Sunday June 7, 2020

Lockdown soundtrack: the Spotify playlists for when life is on pause

We asked DJs and musicians to create digital ‘mix tapes’ to keep you company in this strange time, whether you’re baking bread, going for a run, or hiding under the duvet. Here’s what they recommended

Nadine O’Regan

Arts Editor and Columnist

17th May, 2020
Making a playlist is an act of creativity and over the years we‘ve gone from cassettes to CDs to Spotify. Picture: Getty

Quarantine is tough: there's no denying it. No matter how many Zoom quizzes you find yourself in; no matter how cheerfully you bake that sourdough bread at home; no matter how often you reassure yourself that this is all just temporary, there will be moments when the gloom of our current situation feels overwhelming, and you find yourself wondering when you'll be able to take that flight abroad, enjoy that festival or shimmy out the door for that much-anticipated restaurant experience again.

How can we improve matters while we're stuck at home? For many of us, the answer comes down to partaking in simple activities – whether it's making the decision to read a novel, watch a film or listen to music. Or better yet: to write a story yourself, act out a play, or create a playlist for someone else.

Many people who love music will know the compliment that it is when a loved one makes a playlist for you. Back in the 1980s, those playlists would have arrived via the physical format of a tape cassette. In the 1990s, those playlists were increasingly printed and tucked inside CD cases. In 2020, playlists mainly come in digital format – available via Spotify or other music-streaming services.

Making a playlist is an act of creativity in itself, not to mention one of the most enjoyable things you can do with your free time. Well, that's what I think at least and fortunately many seem to agree. When asked to contribute a playlist to the Business Post to soundtrack our quarantine days, it was cheering to see how enthusiastically a variety of well-known names signed up for the task.

"I'd love to do that,” the podcaster, author and musician Blindboy said, when asked if he'd consider curating a playlist. “I'd love to do a playlist for dancing in the kitchen with a load of mad, rare 1980s disco."

Blindboy‘s playlist is for dancing in the kitchen

RTÉ Radio 1 presenter Lilian Smith also declared herself up for the challenge, opting to create a playlist for cooking at home. Although it was suggested that the playlist could be between ten and 20 songs, Smith found herself extending her repertoire. “I was going to make this a one-hour playlist,” she wrote in an email. “But I'd never spend just an hour in the kitchen. This is a playlist for when you're on your own and doing your thing. You can even sing along to a few of them."

Musician David Kitt, Today FM presenter Paul McLoone, and 2FM presenter Tracy Clifford all opted to create playlists that work well in the outdoors, with Clifford delivering a chilled-out playlist for lazy days in the park. “Music is my therapy,” she wrote in an email. “When making this list, not only did I imagine walking in a park on a sunny day, but also lying by a pool, headphones on, and the sun beating down. This playlist has a relaxed vibe – some songs have vocals telling stories. Others are vocal-free to make up your own stories."

While most of the playlists are designed to foster a sense of happiness, some are reflective and contemplative. Musician and Radio Nova presenter Peter Devlin created a playlist specifically for tough times. “Some people need to listen to happy, uplifting songs when they're sad,” he said. “I find that listening to melancholic music when I'm down, especially sad songs that trigger memories of happy times, helps me to get through the slump. My mother died suddenly before Christmas and we are all still heartbroken."

Lyric FM presenter Aedín Gormley delivered a playlist for people struggling with insomnia. “Music can help,” she said. “It's hard to go wrong with the Impressionist composers such as Debussy, Ravel, Satie and Fauré, and I find myself turning to so richlo jazz piano a lot."

Also sticking with soothing sounds was Newstalk presenter Tom Dunne, who said that although he has never made it to Ibiza, he wanted to imagine a bath-time playlist as though he were having a morning in Café Del Mar, with the sun rising and the DJ playing “beautiful, chilled-out euphoric” music. “I wandered into French-influenced and soulful Irish music too,” Dunne added. “Plus some gorgeous contemporary music."

As with every musical offering worth its salt, there's even a bonus track (or playlist in this case) on offer – I've taken the liberty of adding a mix to the online offerings on the Business Post Spotify's account, with the theme that every curator said they'd rather avoid: the Spotify playlist for when you're hard at work. Maybe wait until Monday to play that one. In the meantime, feast on burgers to Paul McLoone's barbecue playlist, go running to anthemic songs picked by David Kitt (he even has the Rocky soundtrack in there) and dine of an evening to musician Sorcha Richardson's mellifluous choices.

You can find all the playlists online by going to Spotify and doing a search for the Business Post's user profile.

We hope you'll enjoy them and relax listening to them. When all of this is over, we'll see if our guest DJs can be prevailed upon to return to create one final playlist -- a playlist that conjures up the sound of freedom.

The playlists can be found HERE

Blindboy's Playlist for Dancing in the Kitchen

Blindboy is a musician, podcaster and author whose his latest book, Boulevard Wren and Other Stories, is available in paperback now.

Lillian Smith's Playlist for Cooking

Lilian Smith presents Rising Time on RTÉ Radio 1 on Saturdays and Sundays from 6am to 8am.

David Kitt's Playlist for Running

David Kitt is a singer-songwriter, DJ and member of New Jackson.

Tracy Clifford's Playlist for the Park

Tracy Clifford is a presenter with RTÉ 2FM, weekdays from 12pm.

Paul McLoone's Playlist for the Barbecue

Paul McLoone is the lead singer of The Undertones and a presenter with Today FM.

Peter Devlin's Playlist for Sad Times

Peter Devlin is a musician with The Devlins and a presenter with Radio Nova.

Sorcha Richardson's Playlist for Dining In

Sorcha Richardson is an Irish singer-songwriter.

Tom Dunne's Playlist for the Bath

Tom Dunne is a musician with Something Happens and a presenter with Newstalk FM.

Aedín Gormley's Playlist for When You Can't Get to Sleep

Aedín Gormley presents Movies and Musicals (Saturdays 1pm-4pm) and Sunday Matinée (Sundays 1pm-4pm) on RTÉ Lyric FM.

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