“This time of the year includes elements such as relaxation, awkward tan lines, bad decisions.” What is Spring Break, Trebek? Listen up, fellow Midwest eskimos, for it is time to break out the sunglasses and unleash your wild side. Spring Break is upon us. Whether you’re going somewhere exotic or posting up in your hometown with the family – this week off of school is the sweet, sweet ambrosia of the school year. Flying far away? Road trip? Getting lost? Either way, this playlist walks you through your adventures and travels staring at clouds, laughing with your friends, and contemplating life. Have fun, kids. Let’s make this the best Spring Break since ’94.
This playlist will take you through each part of your travel phases in chronological order. To guide your Spring Break travels, there are multiple “acts” to divide up the list. While you Spring Breakers may not have Selena Gomez by your side, you have me! Yeah! Okay! You and I are best friends! Haha! Ha….ha. Let’s get started, shall we?
ACT I: The Departure
“Spring Break. Spring Break. Spring Break fo’ever” – Alien
1. You Make My Dreams – Hall and Oates
It’s 4 AM. Day of departure. G. E. Smith’s soothing guitar riff gently lulls you out of sleep until that iconic “…What I want!” that starts of the song. You rip your sheets off in excitement and start acting like you’re genuinely a part of Hall and Oates, lip syncing and dancing as if you were in a music video (a la 500 Days of Summer). You bounce around the room, grab a hairbrush, and use it as a microphone as you don your comfy travel clothes. PRO TIP: No judgment if you choose to do this routine twice.
2. Gold Rush – Ed Sheeran
Now that your Joseph Gordon-Levitt-esque dance routine is over, you realize the plain fact that it’s 4 AM. You’re completely exhausted. Let this laid-back jam by Ed Sheeran gently wake you up as you throw coffee into your system and last pieces of luggage into your car. Ginger melodies from a ginger himself. You’re killin’ it, Ed.
3. Concrete Schoolyard – Jurassic 5
At this point, you’re turning onto the highway and hitting cruise control. Scents of Red Bull waft around the car. You bump this jam, and suddenly your freshly-awoken (by your Hall and Oates music video rendition, by the way) road trip crew is stirring, and bobbing their heads. Catchy doesn’t even begin to describe the piano riff leading this jam from the hip hop group Jurassic 5 whose rhymes are so well-written that even your English professor would be proud. Heck, you’re practically doing extra credit by listening to this song…right? Right…?
4. 20 Dollar Nose Bleed – Fall Out Boy
Okay, it’s time to really perk up here. No more lollygagging. There are rays to be soaked in, and “Let’s Get Weird”s to be chanted. Nothing gets the people goin’ more than starting off a song with a staccato G sharp chord, am I right, or am I right? Relive your awkward middle school “emo” days with Fall Out Boy with a guest appearance by Brandon Urie. It’s a sound most won’t recognize when they think of FOB, and they nail it.
5. 1983 – Neon Trees
Depending on how tropical the country and how laid back the locals are, the term “Neon Trees” could have a whole other meaning for your trip. But if Fall Out Boy didn’t start the serious head bobbing and synchronized singing phase of your road trip, 1983 will kick it off right. High-paced and a catchy chord progression. Classic Neon Trees. Volume should be raised approximately to 11 at this point. You rock on as the rising sun glares through your windshield.
6. All Your Reasons – Matchbox Twenty
For those of you flying, this is a perfect tune to walk into the airport to – it’s got the perfect “Comrades! Let’s get this show on the road!” feel. Don’t even get me started on the bass line, because that kind of musical fusion is what gets me out of bed in the morning. Extra points of coolness if you have friends to sing the “doo-doo”s and “bah-da bah”s in the background.
7. Stop Stop – Black Keys
Black Keys were made for road trips. Plain and simple, one of the best bands to drive to. El Camino is choc full of hits made for the road, but “Stop Stop” is my favorite. If you’re really packing on the miles during this trip, throw this whole album on and go nuts. Your dad’s minivan will never be cooler.
8. Runaway Baby – Bruno Mars
Since you’re metaphorically running from your troubles – and your student loans – for a week, might as well throw in a song title about getting away. Bruno’s extremely upbeat tune boasts a funky main riff, a rip-roarin’ bongo beat, and There is one or two lyrics about objectifying women that any stereotypical frat guy jabroni at PCB would enjoy. Play this when your gang needs a two minute and twenty-eight second pump up.
9. Hitchin’ A Ride – Green Day
The pun-lover and wordsmith in me just couldn’t pass this title up. Old school Green Day with heavy rock chords, on-point percussion, and some cool violin parts that make me almost consider picking one up just to learn those few notes. Anyway, this is the perfect song to use the steering wheel as a makeshift drum set, or to get your body ready for TSA’s invasive, yet tender, inspections.
10. Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Jepsen
Summer 2012’s biggest earworm begins playing in your car. Awkward looks around the car are elicited. A head bob here or there, an occasional mouthed lyric. The chorus hits and the entire car explodes in a testosterone-filled and estrogen-inspired dance as all members of the road trip hit every note in slightly flat synchronization. This continues until everyone is recreating the Harvard baseball team van video set to this song. End scene.
ACT II: OH MY GOD THESE PEOPLE HAVE DIFFERENT ACCENTS
“If I take one more step, it’ll be the farthest away from home I’ve ever been.” – Samwise Gamgee
11. Smile – Lily Allen
At this point in your trip, you’re either flying over or driving through some state far away from your hometown. It may even be the farthest you’ve ever been from home. Either way, there’s probably a lot of corn fields involved. Driving is getting pretty boring after about hour 10, so you throw on Lily Allen’s “Smile.” If you’re rolling with a crew like my friends and I, we’ll immediately perk up, yell “OH SHIT!” in happiness, and start freestyle rapping. This is not a joke. Trust me, the beat on this track is hands down the best to freestyle to.
12. Otis – Jay-Z and Kanye
You’re just on the outskirts of your destination, and you’re about to “roll up with the ceilin’ missin’” as the kids say. At first you hear Otis Redding’s soulfully nestling in your ear, with a phat bass beat and Jay-Z coming out of the gates on the first verse of the song, rapping about how he literally invented swag. Needless to say, your whole entourage and you immediately begin busting out rhymes like you’re rulers of the world. No choruses in this songs, just pure, swag-filled verses.
13. New York, New York – Frank Sinatra
“I’m gonna go ahead and throw on the fasten seatbelt sign, flight attendants, please prepare for descent *insert cheesy joke that middle class Americans will typically laugh at*” exclaims your pilot over the intercom. You descend, pass through the clouds – and there she is. New York City. No single song could encompass the glamour and wonder of the Big Apple better than this classic.
14. Cup Of Sorrow – Amos Lee
Going to Kentucky, Nashville, or Alabama? Amos Lee will get you acclimated to the amount of country music you’ll hear. This ain’t – er, isn’t – redneck garbage you’ll run into; the live music you’ll start hearing is enough to convert even the most stubborn country music hater. Shhh, shhh. Just let Amos’s voice shower over you.
15. Que Onda Guero – Beck
Traveling to Mexico? Beck will immerse you in South-of-the-Border sounds to get you acquainted with the culture. While the sounds present in this track may not be 100 percent accurate of Mexican culture, Beck delivers, per uge (ushe? yug? The abbreviated version of “usual”, ja feel?) to give a saltier taste to this playlist.
16. Who Let The Dogs Out – Baha Men
ARRIVAL. You pop out of your limo, roll out of your shitty cab, or hop off your mule to your destination, and it is ON like Donkey KONG. Bump the epitome of all 2000’s hits and start unpacking. If you’re with a group of families, at this point you best guarantee they’ll be in slightly tasteful Hawaiian t-shirts and sipping on cerveza.
17. Wildfire – John Mayer
Ahhh, the succulent red meat of the vacation: The First Night. Grab a beer, throw your feet up, and let these chill lyrics guide your now hassle-free life as the sun sets over the water, tiki torches ablaze all around you. Dinner will be served on the beach in a half hour.
ACT III: Let’s Get Hyphy
“We’re gonna dance to one song, and one song only.” – Chazz Michael Michaels
18. Long Night (feat. Chance The Rapper) – Hoodie Allen
Ladies, gentlemen, alcoholics of all age, lend me your beers! Time to get down to brass tax and pull out your tacky shot glasses bought at the gift shop. Pregame your hearts out, because that little lady in the lobby or that bodacious bro by the beach is looking to make some poor, poor decisions tonight. Dawning is the high volumes of cheap vodka rushing down your throat. There’s a storm coming, Mr Wayne.
19. Run This Town (feat. Rihanna) – Jay-Z
Okay, okay, so you’re looking fresh, rolling up to the club witchya boys/girls flanking you on either side. You came here for one reason: to become a legend. Even if that means you’re the guy who tore out the grass, proceeded to wear it as a makeshift ghillie suit, yelled “DOWN WITH THE COMMIES” as you’re mid-puke in the sink, where you ended up sleeping. Either way, there’s only one song that will get you confident enough to make those poor decisions; Jay-Z knows what’s up.
20. Bottoms Up – Trey Songz
“OHHHH! THIS IS THAT ONE SONG! I KIND OF KNOW THE NICKI MINAJ PART!” – everyone at the club when this song comes on.
21. POWER – Kanye West
At this point, it’s 2:37 AM, and you’re becoming a deity of Spring Break. You’re quickly approaching Spring Break nirvana. Your name will be etched in the minds of tourists, Spring Breakers, and resort janitors alike. After buying the bar drinks, winning the limbo competition, and swallowing a flaming sword, there’s no one better than you. Who else thinks – nay, knows – they’re the best at something? Kanye flippin’ West.
22. Senorita – Justin Timberlake
Awaking to an absolute blur after an absolutely wild night, you piece together your evening. You’ve gone through multiple stages: innocent Spring Break cherub, dirty little rascal, hurricane status, munchies, and ending with passing out. You walk outside to regain your bearings, until – Oh! But, soft! What light through yonder window breaks! An absolute angel walks by your balcony. JT’s funky main riff and smooth voice glissandos help you to get her to notice you.
23. Light A Roman Candle With Me – fun.
You start talking to the woman/man of your dreams, and suddenly you have a whole day planned out with them. fun. provides the background music with this serene and placid song off their first album. This isn’t just another basic, this person is who you’d like to snuggle with on rainy days in a quaint cabin in the Appalachian Mountains as you make them chocolate chip pancakes. You ask to see them again, until…”Oh, so you’re from Yugoslavia?” Better luck next time.
ACT IV: The Return
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller
24. Sunday Morning – Maroon 5
Since this is a playlist centered around travel, we’ll fast forward past the good, the bad, and the downright untactful of Spring Break. You don’t get a lot of sleep on your last night. In fact, you and the (aforementioned multiple times) crew, stayed up to see the sun rise for your final night. Maroon 5’s first album has plenty of hits, but Sunday Morning is one of THE perfect wake up songs, especially for the last day of Spring Break vacation.
25. If You Only Knew – Jurassic 5
Time to do damage control. Everyone’s laughing, cleaning up the hotel room, and scrambling to find your passports. Another mellow Jurassic 5 song on this playlist, accompanied by some jazz flute is one to gently nurse hangovers and sunburns alike.
26. Fast Car – Tracy Chapman
You’re on your way back from paradise, and the trip is coming full circle. Everyone’s nodding off, but you’ve got Tracy Chapman to keep you company. Beginning the following set of mellow jams, “Fast Car” is one of those songs you rarely skip, especially on a road trip back to your (most likely) snowy hometown. An expertly crafted guitar part from Chapman and lyrics about driving away are what puts it on this list – plus we’ve all figured out how much I love titles related to driving at this point.
27. Easy – Commodores
Lionel Ritchie commands this track with a piano track easing you back into reality as your Spring Break destination is far behind you at this point. If you’re flying, you’ll probably want to catch some Z’s as this lulls you to sleep.
28. Dirty Work – Steely Dan
Another sleepy song dedicated to those who poured one out for the homies and went hard on their vacation. You’ve put in your time, and you’ve definitely done some dirty work. Rest up, soldier.
29. Pop – *NSYNC
You’ve just crossed the border into your home state, when suddenly…DIRTY POP. Boom. Everyone is up and bumping to some good ol’ fashioned NSYNC. If you’re cool enough, you break into a synchronized boy band dance as spirits are high, and the home stretch is in sight. Might as well pick another song that’ll get the car full of people up and singing…
30. A Thousand Miles – Vanessa Carlton
No explanation needed. Don’t act like you don’t know the words.
31. Rocketman – Elton John
Another fantastic song to belt with your bfflaeaeae’s. While no one knows exactly what Sir Elton is saying in some of the choruses, that won’t stop the masses from screaming it from their lungs. This also prompts some philosophical discussion about, like, stars and stuff, ya know?
32. St. Patrick’s Day – John Mayer
At this point, you’re about 10 minutes away from home, and you’re bummin’ heavy. You’re a world away from your Spring Break dream, but hey – at least you have St. Patrick’s Day to look forward to. Along with mentioning the greatest college holiday of them all, you’ve got another soothing John Mayer chord progression, building up into a resonating ending with some high notes you attempt to hit. Did I mention your voice is completely shot from your “WOOOOO!”s throughout the week?
33. Back Down South – Kings of Leon
So your body may be recovering, your skin may be peeling, and your dignity may be questioned. Totally worth it though. Play this one as you’re landing at the airport, or pulling off to your exit. Slow down, roll through your hometown, and watch the sunset in the rear view mirror. You drop off your buddies, and realize what an awesome adventure you’ve just returned from. Wherever you may have gone – a beach, a mountain, a city – you did it with your friends. No need to worry, you’ll be back next year. Next year, during the greatest week of them all – Spring Break.
Playlist and breakdown by Alex Byers