The Ultimate Running Playlist


It’s that time of year again, when the grey dampness of winter in Victoria gives way to the marginally less grey dampness of spring. More importantly for our purposes, it’s the time of year when we actually get enough sunlight to keep our vitamin D levels functional. That means that we start having the energy to make good on some of our New Year’s Resolutions, like that one about starting to eat right and work out more.

What better way to get in the mood for some physical activity than with some tunes to get your blood pumping. Nothing motivates you to get out and go for a run quite like having some sick beats for your feet to keep time with. With that in mind, here are some suggestions from us at Her Campus at UVic for songs you might want to add to your running playlist.


Black Skinhead” – Kanye West

I don’t think it’s controversial to say that the best thing to come out of the Academy Award-winning film Suicide Squad was the decision to set “Black Skinhead” to an action scene. Say what you want about Kanye West personally, but the man is a musical genius. The use of aggressive breathing, primal screams, and that bass drum make this one of the best pump-up jams there is.


Dance, Dance” – Fall Out Boy

On the subject of assholes who just so happen to be musical geniuses: Fall Out Boy. Well, maybe genius is a bit strong. But if there is one thing they excel at other than feuding with every other emo band there is, it’s making fast and emotional songs with catchy beats and incoherent lyrics. And that honestly kind of works in their favour, since you don’t need to understand what Patrick Stump is saying for those words to resonate and make you want to move.


There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back” – Shawn Mendes

Shawn Mendes is a bit of an awkward topic. With his debut tracks featuring some laughably bad rhymes, frustratingly effective ear worms, and the “nice guy” anthem, it was really easy to go into 2017 ready to hate anything he put out. And yet, “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back” works so damn well. It feels like an earnest love song, like instead of being hung up on the girl from “Treat You Better,” he’s now in a new relationship with someone equally into him who makes him feel like he can do anything. And this song makes you feel that way, too.



Want You” – Rynx (feat. Miranda Glory)

Like Mendes, producer Rynx is a fairly new name in the music scene. “Want You” was only uploaded to YouTube in December 2017, and you can hear the influence of recent music trends coalesce in this track. Between the bass and the increasing desperation in the vocals by Miranda Glory, this song creates a sense of urgency that fills you up. It could be the perfect thing to get you moving. If this is something you enjoy, be sure to also check out Jane XO, PLS&TY and Pluto X YE.


Koto” – CloZee

CloZee is in the same neighbourhood as Rynx in terms of style, while still being another beast entirely. Based out of Toulouse, France, CloZee is a traditional and electronic musician who incorporates sounds from all over the world. You may also recognize her name from the indie film Amplify Her, which highlights her and several other female electronic artists. Whether or not you knew her name before, you definitely should. Her beats have a depth and texture that is really rare, and “Koto” is a perfect example of this. It doesn’t matter if you call it oriental trap or samurai glitch-hop: this track is one that’s easy to get lost in while you run.


Soulstorm” – Unleash the Archers

If, however, you are not a fan of electronic music, then maybe some battle metal will be more your speed. That is the subgenre that Unleash the Archer’s lead singer Brittney Slayes assigned to them. “Soulstorm” is easily the poppiest track the Vancouver-based band has ever released, but it also has all of the power and fury of their longer songs condensed into half the length. The lyrics are about being so overcharged with energy that electricity arcs off of you, and the intensity makes it feel like that is exactly true. If you like the sound of this, then definitely look into the band’s other albums.


The Greatest” – Sia

If you love the theatricality of Unleash the Archers but aren’t such a fan of metal, this Sia track might be for you. “The Greatest” stands out even amongst an album of excellent songs. It’s a defiant cry in the face of adversity. With a career spanning three decades, Australian-born singer-songwriter Sia shows the depth of her vocal experience here in a pop music scene increasingly dominated by EDM. She may be running out of breath, but she’s still got stamina and she is not backing down, and neither should you.



Mama” – Jonas Blue (feat. William Singe)

Maybe you don’t need lyrics that apply quite so directly to your situation, though. “Mama” by Jonas Blue could be right up your alley. The lyrics mention relationship problems, but they try to focus more on the good times right now. While we don’t get any explicit details about the relationship, the intensity of the music and repetition of wanting to live in the moment implies that there is a lot more going on here. Maybe this isn’t destined to last, but you may as well enjoy the ride while you can.


La Bicicleta” – Carlos Vives, Shakira

Not every workout track needs to be about conflict, though. “La Bicicleta” by Carlos Vives and Shakira just sounds fun. It’s a happy song, one about not dwelling on the pains of the past and enjoying where you are now. That won’t help motivate you to improve yourself, but sometimes when you’re running, you don’t want think about what’s ahead. Sometimes, you want to legitimately enjoy yourself in the moment and just get into the flow of things. “La Bicicleta” is perfect for that.


Caramelo Duro” – Miguel (feat. Kali Uchis)

“Caramelo Duro,” roughly translated as “hard candy,” is in the same vein as “La Bicicleta” in terms of tone. It differs, however, in that it is explicitly about sex. In between name-dropping types of candy as a thinly-veiled euphemism, this track oozes sensuality. A lot of that is due to the beat, which in typical Latin-American fashion is perfect for moving your hips rhythmically. While this song might leave you craving one of the sweets that it mentions, it will be as a reward after a little bit of physical activity, whether that is actually going for a run or something a little more horizontal.


Crazy” – 4Minute

If you like the idea of music from a foreign artist but are looking for something a little harder, this Korean pop band might be worth a look. “Crazy” has all the intensity and flow you could want from Western hip-hop, but it is set apart by the execution. K-Pop artists consistently demonstrate a level of devotion and skil to their performance that is rare in the West, and if some of these acts are ever able to break into the American pop scene, you can be damn sure they will take it over completely. Unfortunately, 4Minute won’t be among them, as the group broke up in 2016. The music they made lives on, though.



Finesse” (Remix) – Bruno Mars (feat. Cardi B)

Speaking of the American pop charts, we are almost certainly obligated to mention their king. With six Grammy wins in 2018 alone, we probably don’t need to tell you about genre-chameleon Bruno Mars. His past few albums served as “best of” tributes to musical styles from the past fifty years, and “Finesse” is no different. The song is a love letter to new jack swing, a subgenre of R&B that gained immense popularity in the early ’90s before virtually disappearing. The resulting track is a high-energy bop that perfectly emulates a style known for being precisely that.


Peace Sign” – Nathan Sharp

Another genre famous for its high energy is J-Rock, though if you were born in North America, you will most likely have only been exposed to it through anime openings. Action-oriented series like My Hero Academia show the best of this genre. “Peace Sign,” and this translated cover by Nathan Sharp, especially stands out as a perfect fit for a workout playlist for its focus on overcoming challenges and proving wrong anyone who has ever laughed at you by being the hero that you always wanted to be. Other shows with similarly excellent opening songs are Noragami, Sword Art Online, Blue Exorcist, and Fullmetal Alchemist.


“Lone Digger” – Caravan Palace

Another example of music from an artist outside of North America, “Lone Digger” is one of the most bumpin’ tracks Caravan Palace has ever recorded. The Paris-based electro swing band has listed European artists ranging from jazz guitar legend Django Reinhardt to masked electronic duo Daft Punk as influences. And it’s easy to see those influences in their discography, though this particular track airs much more on the side of the latter artist. The only reason this might be a bad fit for your running playlist is that it makes you want to dance instead of jog.


Bleed it Out” – Linkin Park

It would be just plain wrong not to include Linkin Park on a list of workout tracks. Few North American bands are better known for their rage and intensity than them, so if you are looking for something to make you push past your limits, then look no further. “Bleed it Out” stands out especially for Mike Shinoda’s verses, which perfectly balance the rough intensity of the late Chester Bennington’s signature vocals. The two contrasting styles meet in the middle to make for a song that will get you ready for anything, from training for a marathon, to training for a prize fight.