Courtney Conlogue lives her life on the hunt, striving to compete for — and win — the World Title. A two-time runner-up in 2015 and 2016, she’s had a remarkable 2019 season, coming in first at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach in April. The 27-year-old credits her success in part to discipline and balance, two attributes she learned as a student of Korean martial arts.
“I started competing in martial arts when I was five, and I’d perform in front of five judges, which is similar to surfing,” says Conlogue. “With my stability and my approach to how I surf, there is definitely a basket weave with my martial arts background.”
When she’s not on her board, the Santa Ana, California, native gravitates toward nature — often with music in her head. “I drive a lot when I’m home and I put Pandora or Spotify on and start listening to all these new bands,” she says. Here’s 15 tunes, from both legends and up-and-comers, that define Conlogue’s life.
Sia, “Breathe Me”
This song is for when I just need to take a deep breath. It starts off mellow and she does this big deep breath, and every time she does that, I do it too. You build up and just let go. That song is a deep one that goes right to the soul.
Big Wild, “When I Get There”
I’ve been listening to a lot of Billie Eilish and Big Wild came up on. This year has been quite a whirlwind and it’s controlled chaos honestly, and sometimes life is that way. This is about those moments that you go through. It’s about the journey.
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Banks, “Begging for Thread”
Banks is amazing. “Begging for Thread,” there are sometimes in competition where you feel like you’re doing that: just pulling for thread. With this song, Banks is so powerful and it’s so deep that it resonates with me. I listened to this song since it came out and I’ve been a huge fan of Banks and Lorde. They have very similar vibes.
Ziggy Alberts, “Simple Things”
I discovered Ziggy Alberts about five months ago right before the US Open when I had a lot going on. So when I was listening to “Simple Things,” I was thinking about the relationships I have and about my boyfriend, and how much I love those simple moments where you get to share things together that make life so special. His music is so soft but powerful.
Barns Courtney, “Champion”
When you’re a competitive athlete, you are drawn to songs that are really potent. I feel like I’m always striving for the world title and you’re on the hunt and that one is a great one for my playlist. I think it’s funny how it has my name in there too. When I first heard it, I was like, “This song is sick!” And then I found out the name of the artist and I was like, really?
Elvis Presley, “Blue Suede Shoes”
I’ve always had the biggest crush on Elvis since I was a little kid. I used to get the Elvis limited edition anything for my birthday. I love that he was a rebel for his era, and the way he lived. I just thought he was so cool. When I was younger, we couldn’t listen to rap, because it had so many curse words in it, so we’d listen to the oldie station and my mom would quiz us on the music. Whether it was the Beach Boys, the Beatles, John Lennon, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Elvis. You’d get all those classics and then Elvis would come on and I’d get so stoked! When I was younger, my favorite was “Jailhouse Rock”and “Hound Dog,” and then when I got older, I loved “Blue Suede Shoes.” I love to dance to that song.
Maggie Rogers, “Alaska”
“Alaska” is so special to me because I love the outdoors and the way Maggie writes her music. It’s very poetic and you feel like you’re in the song. The lyrics make me think about being in Colorado or Big Sur and walking and experiencing the outdoors. I love the beach, but the beach is my office and my training camp. I tend to go to the forest when I’m not training, into nature. I love the camping aspect of the outdoors. I listen to that song and think about those camping trips and having a bonfire.
AC/DC, “Hell’s Bells”
I surf at Bells Beach and this song would always be blaring. It would be the morning national anthem for Bells. They play it for the first heat and you always looked forward to that heat just so you can hear that song. I ended up capturing a couple Bells [titles], and this is a strong badass song. You get fired up listening to it at 5 in the morning on the way to the beach.
Chuck Berry, “Johnny B. Goode”
If I am at any sort of pre-heat prep, I have Chuck Berry. I tell my friends, and they’re like, “Seriously you listen to Chuck Berry?” I’m like, “Yeah, cause if you’re in the mood to dance, you’re probably gonna be feeling pretty good!” And “Johnny B. Goode” is the one that makes me feel good every time I listen to it.
Marvin Gaye, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”
When things seem impossible, I find a way to make it happen, and that song is about that. I had certain individuals who were just naysayers, not in my family, but people that at the time I respected their perspective. When you love something that much, nothing can stop you and you always find a way, and that’s my relationship with surfing. Marvin Gaye, he got it right.
Katy Perry, “Roar”
When I was 4, I was called the Little Tiger, for my martial arts, and so when the song came out, with all its lyrics, I knew I had to have this song. It was super positive with me. I was still [running] track at the time and I’d play it every single day. When you need to dig deep, this song does it.
Lady Gaga, “The Cure”
I know I have a lot of strong songs I relate to on this list, but I do have a compassionate side, the yin to the yang. I love giving back and this song is about being always there for someone, even if they don’t need you. It embodies how I feel when I’m being of service to others.
Nina Simone, “Feeling Good”
This one gets me in that similar Chuck Berry mood, where I’m dancing and I’m internal versus outside and not consumed with so many of the things that are going on around us in the world today. We’re distracted by everything. When I listen to this, I submerge myself with being within and feeling the rhythm and the vibe and you just honestly end up feeling good.
Rag N Bone Man, “Human”
This is another of my pre-heat songs, or just pre-wanna-kick-some-butt or get yourself in that workout headspace. In life, as an athlete, you’re always pushing yourself every single time, and you have wins and you have losses, and you deal with it. At the end of the day, you have to realize you are only human. You let that stuff out and realize you can only control you in your decisions and be the best version of yourself.
I did track and field, cross country, and this song is about giving everything you have, every ounce of you and going for it, and not looking back. When you’re in the moment, the only thing you’re going to lose is your breath. That’s how I operate as an athlete. You keep going and you don’t look back or at your competitors behind you because it doesn’t matter. These lyrics ring really strong.