Ben Durham

My top 10 “thumbs up” playlist tracks – September 2019 Edition

Ben's jumping headphone alley shot

My listening habits

My song-listening habits change throughout the year and years. Since I started a “normal desk job” (Digital Content Specialist), there’s been a Google Play Music (GPM) tab open on my browser for 90% of my time sitting or standing at my desk.

The 10% is when there’s important narrative edits or sound design that I’m working on. Most of the time when I’m video editing or doing motion graphics though, I have music on in the background.

My playlist genres are ALL OVER THE PLACE

Because my big, long “thumbs up” playlist is spontaneously created by me one song at a time, right when I hear a new one, it’s ALL OVER THE PLACE. That means that it’s a grab bag of interesting difference genres, tempos, and styles… which means you should check ’em out! You might not otherwise discover or hear or them!

September’s influence

This month, I’ve been influenced by Michael (my cubicle neighbour) and his audible Friday playlist of both pop and “oldies”. And then there’s the other influence: my brain. I swear every other day I can be found humming a different tune which is remembered and selected randomly by Ben’s Brain Crew, working hard to keep me running (or biking?).

Now, without further ado, I present to you:

Ben’s top 10 “thumbs up” playlist tracks

1. Old Time Rock & Roll by Bob Seger

YouTube Music link here.

“Old Time Rock and Roll” is a song written by George Jackson and Thomas E. Jones III, and recorded by Bob Seger for his 1978 album Stranger in Town. [Wikipedia]

Ben’s take: You guessed it, this a Micheal song that I just re-heard a few days ago! I love the fun vibe to it – it just makes you wanna air-guitar right along with Bob!

2. The Crusade by Tek.Lun

YouTube Music link here.

About: I couldn’t find a Wikipedia entry on TEK.LUN because they’re just sooooo underground. That means I’m cool right? No, it just means GPM is good at recommending random songs to me… ugh. Doing these “About” sections is a lot of effort for something I wanted to write on my lunch break! Maybe I’ll just include my thoughts on each song instead of copying and pasting from Wikipedia. YOU CAN DO THAT if you really want to!

Ben’s take: I like the chillllllll vibe from this one. Downtempo and no vocals is perfect for getting in the zone while doing motion graphics.

3. Hands of Time by Groove Armada

YouTube Music link here.

Ben’s take: Oh mannnn. I discovered this one on a “downtempo” auto playlist on GPM and it’s just soooo relaxing! The subtle guitar/bass in the background gets me going. No, I don’t know much about band composition and I botched those instruments/roles, SORRY! Anyway, this track has been replayed at least 20 times in the last two days. What IS that sound at 3:10 anyway? SO COOL. I’ll whip this one out at my next hosted event as some awesome background music to keep the good times rolling.

4. Kiss from a Rose by Seal

YouTube Music link here.

About: it’s a CLASSIC. If you haven’t heard it, you live under a rock, I tell ya!

Ben’s take: honestly, just great. I’ve heard it so many times now that it’s great background music, even though it has maaaany vocals.

5. Gone by Charli XCX

YouTube Music link here.

Ben’s take: Carli asked for synth in her next track. SYNTHS. ALL OF THEM. That and autotune. I stumbled upon this song in a “new releases” playlist and I can’t say I’m a fan of the rest of the album. This one works though! Has power to it and brings energy back after listening to the more mellow tracks.

6. Don’t You (Forget About Me) by Simple Minds

YouTube Music link here.

Ben’s take: ANOTHER CLASSIC! Not only is this a song recommendation, it’s a movie recommendation. The Breakfast Club is an excellent movie that everyone should watch. Just as with most movies, the premise would be vastly different now that cell phones exist. JUST IMAGINE THEY HAD THEIR PHONES TAKEN AWAY, OKAY?

7. These Are The Words by James Blunt

YouTube Music link here.

Ben’s take: THAT OPENING THOUGH! Such a good start! And then James starts singing and BAM – the story begins! I think that’s my favourite thing about this song: it tells a story. Gives me the feels.

8. Oh, What A Life by American Authors

YouTube Music link here.

Ben’s take: I’ve never heard of this artist either, but I love this track because -yet again- it tells a great story. <3 And we laughed, and we cried, and we thought, oh, what a life!

9. Loud Pipes by Ratatat

YouTube Music link here.

Ben’s take: While the songs above have stories coming through vocals, Ratatat are masters of instrumental storytelling. No matter what track you listen to of theirs, you get their feels from the sounds alone.

10. Power by Bastille

YouTube Music link here.

Ben’s take: actually one of my “ify” songs that I’m not sure belongs here. I love the beginning and the instrumentals, but the message/story doesn’t really resonate with me. It’s adequate as background music.

11. The World Would Run Better by KONGOS

YouTube Music link here.

Ben’s take: The instrumentals are really cool… and the vocals compliment it well. Has a light vibe to it. It’s also good background music.

12. Jailbreak by AWOLNATION

YouTube Music link here.

Ben’s take: Ohhhh yeahhhhhhh – I love this and need to figure out what that electric sound is because I LOVE IT. GPM is hemorrhaging money just because I play to this song waaaaay too many times since discovering it two weeks ago.

13. The Way It Was by The Killers

YouTube Music link here.

Ben’s take: about a month ago, I had a two-week spree of The Killers. I was obssessed with their sound. I hadn’t listened to them in probably about 4 years. In that time, they’d put out this new album with is GOLDEN. I got SUCH A SURPRISE TREAT with an entirely new-to-me album to listen to over and over. The whole album is fantastic. <3 you guys

14. Moving Rooms by Oberst & Buchner

YouTube Music link here.

Ben’s take: aaaand back to the obscure tracks by lesser-known artists. I’ve played this track nearly as much as The Way It Was above… because it’s great ambient music to edit to. I’d say it has a dark, menacing vibe to it, with a touch of badass. I mean if I was listening to this walking in downtown Toronto with noise-cancelling headphones on, I’d feel like I was in a movie. It’s heavy and deep with no vocals to speak of (or… not speak of lol?).


My taste this month is definitely leaning towards deep vibes and deep storytelling – no matter if with just instrumentals or with vocals.

This was fun. Maybe I’ll do it again sometime. Or not. We’ll see. This did -after all- take exactly ONE HOUR to write during my lunch break… while eating. ALL FOR YOU. So, we’ll see how much I don’t like seeing sunlight! Winter’s coming though so… hmm…

Just kidding, I made use of golden hour when I got home and took a sick pic for this post! Thanks to Ankit for agreeing to be dragged into this and directing!

Ben's jumping headphone alley shot

See you in another article!

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Ben Durham

Professional storyteller

Just an average person on a bike who’s focused on getting more people out of their cars and on to bicycles or electric last-mile micro-mobility solutions!

That, and rooting for active transportation infrastructure upgrades in North America (we need to catch up)!

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