Exploring Songza: Four Offbeat Playlists From the Curated Music Service
We introduced you to Songza -- the service that acts as a "music concierge" -- a few weeks back. Using curated playlists sorted not only by genre and theme, but also by activity, Songza helps you pick the best songs for the occasion.
More importantly to me, the playlists are expertly curated, meaning that even though users may submit playlists, the editorial oversight ensures that when I select 1990s College Radio, I don't get Nickelback and Green Day.
Because the playlists have such quality curation, many of the lists are teeming with forgotten gems, and delve deep into musical history, turning out associations and fusing genres and artists that the average listener may never have even considered. Using the "Browse" tab, listeners are free to go beyond Songza's concierge service and peruse the thousands of playlists available.
Here we have collected four of our favorite offbeat lists containing some fantastic music you may have forgotten about, and some you will be glad you found for the first time.
Songs of Childlike Wonder This playlist is a winner whether you are raising the next musical wunderkind or not. While all the songs are kid-friendly, adults will find themselves listening even when the younguns aren't around.
Unsurprisingly, the playlist finds classic kids' tunes like "Miss Mary Mack" and "Froggy Went a Courtin'" that you probably haven't thought about since first-grade music class. The surprise is what this playlist digs up -- myriad songs and records that have been lost to the vinyl archives.
Here you'll find Louis Prima -- and not just his Jungle Book song, either -- as well as Johnny Cash children's album alongside one of the very first records my parents ever played for me, Peter, Paul and Mommy.
When your kids get bored of your trying to tell them of the greatness of Peter Gabriel and Bob Marley -- both included here -- there are songs pulled straight from their favorite Disney movies, like Wall-E and Toy Story and songs you will be happy to share, like tracks from They Might be Giants classic Here Comes Science.
- Sarah Machlachan, "When She Loved Me"
- Paul Simon, "Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard"
- They Might Be Giants, "Meet the Elements"
Songs from Wes Anderson Films Built by an obvious Anderson devotee, the playlist includes tracks from Anderson's first six films. Compiled not only from soundtrack lists, but also songs simply appearing in the films, the list gleefully weaves a tapestry thankfully far more diverse than Anderson's self-indulgent WASP fairy tales.
From orchestral arrangements to Spanish folk tunes and on to The Rolling Stones, the list bounces here to there fairly effortlessly. For as off-kilter and wide-ranging as it is, this is one of the most cohesive playlists on Songza. To Anderson's credit, many of the songs on the list conjure at once the scene they appear in, a tribute to the directors talent at picking music to accompany his films.
- Nico, "The Fairest of the Seasons"
- Hank Williams, "Long Gone Lonesome Blues"
- The Stooges, "Search and Destroy"
Murder Ballads Exactly what it sounds like, a playlist of dark homicidal folk ballads. We picked this one, not only because of it's sub-sub-genre status but for it's surprising depth, including folk, a wide range of blues and several sub-genres of country and bluegrass
A majority of the list tends towards folk sensibilities, including many balladeers --Steeleye Span, for instance -- less familiar to casual American audiences. Also of note are inclusions of tracks from far more obscure traditional Appalachian ballad singers like Doug Wallin, who were documented by Smithsonian Folkways.
The alt-country, outlaw country and bluegrass genres make strong appearances as well, with submissions from Bobby Bare, Johnny Cash and Andre Williams, among others.
- Andre Williams, "Pardon Me (I've Got Someone To Kill)"
- Blind Lemon Jefferson, "Hangman's Blues"
- Omie Wise, "Okkervil River"
The Unofficial Brotherhood of Metallica The usual suspects are all here, from less commercially successful -- and arguably superior -- contemporaries like Slayer and Exodus to Metallica cast-off Dave Musataine's Megadeth. The rest of the list is far more interesting, however.
Pulling from the band's influences, friendships and offbeat interests, the remainder of the playlist sounds an awful lot like 13-year-old me trying to convince my more alternatively-inclined friends that Metallica is actually really cool.
The Misfits, frequent source of Metallica cover material and favorite band of late bass player Cliff Burton, contribute. Faith No More -- Tour mates on the fabled 1992 Guns N Roses tour -- is here, but the reason is far deeper than touring. Guitarist Jim Martin and Drummer Mike Bordin played together with Burton in their first high-school band. Bordin also happened to play with current Metallica bassist Rob Trujillo in Ozzy Osbourne's band.
Also included are a ton of criminally overlooked bands -- some who owe at least some of their limited exposure to Metallica name-checks -- sourced all over the hard-music map, from Nick Cave to Mercyful Fate and Killing Joke.
- Killing Joke, "Requiem"
- Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, "Loverman"
- Discharge, "Free Speech for the Dumb"
ALSO RECOMMENDED David Byrne's Record Collection: Culled from an ongoing set of playlists published by Byrne himself, this playlist is 2250 songs long and has everything from Missy Elliot to The Ramones.
Sun Records Road Trip: Borrowing the archives of the legendary Memphis studio, this list mixes soul, blues and rockabilly in a way only Sun could.
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