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For a long time, I struggled with making playlists. I could never figure out the right mood or when I could listen to it. When my friends asked me to pick some songs to play, or I found myself craving depressing crying-alone-in-bed-at-3AM music, I was stuck listening to someone else’s playlist. Which sucked. There is nothing better than knowing all the songs on your queue, and so I set out to finally create my own playlists. Now I have around 30, so I would hope that I have an idea of what can be the most useful.

Work Out

I was there many times in the early days of quarantine. I set up my little home workout area, and then I have nothing to listen to. Like I said before, I could easily just put on someone else’s playlist, but I couldn’t get into the music because I didn’t know, or just simply didn’t like it. Then I would shuffle my Liked Songs, but “Oblivion” by Bastille doesn’t exactly make me want to run. Even more specifically, it’s important to match the Beats Per Minute (BPM) of your heart rate to the music you listen to. Listening to a song with a higher BPM can help you to make the most out of your session, or just stay on pace. 

A BPM of 100-135 is the average for 20-year-olds engaging in easy-moderate activity, according to the Mayo Clinic. Songs in this range are perfect for warm-up’s/cool-down’s, walking, or jogging. Examples of songs in this range would be “Boss B*tch” by Doja Cat, which is 126 BPM, and “Stronger” by Kayne West, at 104 BPM. A more intense workout of endurance and aerobic training would put you at 135-180 BPM. Songs I recommend in this range are “Black and Yellow” by Wiz Khalifa at 164 BPM, and “Applause” by Lady Gaga at 140 BPM. If you are wondering what the BPM of the songs you currently use are, you can easily look it up and sort these ranges into different playlists.

Billboard Top 100… That YOU Like
Lizzo at the 2021 Grammy Awards Red carpet
Photo by Francis Specker / CBS

Imagine this: COVID-19 is over, and we can all hang out again. After class, the girl that sits next to you invites you to come with her and her friends to Mr. G’s later. You all pile into her car, and she turns to you and asks you to put on some music. You gulp. Music can be pretty personal, and I know a lot of people (myself included) that can get a little insecure about what we listen to. Music -is- the language of the soul, right? What music is more non-offensive than the Billboard Top 100? It’s current, people probably know it, but if you play all 100 songs, you’re bound to run into at least half that you don’t enjoy. You should always have a playlist on hand of these more recognizable songs that you like, just in case! Right now, I recommend “34+35” by Ariana Grande, “Save Your Tears” by The Weeknd, “My Ex’s Best Friend (with Blackbear” by Machine Gun Kelly and Blackbear, and “Heat Waves” by Glass Animals. This playlist can also keep you up to date for the Grammys, or to provide some excellent small-talk with the girl on your floor that loves Ariana Grande.

Main Character Energy

We all have those days where the world feels like a movie, and we’re the star. Or maybe you want to have one of those days. I think my Main Character playlist is one of my most used because it just has great energy that makes me smile. Some of my favorites on my own are “These Days” by Wallows, “Take a Walk” by Passion Pit, “Cinematic Youth” by Peach Tinted, and “Striptease” by Carwash.

Study Music

If you’re like me, you cannot concentrate on homework unless you’re listening to something. Nothing motivates me more than listening to some intense classical music. This type of music makes me feel like I’m a genius, honestly. One of my favorites is “Piano Quartet No. 1 in G Minor, K. 478: 1. Allegro” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, performed by the Fauré Quartet. Another is, “Piano Quartet in A Major, Op. 30: III. Simple et sans hâte” by Ernest Chausson, performed by Christian Favre, Christoph Schiller, François Guye, and Tedi Papavrami. My third suggestion is “Awaken (ft. Jack Liebeck)” by Jack Liebeck and Benjamin Wallfisch. My final recommendation is “Sérénade mélancolique in B flat minor, Op. 26” by Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky, performed by Arthur Grumiaux, Jan Krenz, and the New Philharmonia Orchestra. Listening to classical music is also a great way to make you seem cultured. What says intelligent more than listening to Mozart?

Song Recommendations

Now imagine this: you’re in the middle of something important, and a friend texts you. “Oh my god!!!” They say, “My favorite artist just released this! You HAVE to listen to it ASAP!” You tell them you will when you’re done with the task at hand, but alas, you forget about it. If you’re like me, you feel pretty crummy about this. I finally realized that the best way to go about this is to create a playlist of song recommendations to listen to when I have time. This way, when I get that text, I can take two seconds to add it and remember to listen later. Hopefully, you’re making all these playlists and/or adding the songs I’ve suggested, so I have some more recommendations for this playlist! One of my favorite bands is Waterparks, so I’m pleading with you to listen to their song “I Felt Younger When We Met.” I’m also a fan of Young the Giant, and their song “Heat of the Summer” is almost constantly stuck in my head. Some other songs I’ve liked for years are “A Kiss” by The Driver Era and “Parking Lot” by Hunny.

Your Absolute Favorite Songs

On the other hand, you need to have a playlist of songs that you love and never get old. These are the songs you turn to when you need to scream the lyrics or just listen to some bangers. Some of my favorites are “Cardiac Arrest” by Bad Suns, “Raspberry” by Grouplove (and every other Grouplove song), “Social Cues” by Cage the Elephant, and “Devil’s Advocate” by the Neighbourhood. These are also some of my favorite bands.

~Sad Songs~

Arguably one of the most important playlists on this list is the one for when you’re feeling a bit down. You may have noticed at this point that I like pretty energetic songs, so I’m not exactly moved by slower, calmer sad songs. Additionally, I think it’s difficult to use someone else’s playlist for this. I find it so hard to sit down and cry to songs that I don’t know or relate to. That’s why I think this is such an important playlist. Some of my recommendations are “I Wish I Never Met You” by Babygirl, “Bloom” by The Paper Kites, and “Drive Safe” by Rich Brian. A more traditional “sad song” would be “Be My Mistake” by The 1975, but it’s emotional.

Childhood Music

I love these kinds of playlists. They’re perfect to play with some of your girl friends and scream out— they pump you up, and mostly everyone knows them. And of course, they remind me of easier times, when I wasn’t taking midterms. Some of my favorites would be “Ready or Not” by Bridgit Mendler, “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know” by Selena Gomez & The Scene, “Hot N Cold” by Katy Perry, and “Disturbia” by Rihanna.

Songs That Remind You of Someone

This would be more than one playlist, but they are worth making. Creating a playlist for family members, friends, or your partner is a great way to show them some love and how much they mean to you. “I Got You” by Ciara is a song that would remind most people of the mother-daughter bond. Keep this in mind for an approaching Mother’s Day. John Legend’s “Right By You (for Luna)” is great to put on a playlist for your dad. For years my favorite Ed Sheeran song has been “Kiss Me,” a pretty romantic song to put on a mix for your partner. Finally, if you want to make a playlist for your childhood best friend, “Long Live” by Taylor Swift literally makes me cry. Not only is this a thoughtful gift, it’s fun to delve into when you’re bored… or procrastinating homework. Of course, these playlists don’t even have to be about real people. In the past I’ve made some for my Dungeons and Dragons characters. Why not make one for a favorite book character?

Seasonal Songs

Someone please tell me that I’m not crazy for associating songs with seasons. I refuse to listen to some songs outside of “their season,” and I find myself listening to them as soon as the season starts without even realizing it. A song I associate with winter is “Backyard – Bonus Track” by Of Monsters and Men. Spring is airy and light, similar to “Man on the Moon” by Zella Day. A song I -strongly- associate with fall, which inspired this category, is “Let’s Kill Tonight” by Panic! At the Disco. Finally, “Sweet Talk” by Saint Motel just screams heat, chlorine, and summer.

Hopefully, this has provided you some inspiration to create killer playlists to inspire everyone around you. If you’re interested in listening to any of these tracks, I have created a playlist of them all on Spotify here. If you like my taste, follow me on Spotify here!

Sophia Kenny

Gettysburg '24

Sophia is a sophomore at Gettysburg College. She is a Business and English double major. On-campus she is also a member of Alpha Omicron Pi. In her spare time, she loves doing arts and crafts and cuddling with her cat.
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