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Nate Imig's Essential 50

Beats, Divas, Thick glasses

There I was, sitting at the Cermak in Walker's Point just up the road from 88Nine on my lunch break, enjoying a fresh salad from the in-house bar. Not only does Cermak have literally everything you'd want for lunch, and more, but another joy of going that particular grocery store is they really pump up the jams. Normally your typical grocery store will play music at about a 5. Not Cermak. They've got it up to an 8, maybe 9. It's loud, and it's perfect. So, back to the salad.

I was about halfway through eating when I realized that for the entire time I had been sitting in the cafe, I had heard three Whitney Houston songs in a row. "I Want To Dance With Somebody," "I'm Your Baby Tonight," and "How Will I Know." What fantastic songs. The middle one stuck out in particular; just the previous evening my friends and I were gathered to watch RuPauls Drag Race, as we do every week Drag Race is on. It's a very important piece of television. In the episode that aired the night before, "I'm Your Baby Tonight" was used in the final lip sync battle. (Fans will remember the episode in Season 11 when Ariel Versace took her infamous spill.) It's an epic song. It's a gay anthem.

And what are the chances the same Whitney Houston song would enter my life within the same 18 hour period? It had to be a Cermak miracle. I couldn't help but wonder if there was another like minded, RPDR-watching friend out there who picked out Houston's greatest hits album to play at Cermak on that March afternoon.

It was that serendipitous moment which cemented her in the top position on my list. Go through in her catalogue and you'll find an unbelievable talent, an unsurpassed voice and a great American entertainer whose career was sadly cut short. But I will always remember, and love you, Whitney. So, that's #1 on my list. #50 is for the time I caught Britney Spears' hat in Vegas and security made me give it back. Like, why would you throw it out in the crowd in the first place if it always gets taken away? Tricky, Britney, tricky.

I'll skip the full explanation for the 48, but take a look through and you will find an even mix of soul, rock, indie and hip-hop, with some standards and pop sprinkled in. In my previous radio life I worked at a rock station and got pretty familiar with core alternative artists like The Killers, Franz Ferdinand and Portugal The Man. During my eight years at Radio Milwaukee, I have quickly added many hip-hop and soul artists into my essential list -- many that ended up quite high -- giving a balanced list good for any mood or time of year. Enjoy your Frank Ocean paired with Lizzo, your Aretha Franklin with Kendrick Lamar. Courtney Barnett and Chance The Rapper, they sound pretty good next to Jimmy Hendrix and The Smiths. Hope you dig!