For our February 2018 playlist, we asked contributor Hera Lindsay Bird to curate a selection of music for us. You can read about her approach to creating the playlist below. Click here to open the playlist in your Spotify app.

I have to be honest and say upfront that music is obviously better than poetry, and nothing gives me the shits more than people trying to combine the two. I can’t think of anything worse than a poetry reading with some light jazz in the background, and it always seems to be jazz—nobody’s ever reciting Mary Oliver over happy hardcore. But whenever the world of poetry seems overly archaic and stuffy, I like to take a music break and try to reimagine what a poetry version of the Righteous Brothers might sound like. 

I have called this playlist “Try Hard,” because not only am I one of the hardest try-ers in the try-state area, but I’m inevitably drawn to music which is the same: fearless, camp, eccentric, and attention seeking. All these songs, in their own way, make me laugh and feel energized; like I could effortlessly soar backward through time and deliver Byron a flying kick to the face.

What was that thing Emily Dickinson said about God wanting to crack her skull open? Well I bet she would have liked Tom Jones too.

Most of these songs are very famous and everyone already knows them, but I don’t care. I could have made you an atmospheric playlist of Scandinavian tree-felling music, but sometimes the best things in life are obvious. And if you’re already bored of Aretha Franklin, then what’s wrong with you?  

The only thing I was devastated that Spotify didn’t have is The Lynda Barry Experience, which is one of the all-time funniest albums I have ever heard. It’s an audio memoir with short vignettes from her life interspersed with various insane answerphone messages and I strongly encourage everyone to go and find it! The story titled “Naked Ladies” is particularly incredible. 

Spotify also doesn’t have "I Don’t Ever Want to See You Again" by the Fruit Pastilles, which is just as well because watching the video is compulsory. My friend John Douglas introduced me to this, and it’s so GOOD it makes me want to DIE just so I can make them play it on a loop at my funeral. Please watch it, for your own health. 

I hope you enjoy this playlist, and just a reminder that if you skip the Law & Order theme song, Mike Post’s attorneys have the legal right to send you straight to jail.

Originally Published: February 2nd, 2018

Hera Lindsay Bird’s collection Hera Lindsay Bird was published by Penguin in 2017. Pamper Me to Hell & Back is forthcoming from the Poetry Society.