Some people make playlists for special occasions but I like to make playlists for specific moods. There are some songs you just can’t listen to without emotional preparation. For example, you just can’t randomly start listening to the Hospice album by The Antlers unless you want to be reduced to a pile of blubbering mush for the next 12 hours. As one of my friends once eloquently put it: “Hospice, man. That album is responsible for approximately 47 percent of the tears in my lifetime.” Just as you can’t fully experience “Honey Bunny” by Girls unless you’re driving down the 101 with your top down, feeling that special, carefree elation that only summer brings. It’s true that some moods and some songs are inexplicably linked, which is precisely what makes my playlists so personal. And so, here I am about to expose my deepest darkest iTunes “Most Played Songs” to you, providing the very material for which you may use to mock me. Devoid of shame, I’ll rundown the playlists that comprise the soundtrack of my life.
“When I’m Feeling Ghettofabulous”
This is, by far, my most-played playlist, and it’s come to aggregate every peripherally related song I might want to listen to when I’m getting ready to go out, going out or trying to provide common ground for disparate music listeners when I’m already out. I mean, you just can’t not relate to old school Usher — and if you really can’t relate, I can already tell we have nothing in common. Confessions Part II was at least 50 percent responsible for Generation Y’s libido (and at least 70 percent responsible for my own). This playlist is truly exhaustive, comprising music undeniably ghettofabulous — or whatever I, as the most non-ghetto Asian girl, may deem as such. Admittedly, some tracks are a little out of place, but I’ll fight to the death to keep “Roses” by Outkast next to Dre’s Chronic, below Biz Markie and above my beloved A Tribe Called Quest. The next time you hear a girl hijack the DJ station at a frat party, plugging in an iPhone to blast Wu Tang over, like, “Levels” or some similar nonsense, know that I have risked my neck in order to bring boogie justice to the world, one verse of “C.R.E.A.M.” at a time.
“When I’m Feeling Background Music-y”
As my second most-played playlist, this set is characterized by its shared qualities of slower-paced, more ambient sounds — in other words, “chill study muzak” (which is, coincidentally, what this playlist is cross-listed as in my Spotify). It runs the gamut from old-ish indie rock veterans Belle & Sebastian to neo-soul Nujabes and even to classical concertos (where my Vivaldi at, bro). For math and word-less work, I tend to go with music with some verbiage for the cognitive stimulation. Otherwise, for reading-centered study, I tone down the verbal complexity, which is where foreign music (French folk, usually), hip hop instrumentals and soundtracks (Dario Marianelli makes a mean one) come in. Side note: This is also the perfect hangover recovery playlist between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 a.m. on Sunday mornings. Nothing like some “Superstar” by Sonic Youth to lull me a less head-pounding state.
“When I’m Feeling ’90s/’00s Nostalgic”
Awwww shiettt, ain’t nothing like harmonizing boy bands to make me feel like I’m seven and staring at a poster of Boys II Men. If this playlist doesn’t stir the deepest parts of your elementary-aged soul, then you most likely lived under a rock for the entirety of the bubble gum pop ’90s. And don’t forget: This was the time period that allowed you to say, “I liked Train before ‘Hey Soul Sister’” and back when Justin Timberlake starred in the “Drops of Jupiter” music video — rather, back when music videos were still a thing. A childhood just isn’t a childhood if you never conjectured what “I’m blue da ba dee da ba die” means. Whether you want to admit it or not, you do enjoy a little throwback of Dido or Blink 182 or Backstreet Boys every once in a while. Everything from Beck to Smash Mouth to TLC resides in this playlist, and every one of these songs is an all-time fave. This playlist is seriously a time portal back to when you knew every word to “MMMBop” (except I still know every word to “MMMBop” so...). Actually, looking back, this playlist may or may not just be a rip-off of Kidz Bop Vol. 6.