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The Art Of Playlist Making

I can’t do anything without music. Walking to class, doing homework, in the morning before school — there is never a time where I don’t have something playing. Nothing is worse than when you’re bored of the playlist you created. So what do you do? Make a new playlist entirely or clean the old one? […]

I can’t do anything without music. Walking to class, doing homework, in the morning before school — there is never a time where I don’t have something playing. Nothing is worse than when you’re bored of the playlist you created.

So what do you do? Make a new playlist entirely or clean the old one? Both daunting options that beg the question if a perfect playlist even exists. What makes a playlist perfect? A set number of songs? The dedication in decorating covers and deciding titles? The aesthetic of it all? Does anyone think they have a perfect playlist?

“I stumble upon songs, and then if I like them, I just put them in my playlist,” Bradley Bertossa (‘23) simply says. Playlists created to clearly define different genres may be the most obvious reason in making them. However, making playlists based off genre is not the only reason why we continue to create them.

Some playlists are created through a concept while others are based off of one song. The “specific vibe” of a song creates the theme of the playlist regardless of pertaining to the same genre. However, when focusing on one theme, the playlist eventually is more random with the addition of songs adjacent to the song that started it all, which “just becomes a mess at that point,” Tommy Goyette (‘23) reflects. “And then I make a new one” he says, because clicking the plus button is easier than cleaning the old playlist.

While some may have one huge playlist of liked songs and are content with the odd choice they’ve made, others need to find order from the mess. “There’s songs all around and I like them all and I want to reorganize it into one playlist,” Jenna Yates (’23) says.  

While Bradley and Tommy make new playlists, Jenna enhances hers. The enhance button on Spotify automatically adds more songs to a playlist when clicked. “I like enhancing my playlist so it’s like a little treat every time I listen to it, so it’s more random,” she says. 

Well, what does determine a song to be put into a playlist? “I try to imagine if I were in a movie, what would be the background song,” Lyka Pedersen (‘23) says. Strutting to music makes us feel like the “main character,” reinforcing our confidence in marching to the beat of our own drum. “Sometimes it’s a certain type of song, a certain feeling in a song” that we’re trying to replicate, as Jenna mentions.

“I make playlists for every activity I do,” Lyka explains. Music sets the tone “…for the morning, when I get ready, when I’m cooking…” she continues. It seems that some playlist makers hone in on a variety of times to curate the desired mood. But sometimes, playlists are used to interpret a range of feelings.

“Sometimes I feel sad, sometimes I feel happy and I need the music to be there,” Jenna says. There are “different facets of myself,” so a variety of playlists expresses every piece of who we are, as Adam Moreno (’23) explains.

“There’s lots of different things I use music for so it’s nice to have different playlists for each,” Joe Powers (‘23) begins. “Sometimes I’m very connected with the lyrics,” he says about his playlist creations.

“I really like lyrics especially when they apply to me in my current situation,” Adam adds. Making playlists based off of lyrics “describe exactly how you’re feeling without actually saying it.”

Music also serves as an online vision board. Song after song crafted into who we want to be in the future. “If I want to feel like an old person then I play this one, titled ‘trapped in the 1970s,’” Lyka says. Vision boards don’t just exist through the selection of songs themselves, but also through the careful choosing of cover photos and settling on a title. “My favorite part about [making playlists] is putting the pictures on it,” Jenna shares.

“Customization is a window into your soul [and] reflects your personality,” Adam adds.

A variety of playlists also functions as a time capsule. Joe explains his group of playlists called “exclusive to vibes” which is reserved for music that he has just discovered or likes the most at the time. He shares that the playlist serves for about four months and is a reflection of that time in his life. With his collection of the old playlists, he can go back and have chapters of his life to listen to. Then he proceeds to restart the process and creates a new time capsule.

Consistency is the main factor in what makes a playlist great. “When I get tired of too many songs on my playlist, I just make a new one and then never listen to the playlist again,” Bradley says. “If I’m ever done with a playlist, it’s like dead,” Adam adds. Old playlists become obsolete because listening to the same 10 songs over and over again gets boring.

“The playlist is great if every song on it is exactly what you’re looking for,” Joe explained. “A great playlist is a playlist that you don’t ever hear a song and you’re kind of disappointed.”  

With the careful selection of songs per playlist and the meticulous attention to detail in decorating each cover, does a perfect playlist exist? Maybe our favorite playlist is our perfect playlist. But perfection can only last so long. “Maybe I think a playlist is perfect for like a week and then it’s not perfect anymore,” Jenna describes.

The idea of perfection falters over time and is a concept unachievable in the playlist making world. “If I had the perfect playlist, then I’d stop making them,” Jenna continues.

“There is no such thing as a perfect playlist because I think that the beauty of the playlist is that they can always be changing,” Adam says. 

Playlist curators have an assortment of reasons in making the playlists they want to create making a perfect playlist subjective. Because what stands out to us in music differs from person to person, one thing reigns true — playlists evolve with us as we grow.

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