The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Decoding the art of crafting the perfect playlist

From a precise theme and thoughtful personalization to a seamless flow, discover the intricate art of curating the ideal playlist.
Lexie Perez
Graphic depicting several cassette tapes and someone listening to music. (Hustler Multimedia/Lexie Perez)

Crafting a playlist is more than just arranging a sequence of songs; it’s a delicate art form. What may appear to some as an arbitrary selection of random tunes is, for others, a woven tapestry of experiences, emotions and nostalgic moments. 

As a Vanderbilt student living in Music City, this art takes on a unique significance. The diverse vibes and experiences of Vanderbilt students become the catalyst for the creation of countless playlists. From the bustling energy of school assignments to the laid-back hangouts with friends, each situation calls for a distinct musical backdrop. 

While the essence of a good playlist is undeniably subjective, the dedication to the craft unveils a world of intricacies, nuances and an alchemical process. There are some ways to transform a simple list of songs into a seamless composition for your unique musical palate, encompassing aspects such as the deliberate selection of a theme to provide cohesion, ensuring a flow that engages the listener, managing the playlist’s length for optimal enjoyment, infusing personalization to make it distinctly yours, exploring collaborative efforts to share diverse perspectives and understanding the emotional impact each track contributes to the overall experience.


A carefully crafted theme or purpose can elevate a playlist by reaching new heights. Whether curated for a cross-country road trip, an invigorating workout, moments of relaxation or a specific mood, understanding the underlying purpose serves as the compass for selecting the perfect tunes. Consider, for instance, a playlist anchored in the evocative world of movie soundtracks — a unique and versatile choice. This playlist could provide ambient background noise at a museum, the perfect accompaniment for leisurely walks in the park or even a refreshing twist to the conventional study session. The playlist takes the listener on a captivating journey through the emotional landscapes crafted for each film. 

Photo depicting playlist “Movie soundtracks I fell in love with” by Maison Rapito on Spotify, as captured on Dec. 3, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Mariana Bernardez)


The composition of a stellar playlist lies in the arrangement of songs — a coherent flow will shape the overall listening experience. When incorporating diverse genres, the transitions between them must be executed precisely. While creating a playlist, like the one below, that commences with the soulful beats of alternative R&B and concludes with the timeless allure of jazz, each song should guide the listener through this musical journey. The same principle applies to the tone and ambiance of the songs themselves; a playlist that begins with lively, upbeat tunes should progress toward tranquil and smoother sounds, creating an immersive sonic experience. 

Photo depicting playlist “today is a good day” by rozie ramati on Spotify, as captured on Dec. 3, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Mariana Bernardez)


The impact of playlist duration on the listener’s experience cannot be overstated. Shorter playlists, ranging from one to three hours, are ideal for sustaining engagement. In contrast, longer playlists can fit specific scenarios, such as long road trips or plane rides. Personal preference and the context of use are paramount factors in deciding a playlist’s length, making a one-size-fits-all optimal length elusive. Take, for instance, the playlist below, the longest I’ve ever saved, spanning an impressive thirty-six hours. Despite its length, the playlist’s diverse range of deep dives highlights the versatility introduced by timing, offering a customized experience tailored to your audience’s preferences and desired takeaways. 

Photo depicting playlist “songs that scratch an itch in my brain” by persia on Spotify, as captured on Dec. 3, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Mariana Bernardez)


Playlists serve as time machines, transporting us to moments of nostalgia, emotion and the time we created them. Personalization is indispensable. Whether you’re curating the soundtrack for an upcoming trip to Europe or to remember cherished memories from childhood, playlists are often designed for exclusive, personal pleasure. To tailor each playlist and craft a unique narrative, consider the mood you want to evoke, the specific memories you aim to revisit and the emotions you wish to express.

Photo depicting playlist “Summertime on the Euro Continent” by Sofiarose Mineghino on Spotify, as captured on Dec. 3, 2023. Hustler Multimedia/Mariana Bernardez)


Collaboration and sharing playlists add a dynamic layer to the music experience. This feature enables friends, family and communities to contribute their favorite songs, creating a collective musical narrative. This collaboration introduces a diverse range of tracks and fosters a sense of connection and shared enjoyment. As the playlist evolves with each contributor’s input, it becomes a communal expression, elevating the experience from a solitary enjoyment to a shared, collaborative symphony.

Photo depicting playlist “only in my dreams” by themariasmp3 on Spotify, as captured on Dec. 3, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Mariana Bernardez)

Emotional impact

The emotional power of a playlist lies in the careful arrangement of the right combination of songs. Consider, for example, the playlist below, meticulously crafted to categorize songs into specific sections, each resonating with a different stage of falling in love — from the initial sparks of desire to the heavy intoxication of infatuation, culminating in the soothing comfort of love. By skillfully employing the lyrical and melodic nuances of various artists, you can curate a distinct experience that mirrors your emotions.

Photo depicting playlist “how it feels to fall in love by Eliza Mclamb on Spotify, as captured on Dec. 3, 2023. (Hustler MultiMedia/Mariana Bernardez)

Whether transporting listeners through time or curating a shared narrative, the key to creating a perfect playlist lies in the balance of elements, making each playlist a personalized collection of sensations and memories. Consider crafting a playlist that encapsulates the highs and lows of the semester, a musical companion for study sessions or a soothing balm for the journey home.

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About the Contributors
Mariana Bernardez
Mariana Bernardez, Staff Writer
Mariana Bernardez (‘27) is from Sao Paulo, Brazil, and studies human and organizational development and political science at Peabody College. When not writing for The Hustler, you can find her making playlists, going on hikes and exploring city restaurants. You can reach her at [email protected]
Lexie Perez
Lexie Perez, Graphics Director
Lexie Perez (‘26) is from Northern Virginia and is majoring in climate studies and human and organizational development and minoring in business in the College of Arts and Science. She enjoys listening to 70s and 80s pop music, doing the daily Wordle and rooting for the Nashville Predators and Cincinnati Bengals. She can be reached at [email protected].
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