how to make a good mix list

My sisters claim I have an enviable ability to compose good playlists. On the iPod, on the computer, whatever. I don’t know about that, but, alarmed by their requests to come and visit just so that I can make playlists for them, I present the not-so-definitive guide to making good mix lists.
1. Watch High Fidelity. (It’s based on the book by Nick Hornsby and it features John Cusak. Seriously, can’t get better than that.) The main character gives several good guidelines to making a good mixtape, some of which may be repeated here because I can’t remember what they were. I just remember they were good.
2. Know who your audience is going to be. Is this for you personally or a group? Is it a party playlist that needs to get people moving, or will it just be background music? Knowing where it will be played will affect the tone of the list, but don’t get stuck in a rut.
3. Never repeat artists on a playlist.
4. Don’t use anything from the current top 40 unless there’s a joke attached to it. (That’s my music snobbishness showing.) Instead of the hit single, find the less well-known but better piece from the same album, and include that.
5. Try to fit as many genres as possible without losing the pace of the list. (Yes, that includes country.)
6. Throw in a piece or two by indie artists to impress people with your esoteric musical taste.
7. Include at least a couple of songs that people will know, that generate the “Oh! I love this song!” response. Often, this will be an older song.
8. Include a song that makes you laugh, or at least smile. And no, I don’t mean parodies. Use a song that has good memories for you.
9. Every playlist should have at least one U2 song on it.
10. Ignore all of the above, and mix songs you love.
If you need ideas, listen to any soundtrack by Cameron Crowe. Also try the soundtracks to:
Mr. & Mrs. Smith (Goes from The Righteous Brothers to Air Supply)
High Fidelity (duh! It has Jack Black singing “Let’s Get it On.” How awesome is that?)
Drop Dead Gorgeous
Garden State
The O.C. (Yes, cliched I know, but they have some good stuff.)
Now, what’s your best playlist?


~ by wildeyedwonder on March 31, 2006.

6 Responses to “how to make a good mix list”

  1. Funny, this morning I was thinking about my “spring” playlist. I haven’t nailed down the precise songs that epitomize the first warm breezes and smell of damp earth, but the artists are Oasis, Keane, Avalon, Aqualung and Lovedrug. There are more, but those are the ones I’m stuck on right now.

  2. I think she was hinting that our mixed CD we sent her sucked.

    We understand.

    Now will you come visit?

  3. Just gave this to a friend. It ignores some of the rules, but it is a great “drive with your windows down and volume up” mix…

    Inside Out
    Eve 6

    Stacy’s Mom
    Fountains of Wayne

    Wake Me Up When September Ends
    Green Day

    The Goo Goo Dolls

    Perfect Situation

    The Way

    Blow It Out
    The Features

    The Geeks Get the Girls
    American Hi-Fi

    Over My Head
    The Fray

    Doesn’t Remind Me

    Boulevard of Broken Dreams
    Green Day

    Move Along
    The All-American Rejects

    Savin’ Me

    Time of Your Life
    Green Day

    Snow Patrol

    They’re all great songs, and span the last 10 years. šŸ™‚

  4. The above comment, by “koreanconnection” was by me. I didn’t realize that I was logged in under my parents’ blog address. šŸ™‚ Yeah – they would probably hate that playlist.

  5. J – Do share! Want to see the completed list!
    PC- That is so not true! I’ve actually been pondering this post for about a week, long before you sent the package. (Besides, I haven’t listened to the CDs yet. Saving them for Saturday so we can follow all the instructions in your card.)
    C – Fun playlist. You really like Green Day! Oh, and if you like “Stacy’s Mom” you should listen to “Bright Future in Sales” from the same album. Same infectious hook, without the “oh gosh if I hear this song one more time I will shoot myself” possible side effects.

  6. Hmm….I usualy use the WinAmp “MusicMagic Mix” Button šŸ˜›

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