Taylor Swift at her 2015 sold-out show at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Photo: Robb D. Cohen /RobbsPhotos.com

Need a musical pickup? Here are some anthemic songs to help you shake it off

I opened my monthly planner last weekend for the first time since I returned from New York and the Allman Brothers Band 50th anniversary concert on March 11.

I’ve deliberately avoided it, tossed on the floor of my home office and taunting me daily, because I didn’t want to swallow the reality of crossing out show after show, week after week, month after month.

And when I finally did bend its spiraled pages back to look at some summer dates for my husband and me to potentially visit Las Vegas – I know, dream on, as Steven Tyler would say – the expected melancholy walloped me as I thumbed through. March concerts, gone. April concerts, gone. May concerts, gone. June concerts, exasperated shrug.

The calendar was quickly returned to its new home on the carpet. I can keep track of my interview calls and Zoom meetings on the scribble-covered notepad on my desk for a bit longer.

But while live music is paused for fill-in-your-best-guess-of-a-timeframe, a surfeit of recorded material is coronavirus-resistant.

And we all need music right now.

Toward the end of March, Kaedy Kiely on The River (97.1 FM) found a way to exceed the usual DJ creed of being entertaining and informative and bring her listeners some comfort and escape.

So she started “Kaedy’s 6:00 Sing-along,” a daily feature at the top of the last hour of her drive-time shift (check it out here). 

The River’s classic-hits format means hearing familiar anthems from Styx (“Come Sail Away”), Kiss (“Rock and Roll All Nite”), Joan Jett (“I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll”) and Tom Petty (“Free Fallin’”), among other enduring artists. (Full disclosure, I chat with Kiely every Wednesday at 4:50 p.m. for our “River Rock Report,” and we host the weekly entertainment podcast, “2 Girls Talking.”)

Tom Petty, shown at Philips Arena on April 27, 2017, is an artist highlighted during “Kaedy’s 6:00 Sing-along” on The River 97.1 FM. Photo: Melissa Ruggieri/Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Kiely said the “sing-along” idea was sparked by a listener who suggested that she play Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” every day at the same time as an optimistic projection of life post-quarantine.

“I thought, I can pick specific songs that are our rock ‘n’ roll anthems with the idea that we’re singing along to them together to hopefully bring a positive, fun and joyous spirit of community,” Kiely said.

In addition to Kiely’s 6 p.m. allowance to “forget about life for a while,” as Billy Joel would say, I’ve had many moments of wanting to sing, shout or air drum along to something that popped up on my MP3 player while jogging or in the car during a brief foray to Trader Joe’s.

And you know what? For all of the downheartedness coloring the world right now, hearing a serrated guitar riff or a locomotive drum beat or even just a sweetly melodic chorus can be enough to boost your endorphins – even if it’s just for a few minutes.

Here are some of my current feel-better (or just unleash the aggravation) favorites.

An energetic Lionel Richie captivated and entertained a sold out Infinite Energy Center crowd on Sunday night, August 13, 2017. Photo: Robb Cohen Photography & Video /RobbsPhotos.com

Lionel Richie, “All Night Long (All Night)” (also recommended - Jason Mraz’s version from his 2009, “Beautiful Mess: Live on Earth” album) – Well my friends, the time has come to remember this timeless groove from the wizard of R&B-pop.

U2, “Vertigo” – “Turn it up loud, captain,” Bono implores as the Edge’s guitar slices through the speakers. And we happily comply.

Duran Duran, “Careless Memories” – The urgent bass from John Taylor coupled with Simon LeBon’s snarling lyrical delivery is a license to unload your frustrations.

Tom Petty, “American Girl” – There isn’t a worthwhile pool hall in the country that doesn’t include this jangle-rock thumper.

Taylor Swift, “Shake it Off” – Well, yeah.

Janelle Monae performing at Atlanta's One MusicFest. Photo: Akili-Casundria Ramsess/Special to the AJC)

Janelle Monae featuring Big Boi, “Tightrope” – On her debut single, Monae somehow balanced delicate and fierce while bopping above a slinky bassline and syncopated beat. And don’t forget that “classy brass.”

Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, “Empire State of Mind” – Though I grew up in South Florida (aka the sixth borough), my family is rooted in Brooklyn. So when New York hurts, I ache. And then I want to celebrate its sublime existence.

Motley Crue, “Girls, Girls, Girls” – I mean, if you’re going to choose which rock anthem about strip clubs to shout out the car window, it might as well be the one that includes a nod to Atlanta.

Bill Withers, “Lovely Day” – Pure aural sunshine.

Queen, “You’re My Best Friend” – The spongy electric piano and multi-part vocal and guitar harmonies are blissful enough, but it’s the conviction of Freddie Mercury’s vocals that turn the song otherworldly.

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About the Author

Melissa Ruggieri
Melissa Ruggieri
Atlanta Journal-Constitution staff writer Melissa Ruggieri covers music and entertainment news for the AJC. She remembers when MTV was awesome.