How to Beat the Winter Blahs: Music Edition

Cold, hard fact: It’s pretty tough escaping these über-gloomy February vibes. But we humans have a special way of keeping spirits a-soaring in spite of it all, don’t we? (Our personal go-tos include watching adorable bear videos, scarfing Funfetti® cupcakes and double wrapping ourselves in merino wool, if you were wondering.)

Curious to know our buddies’ secrets to keeping things peachy, we asked some of our favorite DJs, foodies, decorators, editors and designers how they beat the winter blahs. Today’s feel-good fix? The sound of music.

(P.S. Keep a lookout—we’ve got cure-alls comin’ atcha all week long.)

DJ TENNESSEE THOMAS (NYC)

Drummer and DJ Tennessee never drops a beat with this romping and rallying mix of old-school tunes.


1. The Choir – “It’s Cold Outside”
“This has been one of my DJ staples lately. Oddly, it’s so good it distracts you from the fact that it is cold outside.”


2. The Kinks – “Dancing in the Street (cover)”
“I’ve been trying to transition out of my ’60s teenybopper phase and into the stranger part of the era. This kooky cover does it for me.”


3. The Crystals – “He’s a Rebel”
“Listen to this right around the 14th—supergood Valentine’s vibes.”


4. Lesley Gore – “You Don’t Own Me”
“Gotta have a humanist song in there!”


5. Curtis Mayfield – “Move on Up”
“Seminal soul jam to keep your feet moving in the winter.”

DJs BROWN AMY & CARNITA (S.F.)
NorCal DJ duo/Hard French residents BROWN AMY & CARNITA serve up an extra-spicy and soulful mix to melt your cold, cold heart.


1. Little Richard – “Rip It Up”
“If this up-tempo dancer doesn’t get you out on a Saturday night, we don’t know what will!”


2. Alvin Cash & The Crawlers – “The Penguin (Tuxedo Bird)”
“In the heart of winter, we all feel like penguins sometimes, but this smooth-as-silk Chicago soul track reminds us that just because we’re living in a deep freeze doesn’t mean we can’t live it up.”


3. Rose Mitchell – “Baby Please Don’t Go”
“This song was first recorded in 1935 by Joe Williams, then rerecorded by Ms. Rose Mitchell in 1953. (We think she takes the cake.)”


4. Etta James – “Fire”
“The late, great Etta James is sure to heat up your winter night. With this funky, soulful cut from 1967, the only thing hotter than the horns and bass are the sizzling vocals by the matriarch of R&B.”


5. Mabel King – “Go Back Home Young Fella”
“This early ’60s soul stomper gets us every time—and it only gets better the more you listen to it. Ugh—this song is pure perfection!”


6. Irma Thomas – “Wish Someone Would Care”
“Sometimes the best way to get through tough times is to hear that others have been there, done that and survived—which is why we always go to this heart-wrenching ballad from 1964 by the Soul Queen of New Orleans.”

DJ NELLEKE (NYC)

Photo: Gunnar Larson

Extra-rad New York DJ (and “My Madewell” alum) Nelleke lays it on thick with the perfect blend of soul, electro and rock ‘n’ roll.


1. Edwyn Collins – “A Girl Like You”
“I actually had always thought this was an Iggy Pop song—doesn’t that say it all?”


2. The Stranglers – “Golden Brown”
“I think this is one of the most beautiful songs ever. It can’t help but touch you—you’ll see.”


3. Faith Evans – “Love Like This”
“I grew up in the country and if I angled the antenna on my boom box just right, I could get a gravelly bit of a dance radio station from the city. Every time I hear this song, it reminds me of the superscratchy version I captured on cassette.”


4. Gang Gang Dance – “Mindkilla”
“This song makes me want to party because it reminds me so much of summer. Gang Gang Dance rules—especially live on a boat!”


5. Eric B. & Rakim – “Don’t Sweat the Technique”
“This crucial hip-hop track reminds me to stay focused and confident—to try to be even better. Sometimes you gotta be tough to get through!”


6. Funky Nassau – “Beginning of the End”
“So these guys are amazing. They’re from the Bahamas, but this song is very New York City to me.”


7. The Rolling Stones – “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”
“This is just one of my favorite songs ever and always will be.”