Tag Archives: playlist

Making Custom Sorted Playlists, aka “Being OCD About My Music Collection”

I suppose it was inevitable–categorizing my music as heavily as I do now, I mean. Being musical and being fairly OCD…well, my labeling and listing bug got hold of my music collection and had a field day. Now, with iTunes’ playlist feature, I can make all the nitpicky little playlists I want. LOL

The Beginning: Playlists that Move from Energy to Relaxation

This “labeling and sorting” music craze of mine began with self-made mix CDs back in high school (~2002), throwing together a haphazard list of my 15-19 newest favorite songs and arranging them into a mix that somehow kinda-sorta made sense.

For instance, this is one of my self-made mixes from around 2006-2007 (I think), titled “A.D.D.” for its relative craziness. Nevertheless, I did try to group songs together, not by subject matter or alphabetization, but by song sound–the most energetic songs appeared first on the mix, whereas the more downtempo songs appeared last.

I did pretty much all my CD mixes this way for a long time, simply because I like listening to faster music more often and I wanted the faster songs more readily available (i.e., not having to skip a bunch of tracks to get to them). It worked well for me; as the CD played through, I worked through all the faster songs and then, if I wished, I could move on to slower, more chill stuff.

Next Steps: Chromatic Playlists (Warning: Music Nerd Alert)

But I also began experimenting with different ways to arrange playlists–take my current “New Favorites” playlist, which is arranged by musical key on an ascending chromatic scale:

Before arranging this mix, I used the “Comments” column of my iTunes music library to tag each song with its proper musical key. Then, I grouped all the songs in C major or minor together, followed by C# major and minor, then D major and minor, and so on, up to B major and minor at the end of the playlist.

The natural upward progression of keys makes my inner music major happy (and provides less of a shock to my perfect pitch when switching between songs). While the songs’ subject matters often have nothing in common, it’s also interesting to see how different composers use the same key to express such different ideas.

Fun With Labels: Playlists by Subject Matter/Use

You’ll notice, however, that not only are the above songs tagged with musical key information, but with other strange keywords. That’s one of my newer labeling strategies: making playlists by subject matter.

For instance, here’s a few selections from my “Rarrrr” (angry) playlist, which is good for getting out frustrations:

…and a few from my “Love” playlist (which includes songs about the pain of love as well as the joy of it):

I even have an extended playlist called “Butt Whoopin'” for those times when you’re stampeding through a video game level and need appropriately inspiring music. (It works–try it out :P)

And finally, a playlist of several of the songs my Zumba class uses to work out by:

Each of these playlists helps me to establish a certain mood (or, in the case of the “Rarrrr” mix, dispel it). It’s great to ride down the road toward Zumba class on Thursday nights, for instance, with my Zumba mix going, previewing so many of the cool songs I’ll be dancing to that night. I like gathering songs of the same subject matter together so that the playlist makes good lyrical sense from song to song.

For the Really Bored Hardcore Labelers: Playlists By Time Period

Lately, however, I’ve been into making playlists that focus on one particular time period of music, especially if the time period is instantly recognizable and singular in style.

Take these selections from the two most notable “time period” playlists I’ve made thus far: Oldies and Headbangers (50s/60s pop and 80s rock, respectively):


When I’m in a particularly “oldies” mood, or in a particularly 80s-rock mood, I know just which playlist to select. But it’s not just about the music, but the memories attached to each song; for the Oldies playlist, it brings up memories of riding in the car with my dad as a kid, listening to the local oldies station on the radio, for instance.

Time period playlists are great for nostalgia purposes as well as musical purposes–and after all, isn’t most music created to remember events and feelings better?

How Do You Make Your Own Playlists?

Leave me your thoughts in the comments. Have any different ideas for playlists besides the ones listed here? I’d love to hear ’em! (No pun intended 😛 )

Songs to Inspire the Creative Impulse

When I’m feeling generally down or just not inspired to create anymore, sometimes I use music to help me get back some of those drained creative juices. So I’ll turn on a little music to make me happy, or some music that makes me want to achieve the same kind of beauty I’m hearing. It always works–sooner rather than later, my mood is lifted and my Muse is hard at work again.

Here’s a short playlist of songs that work for me, to make me happy and excited about music all over again. Listen through and enjoy!

Songs for a Happy, Inspired Creator

Flashdance (What a Feeling) – Irene Cara

Uptight (Everything’s Alright) – Stevie Wonder

Shout – The Isley Brothers

The Touch – Stan Bush (from Transformers)

(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life – Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes (from Dirty Dancing)

When Love Takes Over (feat. Kelly Rowland) – David Guetta

How Will I Know (Junior Vasquez Mix) – Whitney Houston

Let’s Get Loud – Jennifer Lopez

That’s the Way It Is – Celine Dion

Pyramid (Dave Aude Radio Edit) – Charice

Somewhere Only We Know – Keane

Songs to Make Me Want to Sing and Play

Bloody Tears from Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest (performed by Rey Tang on Youtube)

Lux Aurumque – Eric Whitacre’s YouTube Choir

To Zanarkand (from Final Fantasy X) – Final Fantasy Orchestra

Saltwater – Chicane

Speak Softly Love – City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra

Radical Dreamers (Instrumental) – Yasunori Mitsuda (from Chrono Cross)

All I Ask of You (from Phantom of the Opera) – Sarah Brightman and Cliff Richard

Water World Theme (from Super Mario 64) – Koji Kondo

The Call – Regina Spektor

Before Dawn – Isaac Shepard

I giorni – Ludovico Einaudi

Songs Made Popular by the Internet

As Internet (and especially social media) have become more and more popular, music has begun making its way around the world in record time. It’s not surprising that many artists and bands now get their start via the Internet, given that it’s fairly cheap to use and promote your songs, garnering the attention of record labels if you’re very lucky.

But the Internet is also great for circulating music that makes us laugh, makes us cry, or even makes us put our hands over our ears (but not before we share it with our friends so that we can commiserate). Here below is a small playlist of some of the songs and memes that have made it big because of the Internet:

Gangnam Style – PSY

Can’t leave this one off the list! Even the radio stations in my little section of North Carolina played this dancey little K-pop tune, which also popularized the dance (and many hilarious attempts at imitating it).

Link to Video
Never Gonna Give You Up – Rick Astley

I couldn’t directly embed this video, but the link above is the original 80s song from which all Rickroll memes spawned. 😀

Peanut Butter Jelly Time

You know what time it is. (I’ve always thought this would be a great official song for preschools everywhere… XD)

This is the infamous “Leekspin” meme; image is Inoue from the anime Bleach, song is “Ieva’s Polokka” by Loituma. As addictive as it is repetitive, this little song started as a website and grew quickly to an Internet phenomenon.

Link to Game
Surrealism (from Loops of Zen) – XGamer

A user by the screenname of XGamer created this darkly ethereal tune for a Flash game called Loops of Zen, and the song went on to become just about as popular as the game.

Call on Me – Eric Prydz

Using just the chorus from “Valerie” by Steve Winwood, Eric Prydz created this upbeat little dance track, and it caught the Internet on fire soon after.

Red Solo Cup – Toby Keith

You can’t watch this video or listen to this song without snickering–it’s a hilarious (and eerily accurate) depiction of a casual party, complete with (you guessed it) red Solo cups for the drinks.

I Dreamed a Dream (performed by Susan Boyle)

We all laughed with the judges and the audience as Boyle introduced herself…and then, our jaws dropped along with everyone else’s as she began to sing. :’)

Canon Rock – JerryC

An absolutely amazing arrangement of Canon in D by Pachelbel–adding a heavy metal guitar to the graceful, liquid chords gives this placid little song a modern, rockin’ edge. 😀

Moskau – Dschinghis Khan

Nobody on the Internet seemed to know what this was or who was singing it for the longest time, but it seemed we ALL knew this disco dance song!

Numa Numa (also known as Dragostea Din Tei, by the Romanian band O-Zone)

As with Moskau, no one seemed to know the name of this song, the band’s name, or anything–we all got to know this song because of one internet user who happened to record himself singing (funnily) along with the song. 🙂

Friday – Rebecca Black

Yes, yes, I know, cringe in horror and run away from the computer screen if you must, but this song did get popular mainly because of the Internet (and because of all the parodies surrounding it, too!).

Threw It On the Ground – The Lonely Island

One of this band’s many online hits, this song is a satire of the “thug” and “gangsta” attitudes as much as it is funny for the sight gags in it.

Tunak Tunak Tun – Daler Mehndi

This Indian artist was critiqued so much for his videos starring beautiful women as dancers that he decided to play a trick on his critics; he did this song’s entire music video using only himself as all the “dancers,” with all the latest in video-editing and green-screen technologies. It soon became his largest hit because of the Internet. Funny how that worked! 😛

Songs to Pwn the Bad Guys By

Whether you’re playing on a console, a handheld device, or your computer, sometimes you need a little musical inspiration for defeating the bad guys in your favorite games. (Personally, the following playlist is almost exactly like the one I use for playing City of Heroes! :D)

So, I’ve gathered up these songs, each one a fight song in its own right, to keep you kicking butt and taking names (virtually, of course). Enjoy this extended playlist!

We’re Not Gonna Take It – Twisted Sister

Indestructible – Disturbed

Dies Irae (Wrath of God) from Verdi’s “Requiem”

C*m On Feel the Noize – Quiet Riot

Think – Aretha Franklin

Uprising – Muse

You Give Love a Bad Name – Bon Jovi

Gotta Get Thru This – Daniel Bedingfield

Through the Fire and Flames – Dragonforce

Unstoppable (feat. Lil Wayne) – Kat Deluna

Smoke on the Water – Deep Purple

War – Edwin Starr

Burn It to the Ground – Nickelback

Trouble – P!nk

Rock You Like a Hurricane – Scorpions

Brave – Kelis

Invincible – Pat Benatar

Headstrong – Trapt

These Boots Are Made for Walkin’ – Nancy Sinatra

Bulletproof – La Roux

4 Minutes (feat. Justin Timberlake & Timbaland) – Madonna

We Will Rock You – Queen

Songs to Worship By

Music is a definite part of my worship process; I love singing about God and to God. I know He hears me, and I know I can use song as prayer and worship both. So many times we get caught up in the “style” of worship music, and we forget that it’s all meant to honor and praise God.

Today, I’m offering a playlist of all sorts of worship songs. Play through and enjoy, and have your own worship time right there at your computer. 🙂

Place in This World – Michael W. Smith

As the Deer

How Great Thou Art (performed by Elvis Presley)

Still – Hillsong

Shout to the Lord (performed by Darlene Zschech)

In the Garden (performed by Alan Jackson)

Give Me Jesus – Fernando Ortega

Arise My Love – Newsong

I’d Rather Have Jesus – George Beverly Shea

Because He Lives

I Bless Your Name – Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

Glorious Day – Casting Crowns

Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone) – Chris Tomlin

I Will Not Be Moved – Natalie Grant

Total Praise – Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

Orphans of God – Avalon

Songs to Make You Think

One of the things I love most about being a songwriter is that I can write songs that make people think. I can raise awareness about issues, I can talk about my own personal struggles, and I can even champion a cause with my voice and my piano.

Many, many songwriters have done the same over the years (and centuries!), often with amazing results. Here is just an itty-bitty teeny-tiny cross-section of songs that have made people think, reason, and change their views over the years:

Another Day in Paradise – Phil Collins

About how we can all too easily miss the signs that someone else is in need.

Allentown – Billy Joel

Describing the consequences of job loss and falling economy in Allentown.

Soldier in the Rain – England Dan and John Ford Coley

About a soldier who comes home from war, only to feel that his old life is closed off to him.

Imagine – John Lennon

About revisualizing the world’s boundaries (in personal, religious, and social ways)–even if you don’t end up adopting the mindset.

Not Ready to Make Nice – Dixie Chicks

About conflict and forgiveness (or being too mad to forgive), both for the specific political situation the band faced as well as in general.

Dirty Laundry – Don Henley

About the increasing sensationalism in the media, and the public’s increasing hunger for it.

Hurricane – 30 Seconds to Mars

Asks a good question: “Would you kill to prove you’re right?” Describes the “hurricane” of conflicting opinions/factions we all live in today, and the desire to just hide from them all “underground.”

Jesus, Friend of Sinners – Casting Crowns

About the modern church (and the historical church, too) and all the human sins we let pass for “standing up for God”. Also teaches what “loving like Jesus” really means.

The Needle and the Damage Done – Neil Young

About drug addiction and the pain/heartbreak it brings.

HOPE (feat. Faith Evans) – Twista

About maintaining hope in the face of tragedy, whether personal or social.

American Pie – Don McLean

Does this song even NEED an introduction? …NAAAH!

One Day (feat. Akon) – Matisyahu

About the gritty reality of our modern life, contrasted with the dream of worldwide peace.

Hypnotize – System of a Down

About social protest and society’s attempt to cover it up or silence it…and how it affects even those who think they have no stake in the issues.

Find The Cost of Freedom – Crosby Stills Nash and Young

Short but poignant song about war’s real cost.

Alyssa Lies – Jason Michael Carroll

About child abuse and how it affects others who see the evidence.

Hotel California – The Eagles

Describing the bleakness and hollowness of the California drug scene in the ’70s.

The Trees – Rush

About political unrest and ideological clashes.

Ohio – Crosby Stills Nash and Young

About protesting the Kent State shootings in 1970.

The Man in the Mirror – Michael Jackson

About social and political awareness, and how the impulse to make positive change begins with each individual person.

Home – Phillip Phillips

About belonging, and having a home to return to.

Songs to Write Code By

Often, I use music when I am webdesigning, either to encourage myself while writing code or inspire myself to create beautiful layouts. So, this week, I thought I’d kick off “Song Week” by creating a playlist of songs for all of us designers and developers to enjoy. Check ’em out, and get your webdesign groove on!

Songs about the Webdesigner’s Life (well, kinda)

White and Nerdy – Weird Al Yankovic

No webdesigning playlist would be complete without it, ’cause we’ve probably all made homepages for our dogs at this point. (Or at least Facebook Like pages. LOL)

World – Five for Fighting

Because when you’re coding and designing, you are literally making a “world” to display on your screen. 🙂

Under Pressure – Queen & David Bowie

For when you need to fix that bug in your design ASAP and you’re on a time crunch. XD

Fix You – Coldplay

The song you sing to your webpage when it’s not working and you’re trying to fix it…

One Step at a Time – Jordin Sparks

Because webpages are built one tag at a time; this is a nice reassuring song to play when you’re frustrated with a design. 😀

Nothin’ Better to Do – LeAnn Rimes

Because we actually have nothing better to do than to design and develop web pages–what could be better than affecting the internet with our talents?

Songs for the Design Process

For when you need a good groove to code to. 🙂

Invasion of the Gabber Robots – The Laziest Men on Mars

Rods and Cones – Blue Man Group

Straight Ahead – Tube and Berger

Popcorn (1969) – Hot Butter

Derezzed – Daft Punk

The Percolator – Cajmere