L.A. Youth staff writers create playlists to practice for their future careers as DJs.
By Charlene Lee, 15, Walnut HS
Ever since I’ve inherited the 12-year old Camry from my older brother and began driving myself to school at 6:50 a.m. for morning AP bio lab, I’ve had trouble staying awake while sitting in the 30-minute lines, waiting my turn to drive into the school parking lot. And so, I’ve created an energizing soundtrack to help me wake up and get in the mood for another day of Scantron tests, chairs attached to desks and dry-erase markers.
Track 1: “One, Two, Three, GO!,” Belanova
Fast-paced from the moment it starts to its last remaining seconds, the name does the song justice. Even though I only can catch a few Spanish words here and there, all I need to know are the song’s only four English words to get me to wake up and go.
Track 2: “Rock ‘N Roll,” The Sounds
Just the thing for those dreaded Monday mornings. The crescendo intro and clear percussion create an energizing song that isn’t too loud for a sleepy Monday morning but just enough to get back into the mood to take on the rest of the week.
Track 3: “Talk to Me,” Mink
Whether it’s the casual drumming of the fingers against the steering wheel or busting out the air guitar/drums (both of which I’m guilty of), “Talk to Me” is for both the tired and the awake soul in search of some rough, rugged tunes.
Track 4: “Oversleeping,” I’m From Barcelona
Oversleeping happens to everyone. But I’m From Barcelona sympathizes with you. So as you’ve hit that fourth red light in a row with only six minutes to get to class, be comforted with the lyrics “I can make it in time/ if I jump out of bed … if I get on my feet/ if I skip to hit snooze/ if I don’t care to eat/ and get running instead.”
Track 5: “Portions for Foxes,” Rilo Kiley
Ideal for passing those cars you know in your gut are driving slow intentionally just to make you late. And with lyrics like “And it’s bad news/ Baby I’m bad news/ I’m just bad news, bad news, bad news, ” the daredevil in anyone is sure to come out.
Track 6: "Walking With a Ghost,” Tegan and Sara
This track is what I like to think of as a “rewind” song; it erases any trace of past events. A crucial necessity for before school, as well as an after school closer, “Walking With a Ghost” is just a favorite all-around song, with distinct, staccato guitar strumming and a strong voice that gives a surge of independence.
Track 7: “Catch My Disease,” Ben Lee
And quickly following the “rewind song” is this integral “pick-me-up” tune, a sure sing-along with clear lyrics and sweet, simple baby-xylophone-like melodies. And random fact: listen for the “sneeze” at 3:17 for the clever “catching” of the disease (Note: found only on iTunes version).
Track 8: “Don’t You Evah, ” Spoon
Slowly adding together first the bass, percussion and soft maracas, then the main guitars and eventually vocals, Spoon weaves an effortless song meant for simple de-stressing before any predicted angst-filled day.
Track 9: “Stains of Saints,” The Weather Machines
With lyrics hardly understandable, the strong guitar and soft percussion background balance well together with the faint vocals, creating a light song without any intended message. Meant for easy listening, “Stains of Saints” allows time for shaking off any cobwebs of sleep that might have followed you from home.
Track 10: “Natural’s Not In It,” Gang Of Four
Sitting in traffic calls for in-car distractions accompanied by quirky music—especially a song with such haphazardly placed lyrics that loosely make sense together: “The problem of leisure/ What to do for pleasure/ Coercion of the senses/ We are not so gullible.” So while glancing around at the occupants of neighboring cars and noticing the casual “scratching” and actual picking of the nose or the funny faces made by teenage girls applying mascara, take a moment to enjoy the small amusements surrounding you with background music provided by this late 70s/early 80s band from England.
Track 11: “Forevermore,” Katie Herzig
Recommended to play on that random Tuesday morning or when the week just doesn’t seem to be coming to an end. The nostalgic, uplifting melodies and Herzig’s sweet vocals combine to get you in the ultimate optimistic, love-thy-neighbor mind-set.
Track 12: “Breakfast in NYC,” Oppenheimer
“Breakfast in NYC” serves as a catch-up song to help you refocus and maintain your spirit, all the while listening to catchy electronic beats neatly mixed in with cozy folk melodies.
Posted Oct. 15
By Tyler Brewington, 17, Palisades Charter HS
Do you ever just think about that special person? You know, a crush, your girlfriend or boyfriend? Well, I know I do. It doesn’t matter if you’re single (and ready to mingle), have a crush on someone or are in a relationship, there’s nothing quite like summer love. So in that spirit I created a soundtrack for the ideal summer love.
Track 1: “The Way I Am,” Ingrid Michaelson
This song is such a sweet ode to loving someone the way they are. Ingrid Michaelson’s pleasant voice and adorable lyrics makes me feel lovey-dovey.
Track 2: “Do You Realize?” The Flaming Lips
Although this song is constantly abused in commercials, it’s timeless. The lyrics “Do you realize/ that you have the most beautiful face?” are sweet, short and to the point without being too corny or over-the-top romantic.
Track 3: “Steal My Kisses,” Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals
A great song from the 90s that is playful, flirty and perfect for the summer!
Track 4: “ Underneath Your Clothes,” Shakira
Although Shakira may be famous for shaking her hips, this song shows her romantic side. The song is borderline “mushy” romantic, but I can tell the love and passion she feels for this person “Because of you, I forgot the smart ways to lie/ because of you, I’m running out of reasons to cry.” Despite the title, Shakira’s song is all about getting to know a person for who they are, which, apparently, is underneath their clothes.
Track 5: “This Modern Love,” Bloc Party
This song is so beautiful because it’s not a traditional love song, but shows how adorable the boys of Bloc Party are when it comes to their loves: “Don’t get offended/ if I seem absent minded/ I get tongue tied.” How cute!
Track 6: “Sea of Love (Re-mastered),” Cat Power
This re-mastered version heard in the movie Juno is a simple ode to “how much I love you.” Too bad the Sea of Love is not a real place!
Track 7 “Loose Lips,” Kimya Dawson
Also on the Juno soundtrack, this song is very light, happy and cheerful. It’s all about having fun and remembering that no matter what, Kimya Dawson will always love you.
Track 8 “Million Faces,” Paolo Nutini
Paolo Nutini’s sensual voice is so amazing and this song makes the best of use of it. Nutini talks about how a million faces look the same to him except for this one girl’s who just happens to catch his attention. Hopefully, that girl would be me.
Track 9: “Things I’ll Never Say,” Avril Lavigne
Avril Lavigne’s hit “I’m With You” is sweet, original and authentic. Lavigne capitalizes on every girl’s (and boy’s) anxieties about being with their crush. It’s a great song that talks about all the things she wishes she could tell her crush, but could never actually say out loud.
Track 10: “Bubbly,” Colbie Caillat
With most love songs, the more you listen to them the more sick of them you become. This song, however, is an exception. Colbie Caillat’s confession of how her love “starts in my toes/ makes me crinkle my nose” is adorable and makes you want to snuggle up with your loved one.
Track 11: “I’m Yours,” Jason Mraz
Jason Mraz has always been in the shadow of other great male guitar crooners such as John Mayer, but this song really showcases his talent for writing love songs that have the “awww” factor in them! You go, Jason Mraz, and keep writing beautiful love songs!
Track 12: “Popular Mechanics for Lovers,” Beulah
Beulah’s song shows the perseverance it often takes to win the heart of the person of your dreams. Most of Beulah’s songs are based on this theme, but this song in particular is light, happy and fun.
Track 13: “Boys of Summer,” The Ataris
This alternative song may have an edgy sound, but the lyrics are a bittersweet confession to how his “love for you will still be strong/ after the boys of the summer have gone.” The Ataris prove that summer love songs do not necessarily have to be cookie cutter to get an emotional response.
Track 14: “Umbrella (Single Version),” Marie Digby
Marie Digby plays an acoustic version of Rihanna’s hit “Umbrella” that makes the song more personal and romantic. Although we all know the lyrics to the song (thanks KIIS FM), Digby gives a unique take on this soon to be classic love song … eh, eh, eh.
Track 15: “Your Love Is Mine (Radio Edit),” The New Mastersounds featuring Corinne Bailey Rae
The background music of this song SCREAMS summer barbecues in the park. The New Mastersound’s summery sounds combined with Corinne Bailey Rae’s sweet and soulful voice makes the best summer love song ever.
Track 16: “I’d Like To,” Corinne Bailey Rae
Corrine Bailey Rae’s soothing voice combined with the laid-back instrumentals make this an instant summer love song. Although the lyrics are a bit sensual, Rae’s voice is so sweet, she can get away with it.
Track 17: “Lover,” Devendra Banhart
This song is fun to dance to and the lyrics show that the often eccentric Banheart is capable of writing a lovely love song “I wanna be your thing/ your anything/ your everything/ I wanna fill your cup/ to the brim with love.”
Track 18: “Kate,” Ben Folds Five
This classic 90s song talks about how amazing Kate is. She can even bring “squirrels around her with her guitar!” Impressive! Ben Folds also mentions how “she’s everything I want/ she’s everything I’m not” which plays on every one’s perception of their crush.
Posted July 24
Driving up the PCH
By Angela Wu, 17, Walnut HS
The summer after my last year of high school was supposed to be the summer of Slurpees, fireworks and road trips—across the Southwest, down to Baja, or up the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), at least. Unfortunately, gas in my neck of L.A. County has hit $4.70 a gallon, so it doesn’t look like I’ll be hitting the road any time soon. But if I were, and chose to drive up the PCH from Orange County to San Francisco, this would be the soundtrack. Of course, if I were planning a real road trip, this hour-long playlist wouldn’t even cover a quarter of the seven-hour drive. Note: These songs are best listened to from the speakers of a convertible, accompanied by the sound of crashing waves.
Track 1: “Age of Consent,” New Order
“Age of Consent” is the only song that could start off the perfect road trip. As soon as the first notes play, I feel ready to leave. It makes me imagine people running—through fields, through palaces, away. Freedom. And isn’t that what a road trip is?
Track 2: “Heroin,” The Velvet Underground
It goes along with “Age of Consent” as one of those songs that just start off the road trip. If New Order serenaded me as I packed my bags, The Velvet Underground would take me from 0 to 60 up Highway 1, past the fire pits of Newport Beach and Huntington Beach.
Track 3: “Ripchord,” Rilo Kiley
This is a good song to cruise to. It brings to mind the ideal carefree summer—hair flying in the wind, feet up on the dash, hands stuck out of the windows and floating along with the breeze. Just try to block out the slightly depressing lyrics.
Track 4: “Me Cai,” Pacifika
I eat a fish taco for lunch, and the air smells like salt. I am listening to this song.
Track 5: “A Good Man Is Easy To Kill,” Beulah
The first 30 seconds of this song always make me want to drive a little faster, a bad idea with lyrics like “When you flew through that windshield/ And your life passed reel to reel/ Was there a bit part for me?” But this is another good song to drive (safely) into the sunset with. It’s a good song for leaving the O.C., at Seal Beach.
Track 6: “I Have The Password to Your Shell Account,” Barcelona
This song just giggles of rebellion. That’s why it’s a road trip necessity. It’s also a good song for leaving the coastline in L.A., and then for passing LAX.
Track 7: “Window Bird,” Stars
Like “Ripchord,” “Window Bird” is another good cruising song. The Canadian band’s music, slightly repetitive (and yet never boring), feels like summer. With “Window Bird,” Stars brings you up and brings you down, but the overall effect is relaxing.
Track 8: “Your Heart Is An Empty Room,” Death Cab for Cutie
This familiar song’s steady rhythm propels you forward. I know, I know. Driving can get boring, even when you’re only imagining yourself doing it. But with road trip-appropriate lyrics like, “And all you see is where else you could be when you’re at home/ And out on the street are so many possibilities to not be alone,” “Your Heart Is An Empty Room” keeps you going past Santa Monica and Malibu.
Track 9: “Walk In The Park,” Oh No! Oh My!
This is a song best saved for blue skies and moderate weather, somewhere along the Central Coast.
Track 10: “Speak For Me,” Cat Power
Cat Power’s slow and languid chords and vocals just feel like freedom and Northern California, especially around the smaller coastal cities. And if the first 30 seconds of “Speak For Me” don’t make you think of lazy beach days, then you’ve never had a lazy beach day.
Track 11: “Grace,” Jeff Buckley
This almost six-minute song is definitely a road trip song, with enough twists and turns to keep you occupied as you drive through the mountains that seem to fall right into beaches. Plus, Buckley’s voice sounds a little like the wind, and that’s cool.
Track 12: “Burning,” The Whitest Boy Alive
The Whitest Boy Alive, with Kings of Convenience’s Erlend Øye, is nothing if not beachy. But it works best for empty beaches, those pristine and lonely-looking beaches that only the most intrepid hikers can reach. It’s also a good song for driving miles without seeing anyone, which happens once you leave the cities behind.
Track 13: “Fallen From The Sky,” Glen Hansard
Part of the soundtrack from the movie Once, this song is perfect for driving through the quirky city of Santa Cruz. The cheerful chorus reminds me of a comfortably warm ray of sun dancing around my face. It’s a good song for dancing in the car, or better yet, dancing on the beach.
Track 14: “Night Sight,” Air
Road trips need songs for driving along the beach at night. It’s an eerie experience. One side of the road seems to disappear into the sky, into nothingness. “Night Sight,” my go-to soundtrack for nighttime plane rides, is perfect for that weird, disconnected, floating feeling.
Track 15: “Beast of Burden,” The Rolling Stones
You’re in San Francisco! You’re driving across the Golden Gate Bridge! You’re feeling like a hippie, and it feels good.
Posted July 10
Why Weren’t These Written About ME!?
By Devin Ruiz, 16, Ramona Convent (Alhambra)
There are some days, maybe those days after I’ve watched Shopgirl for the 23rd time when I’m just in a romantic mood. I browse through my iTunes and I’m amazed at how many beautiful songs are written for a specific person. I browse many songs that leave me wondering where is the person to write me a song! Why wasn’t I that person’s muse? What am I missing? So after plenty of questioning, what better to do than make a mix of those obnoxiously adorable, heart-warming songs?
Here’s my mix, Why Weren’t These Written About ME!?
Track 1: "Strawberry," Paul Baribeau
Lately this has been the number one song to make me ask that question! Paul Baribeau compares his “her” to something greater than just cute or pretty because making those comparisons is just like saying that a strawberry is sweet, when really it is so much more. AWHHHHHH.
Track 2: "Beautiful Rainbow," The Elected
Blake Sennett is known as part of Rilo Kiley, but who knew that he could stand out as a vocalist and produce such a beautiful song? I want to be his rainbow; I want him to sing about my smile and ambition. Oh how I envy “her.”
Track 3: "I’m the Man Who Loves You," Wilco
Jeff Tweedy just wants to hold her hand so she’ll understand he’s the man that loves her! This song is hella cute plus the guitar in it isn’t so shabby either!
Track 4: "Mandy," Bedroom Walls
This is one of the many songs about a “Mandy” that makes me want to change my name from Devin. No one ever writes songs about Devins.
Track 5: "Oh Mandy," The Spinto Band
“Mandy” song number two! This song is just cute. He wants to find her dreamy heart and there’s something about a gnome in a backyard. I love gnomes and cute indie songs like this.
Track 6: "I’m Waking Up to Us," Belle & Sebastian
So I have a slight crush on B&S’s Scottish cutie Stuart Murdoch, I mean that accent and that red hair. Swoon. Although this song is kind of a heartbreaker, the things he sings about this girl are beautiful. She was the one love of his life. Hello Stuart, I’m over here!
Track 7: "Thirteen," Ben Kweller
Beautiful! Bello! Bonito! Hermoso! This song is perfect! Lizzy (BK’s wife) is one lucky lady. This song is a biography of their somewhat tumultuous relationship and how in the end they have a love that could never be faked. “We built this world of our own. It was in the back of a taxi that you told me you loved me, and that I wasn’t alone.”
Track 8: "Lizzy," Ben Kweller
I said she was lucky! His ode to Lizzy in which he pleads that he is “So proud to know you” and that they’re “Keeping love alive even on Texas time” when they’re apart. Oh BK.
Track 9: "First Day of My Life," Bright Eyes
Hidden beneath all the songs of pain, regret and drugs, is one of Conor Oberst’s few love songs. “First Day of My Life” is amazing. His voice cracks as he sings about how beautiful she is and how he would go anywhere as long as it was with her. He needs her. Sweet little Conor.
Track 10: "Easy Girl," Coconut Records
I am in love with Jason Schwartzman so hearing this song about a girl who he wants to grow old with, that girl who is easy to love, to kiss, and miss when she’s gone, leaves me feeling like a green-eyed monster.
Track 11: "Something About Us," Daft Punk
Yes, even Daft Punk is capable of a “love song.” Hearing the cute phrases “I need you more than anything in my life/ I want you more than anything in my life” backed by a signature Daft Punk dance beat, makes this song great!
Track 12:" The Most Beautiful Girl (in the Room)," Flight of the Conchords
As FOTC describes this song, it’s one of their “slow-jams!” This song is witty, sweet, and hilarious. I wish Bret and Jemaine would tell me I’m so beautiful that I could be a waitress, an airhostess in the 60s, or even a part-time model!
Track 13: "Hello, I Love You," Ima Robot
Ima Robot’s one of my favorite bands, and this quirky song is a phone conversation between Alex Ebert and a girl who he’d give up all the bread, no rice, in China for. It’s funny but super cute! (Available only as Myspace download)
Track 14: "I Love How You Love Me," Jeff Mangum
Neutral Milk Hotel’s Jeff Mangum covers this song, and it’s so romantic. Jeff sings about all the reasons he loves her including the way she misses him when he’s away, and her heavenly kisses, but above all he loves how she loves him.
Track 15: "For the Actor," Mates of State
The husband and wife duo, Jason and Kori, sing about how being together, is like a fantasy. The song has one of the most catchy beats and is constantly stuck in my head, but that’s OK because it’s a great song.
Track 16: "I’ll Follow You Into The Dark," Death Cab for Cutie
To me, the all-time best love song a person could make. Sing me this and you’re in.
Posted June 26
The Start of Something … Summer
By Devin Ruiz, 16, Ramona Convent (Alhambra)
After roughly nine months confined in the “Convent” I am finally free, for the better half of three months at least. To celebrate this new joy, I decided to compile it into a mix CD. Lately, I’ve needed to express every moment, or mood into the perfect mix. Sometimes they just sit, stored away on my iTunes, but now it’s their time to shine. This is a mix created to meet my need for dancing, friends, and just a mood to relax to before having to return to face my senior year. I hope these few songs will help you celebrate the summer season, as it helps me.
Here’s my playlist, The Start of Something … Summer.
Track 1: "The Start of Something," Voxtrot
Part Pop, part melancholy, Voxtrot’s upbeat spirit puts a great start to summer.
Track 2: "Rejoice," Andrew Jackson Jihad
AJJ’s riot folk-esque song about the world being hard but there still being reason to rejoice, gives me a hope for a summer. “Rejoice because you’re trying your hardest.”
Track 3: "Weekend Wars," MGMT
Although I hardly ever get the lyrics right, MGMT’s Weekend Wars is the perfect song to drive around to in a car with friends.
Track 4: "You! Me! Dancing!" Los Campesinos!
Brit pop! Los Campesinos capture my “I just want to dance mood” while providing catchy lyrics and just the right amount of keyboards.
Track 5: "I Luv the Valley, Oh!" Xiu Xiu
On commutes from West Hollywood to Woodland Hills, Xiu Xiu (shoe-shoe) combines experimental beats and a foreign language to capture the irony for my not so exciting journey to the valley that I don’t particularly “luv.”
Track 6: "Run To Your Grave," The Mae Shi
Hailing from Los Angeles, The Mae Shi and their omnichord (quirky keyboard) puts me in the perfect summer mood to just move.
Track 7: "I’ve Got Some Friends," Akron/Family
“Hey have you noticed everyone is crazy!” Rings clear through this song. Their slight throwback to classic 70’s rock and current experimental jams is infectious. With its strange off-key guitar, “I’ve Got Some Friends” is my favorite sing along.
Track 8: "Fools," The Dodos
A song essentially about wandering describes my hopefully spontaneous summer.
Track 9: "Hiroshima," Blake Mills
This soft song fits perfectly on a calm day sitting out on my balcony, plus it’s chorus “there’s nothing in the world that I would not do” makes me feel this summer I’m doing it all, or close to that. (Available only as Myspace download)
Track 10: "Hello Sunshine," Super Furry Animals
A song perfect to wake up, with its soft vocals and piano chorus, welcome a bright sun and smile.
Track 11: "How it Should Be (Sha Sha)" Ben Kweller
Pure, innocent fun in the form of a red-headed Ben Kweller.
Track 12: "Glass Danse," The Faint
Making their return this summer after a much-too-long hiatus, The Faint’s dance-friendly “Glass Danse” is a favorite on this mix.
Track 13: "Nighttiming," Coconut Records
My favorite, Jason Schwartzman’s fun song “Nighttiming” is catchy, and the video features his cute brother, Robert.
Track 14: "My British Tour Diary," Of Montreal
Of Montreal is just extremely fun! This song about England pokes fun and brings on the grooves!
Track 15: "Doin’ Time (Summertime)," Sublime
“Summertime and the livin’s easy” No better words to describe my mix.
Posted June 19