My Musical Memory in Spotify Playlists

It started slowly, but at this point the Spotify playlists I’ve created hold my musical memory. In fact, when I start talking to someone about making playlists or music discovery I realize I have to tone it down so as to not be overwhelming. Even when someone goes to my profile on Spotify, they can’t see all of the playlists as the number of playlists returned there is capped.

In this blogpost, I’m going to do the opposite- here are a few of the playlists I reference often, in loose order of importance to me.

  • The Samples (178 songs)— comprised of the original tracks that famous hip hop songs sample. Birthed from hearing Labi Siffre’s “I Got The…” and being floored that both Jay Z and Eminem directly pulled different parts of the same song (this playlist is just originals though, none of the hip hop tracks). There’s also a whole website and community dedicated to this:
  • Can’t Go Wrong (174 songs) — Classics. A playlist of songs, mostly older, somewhat upbeat, but a playlist that you legitimately could never get yelled at for putting on. I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure there are no curse words in the whole playlist.
  • Pump the Brakes (57 songs) — slow songs- so slow they deserve their own playlist. Most are about love, so it’s pretty sensual and has been mistaken for a horizontal dance playlist, which I can assure you it’s not.
  • Crescendos (70 songs) — specifically for songs that build in intensity through the whole song, where the last thirty seconds to a minute is a full culmination.
  • Bumping (169 songs) — for hip hop and rap songs which are known to get everyone up and dancing. Definitely lots of radio hits here. Great to put on before heading out for a night of partying. This is a collaborative playlist- while I started it, the major contributor these days is TenYen.
  • 2014 (96 songs), 2015 (95 songs), and 2016 (10 songs and counting) — tracking songs I heard for the first time that year, not songs necessarily released in that year. A great way to track good songs which don’t necessarily filter into any other playlist.
  • The Break Up (62 songs) — the title says it pretty clearly. Not just love songs, there’s quite a bit of attitude here; just the right amount of sadness combined with that “I’m going to be okay” attitude that you need when going through that tough time.
  • Highway 1 (116 songs) and July 4th (199 songs) — Highway 1 is specifically 7.5 hours long, or approximately the amount of time it would take to drive SF to LA. Songs are chosen while picturing driving with the top down along the coast. July 4th is the same idea- put on a playlist that you can let run the whole day at the pool.
  • Check the Horn (48 songs) — songs with great, often unexpected horn sections.
  • Songs To DJ (128 songs) — not necessarily party songs, though there is a significant overlap. These are tracks which are good to spin and can catch folks off guard. Some top 40 but mostly throwbacks (Spotify does a great job of autogenerating party / Friday / top40 lists, and most of the time those tracks aren’t my jam anyways).
  • Intros (35 songs) — an interesting hip hop trend from a long time ago (that occasionally reemerges) is to have the first track on an album be a serious statement via the artist delivering incredible bars. This is a playlist of some powerful track 1s.

While I remember many songs by many artists, this playlist segmentation has allowed to have less anxiety about ‘holding onto’ a song. “Oh, what was that catchy horn section?” Good thing I added it to “Check the Horn” and a quick perusal there brings it back.

Comment or hit me up on Twitter for tracks I should add! @misterrayco