Required Listening: Shamelessly Upbeat Indie Pop

Don’t worry, be happy

Time To Read: 3 mins | December 15, 2016

Managing friend groups is tricky. Famously pale comedian Jim Gaffigan said it best: “You ever mix two groups of friends? That can be stressful. You always feel like you have to prep them. You’re like, ‘These people over here, ya, they don’t think I drink. And don’t be thrown by my British accent.’”

I’m not running any long-term con as clever as that. Pretty sure everyone who’s ever met me knows I drink, and I’m utterly incapable of pulling off any foreign accent – Borat being the notable exception. “Very nice.”

I bring all of this up because, without fail, there’s one topic every single one of my friends, regardless of which walk of life I know them from, endlessly mocks me for: my taste in music.

You may think you love the ‘90s, but I’m going to sing nothing else at karaoke night. ‘Kiss From a Rose’ followed by ‘Semi-Charmed Life’ and, once I’ve got the audience in the palm of my hand, I treat them to a stirring performance of ‘With Arms Wide Open’ by Creed.


At this point, I’m usually asked to leave.

But it’s not all relics. Anything upbeat that you can sing along to, a ‘Mood Booster’ if you will (term stolen from Spotify), earns my stamp of approval. Which I get endless crap for. The joke amongst my friends is, if a pop song includes the lyric oh oh oh anywhere, I’m going to love it. Which, frankly, is absolutely true.

I’m fully aware this is a cheap trick to make a song catchy for half-listening mainstream peasants – “Oh, I don’t have to memorize words?” says your subconscious. “I’m in!”

But whatever. I don’t hate rum because it’s designed to be delicious and intoxicating, so I don’t bash on pop songs. I like a great, complex whiskey with a cool story as much as the next guy, and the same holds true for songs with background and artistry. But if someone wants to blast oh oh ohs and drink Bacardi all night, well, order them up double. I refuse to hate on fun.

So here’s my Oh Oh Ohs playlist. Not all these songs literally include oh oh ohs (the first two intentionally do, however, so you’ll see my point). This is simply a selection of my favorite upbeat happy-go-lucky indie tracks from the past few months.

Highlights for those who won’t blindly listen to an entire playlist submitted by a guy with no music expertise whatsoever: Smallpools has been a favorite band of mine for a while; if you’ve never heard of The Mowglis and buy into the ‘happy tunes’ theme, go straight to their ‘Waiting for the Dawn’ album. Otherwise, best tracks include T-Shirt Weather (for driving to the beach), Take It All Back (for Mumford fans), and Hey Child (so much hand clapping, so much happiness).

OK, words are done; feast your ears:


photo: smallpools. if you investigate just one artist on this playlist, make it these guys.

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Malcolm Freberg
Malcolm Freberg
American writer living permanently on the road. Believes rye whiskey is superior to bourbon, Belle is the best Disney princess, and that selfie sticks should be snapped in half on sight. Hosted a travel documentary for AOL & played Survivor a few times.

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1 Comment

  1. Megan

    Since you like pop, have you tried listening to any Kpop? One of the main reasons I love Kpop is because I can’t sad while I’m listening to it. BTS is a personal favorite of mine. If I were to make any recommendations (which I will), it’d be Fire by BTS or Fantastic Baby by Big Bang (an oldie but a goodie).


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