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The Scene Kid: There’s an art to making the perfect playlist

first_imgIn a quarantine-fueled television binge, I recently finished Hulu’s television adaptation of the movie and book “High Fidelity,” starring Zoë Kravitz as Rob. I’d give the show a solid seven out of 10, but Kravitz makes it worth the watch. In the show, Rob mentioned a few other rules, too. Make the last song the best one, since listeners will remember that the most. Don’t include multiple songs by the same artist, unless doing so is appropriate considering your theme. Never put the playlist on shuffle. Plus, since the current pandemic is keeping the world from going on dates and in-person hangouts, how else are we supposed to share music with those we love? Zooming while watching the same live streamed concert? I don’t think it gets much better than a personalized playlist. So, with all this in mind, I’ve tried to put into words the playlist tips I silently follow while making my own. Finally, make your playlist diverse — if the theme allows! Include songs or artists they already love and ones you think they might like. Add music from different time periods as well. Try featuring a variety of genres, as well as artists with different races, genders and other identities. Giving your listener a hodgepodge of recommendations will avoid pigeon-holing your playlist and increase the likelihood that you’ll give your listener at least one new piece of music. (Plus, as a side benefit, you can brag about the range of music you know, which makes you seem extra cool.) On a related note, details matter. Make the title and description witty, cute or whatever adjective fits the theme you chose. Listen to the transitions between each of the songs to make sure the playlist flows well for peak listenability. Think about its length and alter it depending on the receivers’ free time and their attention span. I tend to make playlists about an hour long, featuring around 13 songs. OK, I get it. “High Fidelity” pokes fun at condescending music snobs who show off their random cultural knowledge in regular conversation. Though, I think labeling all playlists made for others as self-indulgent, arrogant or even boring does playlist-making a serious injustice. If done right, playlists can be heartfelt and intimate just for that other person, not just a reflection of what the maker enjoys. Personally, swapping playlists has been a hallmark activity in almost all of my close friendships. Throughout middle school and early high school, I included a burnt mix CD in every birthday gift I gave. I grew familiar with my college friends’ music taste by stalking their Spotify playlists. Often, I can pinpoint which songs in my music library I discovered from a specific friend in a playlist they gave me. These collections of songs have become the soundtracks of my adolescence and early adulthood. “You gotta kick it off with a killer, to grab attention,” John Cusack’s Rob said. “Then, you gotta take it up a notch. But, you don’t want to blow your wad, so you gotta cool it off a notch. There are a lot of rules.” As shameful as it may be to admit this, I have not watched the movie from 2000, nor read the original book. Yet, in the show, Rob explains the rules of making a perfect playlist, and when searching for the rules online after watching, I stumbled upon the clip from the film with the list.  During my search for these rules, I also stumbled upon an absolute roast of playlist-sharing in the age of streaming from this GQ article titled “The Sexy Mixtape Is Dead and ‘High Fidelity’ Can’t Bring It Back.” The piece’s most memorable line punched me in the heart: “But texting a link to a drag-and-drop Spotify playlist (even one that follows all of Rob’s rules) is a gesture that reads more like self-promotional spam.” First, pick a theme. Having some sort of focus helps narrow your search, so you avoid just adding random songs you like. Think about what the playlist recipient needs right now. Have they been stressed out lately? Make a calming compilation. Have the two of you talked about each other’s fears? Make a playlist with songs that remind you of the end of the world. Another fun theme I’ve followed in the past is using the order and titles of the songs included to tell a story. Try that out if you’re looking to get creative.  And, of course, have fun! Maybe you and your coronavirus pen pals can swap playlists and discover new tunes. When the world stops ending, those tracks will come in handy for the first post-coronavirus social gathering. Fiona Pestana is a junior writing about Los Angeles’ local music scene. Her column, “The Scene Kid,” ran every other Thursday.last_img

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