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Playlist Theme Ideas

Good playlists are well planned affairs.
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Playlists are lists of songs put together in order to be played end to end. They can be for personal or public use. Playlists are the modern equivalent of the old compilation tape glorified by Rob in Nick Hornby’s film "High Fidelity." A personal playlist is different from one meant for someone else or for public consumption. While the theme of the playlist can be the same, personal lists do not have to take into account other people’s tastes. Making a great playlist for someone else is about finding the songs that others enjoy.

Best of the Band

The one-band theme is perhaps the simplest of all. The idea is to introduce some of the best tracks from a band, group or artist’s back catalogue. The options available depend on the amount of songs produced by the band. It can be limited to strict musical eras or can encompass side-projects, collaborations and guest vocal spots. The playlist could be organized organically, thematically or chronologically.

One Genre

Choose a musical genre as the theme for a playlist. This can be any genre going from blues to Norwegian black metal via Malian blues and opera. These themes tend to cherry pick the best songs from the genre and mix a number of artists. They mix and match old and modern tunes. For example, a blues-themed playlist would mix John Lee Hooker with Taj Mahal, via B B King and Eric Clapton. Genre-based lists can often provoke discussions as songs and artists straddle multiple genres and styles.

Chalk and Cheese

Take two opposing lists and merge them together. Opposing lists means playlists with totally different themes and styles. This includes him and her, blues and hip-hop or fast and slow lists. Some music-playing software allows users to play alternate songs from different playlists. Otherwise users can merge two playlists or make an original one by using alternative songs from totally different lists.

Music With A Purpose

This covers impressing a partner, music for an event or for another purpose. The music usually serves a purpose whether it is to make people dance, to wake someone up in the morning or to help him fall asleep. The nature of the event decides what music is used. Campfire playlists will be more folk-oriented with singalong lyrics, while wedding music will be more romantic, and dance-oriented.


Anyone who has listened to music, and who has bought it, has a musical biography. In "High Fidelity," Rob organizes his music collection biographically. The same can be done with a playlist. Pick out the important songs, whether for a relationship, childhood memory or the first single bought, and put the songs into chronological order. These can be highly personal playlist themes, but can be a unique way to share a life story with someone.

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