Monday, February 11, 2008

the art of playlist making

my friend John writes for this national college newspaper (ie, his lexicon may rival Shakespeare's) but he's verrrrry sneaky about showing anyone his articles.

my friend Katherine from home, who goes to Union, was having a bunch of people over for a power hour. so she googles "the perfect party mix" and stumbles upon John's article. ha, got yaaaaaaa.

john, i especially enjoy the jk/adi reference. nice work. well put.

Crafting the Perfect Party Playlist
by John Redmond, The Campus Word

Is the perfect party playlist an entertainment El Dorado? Can it be created, or will it always fall victim to irascible requesters and philosophical frat brothers? John Redmond goes searching for party throwing's white whale.

More often than not when I attend a party--of course only when there aren’t any irresistible babes around--I find myself flipping through the host’s iPod. I don’t feel bad about it at the time, but when I think about it now, when I start doing this I am messing with one person’s opinion of what sort of music should be playing at this party; one person, usually the host, spent time before the party compiling this list of songs. It's rude, I cannot avoid the feeling that it is something that must be done.

Creating a party playlist is a big responsibility. You're forced to try to please everyone, while still maintaining a certain unique aspect. For many people, the party playlist is a matter of pride. These people view their tastes as somehow superior and attuned to what everybody will enjoy hearing at any given moment. Two fall semesters ago, as a new member of the Psi Upsilon fraternity on campus, I was stopped by a fellow brother when I interrupted his playlist with one of my own selections. While I cannot remember exactly what his words were, he said something to effect of, “I know that you and I know what good music is. But there is a difference between good music and frat party music. You’ll learn this someday.” What exactly this meant eluded me at the time (and still does)—I know what typical frat party music sounds like and his playlist certainly didn’t resemble it, but I shrugged off his comment and went on my way.

Is there such a thing as the perfect party playlist? One that, while pleasing everyone, still offers fun, new, and unique songs that move beyond the overplayed and predictable? The person who stopped me to offer this bit of wisdom would undoubtedly contend that the answer is yes, and I think I would have to agree. It's not hard to create a list with such qualities. One needs only to balance the tried and true, i.e. 80’s classics like “Come on Eileen”, with the unexpected and energizing, perhaps a Ramones or Arctic Monkeys tune. One thing that can be agreed upon is that the list must maintain a consistent mood—similar to what is done on the website PANDORA with their song suggestions. The mood needs to be set, and should exhibit a number of energy building sequences; the list should climax several times throughout its duration. This is to say that the mood must be punctuated by artfully-timed, crowd pleasing song selections that lead to general feelings of ecstasy in the party-goers.

Above I said that I would have to agree with my overzealous fraternity brother on the question of whether one can craft a perfect party playlist. I hold to this, but will qualify my answer with a practical assertion—one cannot avoid a situation in which some person really, really, wants to hear a particular song that, for whatever reason, was not on the playlist. As DJ for the night, one needs to honor requests--otherwise people become unhappy. And nobody wants that. A list can be perfectly crafted with all of the aforementioned qualities taken into consideration, but when confronted with an adamant party-goer, it can prove hard to explain the list’s virtues.

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