My taste in music is pretty much exclusively Britney Spears and Madonna deep cuts. Quite frankly, if there isn’t a dance break or hefty use of Auto-Tune, I’m not interested. As such, I’m very temperamental about my exercise jams. I’m still in a space where I’d rather strap cinderblocks to my ankles and plunge to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean than work out—so when I do grace the gym with my presence, I need the perfect jams.
That said, I know most people listen to a hodgepodge of different artists when they work out. That’s why when the folks at Spotify sent me a list of the top 10 songs that users sweat to most often, I wasn’t surprised to see a wild mix. They represent a wide variety of artists, genres—even eras! (Number one is from 2002.) But when my editor asked if I’d be down to work out listening to only these 10 songs during my next gym sesh, I was terrified. How would I get through exercising—which I hate—sans the soundtrack that keeps me sane? (I’m not alone being worried here: a recent LG survey revealed that 9 out of 10 fitness enthusiasts think the right music is vital to a workout. If enthusiasts think that, then without the right music, the treadmill might as well run over me now because I’m done.
But I was up for the challenge. The night before my workout, I created a playlist that consisted exclusively of the 10 songs, in order of popularity, so I could see what it’s like to exercise like a cool gym person.
And I never want to do it again. These 10 songs are fine separately, sure, but they make for one emotionally harrowing playlist altogether. The up-tempo highs! The boring AF lows! This playlist simultaneously made me hate and love working out—my body couldn’t make up its mind! It was frightening (but also kind of wonderful).
Peep the 10 songs—along with my thoughts on working out to them—below. Pro-tip: Cherry-pick from these tunes if you’re looking to refresh your own workout playlist; don’t download them all—unless you want to leave the gym shook.
1. Eminem, “‘Till I Collapse”
My heart started racing the second this song started, which was alarming because I was only ten seconds into my workout. Why was this happening, you ask? I thought Eminem was furious at me! Why was he yelling? What did I do? (I bought a copy of Recovery, boo. Let me live!) Two minutes into this song, though, I started sweating, and Eminem’s screaming sounded very different. He was cheering me on! Eminem was my very own, lemon-haired cheerleader! I suddenly felt very safe knowing he was watching me. I wish this song had come on toward the middle or end of my playlist, though, when I felt like giving up and going to Chipotle.
2. Kanye West, “POWER”
Two manly songs in a row? This is excessive frat-boy nonsense for my taste. Oh my God, am I turning into a frat boy? Will I be shotgunning Natty Lights by the end of this workout? If you’re out there, Madonna, give me a sign! In all seriousness, this was a great treadmill jam: upbeat, but not too extreme or heart attack-inducing. Macho music freaks me out at first, but I can bop to it once the nightmares go away.
3. Drake, “Jumpman”
Drake and Future together should be gold, right? Wrong. This track never truly takes off. As a result, I almost fell asleep on my treadmill hill.
4. The Chainsmokers, “Closer”
Yes, yes, yes! “Closer” was my saving grace during this workout.
5. Calvin Harris, “This Is What You Came For”
Like any Harris song, this was a fun (but forgettable) addition to the playlist. It will be replaced next year with yet another Harris/pop star EDM confection. But it did got me distracted for a bit, because I was chuckling about the drama that transpired thanks to this very basic song.
6. Rihanna, “Work”
Good for gyration, bad for the gym. Save this for your DJ request during happy hours.
7. Sia, “Cheap Thrills”
I turned into Hercules when this song came on, so I guess that’s a good thing.
8. The Weeknd, “Starboy”
I was too hyped from “Cheap Thrills” to properly enjoy this song. It bummed me out. I started freaking out that I was turning into a frat boy again. Not good.
9. Beyoncé, “7/11”
As you may have guessed, I did not need much convincing to put a Beyoncé song on my workout playlist.
10. David Guetta, “Hey Mama”
How this two-year-old song made this playlist is still a problem for me. The Eminem track makes sense; there’s a nostalgic element to it. But this? I spent the end of my workout thinking about the kinds of people who helped catapult “Hey Mama” to the top 10. I finished my workout sweaty—and confused.