Why Vampire Weekend Should Be On Your Running Playlist

First, Vampire Weekend is not, I repeat NOT, a goth band, nor are they vampires. Let’s get that out of the way first. You could politely call them alternative, but I call them brilliant. And fun. But not the band “fun..” That band is very different and have a name that’s hard to put into quotes. Now that I’ve thoroughly confused you, let’s get some background.

For my very first half marathon in 2011, I had a frightening discovery about 10 minutes before the start: I hadn’t synced my ipod correctly the night before, and I didn’t have any of my running playlists! OH THE HUMANITY!  On the iPod were limited music selections (most of the memory was taken up by my husband’s audiobooks), but I did find Vampire Weekend. So, I listened to their first two albums on repeat all the way through the race, all 2 hours and 25 minutes of it. It got me over the finish line looking like this:

marathon training music vampire weekend

That was me in 2011 at the Cap City Half in Columbus, OH. Once again, racing with my eyes closed. The Richard Nixon hands, however, were fully planned. It turns out most, if not all, of Vampire Weekend’s songs make most excellent running music.

How would you describe their sound? It’s hard to pin down. I’d say like Paul Simon’s Graceland album, if Paul Simon were punkier, spunkier, and used more synth. Past and present music geeks will find African and ska percussion rhythms, surf-rock guitars, and string quartets to their liking. The inventive rhymes get the golf clap from me; the lead singer/songwriter was an English Lit major. I mean, if you can rhyme horchata with balaclava then you are just the bee’s knees in my book. Also, punking out a harpsicord like they do will beam rainbows of sound into your blessed eardrums.

So, here are my top 5 Vampire Weekend songs that you must put on your running mix. Think of this post as a virtual annotated mix-tape. You can sample the songs by clicking on the Spotify link (the visual is the album cover) that took me 4 hours to figure out how to embed into this blog. Not that I’m bitter about it or anything.


I place this song beginning of most of my race playlists. I love being surrounded by throngs of eager and hopeful runners while this galloping song plays. Running metaphor alert!
It’s all about escaping (with a rich girlfriend, natch) to a better place.

Favorite lyrics: “So lead my feet away / Cause all they do is stay”


I have no idea what this song is about. But at about 176 beats per minute of breathless, crisp, energetic awesomeness, who cares? And the bass line, good god, THE BASS LINE. Stick this in the middle of your playlist for a pick-me-up when you’re dragging.

Favorite lyrics: “Interesting colors I discovered myself / If your art life is gritty you’ll be toasting my health”


This bouncy little ditty is about taking the M79 bus across Manhattan to visit the NYC Culture Center. Besides be a little ode to that trip, the intricate dueling strings in this piece are insane. It makes me want to pick up the viola lessons that I abandoned in 9th grade.

Favorite lyrics: “No excuse to be so callous / Dress yourself in bleeding madras”


This ska-tinged melodic fun-time song is another good one to put in the middle. Also, mentioning a font in your lyrics ups the geek-love factor ten fold.

Favorite lyrics: “She’d never seen the word bombs blown up to 96 point Futura”


From the newest album, it’s Elvis meets auto-tune, but I promise you it’s in a very non-Katy Perry way. Dying young…this is a very, very rock-n-roll song. Use this toward the end of a race, an “in the clutch” song if you will, and it will get you over the finish line. Turn this one UP.

Favorite lyrics: “Nobody knows what the future holds / It’s bad enough just getting old / Live my life in self-defense / You know I love the past cuz I hate suspense”

Vampire Weekend should be on your playlist because just about all of their songs have an infectous, curious, joyous undercurrent to them – even on the heavier themes. We should all try to run with joy in our hearts, and these songs can help. They make me feel young and fearless and help me forget I’m not young and fearless anymore. If these 5 songs don’t convince to you give them a try, then I just don’t know what I’ll do with you.

So Run with your Cousins and take the M79 to go on Holiday, just avoid Diane Young, okay? (see what I did there? BOOM.) No really, go enjoy – nothing like a fresh song on the ole’ iPod to get you out the door for a run. Do it. Now. Gorightnow. Go.

Five Songs To Rally With

I’m constantly adding to and taking away from my Running Mix. Right now, I have about 4 hours of songs just on that mix alone. I previously wrote about how listening to a certain Tom Petty song helped to give me my first runner’s high, and I started thinking about how crucial a good running mix is to a long run, a race, or just a bad week. The right songs can really turn things around – everyone needs a good rally.

So turn those hats around, as I just picked out my favorite Five Songs To Rally With. These are songs that will lift your heart, and your heartbeat.

Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey  Journey’s Greatest Hits was the 2nd CD I ever bought. (Yes, I did own vinyl, too!) I love that David Chase used it for the final scene in The Sopranos. If ever there was a “Go get ’em” song, this is it.

Amongst the Wave – Pearl Jam Running brought me to a place in my life where I am indeed, riding high amongst the waves. As a word nerd, I also love that my favorite grunge band used the word “amongst” in the title of a song.

Dog Days Are Over – Florence + The Machine Whoa, this gal can sing. Run fast for your mother/run fast for you father/run for our children/for you sisters and your brothers…” This song is my main ringtone on my phone.

Second Chance – Peter Bjorn & John  I just love this gem. You can’t count on the second chance/The second change can never be found/You can’t count on the second try/The second try will never come round. I plan on sticking this song in my mix wherever I think that I might hit that “wall” during a race, so that hopefully I can remind myself that I might not get a second chance to run it. Themes: Live life in the present, and MORE COWBELL.

Born Again – Cory Chisel & The Wandering Sons Sometimes I hit FF just to hit this song. Running as reinvention. Reinventing your priorities, your body, your self. With this song, I am reminded that happiness is my own doing, and that we can all be “born again”.

You can stream all of these songs on playlist.com, by clicking on this link, so that you can hear these gems for yourself.

Help me add to my list. What running songs make your heart soar and make you put your rally cap on?