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Editor's Note, 10/23

It seems that there are two universal playlists for the Duke student: the homework playlist and the hookup playlist. With the advent of services like Spotify, one can find numerous examples of either of these with a simple search. In fact, I’ve even had ads on Spotify suggest that I should listen to the “PERFECT baby-making playlist” or “enjoy these relaxing tunes while studying!”

But I’m only here today to talk about one of these playlists. To be honest, the perfect homework playlist is rather standardized: take some mellow Bon Iver, some instrumental jams from Explosions in the Sky and some atmospheric soundscapes from Tycho, and you will have the perfect playlist for mulling over your unwieldy linear algebra homework.

So let’s not worry about the homework playlist. Let’s focus instead on the more contested one: the hookup playlist. While I cannot possibly hope to give you a comprehensive formula to make the ideal soundtrack for getting down and dirty, I can give you some basic guidelines.

Start Slow

Yes, we all love a deep bass thrum and crazy drops. But, for the sake of…well, the romance of the night, don’t start there. You want music that could be listened to by candlelight as you hold hands, discuss the aged wine you are sipping and gently pet the cute little pug perched on your lap. “But this is only a one-night hookup!” you might insist. So what! Even for one-night stands, kicking it old school and playing some “Earth Angel” or “Loving You” or even James Blake’s fantastic cover of “A Case of You” can be a wonderful mood-setter. Christmas lights are strongly recommended for this stage of the night.

To Be Frank

The next stage of the night is a progression towards the real “business” at hand. It’s time to bring in Frank. You only have two options here: Frank Ocean or Frank Sinatra. Either way, you won’t lose. Men and women alike will melt at the sound of Franks’ voices. I once told a friend of mine that “Thinkin’ Bout You” was perhaps the best hookup song of our generation. She replied with a shocked “I don’t know what kind of hookups you have, but that would not work for me!” In my humble opinion, she didn’t know what she was talking about. No one sets the mood better than these two fine gentlemen. Whether it is smooth oldies or smooth R&B, Frank is essential. Tip: Move in for that first kiss right…about…now.

Ebb and Flow

From this point on, it’s all about the flow of the night. Don’t go right into the fist-pumping, Shooters jams that so many people tend to gravitate toward. Yes, I too want to hear “Anaconda” and “Shake It Off” at every moment possible (read: this is grossly untrue). But you can’t jump right from Frank into the most beloved female performers of our time (this is horrifyingly close to the truth sometimes) with no lead-up. Build it up a little bit. Start adding the bass back into the mix with “Retrograde” by James Blake or some more up-tempo jams by Neon Indian or Milky Chance. Also, keep in mind that Beyonce is acceptable at nearly any point in this playlist. Obviously.

The Only Song You Need

The night has been progressing well! Congrats. Oh, what’s that? It’s because of the music? Oh, you! So flattering. Alright, it’s time to bring in the big guns. Now, uh, I usually don’t do this...but go ahead and pull out the “Ignition (Remix).” Of course, make sure it is indeed the remix. It could end the night very prematurely if it isn’t. Speaking of “prematurely,” this is where I talk about the length of this playlist. For some of you, this playlist could be extraordinarily short. Like, one song. And if you do only need a one-song playlist for the length that you will be romantically engaged, then make it this one. Otherwise, this song should always be placed at the peak of the night. It is as ridiculous as it is sexy. You’ve already been classy enough. It’s time to push that all aside and accept that what you’re doing is downright bizarre. Humans are weird! Let R. Kelly, who has done some pretty weird stuff in his days, take you into the peak of the night.

A Graceful Ending

I have a shameful admission to make. I may seem like I am professing to be some master of hookup playlists, but my playlist (very cleverly titled “Winky Face”) used to end with the wonderful, but so incredibly unsexy, “Sweet Caroline.” Yes, the one that everyone drunkenly slurs along to at baseball stadiums. Don’t make the mistake that I made. End gracefully. Don’t allow the mood to splat into the ground by bringing in Neil Diamond. Play yourself out with some nice folk music. Or be unconventional and end with an instrumental piece. Really, you can end with almost anything relaxing, but, for the love of God, don’t let it be “Sweet Caroline.”

Again, these playlists are controversial. I don’t claim this to be a foolproof guide. If we wanted to be safe, though, we would stick to our homework playlists. Instead, be a little adventurous. Maybe, just maybe, a new and improved hookup playlist can take you somewhere exciting.

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