Musical Chairs: Eight Essential Playlists for Work

All kinds of music are good if you enjoy them; it's just a question of whether you inhabit the right time, place, and personality to enjoy them. 

We listen to different stations on different occasions; you wouldn't choose Gregorian chants to stay awake on a moonlit Kansas highway, and you wouldn't choose death metal to woo a girl into bed.

(Or maybe you would. Maybe she's into that. We don't know.)

Different playlists, in turn, serve different creative functions. This week, we're covering the short list: do you have these playlists ready to go in your music library?

The Background Playlist (Softer)

Music grabs attention—but doubly so when a vocalist is putting words in your ears. Instrumental albums make good "background" candidates because the only words in your head will be your own.

Go find some favorite classical composers and good movie scores and you could generate days' worth of background music.

C&Q Staff Picks: score from The Social Network, classical piano e.g. Beethoven, Debussy, Gershwin

The Background Playlist (Louder)

Sometimes, you need a little more gusto—even if you want the same classical, no-lyrics kind of feel.

Very rarely will the same piece of music calm and excite you. If the distinction matters for you, split "Background" into two playlists. =]

C&Q Staff Picks: scores from Lord of the Rings, Beethoven's 5th and 9th symphonies

The Rainy Playlist

Everyone needs a rainy day now and again. For the days when it's wet and thundering outside—or at least gray enough to pretend it's raining.

It's worth noting that this playlist, unsurprisingly, pairs really well with white noise like RainyMood.

C&Q Staff Picks: Madeleine Peyroux, Chopin's preludes and nocturnes, Enya (on occasion)

The Party Playlist

Higher beats per minute, major-key, inspires-irrational-confidence kind of music. If you're having fun, have fun; not all creativity has to be so serious.

C&Q Staff Picks: most likely Top 40 or whatever's new and popular —Drake and The Weeknd are office favorites for now

The Roadtrip Playlist

Roll your windows down, take your shoes off, and screech the lyrics as loud as you can. This playlist should reflect that spirit: what you'd want blasting as you roll down the road to someplace you'd want to go.


In our case, bring on the electric guitar and turn it as loud as you can tolerate. Choose this playlist if you need a free spirit or rebellious attitude.

C&Q Staff Picks: Queens of the Stone Age (esp. Songs for the Deaf), three-name blues guitarists like Stevie Ray Vaughan and Kenny Wayne Shepherd and The Black Keys



The Slightly-Aggressive Playlist

Some days—if you're being honest—you just want to choke somebody. Or headbutt them, perhaps. 

But because you're a member of society, and not the angry goat below, you control yourself. 


And maybe one of the constructive outlets is music meant to wake the cows and scare the neighbors. Go ahead... it's better than the alternatives.  

The Nostalgia Playlist

Certain songs, artists, or albums can "hold the scent" of specific times in our lives, both good and bad. It's useful, as a creative person, to be able to tap those memories quickly and vividly.


Put this one together so you can remember, at a moment's notice, the sounds and details of the times you'll never fully forget.

C&Q Staff Picks: Privileged information; you'll have to buy us dinner first. It may or may not involve show tunes and prog rock. 

The Oddball Playlist

It's fun to have something utterly ridiculous like "Bananaphone" or "Semicolon" or "Wonderboy" stuck in your head, especially if you have license to sing along.  


If you need to think outside the box—or if you're just in a strange mood and you feel like riding it out—blast this one, and don't think too hard about how other people judge your taste in music.

C&Q Staff Picks: The Lonely Island, Primus, Tenacious D, Flight of the Conchords


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