Pop Workgroup presents: Songs We’ve Been Listening To


The folks of pop workgroup speak…

“Cheese Smoothie,” Tokimonsta

The song sounds like a video game boss battle plus dubstep. It makes me imagine people kicking things. If I was making a getaway in a sleek red rocket ship I would blast off blaring this song and laughing at the humiliated faces of my pursuers. Producer/DJ Jennifer Lee (Tokimonsta by moonlight) is a beastly woman who probably knows a lot about sleek rocket ships. I am content in the ominous power of my beastly womanhood when I jam out to this jam.

“The Gambler,” Kenny Rogers

I’ll be honest, I’m new to Kenny Rogers. It was actually a car insurance commercial that I saw last week that introduced me to “The Gambler.” Kenny sits at a poker table, singing in his now raspy and wavering voice “You’ve gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away.” He didn’t sell me car insurance (I’d need a car for that), but I was sold on the song. A lonely stranger on a train, a poker’s advice for the world weary, and a bottle of whiskey—oh yeah.

“Shut Up,” Blink-182

Nothing gets you through hard times like Blink 182. In this profane pop rock classic the curtain drops on a couple, where one partner is going to leave the other. They are stagnating on the couch and his punk band is no good. What starts off as a romantic accost, and an iceberg of a relationship cracking at the seams, soon begins the second phase. In its place the anti-parent anti-authority album “Take off your Pants and Jacket” the song starts to reminisce of an escape. “I’ll run away” says the disappointed lover, yet also the angry insubordinate child, who will take his punk band to happier concrete where the sound will bounce into smiles and icy mosh dreams.

“Come Monday Night,” God Help the Girl Soundtrack 

I am absolutely obsessed with God Help the Girl, the passion project of Stuart Murdoch of Belle and Sebastian. His side project was recently made into a film which is a quirky indie pop musical combined with uber hip Wes Anderson-esque costuming and since seeing it at the Apollo I’ve been listening to the soundtrack nonstop. “Come Monday Night” is a favorite of mine, a melancholy, pop ballad with sugary vocals by actress Emily Browning.  I think my aesthetic is God Help the Girl and I’d be happy with it as the soundtrack of my life. Why isn’t my everyday life like a quirky musical?

“Reflections,” Misterwives

You may have been hearing this song popping up here and there. This band is new on the scene, but they are already starting to get popular. It is easy to see why, with their highly catchy pop/electro/funk/dance melodies. It is an odd mix of indie pop girl-singer themes and throwback dance beats, but somehow they make it work. Or, at least they make it work well enough to get their song “Reflections” tenaciously stuck in my head. I’m excited to see what this band has in store for their next works. They have a lot of space for evolving and I don’t think they’ve reached their full potential yet. Hopefully they’ll get weirder, but keep giving us some of these fun feel-good jams.

“The Flower Called Nowhere,” Stereolab

Like many indie music fans, I’ve been barraged with Stereolab name drops for many years. I tried to listen to them a bunch in high school and stuff, but I was never really able to connect with them until very recently. Dots and Loops, the album this track is off of, is just a solid showcase of deliciously hypnotic rhythms, harmonies and textures. Sure, it can feel a little alien and uncomfortable in the beginning, kinda like sitting in a really weird doctor’s office as a little kid or something, but once this song comes on, the album really starts to resonate with me. So much detail and touch exist in this music, no matter how dry and mechanical everything seems externally. Something about the way the strange melodies lightly go by and the rhythm section plods along like a flock of commuters just affects me in the strangest way, and it’s giving this song and this album a lot of re-listens for me.  Frenchpopkrautrockaliciousgrooveathon!