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Master Mixtape

I’ve been working on something for the last two years or so: a playlist, but not just your common or garden ‘predrinks’ or ‘house’ playlist. This one is something else, this is a big one.

The Master Mixtape is a project of mine to create a playlist comprising a track by every artist I come across, with few exceptions. It’s now passed the 500 tracks mark, weighing in at 39 hours and 9 minutes in length, so I’m unleashing it upon the world, in what will no doubt go down as one of the great meritorious epochs in music history, here on my anaemic and all-but-silent blog.

If you just want to hear what I’m talking about without reading all this waffle, then go ahead, I don’t blame you at all.

At this point, 500 songs in, it’s become more eccentric and esoteric than I could have ever hoped: from Björk to Blind Guardian; Bon Iver to blink-182, and Beastie Boys to Biffy Clyro, not even leaving the Bs, I’ve stumbled across more artists than I can comprehend and, more importantly, discovered some great music buried in the obscurities of Spotify.

What can you expect? The short answer is ‘a bit of everything’. I think there are examples of music from almost all of the broad genres, many subgenres too, and plenty of stuff that falls in the overlap. To move from B to C, I’ve included songs by CHVRCHES, Coldplay, Chairlift, Céline Dion, Cradle of Filth, Current Value, and The Colourist; all disparate and diverse in more ways than simply their genre.

I haven’t set rigid criteria for inclusion, as such; although I try to add a song by every artist I encounter, I’ve had a few flexible rules that exist only as long as I need them to. Please appreciate how I try hard to make out that there are actual rules, and that I’ve not just arbitrarily excluded or included tracks because I want to.

Firstly, I have to actually like or at least appreciate the artist. This is sort of subjective, of course; I have music in this list by artists I haven’t really listened to in 10 years, but I would still consider to be music I like. Similarly, I haven’t gone out of my way to include artists I know exist but would never listen to. Country music fans, feel free to hurl abuse at me right now.

Secondly, cultural awareness. I wanted this playlist to be actually enjoyable, or at least interesting; something which people could enjoy working away at listening to. Let’s say you’ve just finished a four-track tour de force of Danger, Danny Byrd, Darkside, and Daughter, then Darude’s Sandstorm blasts crassly into your earholes. I’d forgive you for thinking that I’d constructed the most labour-intensive internet joke ever, but the reality is that its presence just wouldn’t feel right to me. The song’s a joke now; nothing more. Go to literally any YouTube video and enter the comment ‘what song is that?’ and you’ll find out why. That said, I’ve included Bag Raiders’ Shooting Stars which, if you’ve been on certain corners of Reddit recently, you will recognise as the centerpiece of a current trend in the ever-changing repertoire of memes on that site.

Thirdly, no comedy or nostalgia tracks. Eifel 65 is out, straight away, along with 2 Unlimited, Ace of Base, and all that other garbage 90s dance music which is now so culturally steeped in its own foetid juices that it belongs only to 90s-themed parties, the soundtracks of tongue-in-cheek TV documentaries about the 90s, and absolutely nowhere else.

Fourthly, go easy on the Dancehall, and other genres of wildly prodigious and barely distinguishable music. I’ve got some Jamaican music on my Spotify, not going to lie; contemporary Dancehall is the bastard offspring of reggae, trap, and hip-hop and I hate to love to hate to love it, but what else are you going to listen to when there’s rum on the table? The problem is that there are thousands of Dancehall ‘artists’ of varying degrees of recognition and professionalism, and the riddim remix releases of every popular track are monstrous in number and quality. The same goes for Garage and Grime, among others.

Fifthly, and maybe following on from the latter, I’ve made a few decisions regarding the extremes of certain genres. I’ve actively excluded a few of the most outrageous – not as in ‘oh Margerie how outrageous! We must call the authorities!’, but as in ‘what the hell was that? Is my headphone jack broken? Is there a burst of solar radiation making my Senns trip out?’ – artists. Metal is a great example of this; there is some beautiful music in the genre, but there are some artists whose white-noise offerings are made yet more offensive – to the senses, not just morals – when you Google the ‘lyrics’, or even the band’s name, in some cases.

Sixthly, no remixes. That’s another playlist for another time.

(Incidentally, if you were curious as to when the spell checker would start rejecting my lazy efforts to cannibalise ordinal numbers into adverbs, the threshold is ‘eleventhly’.)

In short, this playlist contains whatever I want it to contain; there are vague stipulations that it has to be music I like, or at least would listen to, alongside transient capricious exclusions based on whims, but this is the most inclusive and diverse playlist I could construct, which is what I set out to do.

I’m always stumbling upon new veins of music, so I’ll be keeping this updated as I go, or for as long as I remember/have the interest.

Master Mixtape, on Spotify (Listen on shuffle, or alphabetically, it makes no difference.)

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