This Is What YouTube Has Decided I Listen To

This morning I went to hop in the shower and, as usual when I’m getting ready for a shower, I decided to put on some tunes. Now, I don’t hold with them “Pandoras” or “Spotifys” or any some such where you put in a genre and it gives you a random playlist. I don’t want to discover interesting new music! I want to listen to the same stuff I’ve been listening to for years and never, ever let my tastes grow or change. So, naturally, I went to YouTube so that I could find a song that sounded good to listen to at the time and then trust autoplay to string together a few more tracks that I dig.

The handy thing is, YouTube has created a tool for people like me. When I opened up the page, there was a bespoke playlist situated right up top: ‘My Mix.’ I don’t know how long this has been a thing; usually I just toss on the Gundam Unicorn soundtrack or something and call it good, without paying a lot of attention to the playlists it auto-generates. But this morning I thought, you know what? Sure. What’ve you got for me, YouTube?

The answer was a weird enough peek into my listening habits that I figured I’d pick through the top five tracks on ‘My Mix.’ So, without further ado, here are the first five songs that YouTube picked for me–and I’ve gotta say, it did a pretty good job.

Take Over (Battle Theme) – Persona 5 Royal Soundtrack

It makes sense that this was the first song on the list–I’ve been listening it to a lot lately. The jazzy, upbeat tune is perfect accompaniment to pretty much anything. I put it on when I’m modeling, when I’m planning D&D sessions, whatever. The lyrics are a bit odd and clunky, but they tell the story of Persona 5‘s Phantom Thieves, describing one of the game’s heists from the player’s perspective. It’s one of the best combat themes… ever, to be honest. It’s got a powerful beat, infectious instrumentation, and a vocalist whose voice brims with confidence and swagger. I never get tired of hearing it.

The Winner – Miki Matsubara

This is the first opening theme to Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory, a show that boldly asks the question: “What if Top Gun was about giant robots instead of planes?” Stardust Memory is basically every rad-as-hell late ’80s/early ’90s trope crammed into one show, and it’s got the best opening scene of any Gundam series, bar none. There’s a brief cold open of the Battle of A Baoa Qu (the finale of Mobile Suit Gundam) and then we cut to some Federation pilots in a mock battle, swearing gratuitously because anime is cool and grown up now, and this song is blaring in the background. Actually, in the English dub, it’s not quite this song–it’s an English version of it called “Paradise,” which is arguably even better because it has lyrics like “Gotta fly like the wind! Gotta scream like a wounded eagle!” Lyrics aside, though, what truly sets this song apart is that sick sax work. Legendary.

Party Rangers – Neil Cicierega

There is–no joke–not a single song on God’s green Earth that pumps me up like this one. I grew up in the ’90s, so I have an intense fondness for the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers and their theme song (which absolutely shreds, no matter when you were born). I do not have similar feelings toward “Party in the USA,” but when you mix it with the pure musical gold of Power Rangers, it becomes impossible to resist. I mean, just listen! It shouldn’t work, but it does. It’s the auditory equivalent of a Reuben sandwich. I don’t like sauerkraut; I don’t like Swiss cheese; I don’t like rye bread; I don’t even particularly care for thousand island dressing. But when you mix all that up with some delicious corned beef? Suddenly you’ve got a sandwich fit for a king. Why? How? Science can’t explain; religion offers no answer. It merely is, and we should all just be happy to live in a world capable of such wonders.

At Least It Was Here – The 88

This is where the playlist makes the sudden swerve from “let’s absolutely rock out” to “let’s be kind of sad.” A friend recently recommended Community to me and it has quickly become a favorite for my wife and I; the theme song is, on the surface, a fun, pop-y tune, but–much like the show itself–there’s a dark side just beneath the surface. The full version makes it much more explicit than the snippet that intros each episode; if you listen, it’s not hard to figure out that it’s about someone contemplating suicide. On the upside, the song is ultimately about moving past those thoughts and accepting the good with the bad, so while it might not be as saccharine as the catchy music suggests, it’s still a fairly happy track.

The Last Goodbye – Billy Boyd

Oof. This is a very pretty song, but it opens by talking about the singer’s dead friends being buried by the snow. Okay, it picks up a bit from there, but come on–a song called “The Last Goodbye” was never going to be anything other than bittersweet. I didn’t care for the Hobbit films, but I do love The Lord of the Rings, and the lyrics–sung beautifully by everyone’s favorite non-Samwise-Hobbit–paint a lovely picture of that world and fell very much within the spirit of Tolkien’s work. Overall, it’s a great track, but I’d had my druthers I don’t think I’d have put it so close to a banger like “Party Rangers.” Nice try, though, YouTube.

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