Creating playlist magic: a narcissist’s how-to guide

A few months ago my brother got married, and like any sensible person with half a brain he asked me to put together the playlist. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, creating killer playlists for any event in your life is easier than ever. All you need is a premium Spotify account and decent taste in music. Sadly many people have appalling taste in music (shoutout to all my Triple J listening readers), which is why I’m here with this handy guide to creating playlist magic.

Trust your instincts

Repeat after me: I am the playlist master, I have exceptional taste in music and anyone who disagrees doesn’t deserve to have such pleasing sounds enter their ears. Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate. (Speaking of Taylor Swift, go right ahead and select her entire back catalogue, right click and add to playlist immediately. Your job is already half done.)

Early on in the process my brother and his fiancée sent me a Google sheet with a list of suggested songs. You could tell they’d put a lot of thought of into what kind of music they wanted played at their wedding and how they could incorporate the songs each of them liked. They had even gone to the effort of adding a ‘comments’ column with suggestions for exactly when during the day specific songs could be played.

The first thing I did was to delete this file and never look at it again. It’s great that people have songs they like or whatever but they should really be leaving these things to the professionals. Always remember: you know how to craft a spectacular playlist and input from others is unnecessary and quite frankly unwelcome.

Think about the occasion

You can always tell when little to no thought has been put into a playlist. This is often the result of asking your brother/footy mate/dim cousin to be in the charge of the music and ending up with a hastily selected playlist from the Spotify homepage. I love Coffee + Chill as much as the next person, but when the event is your little sister’s 18th birthday party something more upbeat is probably appropriate. I once attended a wedding where the entire dinner playlist consisted of James Blunt and Adele. Break up songs. They were playing break up songs at a wedding.

Always bear in mind the nature of the event when selecting songs. And also that under no circumstances, and I mean no circumstances, is it appropriate to play anything that would appear in the Indie section of JB Hi-Fi. What you choose to listen to in the privacy of your own home is up to you but don’t go enforcing Sigur Ros or whatever on me.

It’s all about flow

You can tell a quality playlist from the seamless transitions between songs, or ‘flow’ as they say in the biz. Music sets the tone for the occasion, which is why having a good playlist is the single most important component of any major event. You think in years to come people are going to remember how in love you were at your wedding or what a beautiful day it was or the great times they had with wonderful friends? No. They’re going to remember the music and the mood it created.

Every event has distinct stages and any half decent playlist will reflect this. No one wants Outkast belligerently insisting that they ‘shake it, sh- sh- sh- shake it, shake it like a polaroid picture’ while they’re enjoying some pre-dinner champagne and mini Asian crab cakes encrusted with sesame seeds and topped with cucumber and wasabi. Your job as playlist curator is to seamlessly move the party from hors d’oeuvres to dance floor, with no sudden jolts or awkward transitions. Say it with me: ‘flow’.

If all else fails

The most important thing to remember through all of this is that as the playlist creator you are the most significant person at this event. As such it’s only fair that the songs selected match your own tastes. In other words, just pick songs you like because at least one person at your party will be happy and that’s more than I can say for many events I’ve attended.

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