The Anatomy of a Playlist

So, recently I accidentally left my cell phone at home and didn’t realize it until I was almost to my destination. My first feeling was panic…what if engine suddenly went up in flames and I was stranded on the side of the road??…and then I kind of floated above myself, just like the movies, and I thought about how people have driven cars far longer than cell phones have been in existence. When you think about it, it’s kind of crazy how carefree we were back then. Just zooming around without a worry in the world. Sure, those were simpler times (we were practically Amish), but let’s face it—a world with iTunes is a world that I want to be a part of. Because my playlists are WAY better than anything the radio has to offer. Okay, fine, some of the songs on the radio are also on my playlists. But that’s hardly the point. The point is that my finely curated music, set to my exacting specifications, is better than OTHER people’s curated music. Simply put? My playlist could beat your playlist up.

(Before you get mad and start plotting revenge, let me just say this: you probably have more of a social life than I do. So, don’t take my songs away from me, okay? The music is my life…OR other words that are less dramatic.)

Over the years, I have honed my playlist building skillz (yes, with a “z”. They are THAT gansta). And now, because we are friends, I will share a few basic principles to building a perfect playlist for yourself and to share with the WORLD! And sharing is caring. And cleanliness is next to godliness. And idle hands…wait, where were we? Oh, right. Also, I am very caps-locky tonight. Sorry about that.

DogHeadphoneAnyway. Here are Amy’s Playlist Making Cardinal Rules. You’re welcome.

  1. The first song sets a tone. Save the ballads to fill in the middle sections. The first song should be peppy, hook-y, and make you want to play it on repeat.
  2. Variety is the spice of life…and of playlists. I myself do not enjoy all genres of music equally, but usually there is something in each that is appealing. For instance, I steer clear of any country music that’s too twangy, but pop country is totally up my alley…in small doses.
  3. Transitions are important. Before you burn to a CD or a flash drive or whatever you kids are using these days, check to see how each song transitions into the next. Alternating fast tempo songs with slow and different genres will make each song stand out more clearly.
  4. Take a risk! I love discovering new music. I am constantly Shazaam-ing songs in restaurants, from the radio, and/or in stores. Plus, I have a few TV shows that I watch that use excellent music, so is my new favorite. You can search by show and episode to find out the name of the song and artist. And if you’re like me, the next step is download too many songs. And $1.29 a lot of times over tends to add up. Like shopping in the dollar section at Target. Not that I know that from experience or anything.
  5.  Sometimes I think I’ll like a song more than I actually end up liking it. This is the downside to the risk-taking in step 4. So, I give myself a week with all the songs on my playlist. If I find myself constantly skipping a song, I take it off. My time is too presh for that tomfoolery.
  6. I don’t always succeed, but I try not to include multiple songs from the same artist on any playlist that I share. That’s super hard because usually I am OBSESSED with one artist and am playing them on repeat. So, sometimes I break my own rule. Let’s not forget, I’m also a maverick.
  7. If the playlist is to share, I tend to look for songs that aren’t played on the radio. If an artist that I love has a hit (or five…thanks a lot, Taylor Swift), I’ll look for another song on the same album that I like and include that instead. Odds are that whomever I am bequeathing the mix CD to has a radio and listens to it. So they probably already know those songs.

I know it might seem like all I do is sit at home in the dark, the only light coming from my computer as I maniacally download song after song. And I’m a weirdo, but I’m not THAT weird. I just can’t get enough of music. It’s creativity, whether profound or frivolous, makes my day.

Any music I should know about? I have an empty playlist always at the ready. 🙂




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