very least Crucifictorius never had to break up and they kept the band together because the music means the most). Oh, Tonic? Meh.

11. Lorde – “Team”

I feel like I’ve been way too critical of Lorde. I can’t expect much of the audience Lorde has managed to court to have heard The Knife, so this 17 year old Australian girl is their first taste of the minimalist approach that has permeated the indie scene over the past decade. I don’t know if she has anything to say other than that pop music sucks in how it addresses an actual reality. (Ironically, Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” is basically the closest to a song a lower to middle-class person can aspire to do, because we’ve all been to thrift shops. We’ve never been 2 Chainz.) That said, I don’t know if she has to do that yet. “Team” is about exasperation as much as its hook, and sometimes that’s great to see in the pop arena.

12. Owl City – “Fireflies”

This isn’t bad because it’s a complete takeoff of The Postal Service. It’s bad because it’s a fucking song about fireflies.

13. Sugar Ray – “Fly”

This isn’t bad because it’s white people trying to do reggae–wait, that is why it’s bad.

14. Haim – “The Wire”

I retroactively apologize for making fun of Haim so much, because they are so damn good. “The Wire” sounds like all the influences you expect, but it’s also just so damn clean. I can’t think of a song that can thrash a bit but get to its hook efficiently. God, I hope this gets popular. Rock needs badass chicks from Cali again.

15. The Lumineers – “Ho Hey”


16. Blessid Union of Souls – “Hey Leonardo”

Boy, speaking of Buzzfeed, this is what happens when Buzzfeed travels back to 1999 and becomes a song. There’s absurd references to Tyson Beckford, the title of the song is referencing teen idol Leo DiCaprio before he becomes acting’s MVP, and it’s also dumb and adds nothing to the conversation other than a thousand references. So, the past 1300 words you’ve read in a nutshell.

17. Ellie Goulding – “Fire”

Ellie Goulding’s got just a weird enough voice that it strikes me when I hear it. She’s like the mainstream Joanna Newsom in that regard in how just incredibly strange her voice sounds in comparison to everything around her. That also pushes “Fire” to be a song I enjoy quite a bit when I hear it. It’s not better than “Lights” but what is?

18. No Doubt – “Just a Girl”


19. The Cardigans – “Lovefool”

“Lovefool” is fucking amazing and I will tell you why. The other great thing about the 1990s was the amount of insipid pop that had darker implications. Third Eye Blind’s “Semi Charmed Life” hid heroin abuse behind its doo-doo-doos. Aqua’s “Barbie Girl” was super obnoxious and also a glorious mocking of the submissive plastic world drawn from the Barbie archetype. But none were a greater bite than “Lovefool,” a song that is actually about a woman so obsessed with her lover that she is being driven insane by that obsession as well as by the likelihood that he doesn’t really love her back. It is placed in a saccharine rhythm inspired by love songs, but is really a pisstake on them all.

20. Christina Perri – “A Thousand Years”

This song annoys me. The main takeoff on the song is Perri saying “I have loved you for a thousand years.” But of course, that’s fucking impossible. I hate to destroy the mood of Jennifer Lawrence gifs, but every single human on earth has died before reaching the age of 1000. Admittedly, this is a song from the Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1 soundtrack, so I guess we’re supposed to see it from the perspective of the vampires who live forever? But they don’t live to 1000 in the film, either. The romance between Edward and Bella happens when Bella is 18 and Edward is less than 1000. When Perri says “a thousand years,” does she mean forever? Is there a better, less impossible way to say that? There has to be.

21. Panic at the Disco – “Nine in the Afternoon”

I guess I could whine about this one, too, but this is about unusual circumstances that aren’t impossible and also trying to sound like The Beatles. It’s way better than it has any right to be.

Oh hey, didn’t you plan more of this?




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