Day (??) of quarantine and your current playlists are drier than the Sahara in June. So should you cancel your Spotify account, throw your family’s Apple Music plan out the window, tuck and roll yourself back under your 20 pound weighted blanket and cry? Absolutely not.
It’s time to build the bomb-ass, perfect quarantine playlists you’ve been craving since you first read The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
Step 1: Tap into the oddly specific feeling quarantine has instilled in the depths of your heart.
If you really miss going on late night drives with the homies, make a collaborative playlist that you and all your pals can add to while reminiscing about the Taco Bell drive-thru after a night out. Now that campus has shut down, forcing you to move back in with your parents, do you feel like you’ve reverted back to your high school self? Spend some time exploring your unresolved childhood traumas and dive back into your teen angst. Did your relationship end due to the strain of long-distance and you can’t move on because you still have a soft spot in your heart for their Netflix login? Find some breakup jams that constructively build up your sense of self instead of destroying theirs. Did you go on one mediocre date three days before quarantine started only to find your “u up?” texts ignored? First of all, stop texting them. They’re not that cute anyway. But that’s another story.
Find a healthy way of diving into those feelings: Start a journal or try yoga for eight minutes and then give up because your body doesn’t bend that direction, then resolve to spend hours on your sofa listening to your grunge, “I’m sick of this small town” playlist. “I go on a walk once a day and listen to this playlist that helps me hate being stuck in my hometown: ‘Get me out of this town or whatever Knuckle Puck was talking about,’” said Chase Clough, a sophomore at Florida State University about “whiny white boy music.”
Step 2: Come up with a catchy title
The more niche the better. For inspiration, turn to Panic! At The Disco or Fall Out Boy. Be sure the title is all lowercase so you seem quirky and unpredictable (we get it: you wore Converse to prom). These titles can be iconic quotes, song lyrics or obscure vine references from your recently resurrected 2012 group chats. For example: “that scene in a coming of age film where the main character realizes they’re at the peak of their life”, or John Brannigan’s “a late night drive with someone you really like and you’re trying to put your best foot forward with good music to impress them”. “I wanted a playlist that just had good music across genres, but I wasn’t sure what to title it,” FSU freshman Brannigan said. “I just found a specific scenario in which that playlist would be applicable.”
Step 3: Find a cover photo.
It’s time to channel your middle school self: Log back into your old Tumblr or Pinterest, or scroll through those archived Instagram posts for high-quality playlist art. Unfortunately, playlist art can only be edited in the desktop app version of Spotify. If your Zoom classes have ended, congratulations. You’ve just found a new pastime. But I don’t have time to sift through weird Tumblr aesthetics for cover art. First of all, the whole country is on lockdown. If nothing else, you have time. If it’s really not your prerogative, fret not. Some angel named Gigi Garland came down to Earth and took on human form to make a Pinterest board with gorgeous (public domain) cover photos. Still not sold? “I follow a lot of ‘aesthetic’ pages and art pages [on Instagram]. My favorites are @love.watts, @motelatmidnight, @nightydrunklovers, @la.suite.de.sirene,” said the Spotify queen Kate Speights (@kateplus8feet).
Step 4: Get to work
The great thing about Spotify is that your unfinished playlist will recommend songs of similar energy. What’s that? You use Apple Music so you never get the aux? It looks like you’ll have to use a little more elbow grease.
Start your playlist with a few familiar songs. What songs in your listening history fit the aesthetic you’re creating? After you have three or four solid starters, try reaching out to friends and asking for suggestions. Not only will this spark some great conversations, but it’s also a good way to make sure your pals are doing okay. If you’re using Spotify, you can make the playlist collaborative.
If you’re itching for an ETA on your magnificent quarantine playlist, to be honest, it might take a hot minute. “Most of [my playlists] were made over the course of three to four months a while back,” said Kate Speights, a graduate of the University of South Alabama. “But now I’m updating them daily so I probably spend 1-2 hours per day listening to new music from artists I already love. But then I go hunting for new artists…Sometimes I get down a rabbit hole and realize I’ve just spent 8 hours doing that.” If the work feels heavy, that’s okay. Exploring new music can be a great way to unwind and relax.
Step 5: Share your perfect playlist
Show off the final product of what may be hours of work. Take a moment to feel pride in what you’ve created. Both Apple Music and Spotify have sharing features that allow you to post your work to your preferred social media platforms. I discovered Kate’s playlists on TikTok (no judgment, quarantine is a strange time). Plenty of users share their mood-specific playlists on the app as well: Kate Speights, TikTok connoisseur, Connor Watkins, Alexia Berube (a student at the University of North Dakota), and Sash (a freshman at the University of California San Diego) to name a few. “Honestly, it’s a lot of time,” Speights said. “It started out as a hobby but it’s morphed into something that I’m really passionate about.” So if you don’t feel like studying for that chem final, or you’ve already rearranged your room three times this week, then congrats. You’ve found your new quarantine hobby.