Songs I’m obsessed with

Since going to a Saint Motel concert a few weeks ago, I’ve been listening to their songs non-stop. It’s pretty typical for me to leave a concert more into a band than I was before and Saint Motel is no exception. Their stage show is fantastic and cleverly done. Their latest album is called saintmotelevision (can we just stop and appreciate the wordplay there?) and in good form, their stage show imitates a late night talk show. During intermission, they would play commercials from the 80s and 90s. There were old-fashioned cameras on the sides and an applause sign that lights up indicating you should clap and cheer. Their stuff is so experimental and experiential (their 360 Virtualizer videos on Youtube are super cool), and their music gives me such a strong sense of nostalgia. A few songs of theirs I’ve been listening to on repeat:

For Elise

This one’s from their latest album and I love how the nod to Für Elise. Here’s an excerpt from an interview Saint Motel did with Vice:

She’s the quintessential muse. That song actually started with Beethoven’s immortal beloved. We thought it would be a fun experiment to take “Für Elise” and make it into a rock song using the exact same chords. And we’re all huge Beethoven fans. The story goes “Für Elise” was his immortal beloved, but no one knew who it was—it was a Citizen Kane/Rosebud situation. Who is this “immortal beloved?” Is it the Countess Von whoever? They went on this huge search to find his muse. That idea spawned the song. If she was the ultimate muse, who are the great muses, especially in pop and rock? “Für Elise” is very well known, but we wanted to take it to a contemporary situation.

Midnight Movies

I’m obsessed with this call and answer song from their older album. The intro to this song is so catchy and it’s something I can listen to over and over again.

Another song that’s been having a moment in my playlist is Sly Moon by Tangerine. They opened for Bleachers when I saw them live a month ago. They have a similar music style reminiscent of Haim, so if you’re a Haim fan, I’d definitely check out Tangerine!

So as I mentioned before, I went to a Bleachers concert recently. Completely obsessed with their MTV Unplugged album. I really like live recordings of songs. They’re less polished versions of themselves sure, and maybe some people don’t like that, but I love it. I feel like you can really feel the emotion there and Bleachers was hands down one of the best concerts I have ever been to. Listening to the MTV Unplugged album brings me back to one truly spectacular night.

If you haven’t listened to any of their songs, I recommend:

River by Bishop Briggs is also super catchy. It reminds me of Take Me To Church by Hozier. Bishop Briggs is also someone I’ve been lucky enough to see live (she opened for Bleachers). She has an incredible energy, always jumping around and you can tell she really feels the music. And there’s something very poetic about her lyrics and it has a good beat. There’s also some amazing dance choreography videos on Youtube using this song that you all should check out.

That’s pretty much it for my music round-up. These are my go-to songs that I’ve been going back to over and over, and I haven’t gotten sick of them yet.

Text "Podcasts I'm Listening To" on light blue background with a digitally drawn phone with earbuds.

Podcasts I’m Listening To

On my long drives to and from work, I used to just listen to music. But I always thought I could make better use of my time. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love listening to music in the car and singing along. Sometimes you need a singing-at-the-top-of-your-lungs session in the privacy of your own car. Other times, I turn everything off and drive in complete silence. There are simply times when I’m driving and my brain is churning wildly with ideas and I need the silence to think. Occasionally, I use driving time as sort of a meditation time but not really since I’m focused on being a careful driver. Most days now though, I queue up my pre-downloaded podcasts on Pocket Casts (the app I use to listen to podcasts) and listen to them while I drive.

I don’t have a fancy new car that connects to the Internet and plays music from Spotify for me. I don’t even have the ability to play music out of my car’s sound system. My car (I’ve lovingly named her Betty) is an old girl whose previous owner modified her audio system, ripped out the original and placed in a modern touch-screen GPS that also doubles as the audio system controller. It’d be fine if it still worked. So I’m doomed to phone audio quality for listening to music and podcasts and any calls I might potentially get because there’s no bluetooth capability in my 18-year old beauty of a car. I really do love Betty, with her questionable brakes and chipped paint exterior. She’s doing well for an old gal and when it comes time to retire her, I’ll miss her.

I made a video back in June about my favorite podcasts, but that was the beginning of my podcast obsession. Now I’m in the full swing of it and I’ve added a few more to the mix.

Up First

NPR Up First podcast logo

I started listening to podcasts because I thought it’d be a good way for me to keep up with the news during my commute. With a broken car audio system, I turned to downloading news podcasts to keep me informed. Up First is a podcast hosted by NPR, and they give you the news in 10-15 minute segments. I actually listen to this podcast first thing in the morning when I’m getting ready for the day. They update daily, Monday through Friday and occasionally there are double episodes when there’s breaking news.

The Daily

The first podcast I fell in love with, The Daily podcast is also a news podcast hosted by Michael Barbaro from The New York Times. One of the ways I tricked myself into going running regularly a few months ago was to only listen to The Daily while running at the gym. I loved it so much that the promise of listening to it convinced me to go regularly to the gym. For full context, I’m not an exercise person. Not by a long shot. The Daily tends to focus on one important news story of the day and do a 20-minute segment on it. At the end of the episode, they will add in some other news stories of the day. Like Up First, it’s updated daily Monday through Friday and occasionally there are special episodes for breaking news updates.

How I Built This

Another fantastic podcast by NPR hosted by Guy Raz. How I Built This is a must-listen for anyone interested in entrepreneurship and interview-style podcasts. Even if you’re not interested in starting your own business, the podcast is incredibly interesting by virtue of the incredible wealth of life advice and experiences of these entrepreneurs. Raz has interviewed founders of companies from a wide range of industries. To give you an idea of the range, some of the founders were from these companies: Airbnb, Dermalogica, Starbucks, Buzzfeed, Compaq Computers, Crate & Barrel, and Kate Spade. There’s a good mix of tech, consumer goods, food, and media companies.

Some of my favorite episodes include:

  • Airbnb: Joe Gebbia
  • Edible Arrangements: Tariq Farid
  • Aden + Anais: Raegan Moya-Jones

Here’s a choice quote from the interview with Joe Gebbia when Raz asked him how they were funding the business:

You know those binders where you keep baseball cards? I had one of those, except those weren’t baseball cards, those were credit cards. We would go through Visa after Visa, to Mastercard, then finally to Amex, just maxing out credit cards and that’s how we funded ourselves.

With Airbnb as successful as it is now, it almost surprised me to hear how hard of a time they had starting out. It gives me hope. Everyone who I consider successful hasn’t always been successful. Everyone’s gotta start somewhere.

Behind the Beauty

This podcast takes a look at the behind the scenes of the beauty industry. Serein Wu, the host, interviews individuals working in the beauty industry. Some of them are company founders, while others simply work in the company in marketing or some other department. She has interviewed fellow Youtuber, Christine Nguyen, as well as a dermatologist and a licensed esthetician. I find this podcast incredibly interesting because I love beauty and hearing the back stories of these companies or what it’s really like to work there. I’m super interested in hearing from people working in the cosmetics industry because of my low-key dream to create my own skincare line or run a company selling skincare in the future.

The Lavendaire Lifestyle

Another podcast hosted by a Youtuber, this one focusing on designing your dream life. Aileen Xu is the face behind Lavendaire. She started her Youtube channel centered around sharing lifestyle tips on how to create your dream life after she was feeling lost post-college and was reading a ton of self-help books. I’ve been cherry-picking which episodes I listen to and I always feel inspired after listening to an episode. Definitely worth a listen if you’re interested in self-help tips!

Asian Boss Girls

asian boss girls

The newest addition to my podcast library is Asian Boss Girls or ABG for short. And yes, they purposely chose the name to have that acronym. It’s hosted by three Asian women (Helen Wu, Melody Cheng, and Janet Wang) who started this podcast to share their experiences as 20-30 something year old Asian American women. Listening to ABG is like listening to my own friends chat. They manage to stay casual while being totally honest, and they have a great dynamic. Helen, Melody, and Janet are hilarious and episode 3 about waxing was a good laugh. 10/10 recommend.