Mixtape Monday: Up Yours, Monday

Mixtape Monday: Up Yours, Monday

Rockstar (1)
Not having an office job really changes your perspective on Mondays.

For instance, I no longer wake up with a pit in my stomach dreading the day ahead of me. I don’t worry about wolfing down a bowl of granola (or, let’s be honest here, waiting until I drop my daughter off at school and then buying and Egg McMuffin) or packing a lunch that will end up sitting in the fridge at work because I decided I wanted broccoli cheese soup from the sandwich place

I don’t worry about my hair or makeup any more. I do end up looking like the witch from the Bugs Bunny cartoons, but its a trade-off I’m willing to live with.


It’s pretty great. I won’t lie. You should all consider early retirement

There are still things I need to do, though. Things like putting together a blog post and corresponding playlist because I thought “Mixtape Mondays” sounded cute and didn’t think about the fact I was actually committing to writing a blog post EVERY SINGLE MONDAY.

Then there are the domestic chores – mopping floors, making bread, washing the laundry and hanging it out to dry. It’s a regular goddamn Little House on the Prairie around here.

And just like my office days, I rely on music to get me through. Because mopping the floors to “Welcome to the Jungle” is a lot more fun than mopping the floors in silence, and we can all use a little more Dolly Parton in our lives.

So, roll up your sleeves, pop in your ear buds, and let’s get to work!

  1. 9 to 5 – Dolly Parton

  2. Welcome to the Jungle – Guns N Roses

  3. Stronger – Kanye West and Daft Punk

  4. Mutha’uckers – Flight of the Conchords

  5. You Make My Dreams – Daryl Hall and John Oates

  6. Power of Love – Huey Lewis and the News

  7. Manic Monday – The Bangles

  8. Walking on Sunshine – Katrina and the Waves

  9. Story of My Life – Social Distortion

  10. Dig Me Out – Sleater-Kinney

  11. Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Jepsen

  12. You’re the Best – Joe “Bean” Esposito

  13. Groove is the Heart – Deee-Lite

  14. Short Skirt/Long Jacket – Cake

  15. Mo Money Mo Problems – Notorious B.I.G.

  16. Let’s Go Crazy – Prince

Listen here on SpotifyAnd don’t forget to check the Mixtapes & Cupcakes Facebook Page on Wednesdays for the next week’s topic!

*Special thanks to readers (and long-time friends) Heather and Sarah for playing along this week!

Mixtape Monday: Prom Night

Mixtape Monday: Prom Night

After going back over some old posts, I realized I wasn’t really living up to the “mixtape” part of “Mixtapes and Cupcakes.” I haven’t really met the “cupcake” requirement, either now that I think of it. In fact, I really only have one cupcake recipe I use on a regular basis. Maybe I should have put more thought into the name of my blog.

Anywho … in an effort to start living up to my name, I’m introducing a regular feature called “Mixtape Mondays” because Mondays stink and music makes it better. Also, it’s the only day of the week that fits well with the word “mixtape.”

Every week I will pick a new topic and ask my faithful readers to help me out. This is primarily to keep me from only picking songs from the 90s where it appears my mixtape making abilities got left behind…along with actual mixtapes.

If you want to play along you can follow me on Facebook.

This week’s topic is prom. I don’t really have a good reason for picking it. I just heard an ad on the radio for a “Prom Rewind Party” at our local casino and thought, “Hey, people really like prom.”

I’m not sure why this is. My own proms weren’t that magical. We didn’t have to fight city hall to hold the dance. I didn’t make my own dress. I wasn’t the victim of a cruel bet to make me into prom queen.

My proms were pretty average. We had both the dinner and dance in our high school gymnasium and after it was over we all went to the commons for “After Prom” where we got pizza and karaoke. I think that’s how it was for a lot of people.

So, why do we love prom so much? I guess it’s the Pretty In Pink effect. We all want to live in a John Hughes movie. Or maybe that’s just me.

I thought I should get to the bottom of it and see if anyone else out there had a prom song or memory that wasn’t directly tied to the movie version of prom. I asked the question “What songs make you think of prom?”

Here’s some of the answers:

Our song was “I will remember you” by Sarah McLachlan. I hated it so much. We were way too young to be that nostalgic. At the time, I worked at Sam Goody with the guy who DJ’d our prom, so I’m pretty sure I got some Afghan Whigs played, though I don’t remember what song. I thought I was so cool with my indie rock and my connex with the DJ.
– Nicole

When I think proms for some reason I always think of the movie and soundtrack of Pretty in Pink…I think I watched it way too many times when I was younger. Prom Story – Junior Prom I got the flu at the prom and had to leave shortly after the dance started. Made it home and was able to change out my dress before I started throwing up.
– Sarah

The Romantics “What I Like About You” and Van Halen’s “Oh, Pretty Woman”. For some reason I remember my junior prom in 1982 better than my senior prom. And no, alcohol was not the reason! Just better songs!
– Tony

Stevie B “Because I love you.” Incidentally, it is also the one-song soundtrack to my lonely solo shuffling at Skatetown. Those were some brutal, friend-zone, times.
– Jenn

Kenny G “Forever in Love” was our theme for senior prom at RS. My first official date with Jeff (now husband).
­- Jenny

The theme for my junior prom in 1984 was “Puttin’ on the Ritz.” The version that was played at prom was by Taco, a 1980s one hit wonder. I just learned by visiting Wikipedia that it was actually a cover of a song written in the 1920s by none other than Irving Berlin. The more you know!
– Mary

Pour Some Sugar on Me, Hurts So Good. I don’t really remember slow songs due to the fact that I was dateless, lol.

Of course “Shout” (little bit softer now), with the whole Blues Brothers dance. And any song from Romy and Michelle. (Which works well for prom and reunion mixed tapes). No stories, but I did hit a cat on the way to my junior prom. I still feel bad about that one.

“This Is The Time” by Billy Joel. Other prom themes during my high school years when I didn’t actually go to the prom include “Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton and “With or Without You” by U2 (that last one is a still a headscratcher).

Thanks to everyone who submitted songs and stories! And now … let’s dance!

Rockstar (1)

Footloose – Kenny Loggins
I Melt With You – Modern English
If You Leave – Orchestral Manoeuvers in the Dark
The Rockafeller Skank – Fatboy Slim
Teenage Dirtbag – Wheetus
I Will Remember You – Sarah McLachlan
What I Like About You – The Romantics
With or Without You – U2
Baby Got Back – Sir Mix-A-Lot
(Everything I Do) I Do It For You – Bryan Adams
Because I Love You – Stevie B.
Puttin’ On The Ritz– Taco
Cruel To Be Kind – Letters to Cleo
Time After Time – Cyndi Lauper
I Remember You – Skid Row
Forever In Love – Kenny G
Shout! – This Isley Brothers

Here’s the link to my Spotify playlist if you’d like to listen along.

(I’m crossing my fingers that the link works. I’ve been messing with it all morning. If it doesn’t work, let me know and I’ll try to get it fixed for next week.)

S Through Z #AtoZ Challenge

S Through Z #AtoZ Challenge

I don’t think I’m going to make it, folks. I had every intention of finishing this challenge, but, you know, life.

First, Prince died and for a few days I didn’t feel like writing about music. I just wanted to listen to my Prince records.

Then, my husband’s brother announced he was getting married this weekend and we offered to hold the wedding in our backyard. Looks like my week is now pulling weeds and scrubbing bathrooms instead of writing.

I hate leaving loose ends, though. So, I’m going to attempt to wrap up this last leg of the alphabet with one-paragraph blurbs.

Ready? Let’s begin.


“So Much To Say” The Dave Matthews Band

When I was in college, I worked in a sub shop. I’m pretty sure “Only DMB Fans Need Apply” was on the help wanted sign. I got the job.


“Together Forever” Rick Astley

I love Rick Astley. Always have. Always will. Rick-roll me all you want. He’s adorable.


“Undone – The Sweater Song”

My 13-year-old daughter has few bands she truly likes – Weezer being one of them. One thing she does not like? Going to see Weezer for the first time at an outdoor festival for her 13th birthday, anticipating it all summer long, only to have frat boys bump into her and spill beer all over her throughout  the entire show ruining the entire experience. Not cool, guys. Not cool.


“Vogue” Madonna

In the beginning, my mom was cool with Madonna. She didn’t have a problem her – not with “Like A Virgin” or even during the whole “Like A Prayer” scandal. No. She drew the line at this performance of “Vogue.”  I think my mom’s face went purple the minute that guy puts his head under Madonna’s skirt. After the performance was over she banned Madonna from our house. For life. It’s still in effect. If I was at my parent’s house today, I wouldn’t be allowed to watch this.


“We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off” Jermaine Stewart

I don’t know what my deal is with this song. I just really like it. I’m such a nerd for this song, I know that David Fincher – the guy who directed Seven, Fight Club, The Social Network and Gone Girl – directed this music video. It’s true. Look it up.


“Xanadu” Olivia Newton-John and ELO

Olivia Newton-John was my girl crush. After seeing Grease, I thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world. But then put Olivia Newton-John on roller skates and you have the makings of a major obsession. Sure, the movie Xanadu is majorly weird. But…Olivia Newton-John…and roller skates.


“You Oughta Know” Alanis Morissette

Even though this is a break-up song, it only ever makes me think of my two best friends – Amy and Chassidy. If a friendship can have a theme song, then this was ours. Back when we were 19, we would sit on the floor in Amy’s apartment and listen to Jagged Little Pill over and over while we painted our fingernails blue and drank a god-awful mix of vodka and Kool-Aid. Who needs stupid boys when you’re 19 and have two amazing best friends and Alanis Morissette?


“Zoot Suit Riot” Cherry Poppin’ Daddies

When I first started hanging out with my husband, I thought he liked to dance. This might be because we went to Jokers together almost every weekend. (For those of you not familiar with the University of Northern Iowa’s active night club scene – Jokers was one of the three dance clubs in the “Barmuda Triangle”). My husband – who was just my friend then – would get out on the floor and shake his booty like the rest of us. And he seemed to be having a good time, too. We even came up with a swing routine to this song. (And, no, it looked nothing like those Gap ads.) Then we started dating and trips to Joker’s got less and less frequent. Turns out Jokers was the old bait-and-switch. He only went there because he had a crush on me. So, we don’t go out dancing as much as we used to. But if we do, and this song ever comes on, you can be sure we’re out on the floor doing our clumsy swing routine. And having a great time.


All right, folks, I’m out. You other bloggers have fun with the rest of the challenge. I’m back to scrubbing bathrooms. See you all in a week or two!

“Purple Rain” As I Should Have Written It

“Purple Rain” As I Should Have Written It

I wrote a post about Prince and the other day. It wasn’t the post I should have written. I’m not sure why. My best explanation is that this A to Z Challenge has had me in my head quite a bit, and I think I needed a little distance from  all the memories swirling around in my brain .

Prince and Purple Rain have special meaning to me and my husband, but it wasn’t something I  put a lot of thought into. It’s just something that was. I was too tired a couple of days ago to find the words to describe it, so I just didn’t try. But I’m going to now.

“Before there was an us, there was you, me and Prince.”

That’s what my husband said to me tonight when I came home from work, put my head on his shoulder and said, “I feel so silly. I didn’t even know the man. Why am I so sad?”

Prince is part of our story. He has been since day one.

Shawn and I worked together in a sub shop in the town where we went to college. All I really knew about Shawn was that he was the guy who liked Nirvana and Pavement. I was the girl who like Mariah Carey and Alanis Morissette. Those seemed like two very different worlds to us.

Then, one night, I brought in my Prince CDs, and we just sat and talked about dancing to his songs in junior high: how they made us think of different crushes we had and who we were with when we first heard the Purple Rain soundtrack. A couple of nights later, we watched the movie together. It became the basis of our friendship. It was our thing before there was even an us.

I don’t know how many times we’ve watched the movie together since then.  Or how many times we quoted lyrics or lines to each other. Or slow danced to “Purple Rain” in our living room. Rarely a week goes by that I don’t listen to his music.

So tonight we sat and ate dinner and talked about Prince long after the kids got bored and left the table, Prince’s music in the background.

Now we’re going to open a bottle of wine and watch Purple Rain. And I will cry when it’s over. Because Prince is part of our story, and to have a piece of that gone is heartbreaking.



“Purple Rain,” Prince #AtoZ Challenge

“Purple Rain,” Prince #AtoZ Challenge

Once again, I feel like I need to clear something up.

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I love Prince. Some might even call me a super fan. This might be because I scream like a maniac and run out to the dance floor the minute I hear Prince say the words “Dearly beloved…” when I’m at a wedding reception.

But I’m here to tell ya … I am not a Prince super fan.

I am a Prince fan, yes. But claiming to be a Prince fan means you live in a constant state of fear that some actual super fan will find out you like Prince and want to talk to you about his new project 3rdeyegirl or the song he wrote for the Minnesota Vikings. You’ll have to fumble your way through the conversation before admitting you don’t know anything about those things and hang your head in a purple cloud of shame. It would be very embarrassing.

So, I am here to state, for the record, that I am not Prince super fan. I am Purple Rain super fan. And that’s a pretty big distinction.

You, too, might actually be just a Purple Rain fan. How do you know? Think about all the Prince songs you know and love.  “Let’s Go Crazy,” “When Doves Cry,” “I Would Die 4 U,” “Baby I’m A Star,” “Darling Nikki,” “Purple Rain” – all of those are from the Purple Rain soundtrack.

I know, I know… there’s “Kiss” and “Little Red Corvette” and some of the dirty stuff like “Cream” and “Pussy Control” … but honestly, I think the Prince most of us think of is the Prince from Purple Rain. That was probably the pinnacle of his career. The soundtrack was huge and so was the movie. It grossed more than $80 million at the box office. And that was 1984 dollars.

So, I’m always a little surprised when one of my friends tells me they haven’t seen Purple Rain. I feel like if you grew up in the 80s (or even the early 90s) you would have had to come across it at some point. But I am almost always the only one in my peer group who has actually seen it.

I think it has a reputation for being pretty risqué, but it’s not all that different than Footloose or Dirty Dancing. Sure, there’s the scene where Appollonia takes off her top and jumps into a lake. Then there’s the scene where Prince humps his piano while singing “Darling Nikki.” Well, there’s “Darling Nikki” … okay, okay, I see why this might not have been a hit at slumber parties.

But I remember watching it with my family once it came out on video. Sure, I was only nine and it was rated R, but the 80s were a different time. Movie nights were pretty loosey-goosey in our house. My parents seemed to have an utter disregard for the Motion Picture Association of America’s rating system. Sex, violence, drug use – no biggies. My mom or dad would just throw a hand up over our eyes if someone started to unbutton a top. That was the most censoring that went on in our household. Sometimes they weren’t fast enough and one of us would get exposed to a stray nipple, but oh well.

It also has a reputation for being a pretty terrible movie. There’s a fair amount of misogyny and some pretty awful acting. But it’s also pretty funny. Let me break it down for you: the movie is 80 percent music performances, 5 percent misogyny, 5 percent shots of Prince’s motorcycle and 10 percent straight-up comedy.  If you like Prince’s music, motorcycles, and can handle a scene where Morris Day throws a woman in a dumpster, you’ll probably have an okay time.

Need more convincing? Here are a few more reasons to give it a shot:

Prince has a puppet.  It only makes a brief appearance, but it leaves a lasting impression. And Prince has some mad ventriloquist skills. Does that surprise you? It shouldn’t.

Billy, the club owner. Billy is the fictional owner of the very real, very famous Minneapolis club First Avenue. He gets to deliver one of the best lines in the film, or at least the line my husband and I quote to each other the most often. Prince, playing The Kid, has just finished performing “Darling Nikki” to a shocked crowd. The Kid storms down to his dressing room. Billy follows him, points a finger and says, “Nobody digs your music…but yourself.” Then later, while The Kid is performing “Purple Rain,” Billy is nodding his head in approval…digging it. Looks like the tables have turned, Billy.

Apollonia’s cape.  It’s winter. It’s Minnesota. Of course you have to wear a cape over your lingerie.

Prince is just like us! You might think that Prince seems less like a mortal human being and more like an alien sent to earth on a lavender-scented cloud, but personal touches in this semi-autobiographical movie tell a different story. For instance, he eats Doritos; he lives in his parent’s basement; and in this basement are rows and rows of home-canned green beans.  There’s even a baby bathtub hanging on the wall indicating he was possibly an infant at one time. I have a hard time picturing Prince in any type of normal domestic scene, but this movie drives home that he was, at one time, just like you and me.

Ruffles. Prince has three outfits in the movie – tank top, bare chest and flouncy pirate blouse, reminding us all that he had the puffy shirt look bagged up long before Seinfeld.

Minneapolis is a pretty cool place. When I saw this movie as a kid, I thought it was set in New York. It blew my mind that such a place existed a mere four hours from the cornfield I lived in. Watch Purple Rain and then watch Fargo and then remind yourself that these movies are set in the same state. It will blow your mind.

Morris Day.  He has all the good lines. He also has Jerome, a man whose only job is to follow him around with a big mirror.

The Music.  Duh.

So, if you haven’t seen the movie, here’s what you need to do. You need to make yourself a big plate of spaghetti because that’s Prince’s favorite meal (okay, maybe I am a minor league super fan); mix up a batch of Purple Rain cocktails – vodka, blue curacoa, cranberry juice and grenadine – because it helps to be just a wee bit drunk; and let in rain, my friend, let it rain!

Note about the video: Prince is famously fussy about the licensing of his music, so it was tough to find a good clip. Thanks to my friend, Sarah, I was able to find an 8-minute video of Prince during his Super Bowl halftime show where he plays the song in the rain. There’s also a pretty grainy clip of him playing it on a TV show. The sound is good, though.

There’s also this awesome clip of Kelly Clarkson singing it in St. Paul. She always does an amazing job with her covers, so it’s worth the watch.






“One More Try,” Timmy T., #AtoZChallenge

“One More Try,” Timmy T., #AtoZChallenge

I’m a sucker for romance.

Movies, soap operas, songs. I rarely read a book that doesn’t have someone falling in love by the end of it.

Back when I was in high school, nothing was more romantic than the “Goodnight Line” on 105.7 KOKZ. It was a ten minute window where teenagers could call in profess their love for each other on the radio. Sometimes they were straight up –  “Hi, this is Darcy, and I want to say goodnight to Jake. You are the love of my life. Can’t wait to see you tomorrow in study hall.” Other times, they were a bit more coy – “This is Troy, and I would like to say goodnight to my special girl S. You know who you are.”

Never once was there a call that said, “This is Crush A (or Crush B)and I want to say goodnight to Jean, the most beautiful girl in the world. I love you so much it hurts. Can’t wait to see you tomorrow in study hall.” I’m pretty sure the entire purpose of the program was to make me feel the sharp sting of rejection on a daily basis.

After the last call, they would play “One More Try,” a song that was so tender it made me want a boyfriend just so I could dump him and then have him beg me for a second chance. As Timmy T. sang, I would lie there and think that maybe tomorrow night would be the night Crush A or Crush B would call. If I tight-rolled my frosted jeans extra tight and put on another spritz of Exclamation! it would all fall into place.

Every once in a while, though, instead of thinking about Crush A or Crush B, I would lie there and imagine that the boy I would one day marry wasn’t either one of them, but a different boy altogether. And he was out there listening, too, like the song from An American Tail. What did he look like? What kinds of clothes did he wear? What were his hobbies?

It turns out he was tall and skinny with ears that stick out just enough to be adorable.

He was really into sports. He wore a Twins shirt and baseball cap almost every day and had a subscription to Sport magazine.

He didn’t have a girlfriend, either, but he listened to the “Goodnight Line,” too, hoping to hear his name.

He was out there. My husband of 15 years was a little over an hour away listening to the same sappy Timmy T. song I was. Just like Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram said he would be. My 14-year-old self would have been very happy to know that.


Bonus Track: “Somewhere Out There”

For all you lovers out there


“Nothing Compares 2 U” Sinead O’Connor #AtoZChallenge

“Nothing Compares 2 U” Sinead O’Connor #AtoZChallenge

One of the sweetest gifts my husband has ever given me was Sinead O’Connor’s album I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got.

It was the first Christmas after we started dating. We had only been dating for a month, so I wasn’t  expecting a lot. But a couple of days before I went home to celebrate the the holidays with my family, he handed me a CD-shaped package. When I opened it up, it was like he had given me a time machine.

I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got was one of the first albums I bought as a teenager. Like 7 million other people in the early 90s, I bought it because of “Nothing Compares 2 U.” U couldn’t escape that song back then, and I’m not sure U really wanted 2. It was 2 beautiful and heartbreaking 2 ignore.

Sinead herself was a little hard to ignore – her politics, her bald head, those intense eyes. Once she started singing, though, all that melted away. And she was much more than that one song. The whole album was amazing – “Feel So Different,” “Black Boys on Mopeds,” “Three Babies,” “Emperor’s New Clothes” – these were some of the most brooding and gripping songs I had ever heard.

If Amy Grant was my bubbly BFF, then Sinead was the girl in study hall who sat by herself, scribbling furiously in her notebooks. I wanted to get to know that girl. She was … interesting. I would sit on my bedroom floor and just absorb her music. I thought maybe I would become interesting through osmosis.

Within a year, I wore that cassette out. Literally. I listened to it so much, I wore the tape thin.

I’m not sure why I didn’t replace it. I guess other music came along and there were new albums to buy, so I moved on. But there was part of me that still missed it.

And that was it. Nearly eight years had gone by. I told Shawn that story back before we were dating, back when we were just friends. I think “Nothing Compares 2 U” was playing somewhere, probably a bar, and I must have told him all about how I wore my tape out. I probably had that half-drunk, half-wistful look on my face as I sang along. And he remembered.

Now it was Christmas. And there I sat with an 8-year-old album I had loved so much as a teenager and a boy who was sweet enough to remember something so small and so big at the same time. It was perfect.