Playlist: Spring Cleaning

Playlist: Spring Cleaning

· music · playlists
A motivational playlist to help you tackle your spring cleaning to-do list. Features Mitski, Nirvana, Outkast, Phoebe Bridgers, Sturgill Simpson and more.

Grab your earbuds or power up your Bluetooth speaker and tackle your spring cleaning to-do list with a playlist that’ll make you look forward to housework.

Take out the trash, clean the oven, water the houseplants, run the vacuum cleaner, plant a garden, finally acknowledge the pile of dirty laundry growing in the corner of your bedroom—whatever you have to do to get ready for spring, you deserve an epic soundtrack.

Get motivated to finish your chores and handle that yardwork you’ve been putting off with our ultimate spring cleaning playlist.

Sudan Archives — “Home Maker

What do a messy room and an undefined relationship have in common? If you’re anything like Sudan Archives, aka singer-songwriter-violinist Brittany Parks, then the answer is probably the anxiety they induce.

“Home Maker,” the intro track off of her 2022 album Natural Brown Prom Queen, captures said restlessness as Parks spins a yarn about building a home for yourself and for the people in your life who deserve it. “When the place a mess, I get the maddest / I'm so sorry, baby, it's a habit / When you go away, I get the saddest,” she sings with an urgent, alluring cadence.

The track sets the tone for Natural Brown Prom Queen’s frenzied and defiant declaration of self-worth, which has garnered Parks much-deserved praise and a second-place spot on Pitchfork’s Best Albums of 2022 (right behind Beyonce, no less). Let this song serve as inspiration for getting it together—and feeling hot in the process—this spring.

Liz Phair — “Never Said

If your messy room looks like a dingy house show venue from the 90s, then this one’s for you. “Never Said” is the breakout track from Liz Phair’s seminal 1993 record Exile in Guyville that showcases the rebellious alt-rocker at the height of her powers.

With a power-pop-esque hook delivered with Phair’s rebellious sneer, the song encapsulates the sound of that particular era in rock when Nirvana turned the industry on its head and the sound of the underground broke to the surface. Today, Phair’s music (both Guyville and her at-the-time controversial pop star era) is rightfully regarded as the blueprint for modern rock music, with artists like Snail Mail, Courtney Barnett and even Olivia Rodrigo citing her as an influence.

HAIM — “The Wire

Incoming “feel old yet?” alert: In honor of the HAIM sisters’ debut album Days Are Gone turning 10 this year, we’re throwing it back to the track that first put the trio on the map.

With a bouncy beat and hooks right out of the ‘70s FM rock playbook, “The Wire” still sounds as fun and fresh as it did back in 2013. While HAIM’s current output is more ambitious and exploratory than ever, this track shows that their knack for quick and punchy tunes was there from the beginning. It’s difficult not to be in a good mood by the time the guitar solo rips through the outro, making this song ideal for helping chores fly by.

Chic — “I Want Your Love

If there are some artists out there that can actually communicate with the Muses, then Chic had a direct line to Dionysus, the God of partying and, well, “Good Times.”

As one of the most recognized and beloved disco acts of all time, Chic have more than enough hits to keep a party going until the break of dawn. But for those who still want to groove while multitasking and avoid going into full “dance break” mode, we recommend this deep cut from 1978’s C’est Chic.

This track has all the hallmarks of a classic Chic song, from the infectious vocal hook to Nile Rodgers’ iconic funk guitar, but with an ever-so-slightly slower tempo and more mellow groove than their other staples. It’s an ideal balance for focusing on the task at hand, but with a little bit of pep in your step.

Benny Blanco feat. BTS and Snoop Dogg — “Bad Decisions

Of course, if you do need a quick dance break, then try out the most unexpected song collab of last year.

Longtime Benny Blanco fans know that he always has impressive features on his songs, but he may have outdone himself by recruiting K-Pop kings of the world BTS and the Godfather (Doggfather?) of G-Funk on this no-filler pop jam. BTS’ locked-in harmonies balance perfectly with Snoop’s easygoing delivery as they’re all tied together with Blanco’s crystal-clear production.

You might want to make bad decisions after listening to this song, a messy room won’t be one of them.

Harry Styles — “Music for a Sushi Restaurant

Harry Styles may have made this track specifically for sushi restaurants, but these days, “Music for a Sushi Restaurant” seems to be a song for anywhere with speakers: Restaurants, dance clubs, malls, airports, Madison Square Garden … the list goes on.

Arguably, the reason behind the track’s world domination isn’t it’s catchiness. In his mission to give sushi establishments everywhere good vibes in the form of celebratory horns and sleek harmonies, Styles may have created the perfect background song: A non-distracting earworm that helps you feel great as you go about your day. So whether you’re folding sheets or rolling sushi rice, this track is a fantastic accompaniment.

Bad Bunny feat. Rosalía — “LA NOCHE DE ANOCHE

You might remember back in 2020, as all of us were stuck in our increasingly decrepit bedrooms, Bad Bunny casually dropped an album of dance-club-certified bangers less than a year after his last album. If that wasn’t enough of a gift, he brought fellow Latinx megastar Rosalía on board for this sultry slow jam.

Backed by a quintessential reggaeton beat, the pair trade verses about a night that was destined to be a one-time occurrence, despite their mutual desire for something more. This track broke up the monotony of quarantine, so hopefully it’ll carry you through your to-do list today.

Wheatus — “Teenage Dirtbag

It feels fitting that this 23-year-old song about being young and messy soundtracks became a recent TikTok trend where people of all ages show off their peak awkward years. From early-aughts slackers to hot-mess zoomers, the Teenage Dirtbag transcends generations—in large part thanks to singer Brendan B. Brown’s relatable lyrics about the Darwinist world of high school and unrequited young love.

Conversely, the sound of “Teenage Dirtbag” is pure 2000s rock nostalgia, from the quiet-loud-quiet song structure to the inexplicable record scratches. If you were a teen from this era, use this song as an excuse to dust off the iPod and clean your room like your mom’s about to yell at you.

Third Eye Blind — “Never Let You Go

What better way to get into a cleaning mood than with a song that sounds like a cleaning/makeover montage from a 2000s teen comedy. Bay Area rockers Third Eye Blind racked up numerous hits with their 1997 self-titled debut, and this track from their 1999 follow-up Blue refined their mix of grungy guitars and classic pop melodies.

Singer Stephan Jenkins famously has a penchant for veiling darker lyrics behind the band’s upbeat instrumentation, and in this case, “Never Let You Go” is a bubbly pop song about holding onto a relationship that should’ve sailed its course a long time ago. This tonal push-pull is a defining factor of TYB’s edgy pop rock that remains influential to this day.

Steve Lacy — “Dark Red

Have you ever tried using GarageBand on an iPhone? Most people probably don’t get past poking the little drum kit for a few minutes—Steve Lacy, meanwhile, used his phone to record songs for Kendrick Lamar and track this 2017 single (his first iPhone is now at the Smithsonian in case you were wondering).

While this track only recently went viral thanks to TikTok, “Dark Red” is an early precursor to what would become the Gen Z bedroom pop sound: wavy guitars, muffled drum loops and confessional lyrics hidden only behind a catchy melody. We can’t speak to the state of Lacy’s bedroom when he wrote this song, but decluttering your home can be a great way to support a creative headspace and get the ideas flowing. In other words, those piles of books on your desk could be the only thing between you and a GRAMMY … might as well tidy up!

Mac Miller — “Self Care

Whether you’re reading this in the winter, spring, summer or fall, clearing out junk and letting yourself reset is a great form of self-care for any time of the year. Take it from the late, great Mac Miller and his ode to working on yourself from 2018’s modern classic Swimming.

With his characteristically laid back flow, Miller acknowledges the public battles with his demons at the time, shakes off the rubbernecking tabloids and commits to turning things around. “Self care, I'm treatin' me right / Hell yeah, we gonna be alright,” he croons with rapper JID hyping him up in the background.

Even after Mac Miller’s tragic passing shortly following Swimming’s release, his message of being kind to yourself and finding ways to keep moving forward remain true for his millions of fans.

Outkast — “So Fresh, So Clean”

It’s never too late to go platinum. In 2020, the RIAA awarded Outkast another platinum record recognizing the 2001 single “So Fresh, So Clean” for over 1 million units sold.

The third single from Stankonia finds the dynamic Dirty South duo of André 3000 and Big Boi increasing the tempo and leaning heavily into the afrofuturistic sounds of cosmic 1970s funk, ‘80s roller jams and ‘90s underground rave culture to issue the defining statement in Y2K era hip-hop.

The Beatles — “Fixing a Hole”

Paul McCartney swerves between major and minor key signatures like a seasoned F1 pro on “Fixing a Hole,” a psychedelic harpsichord-driven number from the 1967 classic Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

The key signature stops on a dime on phrases like “when the rain gets in,” shifting from major to minor and back—a signature Beatleism heard on songs like “I Me Mine,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and “Penny Lane.”

In the “official” 1997 biography Many Years From Now, McCartney says that the song’s pothole analogy is a personal reminder to allow his mind to wander—and remain open to new ideas along the way.

The Rolling Stones — “Paint It Black”

Mick Jagger has a great interior design tip (for goths, anyway) on the Rolling Stones’ classic ode to impulsive redecorating, “Paint It Black” from their 1966 album, Aftermath.

It’s hard to believe given the song’s prominence on tour setlists and best-of compilations, but the initial response to “Paint It Black” was muted, with many critics drawing an unfavorable comparison between the main sitar riff and George Harrison’s use of the instrument on The Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood.”

As it turns out, there’s plenty of room for everyone in the world of droning, psychedelic minor-key sitar rock. Legions of rockers latched onto the brooding atmosphere of “Paint it Black.” It’s hard to imagine the Velvet Underground, the Black Angels, Spacemen 3 or the Brian Jonestown Massacre creating their spaced-out psych jams without the ‘Stones paving the way.

Phoebe Bridgers — “Garden Song”

Phoebe Bridgers digs up another hit on “Garden Song,” the leadoff single from her sophomore album Punisher (2020). Buzzing lo-fi electronics and gentle acoustic guitars lay the groundwork for an imaginative indie-folk ballad overgrown with Bridgers’ trademark lyrical wit.

In an interview with Stereogum, Bridgers said, “[Garden Song] is… about how — at the risk of being corny — manifesting things the more you think about stuff…It's a love song, for sure, but it’s also about myself — my own growth.”

Miranda Lambert — “It All Comes Out In the Wash”

Life’s a spin cycle in Miranda Lambert’s “It All Comes Out In the Wash,” the Grammy-nominated lead single announcing the arrival of the Nashville megastar’s 2019 album, Wildcard.

Lambert cites her mom and grandmother for providing the inspiration for this fun country tune about life’s sticky situations that proudly displays the singer-songwriter’s dirty laundry—stains and everything. (“Don’t sweat it / a Tide Stick’ll get it,” she says).

The song’s production is squeaky clean, but it sounds like somebody missed a spot during the guitar solo—the glitchy effect at the 1:11 mark is a cool EDM influence that gives new meaning to the phrase “pickin’ and grinnin’.” And the psychedelic delays on the word “spin” sound otherworldly on headphones without ever leaving the comfort of the Nashville sound.

Mitski — “Washing Machine Heart”

Mitski asks a lover to wash their dirty shoes inside a stomping electro-pop banger that’s all synth and strings on “Washing Machine Heart,” a deep cut from her 2018 album Be the Cowboy.

Emotions come pouring out through Mitski’s evocative lyrics, delivered in a single vocal track without double tracking, harmonies or backing vocals—an intentional production choice meant to better capture the artist’s vision of vulnerability.

In a statement, Mitski said the songs on Be the Cowboy are inspired by “the image of someone alone on a stage, singing solo with a single spotlight trained on them in an otherwise dark room.”

To achieve what she calls “that campy 'person singing alone on stage' atmosphere,” Mitski and producer Patrick Hyland dispensed with typical indie-pop vocal production styles in favor of dry, up-front and intimate vocal sounds that wring every last drop of emotion from the lyrics.

Nirvana — “Love Buzz”

When it comes to choosing cover songs, Nirvana’s record is spotless. The iconic grunge trio announced their arrival in November 1988 with a 7” single containing a fuzzed-out interpretation of “Love Buzz,” originally by Dutch psych rockers The Shocking Blue.

Sub Pop promoted the debut Nirvana single as “heavy pop sludge” instead of grunge, calling attention to the trio’s knack for building memorable tunes out of unforgettable melodies backed by mighty lumberjack fuzz riffs.

On the cover version, Kurt Cobain’s erratic guitar feedback howls in place a droning psychedelic sitar as drummer Chad Channing and bassist Krist Novoselic slam the hammer on a minor key riff until it’s dust.

Sturgill Simpson — “You Can Have the Crown”

He finally figured out what rhymes with “Bronco.” After getting into (and out of) his record deal, Sturgill Simpson went to work on a pair of Kentucky-fried bluegrass albums titled, appropriately enough, Cuttin’ Grass.

And on this traditional 2020 rework of the twangy, outlaw-flavored fan favorite from his 2013 debut High Top Mountain, “You Can Have the Crown,” Simpson answers his own question (and completes the rhyme), with an inspirational quote from Mongo, the gentle jailhouse philosopher in Mel Brooks’ screwball western movie Blazing Saddles.

Steely Dan — “Dirty Work”

Even without Tony Soprano’s guest vocal (Season 3 of The Sopranos, anyone?) Steely Dan’s 1972 hit “Dirty Work” remains a golden nugget of AM pop perfection.

Initially, co-writers Walter Becker and Donald Fagen wanted to omit the song from their debut album, Can’t Buy a Thrill, but a bit of arm-twisting from executives at ABC Records convinced the yacht rock maestros to add this smooth Hammond organ-led cut to the tracklist.

The rhythm track’s easygoing electric piano and acoustic guitar betray the song’s cynical lyric about an affair going off the rails. It wasn’t meant to last, as Steely Dan retired the song after vocalist David Palmer’s departure in 1973.

In 2001, the Dan punched the clock once again, putting “Dirty Work” back in their live show after an HBO drama about a certain New Jersey mobster introduced the tune to a new primetime audience.

Pulp — “Dishes”

Jarvis Cocker is the man who does the dishes. On “Dishes,” the Pulp songwriter and longtime BBC Radio personality acknowledges that it isn’t always easy to pick yourself up off the couch and tackle today’s to-do list, but tomorrow’s another day.

The second track on This is Hardcore, Pulp’s eagerly anticipated follow-up to the quadruple-platinum Different Class, turns away from the Britpop formula that propelled Cocker and co. to the top of the charts in favor of soulful balladry and deep grooves.

In his review for Spin magazine, High Fidelity author Nick Hornby praised the growth of Cocker’s songwriting prowess, calling out his ability to write “[melodies] that make you melt.”

“Pulp make it clear they have outgrown Britpop” writes Hornby. “[They] belong right up there with Ray Davies and [Elvis] Costello…[looking] at England with a satirist’s eye and a balladeer’s heart.”

The Stooges — “Dirt”

Iggy Pop doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty. The “godfather of punk” bellows, howls and croons his way across a filthy psychedelic backdrop on “Dirt,” a gritty yet delightfully hypnotic garage-psych epic from the Stooges sophomore album, Fun House.

Like a dish with a spot you just can’t scrub clean, guitarist Ron Asheton serves up an endless supply of stereo lead guitar that floats side-to-side across the soundfield, making for a trippy and immersive listen in earbuds.

The Stooges’ strain of trance-inducing psychedelic rock as heard on “Dirt” wasn’t exactly an overnight success. UK magazine Melody Maker called the album “rubbish” upon its release in 1970, but Fun House has since cleaned up its act and come into its own as a proto-punk classic.

In 2020, Rolling Stone ranked Fun House 91st in their updated list of the greatest albums of all time.

Turn it up. Clear it out.

Check out the rest of our Spring Cleaning Playlist for mood-boosting music — so it feels less like work and more like you’re in a movie montage. Getting it. All. Done.

And your custom-fit earbuds won’t fall out — so go as hard as you want.

Hear and feel the difference

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