Way back in the distant past – ok, not so distant past – I used to listen to a lot of crap.

Let me back up, and define crap. Or perhaps, better yet, let’s look to Jon Del Arroz, and why he mostly listens to bubbly pop music like Taylor Swift:

Something I’ve wanted to post about for a bit in terms of general “successful mindset”, is about music. It’s no secret that I’m quite into bubbly pop music, especially that of the legendary Taylor Swift. I take a bit of flack about it from my fans and readers, most of whom seem to listen to harder rock or heavy metal from what I’ve seen, which is totally fine. But there’s actually a method to the music I listen to, and I’ve made a change, very intentionally, on what music I play on a regular basis.

There’s a lot of studies done about music and how it impacts your moods and mental faculties. I was big into darker, artistic rock like Radiohead, The Smashing Pumpkins and the like in the 90s and early 2000s, and over time, I noticed that I’d find myself in sluggish, unproductive moods far more often than I am today.

It’s because music impacts your mindset.

Yeah, I know, go read the whole thing. Or if you’re thinking this is woo-woo, it’s basic self brain-hacking. Watch any of the clips available on how music changes the tone of a scene in a movie, or any guy talking about what music he chooses to pump himself up for a run or lifting weights.

That said, it’s not just about tone. It’s about content as well.

I've told people this since I was a teenager. It's not just the feel of the music, either. Stop listening to anything with victim lyrics. It'll only make/keep you a victim. Listen to stuff about winning and be a winner. https://t.co/wSbWDapLJU

— Russell Newquist (@rnewquist) January 4, 2018

I was a child of the 80’s, so a fair bit of what I got exposed to was everything from Michael Jackson and early MTV new wave to a lot of college bands like 10000 Maniacs and REM.

Which gets into “lots of crap”

Looking back at my music library, what “survived” – and in this day and age more what I pay attention to than what’s still on my hard drives – is… interesting.

While New Order and Depeche Mode still get some play (along with Peter Murphy), and a few other club bits, not a lot of that gets a lot play these days. Mostly too whiney. The less said about Liz Phair, Meredith Brooks, and the like, the better. Most of the country is just gone, except the older stuff like Marty Robbins. While the sheer energy of “Teen Spirit” and some early Pearl Jam is infectious, again, downers. Cake can be upbeat but they don’t get anywhere near the attention and time that Ministry, Nine Inch Nails Pretty Hate Machine, and oh, god, yes, Sisters of Mercy do. Or Tom Waits, or Leonard Cohen.

Sad songs, introspective songs, angry songs, they all have their place. But I think Russel is even more on point than Jon – it’s not about “happy” songs, but avoiding loser songs, even if they are hits. Songs full of drive and energy, or overcoming the odds. Not being a victim.

You can laugh all at you want at “Eye of the Tiger” or “Final Countdown” – they’re fucking epic.

The following is far, far from comprehensive, but gives a good overview of what I listen to and why.

English Beat – Some pretty dark songs but their first album Just Can’t Stop It has some good covers, is danceable as hell, and the song “Mirror in the Bathroom” is a good reflection on the nature of narcissism, and self absorption.

Cruxshadows – there are some whiney pedastalizing songs, but take a listen to “Winterborn”, “Citadel”, “Return (Coming Home)”, “Eye of the Storm”, “Immortal”, “Sophia”, or “Quicksilver” and tell me these are not about standing up against the odds, standing up for right and truth, for those you love, or seizing control of your life.

Warren Zevon –  Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner, and Werewolves of London, and Lawyers, Guns, and Money, are three of the most darkly humorous, and damn funniest songs I know. Veracruz is sad, bust still a tale of a dad telling his son to get himself, his wife, and their child to safety.

Sabaton – Oh, yes, metal. Not the most technically sophisticated and some of their riffs get recycled into other songs, but there is power and grandeur to their sound. More importantly, their themes. An entire album about the Swedish Ruler Adolph Gustav who damn near took over Europe during the 30 years war. Constant themes are heroism and courage – their two most recent albums Heroes and The Last Stand being prime examples, covering among other things Thermopylae, Shiroyama,  the stand of the swiss guard at the vatican, and several songs of the heroism of the poles. It’s hard to pick a favorite, especially on The Last Stand, but “Resist and Bite” from *Hero *is likely my favorite.

Dragonforce – Bombastic and over the top and technically complex, epic gonzo fantasy is a common theme, and perseverance through come what may to find freedom and glory. “Through the Fire and the Flames” has long been a favorite.

**Nightwish **– Symphonic metal with crunch, these guys (and some similar bands like Within Temptation) get a fair bit of play. I tend to prefer the post-Tarja albums as they cover a broader range. “Last Ride of the Day” is one of my favorites. On the flip side, I’ve gotten really tired of the band Evanescence – to the point of just wanting to say “just fucking jump already” when seeing that one video. Here’s “My Walden”

Volbeat – I haven’t listened to their earlier stuff but the mix of metal, rock, and sheer energy of Seal the Deal and let’s Boogie is infectious. That said, some of their earlier stuff is absolutely dark in content, and even that last album is going to bother people with an aversion to satanic/magick references and themes – which is a reason it doesn’t get as much play as it otherwise would. Here’s “Let it Burn”

JD McPherson – Some damn good 50’s/blues rooted rock. Tight musicianship.

Leo Moracchioli – What can I say – this guy obviously loves doing metal covers, and has an ear and talent for, more often than not, making something that works despite the differences in genre.

And I’ve always been a sucker for Toto:

Manowar – gotta thank the Didact for reminding me of these guys.

2 Cellos – yeah. I know, they’re a gimmick. But they’re good.

Their cover/mashup of Iron Maiden’s “Trooper” with the William Tell Overture isn’t bad either.

Movie Soundtracks – I’m pretty particular. While I’ma huge fan of Hanz Zimmer’s work, when it comes to pure listening you’ll find me queuing up the Klaus Bedelt soundtrack to the first *Pirates of the *Caribbean rather than the later Zimmer ones. Or the Daft Punk TRON soundtrack, or score to Pacific Rim, or Battle LA.

Powerwolf – OK, a band that, thematically, keeps me from playing them much, but damn does Werewolves of Armenia go with a heavy workout.

E Nomine – bloody Germans.

Rush (and Selenium Forest) – and prog rock in general. Some stuff before Moving Pictures, especially 2112, but Show of Hands is probably my favorite and while I haven’t listened to the albums after Roll the Bones much, everything from Power Windows to Roll the Bones gets lots of play.

I’m also a fan of prog rock in general. Dream Theater, Yes (mostly 90125), more than a fair bit of ELP, and then this piece:

Five Finger Death Punch

Love War is the Answer, and a bunch of their other songs. My intro was their cover of “Bad Company” (and the only version I like)

21 Pilots – Not sure what I make of them. Not the most happy band, but not a guy who’s given up either. The musicianship is top notch.

Disturbed – another band that on the surface appears dark, and yet, to me at least, isn’t.

I’d recently gotten hooked on Jonathan Young’s metal covers of Anime themes courtesy of a friend. His take on theme of Attack on Titan is excellent despite not liking the show. I especially like his take on the themes for My Hero Academia and One Punch Man:

Not my playlist, but, the following has got some good stuff: