Do you remember your first crush? Mine was a girl named Sarah in my kindergarten class. She wore cute dresses with bows on them. One time, in gym class, we put the handles of jump ropes on our heads and pretended we were aliens. It was the romance of a lifetime! Universal Pictures in in talks to buy the rights to our story, so prepare your bodies to witness our epic love as it unfolds on the big screen. You will laugh. You will cry. You will question your life choices.
Tragically, Sarah and I parted ways after that one glorious year together. I was forced to move on to other crushes like Amy, Samantha and, um, Richard Karn? It recently dawned on me that the bearded, flannel-wearing Home Improvement star may have been my first official celebrity crush. In retrospect, this makes a ton of sense! At the time, however, I didn’t realize why I’d pay more attention when Al Borland was on my television. It was one of those life mysteries I hadn’t quite unpacked yet.
Upon coming to terms with this newfound epiphany, I turned to Twitter, Facebook and YikYak to ask both friends and strangers to share their #FirstCelebrityCrush. The final results were compiled in the deliciously tacky cover art for my new playlist, “13 Songs For Crushes + The People Who Have Them“.
Hit the play button below to take a listen, or head over here if that doesn’t work.
It’s common practice for me to brag that my latest playlist is better than my last… But I’m going to be 100% honest. There’s an (almost) intentional clumsiness to this thirteen-song collection. Some of the transitions are awkward, and rather than obsess over the sequencing, I came to enjoy how this echoed the reality of having a crush.
Things aren’t always smooth and easy-breezy. Sometimes, you get so caught up in your fantasies that you never wind up confessing your feelings. Sometimes, you get drunk and wind up saying the wrong thing. Sometimes, the magic fades after a few interactions, and you realize they were never the right person for you. And other times, you wind up spending eight years with a cute guy you met at a bar, and maybe that also involves adopting two dogs and two cats? I don’t know! These are all just random possibilities.
Enough feelings! Let’s talk about the music…
1. RYAN HEMSWORTH + LUCAS – Cherished: For the crushes that leave you speechless, we begin our journey with a song that has no words (unless you’re Doctor Dolittle and you know what those birds are saying). Truthfully? This is the type of “intro” that most people would skip on a full-length album, but hang in there and experience the fantasy.
2. GAVIN TUREK – Frontline: This track’s expertly channeling the explosive energy of 1970s disco queens… Yet I can’t help myself from thinking about 1980s workout tapes when I hear it? A part of me wishes Lisa Turtle, Jessie Spano and Kelly Kapowski lip-synced it on Saved by the Bell.
3. SPZRKT – Blind Man: Late-nineties R&B and the woozier offerings of the modern era collide with another for a perfect marriage, centered around an endearingly cheesy pick-up line. Imagine if Jon B. collaborated with Future.
4. WILLOW – Wait A Minute!: There’s something charming about literally watching Willow Smith find her voice as an artist, as she experiments with accents, affectations and modes of vocal delivery we couldn’t have ever anticipated when “Whip My Hair” first came out. “Wait A Minute” is all over the place. Yet it still manages to be a solid, soulful jam in this dimension.
5. SOFI DE LA TORRE – Colorblind Cruisin: Forget my damn opinion! Brandon of The Burning Ear said it best when he described this as “a song so caught up in its own world of lust and love that it doesn’t give a shit what you think its doing or where its going or what damn time it will be home.”
6. MARIAN HILL – One Time (Aquilo Remix): Some songs put the motion in your hips, and this just so happens to be one of those songs. Though this version sacrifices musically-interesting elements of the original, it does it all for the sake of sexiness. That’s an important cause, in my opinion.
7. CHAIRLIFT – Moth To The Flame: Let it be known that if I am ever on RuPaul’s Drag Race, I want to lip-sync for my life to this song. Let it also be known that I will never be on RuPaul’s Drag Race, because I am nowhere near man enough to pick up those incredible make-up skills.
8. NAO – Apple Cherry: This is very, very reminiscent of FKA Twigs. It’s not so much imitation as emulation, and if you look beyond this, you’ll notice that Nao is already on a clear path toward innovation. I’ve got a premonition that she’ll blow up big in 2016.
9. SIZZY ROCKET – Need Somebody: After several months of mulling over the content of this playlist, I immediately found a place for this song after discovering it on Maura Johnston’s “2016 awesomeness” round-up. Suddenly, it’s occurring to me that this might not be as impressive to you as it is to me.
10. TOKIMONSTA + ARAMA – Drive: Public service announcement! TOKiMONSTA collaborated with Gavin Turek (see track two) on an excellent EP called You’re Invited… Also, it is no coincidence that this song is great for driving, but you should be careful! You don’t want to dance too hard and get into an accident.
12. LITTLE BOOTS – Better In The Morning: Why the hell wasn’t this song a bigger hit? With a production and co-writing credit from Ariel Rechtshaid, it should have at least been on the radar of critics that appreciated his work with HAIM, Solange Knowles, Charli XCX, Sky Ferreira and Carly Rae Jepsen. The beat calls to mind Cameo and Tom Tom Club, the lyrics are about a one night stand, and the juxtaposition of the bubbliness with the detached vocals just plain works. #Justice4LittleBoots
13. ERYKAH BADU + ANDRE 3000 – Hello: It takes audacity to end a playlist with a song called “Hello”, but consider this your call-to-action to stop being a scrub like Doug Funnie and actually make a move on your crush! While you’re at it, please feel free to congratulate me on successfully starting and ending a playlist with songs that have birds on them.