The 6 Essential Playlists for College Students

You know, to prevent breaking your thumb scrolling through your library in search of a specific song and whatnot.

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You know, to prevent breaking your thumb scrolling through your library in search of a specific song and whatnot.

Fleetwood Mac, whose 'Gypsy' is a go-to study song for the author (Image via Poppcorn)

Playlists are an essential, especially when you’re music-dependent and a little too organized like I am. Both Spotify (my preference) and Apple Music give you the option to create playlists with your own theme, and if you don’t know where to start when putting together playlists, or you just want to give your music library a makeover, here are the most fundamental types of playlists you need in your life.

1. A Study Playlist

I am not putting these playlists in order of importance, but a study playlist is the must-have for almost every college student as it could be all you need to ace your tests and assignments. The beauty of a study playlist is that it’s completely catered towards what will help you concentrate. There are no fixed rules on what should be on a playlist except for anything to calm your racing mind. Different strokes for different folks. If you can concentrate to super mellow, relaxing hits like “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana or “Chop Suey” by System of a Down, then by all means go for it.

Personally, I find it’s almost tedious trying to study and listen to music with lyrics all at once. This is mostly because of how much time I take trying to memorize art history dates while simultaneously singing the words to “Gypsy” by Fleetwood Mac at the top of my lungs. If you’re like me, save yourself the struggle and add some piano instrumentals and classical music.

2. A Sad/Feels Playlist

This is actually one of my favorite types of playlists because sad music is actually really beautiful. This kind of playlist is perfect for those rainy, cloudy days where you’re succumbed to your bed and a good book. It’s also perfect for those days where you want to bawl your emotionally drained heart out.

Losing touch with an old, close friend? Going through a bad break up? Just lost a close family member or pet? Nourish your sad playlist with all the corny “feels” music you can find. When I feel unmotivated or stressed, “Codex” by Radiohead, “Monday” by Matt Corby and “Berlin” by RY X are my go-to sad jams. Let yourself wallow in your feelings, sometimes that’s all you need to do to make yourself feel better!

3. A Collab Playlist

Spotify has this awesome setting where you can make a playlist public. You can start a playlist where anyone can contribute their own take to that one category, building a complex and diverse mix of music from all times, kinds and geography. This is actually a great technique for finding new music.

Making a public playlist with suggestions from random strangers is one idea, but joining your group or best friend in creating such a playlist is also an option. This makes sharing music between your friends convenient and will certainly broaden your music spectrum. A collaboration playlist, with a group of best friends as diverse as mine, is filled with Korean rap, French pop, ’90s alternative and even coffee shop style music. Collab playlists are a special and unique way to share music with those closest to you.

4. A Throwback Playlist

The title says it all. This playlist gives you all the leeway to feel nostalgia. Whichever specific decade it’s built upon—’90s hip hop, 2000s hits or soul music from the ’60s—your throwback playlist can neatly bring you all your old-time favorites at once. As a jack of all trades, my throwback playlist has a wide variety of different types of genres with music from the past. If you want to get specific, think of a playlist that you would make for your mom or dad. Songs like “Piano Man” by Billy Joel, “Jump” by Van Halen and “Pull My Strings” by Lakeside are sure to land a spot on that list.

Throwback playlists are great for any occasion because everyone bonds over old classics. If it’s filled with songs like “Burn” by Usher or “Irreplaceable” by Beyonce, your throwback playlist will probably turn into three hours of karaoke.

5. A Love Playlist

Fill a lovey-dovey playlist with songs like “Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green and “When a Man Loves a Woman” by Percy Sledge. Love playlists are easy to make and satisfying to listen to because there’s such a wide array of love songs. From classics to modern hits, love songs comes from many different genres of music. You can dedicate your love playlists to your significant other, your best friend, your relative or any music lover who has a thing for sap.

My personal love playlist goes all the way back to “Sweet Nothin’s” by Brenda Lee, Linda Ronstadt’s “Will You Love me Tomorrow?,” “Don’t Forget About Me” by Cloves and “Better Together” by Jack Johnson. Whether it’s sad, happy or angry love, put together this type of playlist for all your sappy feels. Love songs are diverse in meaning and genre. Everyone can come up with a full playlist specifically for love songs.

6. Hip-Hop/Rap Playlist

Rap and hip-hop have evolved so much since their spark in the late ’70s. A playlist dedicated solely to icons like Biggie Smalls, MC Hammer, Jay-Z and Kanye West is a must. The growth of rap and hip-hop has made it one of the most popular and frequently listened to genres of our generation. Everyone has a different rap and hip-hop preference simply because there are many different styles within the genre. For example, a Drake fan might not enjoy the vulgarity and absurdness of Tyler the Creator’s works.

Whatever it contains, hits from the radio or underground work such as grime rap, your rap and hip-hop playlist will satisfy your every need for stories told by the lyrics with unique beats and synths in the background. I’m 99 percent sure I love Kanye West more than anyone on this planet, so you can expect “Paranoid” from his album “808s,” “Heartbreak” and “Roses” from “Late Registration” and many other pieces by him covering my rap playlist. Because I’m attracted to diversity when it comes to music, songs by Tyler the Creator, Jme, Maxo Kream and A$AP Ferg take up a large part of my playlist as well. A hip-hop/rap  playlist could inspire and motivate you in ways other music can’t.

These six types of playlists are a sure-fire way to keep your music organized so that you’ll know exactly where to find the kind of music you want to play in every situation. Thank me later when you aren’t shuffling through your music library for eternity to find the song you’re looking for.

Tip: Spotify has this other great feature where songs that fit into your playlist are recommended at the very bottom of the playlist page. You’ll find a ton of music to fill up any playlist through this feature. Thank you, Spotify.

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