Song List

My sister-in-law is going on a trip with friends, and she had a really fun idea for car music: she asked each person to make a list of one song from each of these five categories:

1. A favorite song/a song you really like. It’s ok if it’s slow, or an obscure genre, or music that isn’t generally popular.
2. A cheesy love song you remember from middle school/high school.
3. A song that makes you feel like dancing.
4. A song from one of the first albums you owned.
5. A song you enjoy, in a language you do not speak.

She’s going to put them together in a big playlist. I liked this idea so much, I asked if we could do it for our next get-together (my sister-in-law and her sister and her brother and my brother and me, and we stay up too late and drink and talk and eat snacks and play games), and we’re going to! So now I need to find songs, and/or need to narrow down songs.

For #1, I need to think awhile. I might save that one for a song I think of while researching the others, something that doesn’t fit anywhere else. I might choose a song from childhood. Or maybe a country song. It’s a little tempting to use this category to torment others.

For #2 I have way too many candidates. Pretty much anything by Peter Cetera, just for starters. Boy-band songs. A ton of earnest hair-band ballads.

It will also be difficult to narrow down #3. I do not dance, per se, but I have been known to sway and/or waggle. Or, if I am driving, to bounce. Many, many songs lead to swaying/waggling/bouncing.

The first album I owned was Knee Deep in the Hoopla, by Starship. Soon after, I added Peter Cetera, Chicago, Paula Abdul, The Cars, Huey Lewis & The News, Heart, INXS, and MC Hammer. This is going to be a fun batch of songs to choose from.

The hardest one for me is #5; I don’t know a lot of songs that aren’t in English. Probably I will pick something from a Korean drama. Maybe Always (though maybe it’s cheating because some of it is English) or What Do I Do. If you know some non-English pop music, I hope you’ll tell me about it so I can look up the artists/songs on YouTube and see if I like them. I am particularly interested in French songs because I took French in high school and still feel sentimental about it even though I’ve forgotten most of it.


This song-list task seemed like the sort of thing that, if I saw it on someone else’s blog, I would immediately want to say what my list would be. So I thought you might feel the same, and I suggest we do that.

Something else we might feel the same about: I would feel as if I couldn’t leave a comment unless I had songs for ALL FIVE—but then one or two would be too difficult to think of or too difficult to narrow down, and I would think it wasn’t really worth it to do a lot of RESEARCH just to leave a blog comment, so then I wouldn’t do it. So let’s say this: do exactly as much as you want to do. You can leave a comment such as “For #4 I would do _____,” and that can be the whole thing. Or you can complete the whole list, with one song for each number. Or you can go the other way and say, “Hm, well, these are the twenty songs I’d have to narrow down for each number.” Or you can do what I did and pretty much just discuss the categories. OR WHATEVER. We are not strict around here.

59 thoughts on “Song List

  1. Kimberly

    For a foreign language song, check out the group Te Vaka. It’s led by Opetaia Foa’i who collaborated with Lin-Manuel Miranda (and others) on the Moana soundtrack. For me, their sound evokes beaches and happiness.

    1. Tina

      I agree! That was the first non-English song that popped into my head. I really like it.

  2. Lawyerish


    1. There is too much pressure here. Too many choices! Plus for me it changes weekly. But ok. I’m going to just go with what comes to mind this very instant. Which right now (because I listened to it on my commute this morning) is Something Just Like This by The Chainsmokers and Coldplay.

    2. I am with you on virtually anything from the Peter Cetera/Chicago canon. Glory of Love by PC is one of the most evocative of that time that I can think of. I have it in a playlist on my phone that I titled Couple Skate.

    3. SO. MANY. But again, in this very moment, what I am thinking of is Can’t Stop the Feeling from the Trolls soundtrack (no judging) by Justin Timberlake.

    4. Human Nature by Michael Jackson springs to mind but I think it was actually my brother who owned the 45 of that song. I definitely owned Wham! and Cyndi Lauper on tape. Oh, and before that I had Free to Be You and Me and quite a few John Denver and the Muppets albums on vinyl. Ok, so my final selection is Sisters and Brothers from Free to Be You and Me (which definitely also makes me dance).

    5. Well, I am sorry to say that this would have to be Copa de Vida by Ricky Martin or the Spanish version of Hero by Enrique Iglesias. Oh wait, actually if we want to class it up a little bit, I do love La Vie en Rose by Edith Piaf (she is a great source for French songs).

  3. Jenny Grace

    Agree on #1, I would probably fill out 2-5 and then decide what to put there based on favorite songs that I had left over.
    #2 – I would probably have to choose some boyband music. I graduated from HS in 2000 so I was a teen during PEAK BOY BAND YEARS. Of course that music was ‘terrible’ and ‘I hated it’ but ok also I know every word to back street boys songs. Also I always pick Britney Spears in karaoke because everyone knows the songs and you don’t have to be a good singer AT ALL to do a passable rendition. So maybe some B.Spears, pre mental health crisis of course.
    #3 – Super lyrically inappropriate hip hop. Or maybe ‘you make me feel like dancing’ a song to which I dance around the house FREQUENTLY.
    #4 – My very first album was a Roseanne Cash casette tape and I get sentimental JUST THINKING ABOUT IT (omg maybe I need to put one of these songs in categories 1 or 2). Or I could go WAY back to my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles lunchbox filled with Raffi tapes? ORRRRR my first CD that I bought myself with my own money was No Doubt, followed shortly by Sublime, Coolio, Fiona Apple, I feel sentimental just thinking about any of those options. This one is hard.
    #5 – I have this Cuban rap/hip hop CD that my brother gave me that I love. Legitimately love. I cannot remember the name of the group, however.

  4. Jennifer Minson

    Pink Martini is a very fun band that has a lot of songs not in English or mixed non-English/English. I love most of their stuff, but Hey Eugene is my favorite (great Christmas album too).

    Another fun non-English song is Alors En Dance and this is a very fun “making of” video

  5. alex

    This is so fun; I could spend all day– nay, all week– on this list!

    1. A favorite song/a song you really like. It’s ok if it’s slow, or an obscure genre, or music that isn’t generally popular.

    Parsonfield, “Weeds or Wild Flowers” (heard in a weird and great scene from The Walking Dead; the music video is, predictably, hipsters on a tree branch)

    2. A cheesy love song you remember from middle school/high school.

    The Smiths, “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” (this was the late 90s, but we were still way into Morrissey… that never goes out, either)

    3. A song that makes you feel like dancing.

    Milky Chance, “Stolen Dance” (I do not dance either, but this one is nice to bounce to)

    4. A song from one of the first albums you owned.

    hahaha Ace of Base, “All That She Wants” (but is the “baby” a guy or an infant?.. it’s a thinker)

    5. A song you enjoy, in a language you do not speak.

    “La Gatta” by Gino Paoli (adorable; loved this in undergrad Italian class)

    Thanks for this post– I really appreciate the distraction today! Can’t wait to read other responses.

  6. Beep

    How very fun.

    1. So hard to choose. I’d maybe pick “If it be your will” by Leonard Cohen, which my husband hates and is maybe too earnest for some, but which I sometimes find very consoling when I’m having a hard time. Or maybe “Graceland” by Paul Simon, which I love love. Or something by the Indigo Girls, but I think I’ll use them for #4. Or “17 Again” by the Eurhythmics.
    2. Most songs from this category are kind of annoying to me now (more than nostalgic) because to my current ear they’re trite but I still like “Blue Savannah” by Erasure.
    3. “We Found Love” by Rihanna, which rather than romantic love reminds me of my work as a doctor in a safety-net hospital. I really love my patients, and many of them struggle with very difficult circumstances. And of course it’s awesome for dancing.
    4. The first album I ever really loved was Indigo Girls’ Indigo Girls, off of which I’d happily pick 4-5 songs, but I’ll go with “Closer to Fine”.
    5. Probably I’d pick “Jai Ho” from the movie Slumdog Millionaire because it’s super danceable. But maybe instead “So Danco Samba” by Getz & Gilberto–from the same album as their famous “Girl from Ipanema” and just as mellow and gorgeous.

  7. Jill

    I studied abroad in France from 2001-2002 and a (then) hit song that we all loved was J’ai Demande a la Lune by Indochine which I think I literally haven’t heard again until now when I just found it on youtube.

    So if nothing else THANK YOU for making me realize it was possible to find this again!

  8. Suzanne

    This is SUCH FUN.

    #1. “Waves” by Miguel (the Kacey Musgraves version): And on the country side of things, “Get Your Shine On” by Florida Georgia Line is a favorite because it was on the radio A TON when I was pregnant:

    #2. I don’t know why this popped into my head, but here it is: “Drink, Swear, Steal & Lie” by Michael Peterson — Bonus, this is fun to sing very loudly with the windows down. For some reason, many of these categories made me think of songs from high school or earlier, so here is another one that I was obsessed with in high school, “So Much in Love” by All4One:

    #3. “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift. Or the “Boot Scootin’ Boogie” by Brooks & Dunn:

    #4. One of my first albums was Bonnie Raitt’s Luck of the Draw, so I choose “Something to Talk About.” On the country side, my other much-loved cassette tape from early years was Don’t Go Near the Water by Sammy Kershaw. So I pick that too:

    #5. There are SO MANY good Italian songs from this season of Master of Love. I choose “Guarda Come Dondolo” which has the added benefit of being a dancey song, too:

    1. Becky

      I haven’t thought about “Don’t Go Near the Water” in about 15 years and I need to make a Spotify playlist to remedy this immediately.

  9. el-e-e

    Knee Deep in the Hoopla was also the first album I owned!! Or, to be more precise, the first one I purchased with my own money. :)

  10. Angela

    What a fun idea for a road trip!

    For the last category, I would totally pick one of the songs from my Zumba class. There are several songs in Spanish that are so catchy, but there is one that is of the Bollywood genre that I adore. I think it is in Hindi?

  11. Alyson

    1. A favorite song/a song you really like. It’s ok if it’s slow, or an obscure genre, or music that isn’t generally popular.
    Thunder Road – the Boss. Southern Cross – CSNY OR CSN idk.

    2. A cheesy love song you remember from middle school/high school.

    Literally nothing is popping in my head . Why is that? the entire time was a cheesy love song. Oh, I love your smile by Shanice.

    3. A song that makes you feel like dancing.

    Songbird, Ryan Montbleau (see also, Say Hey, Michael Franti) seriously. Listen.

    4. A song from one of the first albums you owned.

    Not kidding, it was Run DMC, Raising hell. I pick, “my adidas”
    5. A song you enjoy, in a language you do not speak.

    I can’t think of anything!!!!

  12. Cindy

    You are right: I immediately started thinking what my list would be! And here it is, the first things that spring to mind:
    1) Favorite: Ashokan Farewell by Jay Unger, especially the version from the civil war documentary
    2) Cheesy love song: Mandy, by Barry Manilow. It was popular when I was oh, maybe 13, and it always made me cry.
    3) Dance: Voulez Vous, by Abba. Also good for working out! Also Shake It Off, by Taylor Swift.
    4) Songs from the first two albums I owned
    Olivia Newton-John — Fly Away
    John Denver — Calypso
    5) Other Language: 99 Luftballons by Nena

    1. Cindy

      Actually, if this is a real playlist I am going to listen to, I would probably not include “Mandy.” A little too much cheese for me now! But I can’t think of another one from that era off the top of my head. Hmm. Have to think about that…

  13. JMT

    Carla Bruni! Carla Bruni! Look on the album “Quelqu’un ma dit.” Good/juicy/gossipy backstory too, she’s the former French president’s wife. (Pleasing coincidence I am listening to Evita right now)

  14. liz

    Foreign language: the first song that popped into my head was 99 Luftballoons. But then! I remembered Major Tom by Peter Schilling. Also in German.

    Love song from middle school/high school? Hmmm How about Kiss on My List by Hall and Oates?

    Music that will always make me get up and dance is Walking on Broken Glass by Annie Lennox or Our Lips are Sealed by the Go-Gos

  15. reagan

    1. A favorite song/a song you really like. It’s ok if it’s slow, or an obscure genre, or music that isn’t generally popular.

    “Morning Has Broken”- Cat Stevens

    2. A cheesy love song you remember from middle school/high school.

    “You Light Up My Life” – Debbie Boone

    3. A song that makes you feel like dancing.

    “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” – Cyndi Lauper

    4. A song from one of the first albums you owned.

    “Just the Way you Are” – Billy Joel

    5. A song you enjoy, in a language you do not speak.

    “La Bamba” Ritchie Valens

  16. Amy

    1. I tried hard to narrow it down to one, but it’s a three-way tie between The Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side by The Magnetic Fields, Run Joe by Louis Jordan, and Rhythm Doesn’t Make You a Dancer by Jon Fratelli.
    2. The ultimate 80s roller skating song: When I’m With You by Sheriff
    3. Double Dutch Bus by Frankie Smith
    4. County Fair by The Beach Boys
    5. Pata Pata by Miriam Makeba

    I LOVE seeing other people’s music lists because I discover so many new songs that way. What a great idea!

  17. Shawna

    Okay, for a non-English song the first one that popped into my head is Gangnam Style, but after that I thought of “La bomba” by Azul Azul.

  18. Erin

    For #5 I love “Co Era So” by OK Ryos. It is, in my mind, the song to which a bride walks down the (admittedly lengthy) aisle on a tropical beach wedding and everyone is crying happy tears. Or the background song of a similar montage. I was introduced to it 8 years ago by a friend on a mix tape she sent me along with a coffee-themed cookbook.

    1. Charlotte

      I second everything by Stromae! I also liked ‘derniere danse’ by Indila more recently. But my all-time French favourite is definitely ‘une belle histoire’ by Michel Fugain!

  19. M.Amanda

    This is so fun!
    1. No Myth by Michael Penn. I never get tire of it.
    2. I Swear by All-4-One. My boyfriend tried singing it to me to be romantic. I laughed, but I still like the song. And I’m now married to the boyfriend.
    3. Livin’ La Vida Loca by Ricky Martin. Still gets me moving.
    4. My first CD was Sixteen Stone by Bush. Such an awesome album. If I absolutely had to pick one… Glycerine.
    5. I can’t think of any music in a language I don’t speak, but I love Indian pop. It always feels so fun and energetic.

    1. Alyson

      What if i were romeo in black jeans! The radio station here 92.5 the river actually plays it a lot. I still like it, but i might be getting tired ofnit

  20. Rebecca

    I love love love this!

    1. “Leave the Light On” by Chris Smither.
    2. “Careless Whisper”… need I say more?
    3. Ahhh… either “Poker Face” by Lady Gaga or “Dancing on my Own” by Robyn.
    4. I don’t know if this was my *first* album, but one of them… “Crucify”, Tori Amos.
    5. “Christos Anesti” sung by Divna Ljubojevic (I may have mangled the spelling). It’s just the Paschal troparion in Greek, but it’s beautiful even if you’re not religious. And autocorrect tried to change “Christos” to “Christie”.

  21. Anna

    Oooh, this is so fun, but indeed I feel pressure to come up with the perfect answer for each one, so for now I will do just one.

    5. A French song:
    This would be either totally awkward or COMPLETELY HILARIOUS to listen to when trapped in the car. Keep listening to 2:30 and you will see what I mean. Heavy breathing is the same in every language.

  22. Maggie

    A cheesy love song you remember from middle school/high school: WAY too many: Open Arms, things by Lionel Richey (sp?), Endless Love, Crazy for You….

    A song that makes you feel like dancing: my latest is Kiss the Sky

    A song you enjoy, in a language you do not speak: Salome by Chayanne – used to do one of my favorite zumba routines to it so I still love it

  23. Lacey

    I almost never comment but have felt compelled to do so twice in the last week! I LOVE your crowdsourcing/survey posts.

    1. Wildest Dreams by Ryan Adams. I have recently discovered his cover of Taylor Swift’s whole 1989 album and I’m in looove.

    2. Amazed by Lonestar. I have a very specific memory of riding home from junior prom with this song playing.

    3. Private Joy by Prince. Happy and peppy and delightfully 80s in the cheesiest way. And handclaps! Prime dancing/waggling material. I’ve always been a casual Prince fan but since his death I’ve been diving into some of his pre-superstar albums. I can’t believe I’ve been missing out all these years.

    4. Doctor Robert by the Beatles. My grandmother bought the Revolver CD for me when I was maybe 12, back before the days of online shopping when CDs were still super expensive (to a kid).

    5. Lalala by Julia Delpy. Partly in English but oh well. I think I discovered this in one of the movies she was in with Ethan Hawke. Or maybe it was a different one. I can’t remember.

  24. Judith

    I’m German, so I have some recommendations for #5! We don’t actually speak like those Hitler-German speeches, it’s actually quite a beautiful and even soft language, especially when sung. So I love pointing people towards songs i like.

    Xavier Naidoo – Sie sieht mich nicht [She doesn’t see me]

    Söhne Mannheims – “Und Wenn Ein Lied” [And if a song…]
    This one has an English translation shown with it. It’s a quite German translation, but it gives an idea of what it’s about. It’s again Xavier Naidoo, with his band.

    A fun one:
    Roger Cicero – Du bist mein Sommer [You are my summer]

    Roger Cicero – Frauen regieren die Welt [Women rule the world] (damn straight they do)

    More wistful:
    Roger Cicero – “In diesem Moment” [In this Moment]

    Roger Cicero – Ich atme ein [I breathe in, I breathe out] (again with English superimposed)

    If someone likes one of these especially, I’m happy to go and find or create translations. Just didn’t want to jump in and clog up the thread with them as those run kinda long.

  25. Cara

    Go to YouTube or Google Play and look for “contemporary Bulgarian folk music.” You won’t be sorry.

  26. Elsk

    Ooh, such fun! Doing #2-5 and coming back to #1.

    1. Favorite song: “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson
    2. Cheesy song from middle or high school: “Lady in Red”
    3. Makes me feel like dancing: “Jump in the Line” by Harry Belafonte
    4. A song from one of the first albums you owned: “Ghost” by Indigo Girls, Rites of Passage (also fits in the “cheesy song”, kind of…)
    5. A song you enjoy, in a language you do not speak: “Omnibus” by Laut Sprecher. I don’t usually go for trance/techno, but it’s got a childish whimsy I dig.

  27. nonsoccermom

    This is fun! And I love music in general, so always appreciate finding out about songs I may not have otherwise. Let’s see.

    1. I have a hard time saying what song is my favorite because there are so many. But probably either “Careless Whisper” by George Michael or “Never Gonna Stop (The Red Red Kroovy)” by Rob Zombie. (I am a woman of wide-ranging musical preferences.)

    2. “I Will Always Love You” from The Bodyguard soundtrack. I miss Whitney Houston.

    3. “Wannabe” by the Spice Girls always makes me want to dance. Probably because my senior year we did a dance to it for our dance team spring show. Or “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” for the exact same reason. Actually, because of the dance team there are a lot of songs that make me want to dance…and/or I can still do parts of the routine in my head if I hear them, some 20 years later.

    4. “Love of a LIfetime” by Firehouse. Which, come to think of it, could also fall into the “cheesy love song” category. Fun fact: this was the first album (cassette!!) I bought for myself, and my mother promptly confiscated it because there’s a woman smoking on the album cover. Ah, that sheltered Southern Baptist upbringing.

    5. “La Bamba” by Ritchie Valens. A classic, but super catchy and fun to sing along with.

    1. nonsoccermom

      Haaaaaaa this prompted me to find the album cover for FIreHouse online and that’s not a cigarette in her hand! It’s a match! And the house behind her is ON FIRE. Wow. Why didn’t I pay more attention to that 25 years ago? Of course, my mother probably would have still taken issue with the implied arson in lieu of the smoking…

  28. april

    so my favorite song “in another language” is also technically English but has German words? I’d pick Bei Mir Mist du Shon (specifically from the Swing Kids soundtrack).

    and the song that immediately popped into my head as a love song from middle/high school was All For One’s I Swear.

  29. Amanda Gates

    So fun it made me de-lurk and comment. I’m going to write mine down then go back and read the others. :)

    1. Soak Up the Sun by Sheryl Crow
    2. I’ll Stand By You by The Pretenders
    3. Can’t Stop the Feelin’ by Timberlake
    4. Everything I do, I do it for you by Bryan Adams
    5. 99 luftballoons (99 Red Balloons) by Nena

  30. Tracy

    1. A favorite song/a song you really like. It’s ok if it’s slow, or an obscure genre, or music that isn’t generally popular.
    I can dream about you – (Dan Hartman)

    2. A cheesy love song you remember from middle school/high school.
    Glory of Love (from Karate Kid II) – (Peter Cetera)

    3. A song that makes you feel like dancing.
    Oh my! How to pick just one!?
    I want to dance with somebody – (Whitney Houston)
    Come on Eileen – (Dexy’s Midnight Runners)
    (and countless others)

    4. A song from one of the first albums you owned.
    Physical – Olivia Newton-John (Just googled her to verify song title… and sadly her cancer has returned…)

    (another category could be the first single song you purchased whether it be a 45 on vinyl, a single cassette, or digital… and for some of us, we could pick one from EACH of those categories!)

    5. A song you enjoy, in a language you do not speak.
    99 luft balloons or la bamba (totally stolen from precious responses)

    1. Tracy

      And by the way, you’ve opened up quite the worm hole!

      Listening to We Built This City on repeat now – lol.

  31. TinaNZ

    #5 This song was everywhere when I had a holiday in Italy the year before last. I really got to love it and it brings back great memories. It’s hard to separate the song from the memories, but regardless I think it deserves a wider non-Italian audience (the singer is not hard to look at either)!

  32. rlbelle

    1. Lion’s Roar, by First Aid Kit
    2. Time After Time, by Cyndi Lauper
    3. Girls Chase Boys, by Ingrid Michaelson (this one was overwhelming to think about because I love to dance, and love music that makes me want to dance, so I just picked the song I could most recently remember sort of dancing around to in my kitchen)
    4. Kiss the Girl, from The Little Mermaid soundtrack
    5. Nosotros, by Eydie Gorme & Los Panchos

  33. Jd

    I’m considering putting every song in the responses in a Pandora channel to get a bananas play list. Fun!

  34. Alice CW

    I’m so excited to check out the songs in these comments to make an awesome cleaning playlist! Here are mine:

    #1 “Liberty Line” by Griffin House

    #2 “I Don’t Want to Miss A Thing” by Aerosmith

    #3 “Foil” by Weird Al Yankovic, mostly because I was dancing to it last night!

    #4 “Let’s Get Loud” by Jennifer Lopez (the first pop album I owned) or “Barrett’s Privateers” by Stan Rogers (the first album I really loved from my parents’ collection)

    #5 “Ese Hombre” by La India – It’s in Spanish and all about the terrible qualities of her ex-boyfriend. We listened to it in high school Spanish class when we were learning insults. It’s pretty catchy!

  35. Jenny

    1. “Gypsy Life” by John Gorka
    2. “Lady in Red” (some very specific middle-school dance memories here)
    3. “Emperor’s New Clothes” by Sinead O’Connor is the most recent one that made me dance, but there are a LOT in this category.
    4. “Faith” by George Michael
    5. “Elle Me Dit” (youtube video is great — and I also have a video of my entire extended family lip-synching this one.)

  36. Becky

    #1 – 500 Miles by The Proclaimers – It seems like such a ridiculous choice, but it always makes me smile and sing/bob along

    #2 – “Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton (I’m pretty sure this was one of our prom themes) although I don’t actually find it all that cheesy. “I Swear” by All-4-One probably fits the bill better.

    #3 – Oooh, I love music that makes me want to dance, so this is a hard one. “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon is a good one for this.

    #4 – My sister was 7 years older than me, so many of my earliest music memories were actually her tapes (Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Olivia Newton John, Culture Club). But I think one of the first tapes I actually owned was the Dirty Dancing soundtrack (I was obsessed with that movie) – so I’ll say Time of My Life.

    #5 – No answer sprung to mind until I saw others’ responses – so I’ll have to go with La Bamba.

  37. Marilyn Cole

    I don’t know if I’m too late, but Michelle by the Beatles for number 5! It’s got some English in it too, but our French teacher played it in French III to see whether we could all translate it and it was surprisingly hard at the time. It’s easy now that I know, ha!

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