Right now I’m listening to my favorite mindless yet groovy playlist. A little bit of Biggie and CCR mixed in with some Lana Del Rey and plenty of Rolling Stones, with just a hint of early 00s nostalgia, a healthy dose of Motown, and, of course, “Let It Go” from Disney’s Frozen since, as we all know, no playlist is legally allowed to exist today without “Let It Go” from Disney’s Frozen.
It’s what I listen to when I need to be able to focus without being distracted by the urge to sing along with any of that maddeningly catchy Top 40 or, my personal kryptonite, Country. This playlist’s juxtaposition of modern and classic keeps me on my toes while seamlessly flowing together into the perfect stream of in-the-zone music.
This playlist is good for many occasions. It’s a people pleaser. It both allows people to converse without distraction and provides for those satisfying “I love this song!” moments that make you feel proud to have compiled such a perfect collection. It’s got something for everyone, and it’s not divisive like playing, I don’t know, Pitbull might be. It’s the playlist you can subtly put on in the background without anyone being like “Dude.. WTF is this.” It’s just cool enough that no one is going to question your taste in music, but just mainstream enough that you don’t look like the hipster douche no one wants to be around. We all have some version of this playlist, and after noticing some questionable music choices made by friends and acquaintances at social gatherings, I’m here to say that maybe we need to rest on this playlist a little more heavily. At least in public.
See, I don’t listen to this playlist all the time. When I’m in the shower, I have another playlist. It’s got a lot of Ke$ha in it, so what? I know all the words, OK? I like to dance in the shower, OK? And if I’m also using a mixture of Jack Daniels and multicolor glitter as body wash to fully embrace the spirit of the Ke$h then I guess that’s none of your business, is it?
When I’m on a road trip, I have another playlist. It’s not so much of a playlist as it is the soundtracks to High School Musicals 1, 2, and 3: Senior Year, so what? I am wont to reminisce on my youth, OK? Sometimes I need to listen to every song twice so that I can sing it once as Gabriella and then again as Troy, OK? And if I occasionally swerve off the road a little because I’m doing the full choreography to “We’re All In This Together” then maybe you should stop judging me and take a second to reflect on your own life, OK?
Those types of playlists are just as crucial to our sanity as the perfect Master people-pleaser playlist is, but they aren’t meant to be whipped out and flung around carelessly like a Christopher Walken impression at parties. They’re for personal use when alone, or with a small group of close friends, or at your cult gathering. Times when you really know the other people and their taste in music.
The perfect Master people-pleaser playlist is great because, like a t-shirt and jeans, it goes with everything. Hey, sometimes it’s even good for the office! But your “60s Afro Funk + Best Jazz Standards!!” playlist is more like a really tight speedo. It’s cool that you can pull that off and all, but no one wants to deal with that right now.
I’m all for freedom of expression, but when it comes to dictating what music is going to be put in other people’s ears, I think it’s only fair we all exercise caution. So next time you’re on iPod DJ duty at a party, or in the car with people you only kind of know, or at a place of business/retail and you get the urge to bump that dope new Andrea Bocelli track you just found, maybe just don’t. Maybe just stick with Drake and call it a day. You can blast Italian opera to your heart’s content when you get home. Being appointed DJ is not a right. It is a privilege with which comes great responsibility. Don’t abuse the power of the iPod. DJ safe, and always remember the Golden Rule: No Nickelback, please.