How to create the perfect party playlist

party playlist

Pop the champagne and bring the skinny glasses, it’s time to celebrate. Maybe you’ve turned 21. Maybe you’ve finished university. Maybe you’ve received a promotion at work. Whatever the occasion, it’s worthy of a party – and a good one at that.  

You’ve prepped the house for guests. You’ve sent through the invitations. You’ve left that pesky workmate Jeff off the list – good call. But what about the music? No party is a party without a thumping playlist and a bit of boogie on the floor. Sure, you could pre-download someone’s playlist, but you’d be taking a huge risk. Their taste could be light years away from what you actually wanted.

Don’t fret – we’re here to help. From years and years of party experience, we’ve witnessed the obvious mistakes. We know what tends to work, and what tends to fall short. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of hot tips to ensure your playlist is something you love, and more importantly, a playlist your friends love. Also, before we start, please don’t use a Youtube to mp3 converter or a Soundcloud to mp3 to collect your tracks. This will cause you unnecessary pain and anguish, trust me. A streaming service is definitely the way to go. Alrighty, let’s get started.

Allow collaboration

Who said that the playlist had to be your sole responsibility? Other than death and taxes, there is another constant. People will ALWAYS request songs at a party, so why not prepare for it. Make a group chat for the event and ask if anyone had any requests. It’s a thoughtful, democratic manoeuvre that won’t just help you pad out the playlist, it will keep your mates included.

Also, you’ll still have the final say. If some requests sound ridiculous, just leave them off. I asked for suggestions once and someone had the audacity to suggest Nutbush City Limits. Talk about dated. Trust me, you’ll know a good request when you see one.

Also, another bonus. As the requests pile in, you’ll get to listen to some new tunes and broaden your musical taste along the way!

Who’s your audience?

Before you even add one song to the playlist, think about who’s invited. What’s their age demographic? What sort of music would they expect to hear at a party? For example, if it’s a work party and your fellow employees are older than you, consider adding some music from their teenage years. They’ll appreciate the gesture.

On the other hand, if you’re guests are younger than you, be sure to skim the top charts and add some of those trending tracks. Even if these tunes aren’t exactly up your alley, they signal to guests that you’re up to date with the music world and know what’s up.

It’s also crucial to keep your music gender-diverse. It’s going to look pretty shallow on your end if track after track is filled with say, male, white DJs. There are oodles of talent and tracks from all walks of life at your disposal, so keep the playlist rich with diverse, celebrated artists. Not just your favourite styles.

Old School & New School

Too often, party playlists stick to one era of music and don’t veer from it. The end result is a lack of variation and artists, making your playlist pretty one-note (aka, basic). The secret of a good playlist is to take the very best dance tracks from multiple decades and throw them all in. By doing this, there’s bound to be a track with everyone’s name on it, no matter how old or young they are.

Following this practice will ensure your playlist isn’t tedious and solely focused on one genre. I’m afraid back-to-back dubstep is going to wear everyone out. Non-stop 80s will as well – sadly. Below are some recommendations from over the years, use at your own disposal.

Stayin’ Alive – BeeGees (1977)

Dancing Queen – ABBA (1980)

Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana (1991)

Take Me Out – Franz Ferdinand (2004)

Daft Punk – Get Lucky (2013)

Gods Plan – Drake (2018)

Peaches – Justin Bieber (2021)

Pace yourself

This tip is pretty self-explanatory. You don’t want to unleash your mega-huge dance hits as guests are arriving. Start off with more cruisy tracks then slowly build-up to the floor fillers. Then, as the night is coming to a close, gently ease off the dancers by taking the tempo down, notch by notch, track by track.

A solid playlist will guide the momentum of the night naturally, without the need for announcements like, “who wants to dance” or “everyone get the **** out of my house!” PS, that’s just a little joke. Please don’t tell your guests that if you ever want to host another party in your life.

Don’t overdo it

Some dance tracks are just too iconic for their own good. Meaning, they’ve been played to death, so it’s probably best to use them sparely. While adding popular tracks that guests will know to your playlist is a great idea, too many is overkill. I’m talking about your Macarena’s, Uptown Funks, and Cotton Eye Joes. Even the family pets know these ones by heart.

Remember, less is more.

Transitions

Let’s be honest. That one to two seconds of silence in between tracks can feel a little jarring. At its worst, it can kill the mood or make the party-goers think the night has come to a close. It hasn’t, your playlist just hasn’t added transitions.

Believe it or not, there’s a super simple way to blend your playlist tracks together with a transition tool. No, you don’t need to hire a DJ for $100 an hour to do this. Here’s how it works.

If you’re using Spotify, click on settings, then click playback. Here, you’ll find a Crossfade slider, which you can adjust to allow smooth transitions in between your tracks. For Apple Music users, you’ve got the option too! Just go to settings, playback, then find the crossfade slider.

Congratulations. Your playlist is ready to go. And I wish you all the best for your big occasion. May your drinks be tall and may the music never end.

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