By simply creating playlists, you open yourself up to the exploration, beauty, & the truth behind musical identities, just by categorizing music.
Whether we realize it or not, we as humans naturally attach a specific feeling or emotion to every song we listen to. While everyone’s interpretation may be different, most of us would agree that we subconsciously associate different genres to certain personalities. When we find a new song that we enjoy, it might seem as if we’ll never get enough of it. For me personally, even if I hear a song that blows me away, I am still craving more. We constantly desire new stimulus, and the moment I find a new sound to obsess over, I start to search for more. This is where playlists come in and change the “music-searching” game entirely.
With the advances of streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, finding new music is as easy as ever. While users can easily find “suggested songs” playlists from their favorite artists, I wanted to highlight the beauty behind making playlists and listening to mixtapes and playlists that were made with passion.
In the summer of 2017, I joined my family in upstate New York for fourth months, working two jobs and spending time in a small town in which I had never lived before. Since I spent most of my days alone, SoundCloud became my sanctuary. The concept of organizing music into niche categories was fascinating to me, and making playlists every week turned into my own form of self-expression. I wasn’t necessarily making them for anyone but myself, but I hoped that maybe someone would appreciate a group of songs the same way I did. When I find a song I deeply connect with, I find it nearly impossible to keep it to myself – sharing music with others allows me to enjoy the song fully. This was the same summer that I decided to join KCR. I thought that if I could combine my love for playlist making with my passion for sharing music, I might find a bigger sense of belonging on this campus. Now, with this being my fourth semester in KCR, I can confirm that this passion has not fizzled.
Most of my playlists are created after I’ve found one song that I refuse to take off repeat.
I try to pay attention to a specific feeling that I gain from listening to that song, and then find others that parallel that feeling. Some of my favorite playlists that I’ve made over the years can be found on my Soundcloud, like “Lets go watch the stars together,” a playlist I created one summer night after listening to soft beats that reminded me of star gazing with someone special. Others include “Ode to Porter,” which I made in tribute to Porter Robinson’s unique sound, and “Gooey,” a selection of electronica songs that make me smile and my insides feel “gooey,” so-to-speak. I have recently begun to make the switch over to Spotfiy, where I’ve made playlists like “Aquarius,” featuring my favorite indie songs of the season that make me feel like sunshine.
While I have been wanting to talk about the beauty and emotion that goes into making playlists for some time now, I was inspired after listening to KCR member and music history student, Lucy Rosenthal, talk on the air about musical identities. The focus of her show that week was to discuss how music defines our identity and how we associate a certain personality type with the music we listen to. Whether we want to agree or not, if we think about Rap, Country, Pop, Alternative, and so-on, we subconsciously associate a certain stereotype with who listens to that genre. The songs that we have grown up listening to have shaped our identity, and what we listen to now validates the type of person we want to be. For instance, there are many of us that get excited when we find a new song that is underground and unique because it confirms our own identity and makes us feel unique as well. This all ties back into the fact that music is a part of our culture, and cultures will always be connected to stereotypes in some way. This ties into the method behind making playlists because many of us identify with multiple genres of music and have a different style that is appropriate for different moods. The music I listen to when I’m sad is not the same music I play in the car with my friends, and this is because we are made up of many different attitudes. (Check out Lucy’s radio show every Monday from 11am-12pm for more stimulating talks like this!)
Music has the power to heal and inspire, and that is something special to talk about. I encourage everyone to make a playlist of your favorite songs and see how it makes you feel. While most of this may seem like common sense, I enjoy dissecting the concept and believe that making playlists can be used as a form of self expression.