While I’m grateful to American Eagle for helping me put food on the table, working there had a hidden benefit: the music. There was always a soundtrack playing, and while a lot of it was pretty typical, the American Eagle soundtrack people threw in a few gems. Each American Eagle store had some TV monitors; sometimes they’d show the music videos, and sometimes they’d just show stock footage of beautiful American Eagle-clad people running around on a beach somewhere. The music videos would list the song titles and artists, but the beach footage would not. I’d carry around some scratch paper and a pen to jot down lyrics of any song I heard and liked, and I would just have to look the song up when I got home. American Eagle got a new soundtrack every so often, so I heard quite a bit of music during my time there – and I still love some of it today. So for this top ten Tuesday, I’d like to present to you the top ten songs I first heard thanks to American Eagle!
MGMT – “Kids”
This was one of the very first songs I heard at American Eagle. It was one of those rare songs that you absolutely love the very first time you hear it. And the music video? WEIRD. I’ve had a great many bonding experiences with my friends over this song, and they all go like this: “Do you like MGMT?” “YEAH!” “Do you know ‘Kids’?” “YEAH!!” “Let’s listen to it!” “YEAH!!!” (then: dance party.)
Faces on Film – “Famous Last Words”
(the song in question starts at about 2.19)
“Famous Last Words” was part of the pre-Christmas soundtrack when I worked at the American Eagle in a suburb of New Orleans. I remember because I first heard this song as I was struggling to hang up some garlands and almost died in the process (tall ladder + poor balance = disaster). It took me the longest time to locate a copy of this song – the best I could find was a low-quality YouTube video – but once I did, I was as happy as a clam.
Metric – “Help, I’m Alive”
“Help, I’m Alive” immediately followed “Famous Last Words” on the Christmas soundtrack. The Christmas soundtrack wasn’t great: those two of a very small handful of songs I liked out of three-ish hours of music. I remember Louie Armstrong’s “Cool Yule” playing right after “Help, I’m Alive,” which was 100% perfect for Christmas in New Orleans.
Matt and Kim – “Daylight”
I’ve heard a few other songs by Matt and Kim, but nothing stuck with me quite as well as “Daylight.” Maybe it’s the super spunky keyboard intro, and maybe it’s the carefree lyrics. Listen for yourself, and maybe you can help me decide.
Animal Collective – “Summertime Clothes”
“Summertime Clothes” was right on the heels of “Kids” on that very first American Eagle CD, and how appropriate that it was July and I was wearing my own summertime clothes. American Eagle played this video on their monitors, and it was really easy to get distracted by all the crazy colors (especially when you were doing something totally uninteresting, like re-folding tshirts). Clearly, my attention span leaves something to be desired.
Matisyahu – “We Will Walk”
You guys. MATISYAHU. I had never heard of him before the American Eagle in New Orleans played him on their October soundtrack. Whenever “We Will Walk” popped up in the soundtrack rotation, you couldn’t help but walk around with a bit of a strut as you’re putting jeans away. Well, maybe YOU could help it, but I certainly couldn’t.
Passion Pit – “The Reeling”
Unbeknownst to me at the time, “The Reeling” was the beginning of a long and lovely relationship between Passion Pit and me. Admittedly, it took some time for me to really appreciate “The Reeling;” the screeching falsetto doesn’t immediately appeal to everyone. It wasn’t until I heard “Sleepyhead” and immediately LOVED it that I revisited “The Reeling” and found out that it was pretty great, too.
The Killers – “Human”
The American Eagle soundtrack people would occasionally toss in a few old familiar songs by old familiar artists – David Bowie and the Who appeared from time to time, which was totally fine with me. On the whole, most of the artists on these soundtracks were new to me. But not the Killers. I had loved them way back in high school, but since I didn’t spend much time listening to the radio while I lived in Denver and New Orleans, I didn’t know that they were releasing new singles (I wasn’t a very dedicated fan). That’s how I heard “Human” AND “Spaceman,” plus a whiny single from their lead singer. What a musical education.
The Big Pink – “Dominoes”
Most of my favorite American Eagle songs came from my days in Denver and New Orleans, but this is one of the rare songs from the Minneapolis American Eagle – which is really weird, considering I spent a mere month and a half in Denver and four months in New Orleans compared to ten months in Minneapolis. Anyway, “Dominoes” is from Minneapolis. It’s one of those songs that’s significantly louder than most songs, so if you’re not expecting it and have your iPod turned up too high, you’re in for a mild heart attack.
Hot Chip – “Ready For the Floor”
My first American Eagle soundtrack was, hands down, the best. “Ready For the Floor” was on that soundtrack, as well as “Kids,” “Summertime Clothes,” “Daylight,” and “The Reeling.” Fully half of my top ten list came from the same American Eagle mid-summer soundtrack. I had never heard of Hot Chip before working at American Eagle, but they’re now a staple in my iTunes. Plus, the video throws in references to Batman (think Tim Burton, Michael Keaton, and Jack Nicholson). Oh, Hot Chip. You know the way to my heart.
So there you are. The top ten songs I first heard thanks to American Eagle. The constant soundtrack was a love/hate kind of thing: I loved getting to listen to music all day, but after working ten six-hour shifts in a row, you’re ready to gouge your eardrums out if you hear Vampire Weekend one more damn time. So it’s probably better that there’s no library soundtrack… I’d hate to think what that would be, anyway.