Much like sports or politics, music can be very divisive. Living room debates about how such and such song is better than another, or how so and so’s new album would have been a classic if x, y and z, are just part of the listening experience for many. And while it’s hard to maintain a level of objectivity in matters of taste, we instinctively defend things we like and build relationships with people who share similar interests.
But even if you and your friends typically like the same type of music, it doesn’t mean you’re always going to like the same songs. Example: Someone requests to play music at a party only to be handed the aux cord and ask, “What should I play?” It’s a heavy hat to wear, but for the sake of iPhones that mysteriously die at 12%, it’s important that all the homies be at least decent when put on aux duties. As someone who’s shot pretty well from the field, here’s a few thoughts on how to best reach that end:
This is a very Machiavellian approach to playing music, where seeming like you know what everyone wants to hear takes precedence over actual taste. I don’t support this tactic, mostly because it tends to mimic the monotony of radio without offering a solution to it. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with playing a few Top 40 tracks, just don’t sell people’s stomachs on a home-cooked meal when it’s really only heat and serve.
If you’ve ever been playing music from the backseat of a car—hunched over the middle console, trying to text while your phone is connected to the shortest fucking auxiliary cord of all time—wireless audio is purely a godsend. I can tell you firsthand that it’s kind of chickenshit, too.
While attending a friend’s party a while back, I offered to control the tunes while he went on a quick alcohol run. After about five minutes of you gotta put it in search mode for it to work, I finally connected my phone, much to the chagrin of a girl that kept requesting to hear “Fight Night” by Migos. (It wasn’t even 10PM yet.) I remember her snooping around, trying to find the culprit while I kept my phone tucked away like a gold chain at a Migos concert. I know it’s stupid and lame, but it wasn’t until that night that I realized how hands-off Bluetooth playback can be. Gutless even. It’s akin to shrinking the cover art on Spotify while listening to Migos at your corporate desk job. I understand that you can’t beat the convenience of wireless, but do yourself a favor and learn from my mistake.
The Sniff Test
Hawking around the internet and bookmarking sites that house popular content won’t bestow someone with good taste, but it might help them anticipate what’s considered as such. It’s easy to click through a high-traffic music site and see which artists garner the most attention, especially now that contributing writers prioritize being first at what they do rather than good at it. The latter requires actually listening to the songs.
The casual 23-year-old who frequents these sites probably has a similar priority: knowing about new music before his friends, even if all that means is being first to tweet about it. But think about the fuccboi who dropped Kanye’s “Only One” at the hem of a New Years Eve toast just because, after all, it was new, unheard Kanye! While the repercussions might not be as bad for you on a random Friday night, it’s simply much easier to play music you actually like—music you’ve actually heard before.
I remember when mobile streaming from YouTube would render very shitty audio. We’ve come a long way since then, but at the end of the day: YouTube isn’t designed for party purposes. The ads are annoying, sure, but you also have the “official music video” dilemma to worry about. Believe me, there’s nothing like having your friends listen to 30 seconds of a guy driving through a desert before a song starts. Few things will get the aux cord yanked faster than overly conceptual music videos, so tread lightly.
This probably should have been first. As someone who churns through so much data every month, I can’t help but envy “grandfathered in” AT&T users and anyone else with an unlimited data plan. However, I’ve found it to be a palpable excuse whenever I’m tired of playing music at parties. If you’ve used over 80% of your data and still have 2 weeks left on your current bill cycle, just be a responsible adult and give up the damn aux. I forewarned that this stuff wouldn’t be easy, but it’s even worse when there’s no Wi-Fi involved.