Essential Selection

Features - May 4th, 2007

Playlists for Every Occasion

by Miles Hopkins

The format of the music that I own has evolved some­what more than I have during my lifetime. I think 99 percent of my music collection is in the UK in boxes stored under a bed at my parent’s house, I’ve not used a cassette player in over seven years and I can’t remember the last time I got the chance to actually play a Vinyl LP. So with my entire music collection now stored on a hard drive on my computer, the process of deciding what to listen to has become much more of a case of pressing ‘play’ and seeing what comes up on the Shuffle mode.

Gone are the days of searching through shelves laden with albums and finding music you’d thought had been lost for years. Not being able to physically see the albums only makes it harder when trying to work out what to play at any given time. So here at the Weekender we have created the essential selection playlists that are suited to any given occasion. Here we list the music that everyone should own if they want to diversify their collection and be prepared for that unexpected dinner party or boy’s night in.

Dinner Party Playlist:
You always hear great music at dinner parties and al­ways mean to ask who the artist is and every time, the red wine takes it’s toll and you either forget the names, or forget you asked. Generally, you can’t go wrong with these four suggestions: Buena Vista Social Club—Buena Vista Social Club, Andy Williams, Dean Martin etc— Music to Watch Girls By, Nina Simone—Blue for You, Jamie Cullum—Twentysomething, Hootie and the Blowfish—Cracked Rear View.

Kid’s Party Playlist:
A lack of kids of my own somewhat limits me for this category, but from what I remember about being small, any soundtrack by Disney or now Pixar has to be a win­ner; The Lion King, Toy Story, The Jungle Book should hit the mark. For the slightly older kids, or us older kids trying to regain our youth, then the School Disco double album has it all, complete with UK TV kids show themes.

Candle-lit Dinner Playlist:
My choice of music here is, of course, a closely guarded secret and this should be something related to the type of person you are. However, if all you have are Now that’s what I call music albums in your collection then you can’t go wrong enhancing your options with these for starters: Barry White—The Collection, Marvin Gaye— The Very Best of Marvin Gaye, Jack Johnson — In Between Dreams, Stevie Wonder—The Definitive Collection.

Boys’ Night In Playlist:
Depends on just what sort of an evening this is but if it’s a boys’ night in, then it really should be involv­ing one or more of the following: Poker, Action DVDs* and or Play Station 3. (*note: all boy’s DVDs should contain at least one exploding helicopter or have been ‘executively produced’ by Jerry Bruckheimer.) An ap­propriate starting point for music would be the following: David Arnold—Shaken and Stirred (remixed music from the James Bond films and excellently re-done). American Pie—American Pie Soundtrack. Great film, great soundtrack, Johnny Cash—any album really, but start by watching Walk the Line then get 16 Biggest Hits, Tenacious D—Tenacious D (Jack Black at his best, not for the faint hearted. Be warned).

Girls’ Night In Playlist:
For the girls, this one is easy: The Bridget Jones’s Diary Soundtrack. This captures everything that is needed for a girls’ night in however it must be noted that this should be augmented (per person) by a bottle of wine (or three) and a large tub of ice cream (Haagen-Dazs naturally). Oh, and a box of man size tissues for the inevitable tears during mid-evening discussion about “Why all men in the world are useless” and the 2am end of the night wail about “I’m going to end up as a spinster surrounded by cats.”

Shattered From the Working Week Playlist:
Here, I had intended on including a selection of racy dance music to help energise, but felt a relaxing ap­proach would help more. So, find these, and lie back on the sofa with a glass of wine or a cup of tea and forget about it all. Air—Moon Safari, Morcheeba—Big Calm, Chicane—Behind the Sun, Faithless—Reverence, Cafe del Mar—all the compilation albums are perfect.

Cooking Playlist:
Clearly, this all depends on the nationality of the food you are preparing and to be honest, I also advocate the drinking of wine (aim for a full bottle, it’s a cook’s perk, as you do your best Jamie Oliver impression). French: Vanessa Paradis or Johnny Hallyday (put a string of onions round your neck for further authentication). Italian: Andrea Bocelli—Time to say goodbye or Luciano Pavarotti—Nessun Dorma (use Ciao every other word). Greek: Mikis Theodorakis—Zorba the Greek (don’t forget to smash a few plates too). Indian: Let Ravi Shankar’s Sitar melodies transport you to Bombay as you hope the Indian influence gives you the power to take on the spiciest of curries. BBQ: As an Aussie tradition your only option is INXS or AC/DC. If you are female, then I’d say a bit of Kylie would be acceptable, but only a bit.

Turning Japanese Playlist:
Now I can’t end this without giving some entry-level suggestions to Japanese music for when you want to be really brave and try something new.

To get yourself up in the morning you can start with some Koda Kumi or Utada Hikaru (popular in the late 90s/early 2000s with her very refreshing R&B style). For a summer barbecue on a dazzling summer day, some funky hip-hop / rap like Rip Slyme or Orange Range will certainly get everyone energized! Southern All-Stars and Tube are also two groups that are considered summer bands, kind of like the American equiva­lent of the Beach Boys.

For those romantic nights in, to really set the mood and to show off a little of your sensitive side, then I am assured by a great friend in the know that some Angela Aki (soothing piano and an inspiring female vocal) or Hirai Ken will hit all the right notes as you while away the evening with another glass of wine as the candles burn lower. (If this works, please let me know!).

To keep the kiddies happy, a mix of tunes from Ghibili films could also hit the mark. Ghibili is the ani­mation studio to which legendary director Miyazaki Hayao belongs—he is the genius behind kids classics like Tonari no Totoro (My Neighbor Totoro), Majo no Takkyubin (Kiki’s Delivery Service), and Mononoke Hime (The Princess Mononoke).

But last and by no means least, we’ve got the J-POP bands, often found in the Karaoke song book but, I for one, have never been brave enough to try to sing along to: The Kinki Kids, Mr. Children, S.M.A.P., V6, Glay, to name but few. Gems, they are, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Hey, what do you mean I’ve not mentioned any Classical Music or the Spice Girls…? That’ll be next time.