"Feels So Good" by Chuck Mangione
Wendell: The man made a damn BANGER on the flugelhorn. It's cheerful and lovely with very inoffensive grooves.
"Sunday Candy" by The Social Experiment & Donnie Trumpet
Nate: There's a lot of unadulterated joy in this song. It makes me think of my grandma--but like Chance says: "Your grandma ain't my grandma."
"We Can Work it Out" by Stevie Wonder
Wendell: The original is phenomenal BUT Stevie takes it to THE NEXT LEVEL. This is a song that makes you want to strut down the street and can't help but give you hope.
"Doo Wa Ditty (Blow That Thing)" by Zapp
Nate: I've got a soft spot in my heart for 80s funk. It laid a foundation for West Coast G-funk, but was waaaaaay more fun and care free. This song reminds me of listening to the old school hour at lunch on my Walkman in elementary school. One of my favorite uses of the vocoder, easily.
"You Make My Dreams" by Hall and Oates
Wendell: The first time I remember hearing this song was during 500 Days of Summer. It starts playing right after Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character finally bangs Zooey Deschanel and I will forever associate this song with celebration. It's VERY triumphant.
"Lovely Day" by Bill Withers
Nate: There are plenty of songs about love, and expressing love, but god, I don't know if anyone has ever sounded so happy to be in love, to fully appreciate the sunrise in spite of a tough day ahead. For Withers, love makes a potentially bad day alright.
"Do You Realize??" by The Flaming Lips
Wendell: This song makes me happy but in a VERY bittersweet way. It's a song ALL about perspective. Do you realize that everyone you know someday will die? Let them know you love them.
"Fire" by Big Sean
Nate: I just feel motivated AF when I hear this song. Big Sean and the production team on this make me feel like I could conquer the world.
"Birdland" by Maynard Ferguson
Wendell: This is also rife with positive associations. Maynard Ferguson is a genius of making high energy, intricately arranged, big band covers of pop songs. In this track he takes care of Weather Report's "Birdland"--itself a mildly goofy jazz fusion standard. Back in high school our marching band played this and the set was FIRE.
"Move On Up" by Curtis Mayfield
Nate: It's those opening horns and the sweeping flutes. But goddamn, that introductory horn riff. Beyond that, Curtis just wants us to chin up, take a risk, and fight for our dreams.
"This Must Be The Place" by Talking Heads
Wendell: "Home is where I want to be" – "Never for Money–Always for Love"
"Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" by Vampire Weekend
Nate: It's an afro-beat song with the preppiest content possible, and it somehow manages not to be ironic. I close my eyes and imagine a pastel-drenched cocktail party that I want to trash, in a good way. Also: I walked down the aisle to this song.
"Come So Far (Got So Far To Go)" from the Hairspray Soundtrack
Wendell: A bonus track from the Hairspray soundtrack and randomly one of the BEST on the whole album. It's encouraging while also having a decent perspective. Things have come real far BUT we also still have a lot of work to do. This is something that resonates with me in these tough times.
"Gone" by Kanye West ft. Consequence & Cam'ron
Nate: Those damn Otis Redding samples always get me. Some of the best verses Kanye has ever spit. Killa Cam dropping fire bars. I feel care-free whenever this comes on. I don't know, I just feel more comfortable in my skin with this one.