The Ultimate Mixtape: 2016 Edition


Hey Music Lovers,

For the past four years, I’ve called on you to share your favorite songs and musicians with me for a reoccurring nerdy gift I always give my mom and sis for Christmas. A mixtape.

Since 2007, I’ve made them a personal playlist of phenomenal women. Every song is a female musician. And the tunes are typically upbeat. It’s the kind of thing you’d play before going out, or pumping yourself up for some hours in the kitchen or cleaning. Songs that make you move.

When a need arrived to add some more mellow songs, as well as male musicians, I created the Cafe’ Mix. The songs you’d listen to while holding a mug of your favorite warm beverage and gazing out the window, or curled up on the couch while reading a book.

It has become a favorite gift of my mother and sister (partially because they are busy women who don’t have time to search for new music and don’t have smartphones yet – my sis does now though). When they get the new Phenomenal Women Mix and Cafe Mix, they play them all year long.

This is where you come in.

I need your help! Tell me your favorite songs! The ones you’ve thumbs up’d, hit replay on, shazam’d, go back to again and again when you hit “a mood”.

Tell me in the comments what your favorite song recommendations are for each album. Last year, you gave me 58 songs to listen to!

To thank you, I’ll draw two random commenters to also receive copies of the cds and post the complete lists in the New Year! 

Thank you all so much for your input. I’ve missed you. Here’s to making the new year…well, phenomenal!


Song Ideas to Get You Started: 

Phenomenal Women Mix

Wolf by First Aid Kit

Knots by Lisa Hannigan

Wild Young Hearts by the Noisettes

Cafe Mix

Fare Thee Well by Marcus Mumford and Oscar Isaac

Heart Beats by Johnnyswim

You and Me by Sara Watkins

27 responses

  1. Welcome back! I’m dying to hear about Rapid City.

    Phenomenal Women:

    “Palmless” – Dana Falconberry
    “Last War” – Haley Bonar
    “Iris” – Broen
    “Dangerous Days” – Zola Jesus
    “Flesh Without Blood” – Grimes

    Cafe Mix:

    “On Hold” – the xx
    “Pieces” – Andrew Belle
    “The John Wayne” – Little Green Cars
    “Onalaska” – Damien Jurado
    “Bring My Baby Back” – Dr. Dog

    1. Hey! Rapid City was awesome. We hit up several craft breweries in Sioux Falls and Rapid City. Lost Cabin was my fave. Fernson was also good. Joe was a fan of Hydra.

      How was your NaNo getaway? Looked sweet!

      Thanks for the tunes! I only recognize the Zola Jesus song. I think I’ve used that one. Now to make some new playlists!

  2. Oh, wait! Forgot the best one of all…

    “Fish” – Wye Oak.

    Love these guys!

  3. Phenom Women –

    I’m a big fan of Postmodern Jukebox, more so after getting a chance to see them live. Sara Niemetz is one of their many singers and this cover of Alessia Cara’s Scars To Your Beautiful is a total fave. Words, delivery, the whole package.

    I’m sure I have many others to share, but there are yelling children and work things I must attend to…

    1. Oooh I look forward to checking that one out!

  4. I will be of absolutely no help to you this year, unfortunately. Unless you are interested in one of the many lovely songs performed by the cartoon mice/dogs/ducks from Disney Junior? No? Eh, your loss.

    1. Hahahaha I bet they’re catchy.

  5. Tons happy to see this post! Let’s get to it.

    Phenomenal women:
    “Song of the Caged Bird,” Lindsay Sterling
    “Voices Carry,” ‘Til Tuesday
    “House of No Regrets,” Katherine Jenkins

    Cafe Mix:
    “Mrs. Robinson,” Simon & Garfunkel
    “Here Comes the Sun,” George Harrison
    “Gone, Gone, Gone,” Phillip Philips

    1. Awesome! Adding these to my list to check out! Thank you, Eli! Some oldies and some new ones. I like the mix!

  6. Hope this is the place to share Jess favorite band tower of power favorite song “you’re still a young man”

    Next one Marvin Gaye “sexual healing” may be too risqué

    1. I would get a big kick out of seeing my mom’s face read the words “sexual healing”. LOL

  7. Not sure I posted correctly favorite band tower of power and song you’re still a young man and so very hard to go actually that’s my very favorite

    Sent from my iPhone


    1. Yep, I got your recommendation! Thanks Kay!

  8. “No Matter Who” – Margaret Glaspy!

    Good luck on the mix tape. 🙂

    1. Sweet! Music videos. Always fun. Thanks Luke!

  9. Wildewoman by Lucius is my anthem

    1. You ARE a wild woman!

  10. FINALLY! Free time available to stop by and offer my suggestions! First, all of the above are delightful – thanks to everyone for introducing me to some new artists!

    OK, now on to the work that brings my soul true joy: music!

    This year I think you’d be remiss if you neglected to include any of the titles from Gaga’s latest release, Joanne. So far my favorite track from the album is “Hey Girl” with Florence Welch, but I also love “Million Reasons” – and this video is awesome 🙂

    As a special tribute to Leonard Cohen, this KD Land version of “Hallelujah” is by far the very best, in my opinion.

    Lastly, I can’t remember if this song by A Fine Frenzy has made any of your previous lists or not, but it’s my new go-to song to play at the Art Walk (where they let me pretend to be a singer/musician once a month)

    As always, thanks for letting me play along, Jess! This is my absolute favorite blog post of the year 🙂

    1. K.D. Lang – not Land. Stupid auto-correct! Also, for the cafe mix, how about Chris Isaac’s “Wicked Game”? A little retro music for the mix is always good for the soul, too 😉

      Ooooo… this acoustic version is a little different (but, admittedly, the studio recorded version is more haunting)

      1. I LOVE THIS.

        Thank you!

    2. Oh yah, tunes from Joanne will appear. My faves are yours too. I have a different KD Lang tune in mind, but her name was recommended by several folks so YES.

      Now to check out the Fine Frenzy song. Thank you Dawn!!!

  11. Oops! Pasted the wrong Gaga video link! Here, I hope, is the correct one:

  12. I love your annual music playlist! I only have a few suggestions, but I’ll make the list below.

    Phenomenal Women:

    ME TOO, Meghan Trainor. I can’t get this sassy song out of my head.

    ROAD LESS TRAVELED, Lauren Alaina. And because I’m so out of the loop, I fell in love with this song and later found out she was on one of those voice talent shows. Who knew!

    Cafe Mix:

    MORNING NOON AND NIGHT, Ryan Shaw. Sounds old school, but he’s a current singer who’s very talented.

    RENEGADES, X Ambassadors. Downloaded this one to write to (goes well with my story), but it’s a great song.

    HOME, Blue October. Such a lovely song.

    For No Good Reason:

    COMO YO, Juan Magan. This probably goes with neither list, but I listened to a Spanish music Pandora playlist while copy editing a manuscript with a Puerto Rican main character and found this song. The translated lyrics are beautiful. And I dare you to listen to it and try not to dance.

    1. I love the message in that Lauren Alaina song! And she’s a new artist to me. Also, that Ryan Shaw song is perfect.

      Since you’re an X Ambassadors fan as well, here’s my favorite music video to “Unsteady”. Part of the Love is love campaign. ❤

  13. Oh wow! This’ll be totally random, but –

    Katy Perry. Especially Dark Horse if I’m writing paranormal stuff.

    If I want to feel nostalgic about Mom, anything by James Taylor, he was her favorite.

    If I want to feel young again, I go back to the 80’s – Cyndi Lauper, my teen-girl obsession, Oingo Boingo.

    To mellow out, The Mamas and the Papa’s – Dream A LIttle Dream

    Told you. Totally random.

  14. Phenomenal Women Mix:
    CHVRCHES – Make Them Gold
    ZZ Ward – Save my life
    MisterWives – Hurricane
    The Gossip – Standing in the way of control
    Susanne Sundfor – Delirious

    Cafe Mix:
    James Vincent McMorrow – Wicked Game
    Banners – Start a Riot or Half Light
    Dry the River – pretty much anything, but let’s go with No Rest because its build is epic
    Benjamin Francis Leftwich – Box of Stones
    Alt J – Taro
    Ry X – Berlin
    Keaton Henson – also pretty much anything, but we’ll go with “Sweetheart, what have you done”

  15. […] you to everyone who shared suggestions and music videos for my search. Several of your recommendations made the final list and I’m excited to share them with you […]

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