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DJ Z-Trip does his thing at a 2006 event in Los Angeles.
Michael Buckner/Getty Images
Those of you who are thinking about having a great party this St. Patrick's Day may have a lot on your minds as the minutes tick down, but it's as good a time as any to remind you of the importance of the perfect playlist. And we thought that for some good advice, we'd try an expert.
Famed "mashup" master DJ Z-Trip says that preparation is key, whether he's spinning records for a Vegas nightclub or setting up his iTunes playlist for a BBQ with friends. Z-Trip offered us his top five tips for keeping a party going.
1. Build up your crowd to a moment of frenzy. To explain how important this is, Z-Trip employs a volleyball metaphor: "Set, set, spike." You set up people with songs they're familiar with -- ones that maybe follow a particular theme or genre -- and then you spike it down with a great hit. Check out how Z-Trip weaves together Beastie Boys, AC/DC, and Rush -- and then crushes it with Led Zeppelin, in this set (language advisory here).
No doubt for tonight, you'll probably want to spike with your favorite Irish Hip Hop song...
2. Don't overdo any one band or genre. Z-Trip says having a lopsided playlist is like having a lopsided massage where, after 15 minutes, your "whole shoulder's numb, and it has the complete opposite effect of what you were trying to do." So throwing in one or two Beatles hits is great. Throwing on their entire box set: not so cool.
3. Work in some curveballs. This could mean something you've recently discovered that you can't wait to share, or even a forgottenclassic. Crowds love and appreciate it when you going out on a limb. On the other hand, he says...
4. Watch out for getting too obscure. While it's great to introduce crowds to new types of music, you have to be judicious about it. "If you're too pretentious, it'll come off in your mix," he warns. But Z-Trip also advises against about being be too predictable and bland. Might sound easier said than done, but it's all about finding a balance between the two.
5. Consider the shuffle. If you're feeling really gutsy, Z-trip says you can consider hitting shuffle on your iPod and see where the night takes you. This can be a dangerous thing, depending on what's in the full archives of your home music library, but it can also make for some mind-blowing juxtapositions. Who says Metallica and Carly Simon don't mix?
If you're looking to discover some new songs for your playlist, check out NPR's Song of the Day, curated by NPR Music editor Stephen Thompson. But if you're looking to find tunes on your own, Thompson recommends the website Hype Machine, which aggegrates music blogs. Or, he suggests, you can just hop around MySpace or other music blogs to find bands similar to the ones you know you like.
To hear more from my conversation with Stephen (himself an experienced creator of playlists), check out the podcast below. And good luck with your next party, whether it's tonight or any other night.
Creating A Great Playlist For St. Patrick's Day Or Any Other Day Of Revelry