The music you hear playing on the radios in a foreign destination can become indelibly associated with your vacation memories.
Hear the same song played again several years later in a different place, and you can be instantly transported back to a foreign café (or hostel, hotel, taxi cab, or other public spot).
Enter, Blip.fm, a music-sharing website. Other people post their favorite songs, and you can listen to them—legally—for free. [Note: Some workplaces do not allow you to stream audio on your PC during the workday. Save this website for when you're off-duty!]
The site's easy to use: Search by name of artist or song title. Then click "play" and reminisce about your vacation.
For me, it was Cher's song "Believe," which seemed to be on every radio station in Mexico City in '98. And Tracy Chapman's "Fast Car," which had somehow resurfaced and become popular (seemingly) on every radio station in Florence in '01. And the title track from Everything But the Girl's "Like the Deserts Miss the Rain," which seemed to be playing on repeat in every single Parisian café in the '03. Not to mention Barry Manilow's "Copacabana," which was oddly popular in Nicaragua in '03, too.
Blip.fm lets anyone be a "DJ", posting online a playlist of songs you can listen to. My favorite DJ so far is, strangely enough, Hostels.com (which is, in case you don't know, a database of 25,000-plus hostels worldwide, complete with user ratings).
Some of the crew running this Ireland-based company have been posting their songs under the DJ name "hostels." Many of the songs are favorites played at hostels the world over. Other tunes are just idiosyncratic picks.
Did a song stick in your head during a recent trip?