Last Updated: January 28th
Spotify is filled with users (including Spotify itself) who put in the effort to curate playlists that feature the right songs for the right mood, or perhaps what’s most current so you can be an informed fan. There are thousands and thousands of playlists, though, so let me help you out: Here are some of the best playlists on Spotify that check a variety of boxes, that will keep you in the loop, and that will expose you to some great stuff you may not have discovered otherwise.
Winding between the far-reaching guitar tones of “Shallow” and trilling hip-hop influenced cuts off the Spiderman: Into The Spider-Verse soundtrack, this playlist has one of the broadest definitions of pop possible — and that’s what makes it so fantastic. Rae Sremmurd and Taylor Swift were meant to live side by side, and yes, fans of Ed Sheeran, Ariana Grande and Shawn Mendes also listen to Juice Wrld. This is 2019 in a nutshell, all the best hits, beats, and hooks, all in one place.
If you’re one of the proud few who look down their nose at “Soundcloud rap” and crave the good old days of “real hip-hop,” well then, this playlist is for you. Peppered with hits from the early decades of rap right on down to the late 2000s, there’s plenty of DMX, 50 Cent, Ludacris, Outkast and more to sate your tates for the golden era days. And even if you like modern rap songs, it’s nice to have a trip down memory lane is always just a click away.
Party Songs 2019
Let’s just get this out of the way — 2018 sucked. To quote Jason Isbell, “last year was a son of a b*tch / for nearly everyone we know.” 2019 is going to be different though. Can’t you feel your step quickening, getting a little lighter? This is a year to party, whether the optimism is misguided or one final bit of hope before everything falls apart for good. This is the perfect playlist for that kind of freedom.
Charli XCX’s The Motherf*cking Future Playlist
While she’s on tour with Taylor Swift and Camila Cabello — two of the greatest pop stars of the current era — Charli XCX has had an ear out for the stars that might be coming up behind them. Though she’s certainly busy opening up the all-female arena show, releasing new music, and traveling all around the world, she’s still managed to find time to update this extraordinary playlist, playfully dubbed “the motherf*cking future,” which features mostly women who are currently on top of their game, or artists from the past who were way ahead of their time. If there’s a great new pop song building momentum, it’s probably on here. And Charli doesn’t discriminate between indie, trendy, popular, or commercially successful — if it’s good pop music that sounds like the future, it’s here.
Okay, this might be one of the most obvious selections as it’s one of Spotify’s internal lists, but stay with me. What’s the most necessary element in listening and tastemaking in 2019? Knowing which rapper is going to break next. Duh. That’s where this list comes in handy, tapping deep cuts from projects like Members Only, Vol. 4, a posthumous tribute to the king of Soundcloud rap, XXXtentacion, put together by his closest collaborators and friends in an attempt to honor his wealth of unreleased material. Whatever you feelings were about X, he was absolutely influencing the future of hip-hop while he was alive, and is managing to still do so even after he’s passed. This is the list to hit up to find the next XXXtentacion (and let’s hope this one ends up being a person with more moral courage) — and for that alone it lives up to the most necessary title.
The Longest Mixtape: 1000 Songs For You (Various genres, by Caribou)
If you’re making a mixtape for somebody, it usually only has somewhere between 10-20 songs so as to not overwhelm the recipient. Caribou took a significantly opposite approach: In 2015, he shared “The Longest Mixtape,” which features over 1,000 songs. Caribou (real name Dan Smith) has called it “a musical history of my life,” and since he’s somebody who’s spent a lot of time poring over old vinyl and other musical oddities, there are surely some engaging picks among the thousand songs here.
New Music Friday (Pop/Hip-Hop/Indie, by Spotify)
For the purposes of this guide, I’ll try to stay away from Spotify’s in-house playlists, not because they’re not excellent (they are), but because this is about discovery, and Spotify’s playlists are the most obvious picks that you could easily find on your own without my direction. That said, it’s also a good idea to rely on them to provide a regularly updated playlist of the new stuff that’s hitting their platform on a weekly basis. That means that their New Music Friday playlist is the most essential resource if you want to know what’s new every week.