Ellen’s Extraordinary, Ridiculously Age-Inappropriate Playlist

I’m always surprised when writers say they need music playing when they write. Not me. Music is what I dance or sing to, which is probably a result of my years as a performer. (This is also why I don’t read my drafts out loud like a lot of authors do. I start acting them out and lose all focus on the writing. Once a ham, always a ham.)

Anyhoo, when it comes to music, I love all genres – swing, musicals, Bollywood – but my go-to is pop. Basically, I have the musical taste of a tween, AARP card notwithstanding. Even my current crushes are tweeny: Harry Styles, Stephen Sanchez, and V from BTS. A little creeped out by this? Sorry not sorry – which also happens to be a great Demi Lovato song. (I also highly recommend her fab anthem, “Confident.”)

I thought I’d share a selected playlist of my current faves with you today. If you’re planning a holiday party, I hope it comes in handy. If you just want to car-dance, you’re welcome. I’ll throw in a couple of links – marked in orange – but not too many. I don’t want to break WordPress the way us Swifties broke Ticketmaster!


Levitating: artist, Dua Lipa. This is my favorite song from her album “Future Nostalgia,” but pretty much every song on the album is great.

Stupid Love: artist, Lady Gaga. I love, love, love me some Lady Gaga. Talk about setting a high pop bar.

Rain on Me: artists, Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande. Enjoy this double dose o’ diva.

Juice: artist, Lizzo. More love! For every song Lizzo does and the self-acceptance she promotes.

Butter: artists, BTS. From my current boy band fix, BTS. This song makes me SO happy. If you want to see a great performance, go to YouTube and search “Butter BTS Grammy performance.”

Watermelon Sugar High: artist, Harry Styles. Harry. Styles. ‘Nuff said.

Anti-Hero: artist, Taylor Swift. Taylor’s latest. But you can’t go wrong with anything she writes. I’d share the video but I’m a little afraid of her.

Shivers: artist, Ed Sheeran. Like his pal Taylor, he writes great pop in general.

Never Not Gonna Dance Again: artist, P!nk. No pop list is complete without a song from the queen of anthem rock. Such a great voice.


Don’t Stop the Party: artist, Pitbull. My kid still talks about the Kesha-Pitbull concert I took “her” to. And she still shudders at the memory of me fangirling.

Fireball: artist, Pitbull. another dance keeper from Mr. Worldwide. A friend’s daughter co-wrote this. Ah, the perks of living in Hollywood.

I haven’t taken Zumba in a while, so I’m low on actual song names. But check out any Zumba class online and you’ll find great Latin tunes.


I’m Drunk and I Don’t Wanna Go Home: artists, Elle King and Miranda Lambert. I defy you not to belt the refrain of this along with Elle King and Miranda Lambert.

Lil Bit: artists, Florida Georgia Line and Nelly. This song is the perfect country-hip hop mashup. It’s a favorite at the weekly Dance it Out class I attend. (I owe a good portion of my current dance favorites to master teacher Tricia McNatt. Thanks, Tricia!!)

Justified, High Horse, Rainbow: artist, Kacey Musgraves. None of these are dance-y, but all are beautiful. I don’t think I’ve ever not teared up listening to Rainbow.


I tend to gravitate towards women rappers. Here are two favorites:

Super Freak Girl: artist, Nicki Minaj. Another great rap from the woman who delivered the classic, Super Bass. Here she riffs on the iconic Rick James song, Super Freak. Warning: do NOT play this song for Grandma!!

Big Energy: artist, Latto. This catchy rap benefits from a heavy sampling of Tom Tom Club’s “Genuis of Love,” which has to be the most sampled song in the world.


Until I Found You: artist, Stephen Sanchez. This song came out last year but is suddenly everywhere. And I’m so glad it is. It’s downright swoony.

I could go on forever with this playlist. However, that would mean more typing and less dancing. But before I go… A few weeks ago, the fam and I went to the B52s farewell tour, where my favorite group of all time, KC & the Sunshine Band, opened the show. So I’m signing off today with my favorite songs from those classic party bands: “Roam” and “Get Down Tonight.”

Readers, what are some of your favorite songs? Do you like your music pop-y like me?

39 thoughts on “Ellen’s Extraordinary, Ridiculously Age-Inappropriate Playlist

  1. Thanks for the suggestions, Ellen! Some of my all-time faves:
    Our House by Madness – this ska infused tune always makes me smile and is great to vop around to.
    The Story by Brandi Carlisle – from the moment I first heard this song in 2009, my life was changed. The emotion, the way the lyrics paint such a powerful picture. Wow. I would not have become a writer without that song.
    Where the Streets Have No Name by U2 – the first track on The Joshua Tree set the tone for one of the greatest rock albums ever.
    Paris by Grace Potter & the Nocturnals – Grace at her sexiest and most powerful, all at once.
    Redemption Song by Bob Marley – a deceptively simple arrangement backs this song that is almost a prayer.
    I’m Alive by Michael Franti & Spearhead – whenever you’re in need of a smile, listen to this song.
    Something to Believe In by The New Respects – a danceable song with a message all of us can relate to.

    I could go on, too, but this will do for now!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I love your play list. It has some of my faves, too, that I sing with in the car: Levitating, Watermelon Sugar High, Harry’s As It Was, Dua Lipa and Elton John’s Cold Heart. Big Energy and About D**n Time, both of which I didn’t realize all the words to until just now when I looked them up. LoL.
    There’s something about pop music that is catchy and uplifting.
    I couldn’t write with them on, though. I’d be singing their words instead of stringing together my own.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. What fun, Ellen! I promise I will try out every link. Right now I’m alternating holiday music with some new-to-me artists, most of whom I discover on late-night talk shows, ha. This weekend on SNL I discovered Brandi Carlisle. I’m usually a Belinda Carlisle fan, but wow. Just wow. What a voice and great songwriting. I also like the 1975 and the Linda Lindas. Now back to Mariah Carey mixed with the Cure, the Pogues, the Smiths, and Echo & the Bunnymen (maybe not uplifting for the holidays, exactly, but good for writing concentration. Absolute best for that, in my opinion: Vince Guaraldi Trio: A Charlie Brown Christmas.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lisa, you have to check you Brandi’s Live at Benaroya Hall album she recorded with the Seattle Symphony. It’s over 10 years old so it doesn’t include her newer music, but it will leave you breathless.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. If I have music on at all when I write, it has to be J.S. Bach. The mathematical regularity of Bach’s compositions allow me to immerse myself in the music without being distracted by it (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0ufknMW0FI). Another fave is English change ringing, made famous by Dorothy Sayers in her amazing book The Nine Tailors. Here’s a sample on the hand bells (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1VW3X0isaQ); I have a CD that goes on for several hours. I can also get into Gregorian chants (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-hrBhA4XkM) or Tibetan tantric chants (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1VW3X0isaQ).

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That’s fascinating about Bach, Tom. And I’ll definitely have to check out these links. They taught bells at my daughter’s middle school. It was a Lutheran school and apparently bells are popular with them.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Meanwhile, I’ll be over here listening to my CCM (Contemporary Christmas Music) with artists you probably haven’t heard of. Stylistically, I most like soft rock singer/song writers. Current favorites include Matthew West, Jason Gray, and Josh Wilson. Of course, I do mix in some Broadway and Disney for a truly eclectic mix.

    This time of year, I’m exclusively listening to Christmas music, which includes songs/albums by my CCM artists, and some other artists plus oldies I grew up with. I’ve got Bing Crosby, Johnny Mathis, Nat King Cole as well as plenty of Straight No Chaser and Pentatonix. Kirsten Chenoweth is singing “Silver Bells” as I type this. I’ve mentioned eclectic, right?

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Oh, boy, am I old school: The Beatles, Elvis Costello, and Talking Heads. And then there’s older-school: Ella, Frank, and Mel Tormé. And finally REALLY old-school: Puccini, Strauss, and Wagner. (But at least I’ve heard of most of the artists you list, El….)

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I enjoy pop-y music, but now I’m a tagalong listening to my kids’ favorites. I also really like 50s and 60s music, so I should’ve been born in a different era. I’m kind of a social listener of music, so I’m up for anything, but I definitely appreciate songs filled with hope (great for this time of the year!).

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I don’t listen to music when I write, that’s for sure! And Jen, once my kids moved out, I didn’t have a good way to find new music, so I’m making a list of some of these from everyone!

      Liked by 3 people

  8. Ellen, you are oboe lot younger than me. I’ve heard of 2 of these bands. Taylor Swift because of whatever contest she won back in the day (I think). BTS because my SIL is the second oldest living teenager, whose license plate references the band.
    Definitely more of a 40s to very early 80s music is my choice. My fav for pop is Barry and David, and rock is Elvis. Then comes the swing music, which I have to tap my toes to.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. Ellen, I’ve heard of some of your playlist artists, but don’t really know their music. I am old, and mostly old school when it comes to music. I’ll take Motown and Big Band on the radio any day. Although, right now I’m listening to seasonal tunes. Last night we watched an Andy Williams Christmas special from the 60s — vintage gold!

    Liked by 3 people

  10. I have missed so many amazing posts while recuperating etc. and I am so happy to find this one, El! Thank you for sharing. I was just thinking I needed to infuse some newness into my playlists.


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