So I have initiated a massive undertaking or fifteen in my day. Spending five years re-tagging 10,000+ MP3 files comes to mind. And I reflect on that endeavor as I am sketching out my latest massive endeavor. It’s one thing to mindlessly populate thousands of ID3v1&v2 song tags. It’s quite another to mindfully arrange a melodious set into a relaxed trade-wind mood or cord and light the right combination of soulful kindling to create the ideal temperature or weave a few choice harmonious strands into a comfortable easeful texture.
This latest mission will be different in that it will be in the medium of playlists. In that medium, it will easily notch a 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. I swear…this will be my magnum opus as a playlistologist. I fear, however, that due to the haste required, the final product will be more rustic than polished. But maybe for a playlist that will set a meter to affect the emotions of those within earshot — in a setting that exhibits as much Cape Cod refinement as primal rawness — rustic falls perfectly in the middle…somewhere…
Playlistologist (noun) – someone who pours just the right harmonies, melodies and beats into a cauldron and stirs them into a magical musical concoction that nourishes the aural appetite by flowing into the ears and eventually getting lost somewhere in the soul. You see music is the most divine soul food of all.
There are as many opinions on the topic of the perfect beach song as there are grains of sand on the beaches of Santa Rosa Beach, FL. And many “beach” playlists are arranged more haphazardly than the Santa Rosa Beach silica to be sure.
Some beach playlists consist simply of songs that the playlistologist him/herself likes to hear whilst at the beach. Coincidentally, this very same playlist also gets played in the car on the way to work, at work in the morning, at work after lunch, in the car after work, while picking up dinner at the drive thru window, while eating dinner and etc. This is absolutely fabulous for the playlistologist…and…basically no one else. Hence, this variety of playlist is not worthy of the monicker: “beach”. Instead, the playlist should be titled: “A Narcissistic Approach to Music Appreciation For Any Occasion For Me”. In fact, this is less of a playlist and more of an exercise in monotony (see: Eagles Greatest Hits blog post).
Other beach playlists are constructed strictly by smelting down a collection of tunes with “beach”, “sand” or “ocean” in the title. Trust me, I’ve panned countless beach/sand/ocean song titles in an attempt to forty-nine a handful of 24-karat beach lullabies. Looking for beach/sand/ocean marker is an excellent prospecting technique, but many of these beach/sand/ocean-titled ditties are fools gold once you get past the lambent title.
Additionally, “tiki”, “pirate”, “summer”, “sun”, “sunshine”, “tan”, “bikini”, “thong”, “salt”, “margarita”, “tequila”, “rum”, “beer”, “drunk”, “bar”, “Florida”, “Key West’, “California”, “Hawaii”, “Mexico”, “Jamaica”, “Caribbean”, “island”, “boat”, “sail”, “yacht”, “water”, “tide”, “coast”, “bay”, “lake”, “river”, “stream”, “swamp” and “banana pancakes” can also be used as prospecting terms, butt (re: Squio’s “Thong Song“) the results are even less predictable than when the applying the beach/sand/ocean marker.
While creating a playlist based solely on the content of son titles is a step up from the: “A Narcissistic Approach to Music Appreciation For Any Occasion For Me” approach to playlist building, it takes the imagination of a fifth grader and the skill of a fourth grader. Even my mother can Google: “songs with beach in the title“. This variety of playlist is barely worthy of the moniker “beach”, and in name only – that is if you only include songs with “beach” in the title, of course.
Yet other beach playlists consist of every song that the Beach Boys or Jan & Dean (a.k.a. Beach Boys lite) ever did, which with the exception of one song, are the same. Again, this style of playlist gets high marks for neither creativity nor difficulty from most judges that have previously toiled in this medium. Tracking down any of the countless Beach Boy’s greatest hits compilations at the local public library branch and ripping it to MP3 proves that you have a library card, MP3 ripping software and little else.
There is a popular alternative to the Beach Boys + Jan & Dean approach – the Jimmy Buffet + Bob Marley approach. No need to point out the subtle difference between this approach and the aforementioned, as there is none. All of the previous commentary applies.
Lately, there is a third alternative to the Beach Boys + Jan & Dean approach – the Zac Brown Band + Kenny Chesney approach. As the anointed and respective kings and king of beach country music, these two blue whales of ocean twang even toured together in 2012-13 – a tour I was lucky enough to catch in Atlanta, GA. But don’t be fooled by the lack of old worn out beach country chestnuts you will encounter on the typical ZBB+KC playlist; it’s still just lipstick on a wild southern boar.
Some of the really clever yet lazy playlistologists will combine all six of the aforementioned artists and shuffle their respective musical stylings into a playlist. This approach is not without merit in that it will fool a good majority of the population into believing that the playlistologist is competent. This is precisely what corporate mass media does when they deliver the news, but that’s a different sort of blog post. Folks, please don’t be fooled by this blatantly obvious shortcut. You may notice that many beach-side establishments will employ this technique for the purposes of populating their PA muzak stream. Seriously, “Toes” is a catchy tune and all, but how many times can you hear it in a given day and still experience the tripping of your light fantastic? I love Zac Brown too, but honestly, “Toes”, how many times in a day before its luster is tarnished? Let’s count…
- …this little piggy said, “hey, it’s ‘Toes’, saweet!”
- …this little piggy said, “hmm, ‘Toes’ again, ok.”
- …this little piggy said, “Umm, ‘Toes’, again, really…?”
- …this little piggy said, “Argh! No more ‘Toes’–DAMMIT!”
- …this little piggy threw the f*ckin’ iPod into the ocean and stuffed bacon in its ears for protection.
Having earned my rainbow belt in playlistology, and married a woman with a salty soul, I have spent a substantial time toiling in the medium of beach playlists. To further bolster my credibility, my credentials include a carefully curated pair of enormous beach playlists that each extracted about 24 hours of blood, sweat and tears – from me.
So what is the next logical step? Why create my magnum opus playlist(s), of course. I will begin by tearing apart the existing two beach playlists, splitting them into genre-ish groupings, adding a hundred (or so) more songs and creating a pair of ways to play them en mass or sort of en mass.
And so I did all that and more. And in the process, I brought more sand (songs) to my beach music landscape (playlists). Quite a bit of sand actually…
In addition to playlists, as if that was too puny of an undertaking, I gathered up what I believed to be important albums that send of a note of briny musk into the air. I managed to procure albums that are not really official albums in any sense of the word official. They are more like my own personal notion of what albums should officially exist but sadly do not. So, I created them! I did this strictly in the Zac Brown Band medium. So, in addition to the two bogus but excellent ZBB albums I created, I managed to finagle a few others are scarcely finaglable. I did this so as to provide an authentic and one-of-a-kind musical experience for the pretty little condo on the beach in Seaside, FL where all this will be available to residents and guests alike.
I think is is safe to say I have over 60 actual hours into this project. No sh*t. This included copious amounts of time spent pouring over beach playlists on the interweb – a thankless task to be sure. You see, not everyone’s idea of “beach” music is even fu*king close to even a loose working definition of such. Let’s just say the idea of a beach song is wide open to interpretation. I also poured over functional playlists on Spotify, Pandora, Songza, 8Tracks.com and other sources too numerous to recall. Although, I do recall being on About.com and Answers.com quite a bit. Over 60 hours yielded this painstakingly selected crop of beach harmonies that will hopefully grace the ears of many for years to come.
Time for some stats!
- Beach Boys – 7 albums, 197 songs
- Bob Marley – 2 albums, 25 songs
- Colin Hay – 8 albums, 101 songs
- Jack Johnson – 8 albums, 116 songs
- Jimmy Buffet – 14 albums, 188 songs
- Kenny Chesney – 7 albums, 83 songs
- Other Artists – 4 albums, 46 songs
- Zac Brown Band – 15 albums, 188 songs
TOTAL – 65 albums, 944 songs, ~60 hours
- Alt Indie – 53 songs
- American Trad Rock – 92 songs
- Country – 95 songs
- Loungin’ – 18 songs
- Reggae-ish – 36 songs
- Soft Yacht – 39 songs
- Sophisticated – 39 songs
- Vintage – 54 songs
TOTAL – 426 Songs, ~ 24 hours
And so this little project is complete. I hope it brings as much joy to those that are able to enjoy it as it brought me creating it. And yes, I have listened to each and every song.
© 2014 – ∞ DJ B. Charlie D.