Here’s a confession up front: I don’t know anything about astrology. Apparently you can tell what kind of person you are by your birthday? And then you’re assigned an animal? Except some are animals and others are humans? It was all somewhat baffling to me, but as a duty-bound journalist, I did my research into the subject and tried to find the perfect song for each sign.
Aries: “Me, Myself, and I” – De La Soul
Aries, being the first born of any celestial calendar year, are supposed to be headstrong and ambitious individuals. They’re looking out for number one, and taking their boldness in stride with everything they do. Or something like that. This seems to be a little ruthless for something as silly as astrology, so let’s cut the tension with a humorous ode to confidence and self-assurance with legendary Long Island crew De La Soul. “Me Myself, and I” is a push back against restrictive labels and judgmental characterization, but it’s also about making yourself a top priority. If you’re going to conquer the world, you have got to be your own biggest believer.
Taurus: “I’m Like a Bird” – Nelly Furtado
The Taurus, the stubborn bull, is a symbol of the tranquility of nature. The serene settings and calming forces are what drive this sign, but just like its spirit animal, there’s a restlessness to the Taurus. A feeling that staying in one place isn’t healthy, and a constant striving for something more is necessary for survival. So let’s turn our attention to the debut single from Nelly Furtado (Sagittarius): a celebration of nature and true love belies a certain anxiousness to move on, despite a quiet sense of content. “I’m Like a Bird” is the kind of jam that could only come out in the early 2000s, with all its weird bleep-bloop synthesizers and mix of live drums with processed beats, but it’s message is timeless: don’t commit yourself, because you don’t know where your soul or home is.
Gemini: “Ms. Jackson” – OutKast
The Gemini is all about the number two. Twice as self-assured, twice as productive, twice as emotional, the Gemini has to clone themselves just to achieve all their lofty ambitions. It shouldn’t be a surprise, then, that lots of musicians are Geminis: Kanye West, Prince, Miles Davis, Tupac Shakur, Paul McCartney, Morrissey, Kendrick Lamar and Bob Dylan are all part of that lineage, just to name a few. So let’s turn to another famous Gemini, Andre 3000, and his hip hop partner Big Boi (Aquarius, for those of you keeping score). The title track from their brilliant album Aquemini famously pans the idea of zodiac signs being representative of anything definitive, but I decided to go with “Ms. Jackson” because it’s the perfect distillation of how different, and necessary, the duo’s unique styles are to their success: Big Boi’s no-frills, almost hardcore style of rap that personifies the anger of a breakup contrasts with Andre’s loopy sing-songy verses that celebrate the “puppy love” that was supposed to last forever (forever ever?). OutKast represents two sides of the hip-hop coin coexisting as a single unit, just as a Gemini bridges its two sides to make a stronger whole.
Cancer: “Don’t Speak” – No Doubt
Cancer’s have a certain ability to pick up on things that aren’t necessarily intuitive. A second sense, if you will, for energies and thoughts that aren’t explicit but are still present in the ether (this is all very scientific, mind you.) Because of this extreme empathy, they can be incredibly emotional, or realistic, depending on the situation. You know who can relate? Gwen Stefani (even if she’s a Libra). “Don’t Speak” is the perfect manifestation of all these traits. The end of a relationship is so obvious that you don’t even have to say it, Gwen already knows. And boy is she upset. It’s all ending/We gotta stop pretending who we are.” The curse of the Cancer is knowledge, of reading the room and knowing exactly what is going on. Or maybe you’re just being assumptive. Either way, Gwen has the song for you.
Leo: “Born This Way” – Lady Gaga
Bossy, assertive, proud, vivacious. Apparently these are the key words for describing a Leo, the prideful lion in the jungle of astrology. As it is, there’s no irony or restraint when it comes to these ones: it’s going to be big, it’s going to be bold, and god is it going to be overdramatic. Which makes it perfect for Lady Gaga to step in with her two-foot platform boots and insane metallic outfits to remind you just how perfect you really are. “Listen to me when I say/I’m beautiful in my way/’Cause God makes no mistakes.” How’s that for self-confidence? I’m also really falling off with trying to match the artist with the sign (Gaga’s an Aries) but maybe I’ll improve on that as the list goes on.
Virgo: “No Scrubs” – TLC
Systematic and logical, Virgos have no time for the theatrics and drama. It’s a no bullshit world with Virgos, so if you want to impress them, you’ll have to do better than riding in the passenger side of your best friend’s ride. And don’t even get me started at hollering at them. “No Scrubs” is like a musical machete through all the broken promises and weak game that Virgos are not going to put up with, so if you’ve got something to contribute, step right up. But if you’re a busta, stay home. (Also, damn, not a single Virgo in TLC. I’m starting to feel like a scrub myself.)
Libra: “Baby Drugs” – Tristen
A traditional Libra is going to be obsessed with the balance and harmony of any given situation. This can sometimes be at the detriment of their own lives if they happen to be involved with someone who requires them to be the balancing force. That’s part of the empathy, and part of the desire to reach a solid equilibrium. “To every pull there is a pusher/To get you right back where you started from.” Tristen’s “Baby Drugs” is the sadder side of the Libra spirit: “I will never falter, I will never fear/For I’ve seen the demons love can conquer disappear.” Make sure that if you set yourself up to balance somebody else’s life, you make sure it’s a) worth it, and b) coming with the chance to look out for your own balance.
Scorpio: “I Want It All” – Queen
Scorpios are well known in the astrology world for their passions. They have a hunger that is insatiable, and a drive that won’t let them stop until they reach whatever goals they seek to achieve. “Damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead” might as well be printed on their drivers licenses. So it’s only fitting that the grand and triumphant seekers of power get a similarly grand and triumphant anthem about conquering the world. “A young fighter screaming/With no time for doubt” is about as on the nose as I can get with these lyrical interpretations, and the song itself is hardly subtle about its sky-high ambitions. But that’s what makes it so appropriate for a Scorpio.
Sagittarius: “The Circle Game” – Joni Mitchell
A Sagittarius is on a constant search for knowledge. If they seem mature beyond their years, it’s not because they’re trying to escape youth, but rather because they’re trying to take the most important lessons from those times and implement them in the most logical ways possible. A Sagittarius will do cartwheels, cruise around, and fall in love, but they know life continues to move forward, with new joys to be found at each stage. This is pretty much the entire summary of “The Circle Game”, Joni Mitchell’s rebuke of the idea that life ends after you turn 21. While she might be a Scorpio, Mitchell recognizes the logic and understanding of the Sagittarius: “There’ll be new dreams, maybe better dreams and plenty/Before the last revolving year is through.”
Capricorn: “Livin’ la Vida Loca” – Ricky Martin
So can somebody tell me what a sea goat is? The internet tells me it’s sort of like a centaur, with the head and body being a goat but having a tail like a fish. Apparently this means they’re serious and independent. Huh? I’m sorry, I’ve gone through pretty much every sign trying to take it at least kind of seriously, but this is where astrology loses me for good. According to Google, Ricky Martin is a Capricorn, so I’m going with “Livin’ la Vida Loca” because anyone who takes this seriously must be loca themselves.
Aquarius: “Signs” – Beyonce
Aquarius’ are supposed to represent the humanitarian side of the zodiac: compassion, understanding, humanitarianism. Love for thy fellow man. As such, Aquarius’ are also celebrated in the astrology community for their ability to be compatible with just about any other sign. So to celebrate that, let’s turn to Beyonce’s “Signs” where she spreads the good feelings to everybody. “Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, oh
Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, I love all y’all.” It’s a little mitigating compared to the Beyonce we all know and love (it’s no “everything you own in a box to the left” or “when he fuck me good, I take his ass to Red Lobster”), but then again, Aquarius’ just want to spread the love.
Pisces: “We Found Love” – Rihanna
The pisces is the fulfillment of all the other signs put together: someone who can solve the unsolvable problems. Someone that can harbor their emotions and know the appropriate times to let them show. Someone who can be logical, practice restraint, or embrace the big ideas when they need to be embraced. Represented by two fish swimming in opposite directions, the Pisces knows how to see beyond the push and pull of emotion and logic, ultimately settling on what is best. “Love and life, I will divide/Turn away cause I need you more/Feel the heartbeat in my mind.” In other words: they can find love in a hopeless place. And rest assured, we pulled it together at the end, because Rihanna is indeed a Pisces.