WHAT’S ONYOUR WORK (OUT PLAYLIST?
Ihave 21,000 songs on my phone. But only a select few (around 50) make it on to my workout playlists. That’s less than a quarter of one per cent. And all of them are songs that I only listen to at the gym. These songs have no place in the rest of my life, but when it’s time to sweat, they’re on high rotation. I’ve since asked friends what’s on their workout playlists and every single one listed songs that they weren’t particularly attached to and only listened to as an exercise aid. Some of it was almost objectively bad music, but great when you needed to run up a hill. So why is it that the music we work out to is different to the other music we listen to? Perhaps we want our-workout-selves to be something we’re not. The regular human self craves ease, comfort, shortcuts and pleasure. If you want evidence of that, I offer the enduring popularity of fast food, couches, remote controls and infomercials for products to make our lives easier. Ironically, it’s those very things, when combined, that see us needing to go to the gym in the frst place. The moment humans became intelligent, they gained the capacity for laziness. ‘Why do I spend my life hunting and gathering?’ asked our newly sentient ancestors. ‘I’m going to spend a few millennia working towards drive-through burgers.’ It began with some hard work like learning to farm and inventing the internal combustion engine. But eventually, we had the ability to remain in our cars while collecting enough calories to keep our ancestors hunting on the plains for a week. And so for our own survival (and in the hope of looking as much like the models on the cover of ftness magazines as possible) we fnd ourselves at the gym. Here, ease, comfort, shortcuts and pleasure are the exact opposite of what we need. Here, we need hard work, discomfort, diffculty and pain. And to achieve that we have to shed our lazy selves and become super-motivated, hyper-capable, unstoppable achievement machines – for an hour, three times a week. And that’s where the workout playlist comes in. If we choose the right music, we can trick our minds into some kind of transcendent state where as long as we’re listening, we’re the person we need to be to get the job done. It may not necessarily be the soundtrack of the person we wish we were, but is defnitely the soundtrack we think will get us there. These are the songs that caterpillars would listen to in the cocoon as they fre up, activate their cores and transform into a freaking butterfly. This got me wondering. To which songs do the people we aspire to listen when they work out? The beautiful people? The strong people? The people on the covers of magazines? What do the super-hot, superfamous have on their playlists? Apparently, it’s Beyoncé. A staggering number of beautiful, famous people who have shared their playlists listen to the overachieving American songstress. Overwhelmingly, her music is the sound of aspiration. It is the sound of whom people wish themselves to be. Which leads us to the most crucial question of all: what does Beyoncé listen to when she works out? I went looking and fnally found a magazine promising the ‘EXCLUSIVE: Beyoncé Workout Playlist’. The very idea of this staggered me. Who else could she possibly want to be? What possible transformation is she hoping for? What magical music is it that motivates Beyoncé to aspire to be someone better than Beyoncé? An actual recording of a Pegasus playing a harp? I was shocked, and not shocked, to fnd that every song on the list was by Beyoncé. I then looked a little closer and realised I’d been had by a typo and an erroneous colon. It was in fact just an ‘EXCLUSIVELY Beyoncé Workout Playlist’. I made a mental note never to be fooled again by an erroneous colon and accepted I would probably never know what the most worked-out-to person works out to. Still, in a related article I read that in Beyoncé and Jay-z’s home, she has a climate-controlled digital library of every image and video ever made of herself anywhere in the world. If that is true, then one could well assume that Beyoncé aspires only to be Beyoncé. And presumably the playlist would be her music. n
“WHAT SONGS DO THE PEOPLE WE ASPIRE TO BE LISTEN TO WHEN THEY WORK OUT? THE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE? THE STRONG PEOPLE?”