The key to any successful event is constructing the perfect playlist.
And by “event,” I don’t just mean those rare times when you decide to socialize with other human beings and invite them over for a party, where you spend most of the night hunched over your laptop, frantically adding songs to your Spotify playlist — the little voice in your head insisting that yes, this is the peak of the party, aka the most appropriate time to play “Turn Down For What.”
You need playlists for the little things, the everyday tasks. You are the plucky protagonist of a John Hughes film, and your life needs a soundtrack. You are Sharpay Evans in the most underrated scene of “High School Musical 2,” requesting a drum beat to simply walk out of the room. You are Amelia Mignonette Thermopolis Renaldi — princess of Genovia — and every step you take is latent with the sound of coronation bells and undeveloped regality.
I know what you’re thinking: “There you go again, talking cinematic,” as Hannah Montana said in her 2006 smash hit, “If We Were a Movie.” But there’s nothing wrong with wanting your life to feel like a movie sometimes. And although we can’t all break the fourth wall and get directly existential, Ferris Bueller-style, a good playlist can turn any box-office bomb of a day into an Oscar-worthy blockbuster.
Music can turn the mundane activities of everyday life into a full-blown dramatic experience. Running late to class and want to avoid the usual bombardment of flyers on Sproul? Listen to metalcore while you walk toward Sather Gate and imagine that you are in one long, continuous mosh pit. So when a girl in business attire tries to hand you a flyer for her student org’s upcoming networking event, instead of just saying, “No, thank you,” just wait for a mosh call and slam dance away, accidentally hitting her in the face, her stack of flyers slamming to the ground like the bodies of your mortal enemies.
Or when you’re writing a research paper at 11 p.m. and your computer is steaming from overuse — 10 tabs in Safari, three Word documents, a YouTube playlist, Spotify, your Google Calendar, iTunes and the dictionary/thesaurus to make your essay sound more smarter. You’re already pushing your poor laptop to the brink of exhaustion, but you’re just 100 words away from finishing your paper. You type furiously, fingers cramping from the weight of the bullshit you’re spewing, type, type, click and finally, it’s finished. You hit save and print and blast “Clique” to celebrate the triumphant end of this long-haul journey, a battle you couldn’t have won on your own.
You are rapping every syllable in celebration, the holy spirit of Yeezus running through you. That’s right, Kanye. Ain’t NOBODY fuckin’ with MY clique! EasyBib, Sparknotes, Wikipedia — you my day-one killas! Ain’t NOBODY fuckin’ with us!
Or for the lowest of times. In the midst of an all-nighter, you desire sustenance. You have been up all night, procrastinating harder than anyone ever has. Aziz Ansari’s voice echoes in the back of your head: “Treat yo self.”
You need boba.
You pick yourself up off of the floor, stuff $5 in your leggings, sprinting toward the door as you glance at your phone, checking the time.
No … It can’t be. It’s past 2 a.m. Every boba place is closed.
You are a glass case of emotion, falling to the ground, crumbling into pieces that were once held together by the promise of milk tea and greasy popcorn chicken. And in the distance, “I Dreamed a Dream” from “Les Miserables” accompanies your defeat — Fantine’s desperate, weeping cry for love preaching directly toward your broken soul.
“I had a dream my life would be so different from this hell I’m living.”
You are crying now, rolling on the floor, muttering something about green tea and lychee jelly. Your roommate asks if you are OK. You aren’t, but you pick yourself back up and ask the most defining question of our generation: What would Taylor Swift do?
She would “Shake It Off.” And that’s exactly what you do.
Rosemarie Alejandrino writes Monday’s arts and entertainment column on pop culture.
Contact Rosemarie Alejandrino at [email protected].