Soundtrack to the end of the world: Ambitious and on my way to start some stuff

My first column hypothesized that anthems are endangered in a pandemic world. Here, Steph Hoechst highlights the moments when that thesis fails — while cooking a sultry candlelit dinner for one or getting all dressed up to strut across campus (to get tested for COVID-19). Being alone can be energizing and anthemic, and maybe even a little sexy.

I spent a lot of the last year in Maine. The ethereal indie sounds, folk-pop and guitar of Maggie Rogers, Phoebe Bridgers, Hozier, Dr. Dog and Sufjan Stevens were the perfect background music while I did doughnuts in a John Deere utility vehicle in the field across the street from my house at sunset. Very main character of me.

But as the months wore on and staring dramatically at a candle in my room started to get a little old, I turned to what I can only describe as “hot girl music,” as my increasingly chaotically named Spotify playlists will tell you, which include gems such as “I’m drunk, I’m ambitious, and I’m on my way to start some stuff.” It’s a long title, but c’mon — tell me you don’t know exactly how that playlist sounds.

Hot girl music is for when you’re done feeling the feels for the day and want to walk around, mask on, like a total badass. Hot girl music makes you sweat. This is powerful lady music, this is sexy music, music for dancing in front of the mirror, music for putting on your headphones and absolutely strutting to Pax et Lox to pick up a salmon bagel.

Holy’ (2018) by King Princess

Holy” is the first song you put on before opening that bottle of wine in your kitchen. It sets the mood for cooking pasta for yourself while you sway to its seductive vocals in the sweatpants you’ve been wearing all day. King Princess has dominated my Spotify for the past year, and it’s not hard to see why — her music ranges from passionate and sentimental, like “1950” and “Talia,” to unapologetically sexy tracks like “Holy” and “Hit the Back.” She’s a gay icon and a total rockstar.

Make Me Feel’ (2018) by Janelle Monáe

Poppy, zesty and energetic, “Make Me Feel” starts as this deliciously slow-burn, subtly sexy beat, before absolutely exploding into a pre-chorus of “It’s like I’m powerful with a little bit of tender,” which aptly describes the track, too. “Make Me Feel” wants you to hop off the computer and dance in your room — as you should!

You Sexy Thing’ (2019) by Zella Day

Zella Day’s cover of the 1975 Hot Chocolate classic is all the energy I didn’t know I needed this spring. With an indie/alternative take, Day’s blown-out vocals are fierce and positively smoky, though the lyrics and beat are still just as smooth as the original. Where Hot Chocolate serenades, Day almost wails her words. Even the album cover — ‘80s, shoulder-padded, belted blazer, black tights, pop of red background (basically everything I’ve ever wanted to be) — reads both retro and modern, like the song itself. I suppose if the world’s ending, it’s best to go down with a little flair.


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