Confessed music snob Rob Gordon says, “The making of a good compilation tape is a very subtle art. Many dos and don’ts. First of all, you’re using someone else’s poetry to express how you feel. This is a delicate thing.” In short, it’s tough. And since the subtle art of the mixtape is now in our collective rear-view, let someone else curate your musical experience.
A good playlist, compiled by those in the know, is the next best way to expose yourself to something new, or comfort yourself with something you already know and love.
These playlists hail from the past and present and cover all the important musical ground floating along the streaming current of sound. Push that Spotify heart button and listen happily again and again and again.
What Hi-Fi? Playlist 2021
Leave it to the people who spend their days pondering the ideal hi-fi system to come up with a playlist that’ll truly test a speaker’s limits and/or exhibit its capabilities. What Hi-Fi? adds to their year-long playlist whenever they publish a new issue. 2021’s playlist is pushing 200 songs at last check and you’ll be hard pressed to find a wider variety of music. Big, new, old, obscure, rock, rap, indie pop, whatever genre Bartees Strange is. You will not get bored.
Pitchfork’s 200 Greatest Songs Of The 60s
Try and think of a bigger decade for music than the ‘60s. OK, fine, the ‘90s were pretty big. Also the ‘80s. And without the ‘70s we wouldn’t have punk, rap, or electronic music. But still, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Dylan and Hendrix. Woodstock, Motown, The Monkees. The decade was big. And who better to wade through the epicness than the massively influential music site Pitchfork? Their picks from the decade range from well-known to a little less so, but in true Pitchfork fashion, there’s not one Beatles song (hey, the critics have to follow their instincts).
Picture an open road and a classic car. Roadside diners and battered highway signs. You should be wearing a trucker cap and boots. You should have the speakers at full volume. And this is your playlist: Tom Petty, Willie Nelson, Led Zeppelin, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Put together by our sister site GearMoose, it makes driving to the grocery store feel like you’re just leaving it all behind.
Poppy, breezy, and sunny, the Chill Playlist from Tropical Friends is the next best thing to sitting under a palm tree by the ocean with an umbrella drink icing up your hand. The Weeknd, Skrillex, and Khalid lay down low and deep beats with plenty of easygoing layers of rhyme. Perfect for when it’s time to ease off of life’s throttle.
You can’t separate a Tarantino movie from its music. The director himself has said that a trip through his (extensive) music collection is where he finds the “spirit” of his movies. Tarantino’s Jukebox is a 90+-track playlist that takes you on your own tour through the songs that made the movies what they are, from Reservoir Dogs to Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
You want a good playlist, you go straight to the top. Spotify’s own playlist for Monday Motivation is full of booming, crescendoing, anthemic eardrum drivers that will have you fist pumping your way to work. An even hundred songs with picks like “Teenage Dirtbag,” “All These Things That I’ve Done,” “Dog Days Are Over,”and “Paper Planes.” Pair these songs with your morning coffee and you. Will. Be. Unstoppable.
If you lived through the ‘80s and ‘90s, you see it as the golden age. Our rose-colored retrospection scrubs away the harsh edges (Cold War, Rwanda) and leaves the shiny pink of the cultural burgeoning of really good music. Spotify’s Gold School Playlist includes a parade of first-rate rap tracks from the genre’s early days. Want 2Pac, Salt-N-Pepa, and Busta Rhymes all in the same place? Hit shuffle.
100 Greatest Movie Songs
There’s just not enough time in anyone’s life to rewatch all their favorite films. Throw this 100 Greatest Movie Songs playlist in your rotation and you’ll be instantly transported to Mark Renton’s flight from the Edinburgh cops, Mia Wallace’s overdose, John Bender’s raised fist on the football field, Bastian’s triumphant, bully-taunting ride on Falkor, or any of the countless scenes set to the tune of “Fortunate Son.”
New Music Friday
Continually refreshed, Spotify’s New Music Friday is where you will find your next new favorite artist—or at least a few new favored songs you cue up for the next six weeks. It’s the best playlist for anyone who’s looked at their listening history and realized it contains very few albums released post-2004. Careers are launched here and if you like it, add it to your library. This playlist is wonderful, but it is vast and continually rearranging itself like sand in the desert.
Looking for an argument? Cue up Spotify’s Classic Punk playlist in front of your music-fiend friends and ask them if every song in this 50-ish track playlist qualifies. The answer is probably no, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t one damn fine playlist with essential tracks from The Sex Pistols, Minutemen, and The Stooges, with a little DEVO and Elvis Costello thrown in just to stir up some trouble.