You’ve probably noticed I’m obsessed with the P-word lately. I post about it. I talk about it on Twitter. I make them. Yes, friends…I am addicted to playlists.
And I’m not entirely sure how I got here. I never spent endless hours making the perfect mix for a boy I was head-over-heels for. I don’t consider myself an expert, carefully crafting every rise and fall of a collection of songs. I haven’t ever hand-drawn an album cover. (Although I have been known to put one or two together in Photoshop…).
It just kind of happened: I became a girl with a whole category on her blog devoted to playlists. Why? Because I love putting together little collections of songs – music that makes you feel something, music that will get you amped up for an adventure, music to set the tone for an event or weekend.
Somewhere along the way, I became the kind of girl who has a soundtrack for everything. Recently I’ve been finding myself spending more time with streaming services that offer user-created playlists, like 8tracks. It’s an endless rabbit hole of playlists for every genre and theme you could imagine. And as I sort through these, I find myself drawn to certain playlists more than others because of a few simple factors.
So in this month’s edition of how to be a good groupie…here are 6 quick tips for creating the perfect playlist for anything:
Make the songs relate
This is the number one rule I follow when creating a playlist. Perhaps it comes from too many years in the print journalism industry and living by the “space is precious” standard, but everything that goes on a playlist should have a reason for being there. Picking a theme or genre for your playlist and running with it (even if it’s as simple as ‘this is the music I love right now’) will go a long way in making your playlist cohesive and one that will be played again and again. (I speak from experience.)
Consider the tempo
Think about your favorite album by your favorite band: there’s some natural ebb and flow to the tempo of the songs, right? The album probably has a few faster songs, a few slower songs, and they are placed in an order that feels like a natural progression.
A playlist should be like an album, curated by you. For general playlists, I like a good mix of upbeat tunes as well as some softer songs to make the overall feel more dynamic. (Even sticking in an upbeat acoustic song here and there will work.) If I have a specific purpose in mind – like road trips or my Halloween party – I usually stick to all upbeat tunes to keep the momentum going because that’s what the activity requires. For quieter playlists, like my winter mix, I go all soft. Much like picking a theme or genre, giving a little attention to your songs tempo will help bring the entire thing together and improve your listening experience. The tempo you pick will depend on your theme as well as the mood you’re trying to set, which leads me to…
Set the tone
Music at just the right spot in television or film music makes us feel something when we hear it whether we know it or not. A good playlist should have the same effect. It should set a tone, cast the mood and help enhance the overall feel you’re going for – even if it’s what you listen to while sitting at your desk and staring at the rain falling instead of working.
A playlist should be a soundtrack for your life, not just some songs thrown together. A little bit of attention to this will go a long way in making your playlist the one you and your friends go back to time and time again.
Pick a song for everyone
Creating a playlist for a crowd? If you know them well enough, pick songs based on what you friends will enjoy. Now is not the time to play tons of songs by that one obscure Japanese band you love. All it takes is one song to make you feel at home in a group setting, and that mutual love of a song just might help you meet your new best friend. I’m not saying bend over backwards and load up on the Top 40 crap just to please some eardrums. Make your playlist approachable to everyone. (And enjoy it when you friends say, “Ohmygosh, I love this song!”)
Only pick songs you’re passionate about
This one is key to creating the perfect playlist. When I put together my Halloween party playlist every year, I ask myself what mood I’m trying to create and why the song matters, why it should be included. Maybe you’re creating a workout playlist – does the song make you want to run faster and work harder? It goes on the list! Does it have a decent beat but you don’t identify with the lyrics? Leave it out. Remember, we’re creating a life soundtrack here!
When all else fails, throw all this out the window & do what you damn well please
Look, playlists exist as collection of songs you love for a reason. Whether it’s songs that make you happy, songs that comfort you when you’re sad…as long as it’s a collection of music that you love (and maybe want to share with a few others), that’s all that really matters in the end. So seriously, when all else fails…ignore all this advice and just do whatever you want as long as you’re sharing music you love because that’s what good groupies do!
What tips do you have for creating the perfect playlist?