How to Make the Perfect Quarantine Playlist

Illustration by Esther Liu

Celine Pun
Contributing Writer

COVID-19 has changed Isla Vista from a beach resort to a ghost town. I’m certain other current Isla Vista inhabitants may feel the same: hollow houses and empty streets radiate loneliness. However, everything comes to life with music. My favorite genres are K-pop, alternative rock, and folk, but recently my playlists have begun to taste stale, rolling on my tongue like hard gum.

When I scrolled through Spotify and saw their pre-made, formulaic quarantine playlists, one thing stuck out: they were satirical. The songs were selected for their mocking titles. I couldn’t vibe with the musically clashing songs on the list, so I created my own. Hopefully, these tips will guide you in making a playlist that will keep you company in quarantine. 

  1. Marinate in what your peers are listening to.

Social media comes in clutch during this time of quarantine because it seems like every member of Gen Z is sharing how they are surviving or thriving (or not). Ask your friends about that song they are playing behind their dalgona coffee cooking show. Ask about their TikTok song. If you feel anxious about messaging someone you rarely talk to in person, think about how humans are social creatures and how we bloom vibrantly with a community. They may take your effort as a compliment.

Besides, think of how that music will brighten another one of your quarantine days. When I Zoom with now-long-distance friends to study or play games, we also get each other a taste of each others’ music. Reggaeton. R&B. Lo-fi. The comfortable environment we built made these songs colorful and perfectly seasoned to my ears. 

  1. Stir in soundtracks of the shows or movies you’ve been bingeing.

I don’t think I am the only stuck-at-home student who’s been passing their time working through a solo binge marathon. (My current obsessions are “Terrace House” and “Itaewon Class.”) Think of all the past and/or current sources of entertainment you have been consuming. If you loved them, give their soundtracks a chance. Every taste test for different soundtracks makes a belly happy; they make good background noise for cutting your bangs, playing “Animal Crossing,” or redecorating your room. Give them a go.

  1. Sprinkle in current favorites.

Recall the more peaceful times where you’ve listened to music. That long nap. A quick car jam to the grocery store. I remember hours on with Jeremy Zucker, UMI, and Lauv wafting through the house. Are the songs ear candy enough to listen to another 500 times? If you answered yes, sprinkle them in. 

  1. Garnish with souvenirs from a trip down a Spotify wormhole. 

Make sure your ears are hungry when you venture. I like to start with an artist that I’m unfamiliar with, but have a song of theirs in an old playlist — clicking on their profile and checking out their other music.

Spotify has a “Fans Also Like” section of artist profiles where other artists are advertised. Check their songs out too. Or go to the “Recommended Songs” section at the bottom of your playlists. (This only works when you are connected to the internet.) Give every song a chance. I usually play at least half the song before knowing whether the song is worth a second listen. 

Click here to listen to my playlist; I hope you feel inspired to make your own!



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