In Defence of Playlists

Last month, a twitter conversation ensued regarding playlists in music. I tweeted about how I am in love with a particular playlist I had created. The Dharma Bum replied that he never understood the concept of a playlist and the Skeptic Geek replied that a playlist is cheating in music. I like my playlists. Something had to be done.

My portable music player (I avoid saying iPod for fear of being branded an Apple FanBoy) has many songs, and podcasts and university lectures. It does make sense to organise all the audio files. The Geek and the Bum would agree with this, no doubt, because our conversation was about playlists in music.

Pakhwaj, an Indian barrel-shaped, two-headed drum, State Museum, Bhopal, MP, India

Pakhwaj, an Indian barrel-shaped, two-headed drum, State Museum, Bhopal, MP, India

My music is also quite well organised. There’s genres, artists, periods, dates, and favourites. A playlist, for me, is the mood. Imagine driving along the curves of a serene mountain road on your way to Malvan, listening to Find My Way Back To My Heart by Alison Krauss & Union Station and Boom! The next song that plays is Chikni Chameli by Shreya Ghoshal from the new Agneepath. You are likely to cause an accident by the degree of disorientation that would occur. Or imagine a long-awaited Friday evening that starts with Locomotora Borracha by Ondatrópica (to which I was introduced yesterday by the finest Balancing Act in the blog world) and have since acquired), gets you into the right spirit and is suddenly followed by  Yeh Aansoo Mere Dil Ki Zubaan Hai by Mohammad Rafi from Hamrahi. That would ruin the spirit and sober you right away. These are just a couple of examples; for fun you can create your own and imagine how you would feel, if songs had a mind of their own and played at their will rather than owing allegiance to what you felt like listening to. Also, don’t get me wrong about the songs. All these songs are in specific playlists on my portable music player. I like all of them. Just not one after the other.

In any case, playlists cannot be cheating. A playlist is a specific collection of music. If you store music (as against listening only to the radio) you already have a playlist. It’s a huge playlist, but a playlist nonetheless. Come to think of it, radio programmes are also a playlist. That’s why they have names.

Playlists are good. They make sense. Except for certain factory-designed playlists like “Top 25 Most Played.” I am completely amused by that playlist. It’s a self-fulfilling playlist of sorts. If that was the playlist that you most used, you’d never listen to any music on your portable music player.

Playlists are good.


5 thoughts on “In Defence of Playlists

  1. Agree completely. Music plays on your moods, and the mood you are in makes you reach out for certain type of music. Else music can only be the cause of unwanted distraction. Playlists it is and setlists for rockers:)


  2. Pingback: Sequence | An Unquiet Mind

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