Last Updated: August 28th
While the choices of what you listen to are virtually endless, recent years have added another decision to the equation: how are you going to listen. Uproxx has already highlighted one platform, Spotify, in search of the best playlists available across genres. But pretending that Spotify is the only source for playlist listening would be to overlook some of the best curation happening right now. And that’s happening over on Apple Music.
The cool thing about Apple Music is how they’ve put some of their most visible content in the hands of marquee names. Aside from their tentpole figures like Zane Lowe, Ebro Darden, and Julie Adenuga, they’ve got the likes of Drake, Frank Ocean, St. Vincent, and Elton John hosting radio shows on the regular. But those figures also are working their taste into playlists, which are available on demand for your listening pleasure. Appropriately, our choices for the best playlists on Apple Music show a mix of both of these worlds, with content that you legitimately can’t find anywhere else.
Best Of The Week (Eclectic)
How can you go wrong with a title like that? Apple Music’s flagship playlist is exactly what it sounds like — a roundup of the best new music, updated on a weekly basis, and curated by the top figures of the platform. Sure, it’s an eclectic inerpretation of pop music, but where else can you find Shawn Mendes sitting next to Nine Inch Nails. Other recent artists to be featured are Kyle, Mitski, and Jennifer Lopez, so you know that you can expect the biggest hits while they are still fresh, as well as music’s brightest rising stars.
Ovo Sound Radio (Hip-Hop, Curated By Drake)
There are a few radio shows on Apple Music that have become “can’t miss” events, and Drake‘s Ovo Sound Radio is at the top of that list. It’s not just Drake’s taste, which is generally on point and filled with his own signees. No, it’s the fact that Drake often uses his platform to debut new original tunes. His latest playlist update finds him next to the expected cohorts — The Weeknd, H.E.R. — and less predictable entries, like a sizable helping of Sting and Shaggy collaborative tracks, giving not just insight into Drake’s taste, but also what might be infiltrating its way into his own sound.
Weekend Worthy (Upbeat Eclectic)
One of the most important decisions you will ever make in life is what to listen to as you prepare to go out on the weekend. Okay, maybe that’s not true, but it does feel pretty important. Apple Music has you covered, though, with a playlist that’s updated every Friday with tunes great for getting you pumped up to leave your house. Or, maybe they are just songs to make a nice dinner for yourself and watch Barry with your dog. Whatevs!
Elton John’s Rocket Hour (Electic Pop, Curated By Elton John)
Whether you call him Sir Elton, the Rocket Man, or Mr. John, Elton John is one of the highest regarded figures in the music world. And as the host of his own show on Beats 1, fans get a frequent dose of what is striking Elton John’s ear. In its playlist form, that means mixing artists like Kacey Musgraves, The Blaze, and Childish Gambino. You can tell John takes joy in his varied taste, as even the description of the playlist notes it, saying “Only Elton John could play Led Zeppelin, Kaytranada, and Beyoncé back-to-back.”
Soulection (Future Soul, Curated By Joe Kay)
Soulection has grown from a Long Beach college radio show to a Beats 1 fixture, with Zane Lowe nabbing Joe Kay for his singular taste. If you are looking for music discovery and wanting to hear the sounds of tomorrow, there might not be a better playlist available. But even in a sea of artists that might be unfamiliar to the average listener, artists like Saba, Jay-Z, and The Internet still stand out.
St. Vincent Mixtape Delivery Service (Eclectic, Curated By St. Vincent)
Before there were playlists, there were mixtapes. And St. Vincent wants you to remember that. Her Beats 1 show makes custom playli… err … mixtapes for fans the write her based on the information they provide. The result has been a few years of great listens. One effort manages to include Grimes, Metallica, The Strokes, and Jorja Smith. Sure, it might be a mix specifically for one person, but it’s also a playlist that will manage to entertain the masses.
House Work Radio (Dance, Curated By Jax Jones)
You don’t need to go to a dance club to hear the best in dance music and get yourself moving. Thanks to Jax Jones, Apple Music has an incredible dance playlist that gets updated regularly. From big names like Calvin Harris to more indie selections like DJ Koze, the common thread is that the music is new and perfect for the dancefloor.
Apple Music’s best indie playlist doesn’t need a name. It also doesn’t need a particular genre to pull from besides being music that belongs left of the dial. You’ll find rock, electronic, R&B, and even the occasional hip-hop in its ranks, focusing on the newest and strongest music released on a weekly basis. It’s where you go to hear Mitski next to Jon Hopkins, Young Fathers next to Courtney Barnett, and Beach House side-by-side with, uh, more Beach House. There is seriously a lot of Beach House on the playlist at the moment.
Blonded Radio (Eclectic, Curated By Frank Ocean)
Much like Drake, Frank Ocean‘s Beats 1 radio show and accompanying playlists are most notable for the occasional new Frank Ocean song. And though this one doesn’t appear with new installations frequently, it’s a fascinating dive into the listening habits of one of music’s most iconic voices. He might spin some Beyonce, some Sinatra, Japanese Breakfast or Sly Stone. Frank Ocean plays by his own rules as an artist, and his playlist does the same thing.
It’s Electric (Rock, Curated By Lars Ulrich)
Just because Metallica has been around for more than 30 years, it doesn’t mean that their drummer, Lars Ulrich, is out of touch. In fact, his Beats 1 show is regularly getting some of the biggest guests on the platform, often making news be it through what he is playing or what is being said. As a standalone playlist, it might be Apple Music’s best listen for people unconcerned with what is new or what is hip. This is rock from both yesterday and today, played together because it sounds good. It’s the playlist equivalent of Metallica’s no bullsh*t attitude.
One Mix (Dance)
One Mix is a series in which the biggest names in dance and electronica create a new mix, especially for Apple Music. Whether you want to hear Allison Wonderland, Louis The Child, Moby, or Marshmello, One Mix has you covered. Each artist brings their own taste and interests to their own mix, and when delivered in playlist form, it’s an ideal party playlist for fans of music that makes you move.
The Pharmacy (Hip-Hop, Curated By Dr. Dre)
If you were making a shortlist of the most influential figures in hip-hop history, Dr. Dre would be near or at the top. But part of what has made his career so notable is his impeccable skill of surrounding himself with the best. That holds true for his Beats 1 show The Pharmacy, which Dre employs the likes of Xzibit, DJ Pooh, and Eddie Francis for help. The resulting playlist mixes Dre associates like Anderson .Paak with other newer talent like Tyler, The Creator, along with plenty of old school rap from the ear Dre came up in and beyond.
Julie Adenuga’s Playlist (Eclectic, Curated By Julie Adenuga)
We were told that the internet would make the world smaller, and in many ways, it has. It allows us to hear music from the tiny corners of the world, and in turn, makes regional authorities less essential. That said, finding the right experts to speak to certain parts of the world are still critically important. Look no further than Julie Adenuga’s stranglehold on the British scene and the incredible playlist she curates for Apple Music. It’s not necessarily British music, but just the music impacting the culture over there, and the kind of thing that only someone with a deep understanding of the region could craft.
The Echo Chamber (Eclectic, Curated By Mike D)
As 1/3rd of the Beastie Boys, Mike D spent a couple decades making music that would shape a generation. These days, he’s doing whatever interests him, and that includes hosting a Beats 1 show. Mike D’s taste runs the gamut, ranging from Parquet Courts to Kanye West, giving fans of any particular musical genre a nice introduction to what they might be missing.
The Candy Shop (Pop, Curated By Charli XCX)
Pop means something different to Charli XCX than it does to most people, but her vision for the style is something of a visionary. You’ll find a lot of female voices here and a lot of stuff not quite built for the radio. You’ll also find a lot of the people that Charli works with, because she actually walks the walk with the music she tries to amplify. If pop as a whole starts falling in line with Charli’s taste, then music as a whole would be a lot more interesting.