Ivan from Noteworthy here again (Mondays 6PM-8PM). I’m back with another edition of Anatomy Of A Playlist, which is a great way to pull back the curtain and show you the thought process of putting together a 2-hour show.
Things stay pretty eclectic on a weekly basis, so in order to keep things smooth while varied, I take special care into making sure the playlist feels cohesive while also hitting on some topics and themes that caught my attention from the previous week. Just look at how I began things for this show.
If you recall, the day of the Super Bowl LII was deemed #JanetJacksonAppreciationDay on social media as a response to Justin Timberlake being chosen as the halftime show performer, despite his involvement with the “wardrobe malfunction” seen ’round the world. Count me in as one of those who felt that his inclusion at this year’s Super Bowl was problematic. Janet Jackson, one of the great pop icons of our time, was demonized to the point of practical invisibility as Timberlake managed to keep his career and image intact while absolving himself of any culpability in the incident until the damage had already been done.
I carried on with #JanetJacksonAppreciationDay at the beginning of my show since I strongly feel that her window of impact would have been extended a few more years without the controversy and her discography is among the most influential of the past three decades.
Whenever I play older songs, I always have this fear that a good chunk of what follows will adhere too closely to that sound and I’ll have very little time to get some newer songs. Luckily, there’s no shortage of great songs in the 2010s’ that fit comfortably into the R&B/pop mode, so I used this as an excuse to finally play Ekkah’s “Last Chance To Dance,” which had been in my rotation for a few months now. This also made it easy to acknowledge the recent passing of Leah LaBelle, who created a handful of terrific songs with Pharrell Williams that had a sleek ’80s R&B inflection as well.
Building off the grooves of the previous segment, I felt comfortable picking up the tempo a bit with my next songs. The main inspiration for going in this direction started from listening to Jamiroquai’s “Where Do We Go From Here” and how that opening piano riff immediately gave me the same feeling as Paul Johnson’s “Get Get Down.” While both songs have different rhythms, they both share driving beats with some heavy accents and a house remix could have easily been built around that piano. I just thought it sounded cool if it was the first thing you heard following a piano-based house classic. Plus, I’ll take any excuse to play “Get Get Down.”
From there, I wanted to move things in a downtempo-ish direction in order to pave the way for some of the mellow sounds later in the show. The main key to pulling this off was including “Therapy” by Yaeji in the segment, which still had a 4/4 beat, but softer accents than what came before. I knew that I would be dealing with more abstract tracks, so I had to start preparing the listener to go on that journey with me. By the time I played that Moby track, the pulse rate had significantly lowered and I would have been able to go in a number of directions.
The inspiration for a playlist could either come from what I’ve been experiencing in my own life or it simply boils down to having a song or three that I really want to play that week. From there, I just build around it.
My main goal on this show was to play Bernard Szajner’s “Welcome To (Death Row).” I had recently discovered it and been listening to it like crazy, mainly because I wanted to experience those chord changes over and over again, especially in the middle when the guitar is layered over it. It’s simple and repetitive, but the point of its placement in the song give it a tension that sort of puts you in a daze.
I took that daze feeling a step further and followed up with some Fiery Furnaces and Brian Eno tracks that had a similar floating feel. Since both of those songs had a less aggressive approach on guitar, I felt that I could follow it up with “My Lover Cindy” by Marika Hackman, another track I had been looking to play for about a few months now. The show was pretty much in the bag after that.