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Growing up, I dreaded the routine arrival of what my mom and younger sister cheerfully called “Cinderella Saturdays.” As the name suggests, we’d spend those mornings cleaning the house, checking off chores one by one. Despite my childhood grumbles about the ritual, I still remember how quickly my mom’s music made our cramped space feel more like an amphitheater.
The playlist below is a nod to the artists she introduced us to way back then, and the newer ones whose songs also lend themselves to impromptu kitchen karaoke sessions. Turns out mops, brooms, and vacuums can make for pretty great microphone substitutes.
Tina Turner, “The Best”
Easing into your chores sluggishly? That’ll change the second the chorus hits on this classic, a high-octane arrangement with more energizing power than any pep talk.
Rod Stewart and Tina Turner, “It Takes Two”
Stewart and Turner’s collaborations were some of the most infectious records of the ’80s and ’90s. Play this one if you need some help encouraging a reluctant family member or roommate to get in on the cleaning party.
Whitney Houston, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”
My friend (and former Atlantic colleague) Natalie Escobar recently tweeted about the exquisite joy of hearing this played at a wedding. It’ll still be a while before we’re able to safely do that, but the thought—and this electrifying chorus—certainly helps move time along.
Stevie Wonder, “Sir Duke”
Hitting shuffle on Stevie Wonder’s entire discography wouldn’t be a bad way to soundtrack a full weekend of cleaning. “Sir Duke,” with its layered references to jazz greats, is an especially uplifting place to start.
Donna Summer, “Pandora’s Box”
Like the rest of this playlist based on James Baldwin’s record collection, this Donna Summer song is a lush and immersive listening experience.
Prince, “She’s Always in My Hair”
It’s hard to believe this was ever a B-side (to 1985’s “Raspberry Beret”). As with many Prince songs, the guitar on this is contagiously vibrant.
Tarrus Riley, “She’s Royal”
This single from the reggae juggernaut Tarrus Riley isn’t all that old—it came out in 2006—but it conjures all the best elements of the genre’s earlier classics.
WizKid featuring Damian Marley, “Blessed”
At the start of the first verse, Damian Marley offers a simple reminder of the power of caring for ourselves when we can, even in the least glamorous ways: “Self preservation / Self elevation / These kind of things, they deserve celebration.”
Admas, “Wed Enate”
There’s powerful longing in Sons of Ethiopia, the recently reissued 1984 jazz debut from this D.C.-based quartet. This warm, gentle track is one of the LP’s best, a fact that could very well be explained by its title, which translates to “my dear mother.”
Kaytranada and VanJess, “Dysfunctional”
Let’s pick up the pace, shall we? On “Dysfunctional,” the R&B duo VanJess lends powerful vocals to Kaytranada’s characteristically complex production.
Alex Mills, “Want You to Want Me”
This throwback to ’90s Eurodance fills the air with a soulful, propulsive energy.
Clean Bandit featuring Jess Glynne, “Rather Be”
Something about this mega-popular song from the British electronic group evokes crowded, dirty dance floors—but the lyrics beg to be belted at unholy decibel levels, something I’d far rather relegate to the comfort of my own home.
Whitney Houston, “How Will I Know”
Not to be dramatic, but there’s never been a better karaoke track in the entire history of American music.
Johnny Gill, “My, My, My”
Congrats on making it this far! Now take a good look in the mirror that you’ve hopefully finished Windexing and appreciate how great everything looks while the sweet sounds of this Babyface-written ode wash over you.
Planning to go for a stroll this weekend? Try our one-hour playlist for your next walk by Spencer Kornhaber.
More of a podcast person? Catch up with this week’s episode of The Experiment, our new collaboration with WNYC Studios.
Looking for something to read instead? Revisit the work and wisdom of Beverly Cleary, the beloved children’s-book author, who died at age 104: “I just wrote about childhood as I had known it.”