Playlist: Polaris Prize Short List

Today’s playlist brings together my work life and run training in celebration of tonight’s Polaris Prize Gala.

Polaris Prize Playlist

By day, I work in arts funding for the Canadian music industry. People always ask if that means I hear lots of new music and know what’s hip. Ehhhh, not really. I have been introduced to many great artists, but most of my days are spent in spreadsheets and databases, and my early mornings are spent running, so you won’t usually find me out at a show that starts at 10pm.

That’s why the Polaris Prize is helpful for people like me – it’s a great tool for music discovery.  The prize is awarded annually based on the artistic merit of an album made by a Canadian artist, without regard to genre or commercial popularity. If you want a primer on some of the best recent Canadian music, the long list will provide.

I’m pretty happy with the short list, and decided to spend some time with the albums by making a run playlist with songs from those ten albums.

Some notes on the playlist:

  • Andy Shauf made a great record, but it’s not my first pick for getting pumped up for a run. I selected his songs with the highest tempo (still so slow) and used them to bookend the playlist for a bit of warm up and cool down.
  • Albums that ARE great to run to, pretty much start to finish: Kaytranada’s 99.9%, Jessy Lanza’s Oh No, and Grimes’ Art Angels.
  • I love U.S. Girls’ album Half Free, and it is brilliant and heav-y. I tried to create a little jokey dialogue between songs: “Woman’s Work” with  CRJ’s “Boy Problems” (this sequence makes me LOL), and PUP’s “DVP” with “Damn That Valley.” Not my first time making that joke:

Damn That Valley


Oh, and my prediction for tonight? I think it’s prime time for Grimes. In my opinion, there are no duds on Art Angels, and I respect her scope as an artist. She plays with a lot of genres on the album and pulls them off well. As for the album I loved the most in my heart of hearts? It’s gotta be Carly Rae Jepsen. I’m really excited to see her perform at the gala tonight!

Happy running!

Playlist: Pure Pop Jock Jams

I’m a huge fan of soundtracking my sweaty endeavours. I’ll periodically share some of my playlists in hopes of adding some pep to your steps, spins, and lifts. Want some specific recommendations? The request line is open in the comments section!


The first request comes from Jenna out in Dawson City, Yukon*. Hi Jenna! Jenna wanted some pure pop running tunes – excellent!

A note on methodology: for running playlists, I like to keep it upbeat, and as much as possible, I like to match song beats per minute (BPM) to my pace. Pop is a bit of a challenge because a lot of songs fall around 128 BPM, which puts you at a 7:30/km pace. If you’re trying to go faster than that, you might try ignoring the beat (…and focus on poetic lyrics, like “I keep on hoping we’ll eat cake by the ocean“). This playlist is ordered in increasing BPM.

Taylor Swift isn’t on Spotify, but I can heartily recommend “Bad Blood” and “Shake It Off.”

And finally, a warning: pop running playlists are a gateway to Pitbull.



*A brief aside: I lived in Dawson City for a couple years. Physical activity is a real challenge when the majority of the year is spent in cold darkness. When I lived there, I occasionally made it to a tiny community gym with treadmills looking out onto the mighty Yukon River, or lane swim at the pool. Dawson was also the place where I started to like running outside, because I finally had some interesting scenery! At the time, running was a somewhat uncommon activity in Dawson. I remember running up Princess Street one evening, and having someone on the sidewalk gawk at me, then yell, “You’re really going for it there, eh?!” Ummm, yes? The running community in Dawson seems to be booming right now, with lots of races for all ages. Going back to the Yukon and doing a race is on my bucket list!