February is a rather moody month, isn’t it? It’s short. It’s winter for many. And it hosts one of the most contested holidays going — Valentine’s Day. (And happy to you today, if it’s something you like to/must celebrate.) Chocolate hearts and flowers aside, by the time February rolls around each year, I’m usually yearning for warm weather. Simply yearning. I’m not one to suffer from seasonal affective disorder, but winter definitely puts a damper on my mood generally. Things become elevated in December with Christmas cheer, but after that, a mild depression sets in, and life becomes doubly hard and unpleasant. But I’ve found a solution in music, the fixer of all things bad and the lifter of all things better. A couple years ago I created a playlist specifically for turning bad moods to good, and it’s become a February staple for me. It contains a mix of dance music, bad music, guilty pleasures, songs to sing in the shower, and genuinely silly stuff that you’d have to be dead inside to not laugh at. If you’re feeling down because of winter, because of Valentine’s Day, or because life sucks for any number of reasons, here are six mood-lifting songs from my playlist that are guaranteed to get you up, moving, and smiling.
“Peanut Butter Jelly Time” (The Buckwheat Boys)
Maybe you know this song from Family Guy. Maybe you know it from the “dancing banana” video. I guarantee that somehow, somewhere, you know this song. I think it’s safe to say that this is by far the silliest song on my iPod. (Though after looking at this list, you be the judge.) I also think it’s one of the most likable in its extreme silliness. But what still makes this song a staple mood lifter for me is the video above. As cringe-worthy as it is, this was the second video I ever saw using “Peanut Butter Jelly Time” (the first being that damn dancing banana). Not a single time goes by when, upon hearing the song, I don’t think of this video. And it usually makes me laugh out loud, no matter where I am or how terrible I’m feeling. Thank you, Internet. Thank you.
“The Toast Song” (Heywood Banks)
One of the most enjoyable CDs that I own is a compilation made for me by a former co-worker of bits from The Bob and Tom Show, a radio program broadcast from the midwest. And the best song on that compilation is “The Toast Song.” My friends and I used to play this song on loop, yelling “YEAH TOAST!” as loud as we possibly could. Those memories forever make me smile when this song comes round. You listen to it enough, and you’ll find yourself doing exactly the same thing, and you totally won’t care about how awesome you might look while doing it.
“Boyz-N-the Hood” (Dynamite Hack) (NSFW)
Following in the hallowed tradition of alternative bands’ takes on gangsta rap (that’s a thing, right?), Dynamite Hack’s all-too-mellow version of N. W. A.’s “Boyz-N-the Hood” is so fantastic, it’s criminal. Neither the rap song nor Dynamite Hack’s take is meant for mixed company – take that as a warning should you play the video among those with delicate senses – but it is a classic that deserves listening. It’s silly and fun in all its emo-ness and quiet guitar. Hell, it’s almost introspective. Almost. And I guarantee that at least a few verses will get stuck in your head. I also guarantee that you won’t be able to say “punk-ass trippin'” after listening without smiling.
“Thank God I’m a Country Boy” (John Denver – Party Ben’s City Boy remix)
Mashups and remixes are meant for dancing, that’s just their call in life. And if you’ve been dying to hear some John Denver all up in tha club, well then, you’re in luck! The very talented Party Ben did just that in his remix of “Thank God I’m a County Boy.” Now, if you’re willing to listen to this song on it’s own, you’d find it to be quite the toe-tapper. Add in drums, bass, and a little house goodness, and you’ve got yourself a bone fide dance tune. What’s fun and funny is that Denver’s fiddle work in the song blends really well with all the beats. I’m not saying that two-stepping is necessary, but you’d be hard pressed to sit still and be dour while this song is playing. Go ahead, see if you can. I dare you.
“Tarantula” (Pendulum, feat. DJ Fresh, Spyda, and Tenor Fly)
What is “Tarantula” about? Um…hell if I know. Getting bit by a spider, I think? Needless to say, somebody did expend some work in formulating lyrics to this song, so bravo to them. What matters to me about this song is drum and bass, one of the world’s most awesome styles of electronic music according to me. And Pendulum’s got drum and bass in droves in this song. When you just can’t get out of bed in the morning, this is the song to play. When you’ve completely hit a wall with a project, this is the song to play. When you just need a little motivation, this is the song to play.
“Get Yourself Up” (KRS-One)
Speaking of motivation, it’s absolutely embodied in KRS-One’s “Get Yourself Up.” It’s the number one best song for times when you really need a cheerleader. When the world won’t help you, this song will. ‘Nuff said.