I like to think we all have a personal, carefully selected musical soundtrack for our everyday existences. What I mean is: if life was an American TV show – and I, for one, have yet to be presented with any irrefutable evidence that it's not – what would your choice of music be to underscore key 'scenes', or to signpost how you're supposed to be reacting emotionally to any given event or 'plot twist'?
Thanks to iPods, this meta-soundtracking of our lives has never been easier. To illustrate further what I mean, I'm willing to delve into the shameful secrets of my own iPod (if not my psyche) to give you my favourite tracks that I like to "play over" crucial moments in my everyday life:
For when I get a new job and/or promotion and/or have a big day at work, Let the River Run, by Carly Simon. Not just because it comes from Working Girl – possibly the greatest movie ever made (Vertigo, Shmertigo) – but because it's jammed with 1980s synths, an accompanying choir and New Age-y lyrics for ultimate, fist-pumping, just-trying-to-get-ahead uplift. "Come the New Jerusalem!"
For those disturbingly frequent "shipping" moments – "shipping" is a branch of obsessive fandom that imagines (usually on fan websites) often unlikely relationships between various characters from popular books, movies, TV shows and boybands.
We all "ship" in real life too; I can fall in love with complete strangers five times a day, and spend an entire commute running a montage through my head "shipping" my happy-ever-after relationship with that stranger. In such instances, Gravity, by Sara Bareilles is ideal.
For when I'm out shopping, preferably in a fancy area; not for the first time in my life, Pretty Woman is the role model here. This one has to be soundtracked to Natalie Cole's Wild Women Do.
For when I'm feeling good and just bopping down the street taking in the wonder of life and the joys of everyone around me (rare); Sly and the Family Stone's Everyday People is my choice, but I also like Paul Simon's You Can Call Me Al (warning: excessive listening to the Graceland album in public will make you want to hug a stranger).
Lately the choice has been Transatlanticism by Death Cab For Cutie, which uses an extended metaphor of the Atlantic Ocean forming to describe being, you know, all deep and human and existential 'n' stuff.
For when I'm wistfully saying goodbye to someone/somewhere/something; again, showing my inveterate ninetiesness, Sarah McLachlan's I Will Remember You – a favourite of key teen dramas from the era like Felicity and Dawson's Creek – is perfect.
For when I'm getting ready to go out; I must admit, I'm a sucker for Gaga's Boys, Boys, Boys, but I also, rather oddly, love listening to the Hair soundtrack too. Preferably while foostering with my hair.
Before a date; Kelly Clarkson's stonking I Do Not Hook Up provides me with a mantra to both follow and quickly disobey.
For the walk of shame/stride of pride; if the one-nighter happens to be a 'you should know better', it has to be Out Of The Blue by Julian Casablancas. Otherwise – and I'm not proud of this – you can't beat a little Man, I Feel Like A Woman by Shania Twain for that slut-strut.