A motivational playlist to help you tackle your spring cleaning to-do list. Features Mitski, Nirvana, Outkast, Phoebe Bridgers, Sturgill Simpson and more.
Grab your earbuds and tackle your spring cleaning to-do list with a playlist that’ll make you look forward to housework.
Take out the trash, clean the oven, water the houseplants, run the vacuum cleaner, plant a garden, finally acknowledge the pile of dirty laundry growing in the corner of your bedroom—whatever you have to do to get ready for spring, you deserve an epic soundtrack.
Get motivated to finish your chores and handle that yardwork you’ve been putting off with our ultimate spring cleaning playlist.
Outkast — “So Fresh, So Clean”
It’s never too late to go platinum. In 2020, the RIAA awarded Outkast another platinum record recognizing the 2001 single “So Fresh, So Clean” for over 1 million units sold.
The third single from Stankonia finds the dynamic Dirty South duo of André 3000 and Big Boi increasing the tempo and leaning heavily into the afrofuturistic sounds of cosmic 1970s funk, ‘80s roller jams and ‘90s underground rave culture to issue the defining statement in Y2K era hip-hop.
The Beatles — “Fixing a Hole”
Paul McCartney swerves between major and minor key signatures like a seasoned F1 pro on “Fixing a Hole,” a psychedelic harpsichord-driven number from the 1967 classic Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
The key signature stops on a dime on phrases like “when the rain gets in,” shifting from major to minor and back—a signature Beatleism heard on songs like “I Me Mine,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and “Penny Lane.”
In the “official” 1997 biography Many Years From Now, McCartney says that the song’s pothole analogy is a personal reminder to allow his mind to wander—and remain open to new ideas along the way.
The Rolling Stones — “Paint It Black”
Mick Jagger has a great interior design tip (for goths, anyway) on the Rolling Stones’ classic ode to impulsive redecorating, “Paint It Black” from their 1966 album, Aftermath.
It’s hard to believe given the song’s prominence on tour setlists and best-of compilations, but the initial response to “Paint It Black” was muted, with many critics drawing an unfavorable comparison between the main sitar riff and George Harrison’s use of the instrument on The Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood.”
As it turns out, there’s plenty of room for everyone in the world of droning, psychedelic minor-key sitar rock. Legions of rockers latched onto the brooding atmosphere of “Paint it Black.” It’s hard to imagine the Velvet Underground, the Black Angels, Spacemen 3 or the Brian Jonestown Massacre creating their spaced-out psych jams without the ‘Stones paving the way.
Phoebe Bridgers — “Garden Song”
Phoebe Bridgers digs up another hit on “Garden Song,” the leadoff single from her sophomore album Punisher (2020). Buzzing lo-fi electronics and gentle acoustic guitars lay the groundwork for an imaginative indie-folk ballad overgrown with Bridgers’ trademark lyrical wit.
In an interview with Stereogum, Bridgers said, “[Garden Song] is… about how — at the risk of being corny — manifesting things the more you think about stuff…It's a love song, for sure, but it’s also about myself — my own growth.”
Miranda Lambert — “It All Comes Out In the Wash”
Life’s a spin cycle in Miranda Lambert’s “It All Comes Out In the Wash,” the Grammy-nominated lead single announcing the arrival of the Nashville megastar’s 2019 album, Wildcard.
Lambert cites her mom and grandmother for providing the inspiration for this fun country tune about life’s sticky situations that proudly displays the singer-songwriter’s dirty laundry—stains and everything. (“Don’t sweat it / a Tide Stick’ll get it,” she says).
The song’s production is squeaky clean, but it sounds like somebody missed a spot during the guitar solo—the glitchy effect at the 1:11 mark is a cool EDM influence that gives new meaning to the phrase “pickin’ and grinnin’.” And the psychedelic delays on the word “spin” sound otherworldly on headphones without ever leaving the comfort of the Nashville sound.
Mitski — “Washing Machine Heart”
Mitski asks a lover to wash their dirty shoes inside a stomping electro-pop banger that’s all synth and strings on “Washing Machine Heart,” a deep cut from her 2018 album Be the Cowboy.
Emotions come pouring out through Mitski’s evocative lyrics, delivered in a single vocal track without double tracking, harmonies or backing vocals—an intentional production choice meant to better capture the artist’s vision of vulnerability.
In a statement, Mitski said the songs on Be the Cowboy are inspired by “the image of someone alone on a stage, singing solo with a single spotlight trained on them in an otherwise dark room.”
To achieve what she calls “that campy 'person singing alone on stage' atmosphere,” Mitski and producer Patrick Hyland dispensed with typical indie-pop vocal production styles in favor of dry, up-front and intimate vocal sounds that wring every last drop of emotion from the lyrics.
Nirvana — “Love Buzz”
When it comes to choosing cover songs, Nirvana’s record is spotless. The iconic grunge trio announced their arrival in November 1988 with a 7” single containing a fuzzed-out interpretation of “Love Buzz,” originally by Dutch psych rockers The Shocking Blue.
Sub Pop promoted the debut Nirvana single as “heavy pop sludge” instead of grunge, calling attention to the trio’s knack for building memorable tunes out of unforgettable melodies backed by mighty lumberjack fuzz riffs.
On the cover version, Kurt Cobain’s erratic guitar feedback howls in place a droning psychedelic sitar as drummer Chad Channing and bassist Krist Novoselic slam the hammer on a minor key riff until it’s dust.
Sturgill Simpson — “You Can Have the Crown”
He finally figured out what rhymes with “Bronco.” After getting into (and out of) his record deal, Sturgill Simpson went to work on a pair of Kentucky-fried bluegrass albums titled, appropriately enough, Cuttin’ Grass.
And on this traditional 2020 rework of the twangy, outlaw-flavored fan favorite from his 2013 debut High Top Mountain, “You Can Have the Crown,” Simpson answers his own question (and completes the rhyme), with an inspirational quote from Mongo, the gentle jailhouse philosopher in Mel Brooks’ screwball western movie Blazing Saddles.
Steely Dan — “Dirty Work”
Even without Tony Soprano’s guest vocal (Season 3 of The Sopranos, anyone?) Steely Dan’s 1972 hit “Dirty Work” remains a golden nugget of AM pop perfection.
Initially, co-writers Walter Becker and Donald Fagen wanted to omit the song from their debut album, Can’t Buy a Thrill, but a bit of arm-twisting from executives at ABC Records convinced the yacht rock maestros to add this smooth Hammond organ-led cut to the tracklist.
The rhythm track’s easygoing electric piano and acoustic guitar betray the song’s cynical lyric about an affair going off the rails. It wasn’t meant to last, as Steely Dan retired the song after vocalist David Palmer’s departure in 1973.
In 2001, the Dan punched the clock once again, putting “Dirty Work” back in their live show after an HBO drama about a certain New Jersey mobster introduced the tune to a new primetime audience.
Pulp — “Dishes”
Jarvis Cocker is the man who does the dishes. On “Dishes,” the Pulp songwriter and longtime BBC Radio personality acknowledges that it isn’t always easy to pick yourself up off the couch and tackle today’s to-do list, but tomorrow’s another day.
The second track on This is Hardcore, Pulp’s eagerly anticipated follow-up to the quadruple-platinum Different Class, turns away from the Britpop formula that propelled Cocker and co. to the top of the charts in favor of soulful balladry and deep grooves.
In his review for Spin magazine, High Fidelity author Nick Hornby praised the growth of Cocker’s songwriting prowess, calling out his ability to write “[melodies] that make you melt.”
“Pulp make it clear they have outgrown Britpop” writes Hornby. “[They] belong right up there with Ray Davies and [Elvis] Costello…[looking] at England with a satirist’s eye and a balladeer’s heart.”
The Stooges — “Dirt”
Iggy Pop doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty. The “godfather of punk” bellows, howls and croons his way across a filthy psychedelic backdrop on “Dirt,” a gritty yet delightfully hypnotic garage-psych epic from the Stooges sophomore album, Fun House.
Like a dish with a spot you just can’t scrub clean, guitarist Ron Asheton serves up an endless supply of stereo lead guitar that floats side-to-side across the soundfield, making for a trippy and immersive listen in earbuds.
The Stooges’ strain of trance-inducing psychedelic rock as heard on “Dirt” wasn’t exactly an overnight success. UK magazine Melody Maker called the album “rubbish” upon its release in 1970, but Fun House has since cleaned up its act and come into its own as a proto-punk classic.
In 2020, Rolling Stone ranked Fun House 91st in their updated list of the greatest albums of all time.
Turn it up. Clear it out.
Check out the rest of our Spring Cleaning Playlist for mood-boosting music — so it feels less like work and more like you’re in a movie montage. Getting it. All. Done.
And your UE FITS won’t fall out — so go as hard as you want.