Playlists for Events

There’s been some talk going around about a thread to discuss which songs to play at competitions. (This started in reference to IRI, but need not be limited there.) Thought I’d take the initiative. Obviously this is subjective, but what do you think? Some aspects that have come up:

  1. To play or not to play - the traditional “canon” of regionals, like YMCA, Cotton-Eye Joe, etc.
  2. Repeats - how many is ok (and for what length of competition)?
  3. How much thought really needs to go into this?
  4. Any good resources/websites? e.g., etc.
  5. Just in general, what do you want to hear? (why?)

Repeats: Try for no more than 2x/day on any given song, no closer than a couple of hours. 3x/day, pushing it (and keep the distance between).

“Traditional” songs for breaks (Macarena, YMCA, Cha-Cha Slide, Cotton-Eye Joe (which I happen to like), and that sort of thing): Keep them for field outages or elimination-round breaks. Maybe you don’t get to all of them. That’s probably a good thing. But don’t go playing them during the normal matches unless there’s some form of field failure.

Thought input: Also see “What you want to hear”, but if you’re doing the music, think about the audience and what they’d want to hear. Don’t just put an iPod on shuffle; one of the better-DJ’d events I was at (OK, VRC events–but at the time it was FVC) had “Eye of the Tiger” and the Imperial Death Star March (or whatever it’s actually called) in the playlist (though the playlist should have been longer…). Think about what the audience is going to like, what the energy level needed will be, sprinkle in some surprises.

What you want to hear: If it’s an FRC event or something like that, try to keep it clean and family-friendly. Remember, your younger siblings, or someone their age, are probably in the audience (especially true for the high schoolers), and maybe they don’t like listening to the same music you do.

“Traditional” songs for breaks (Macarena, YMCA, Cha-Cha Slide, Cotton-Eye Joe (which I happen to like), and that sort of thing): Keep them for field outages or elimination-round breaks. Maybe you don’t get to all of them. That’s probably a good thing. But don’t go playing them during the normal matches unless there’s some form of field failure.

That works for me, when I hear them I know it’s either a field failure or the head ref has called a bio break for the staff. So I can also head out of the stands for a few moments.

I’m a fan of the 60’->2010 music, thats about 17,000 top 40 songs to choose from across the weekend so repeats shouldn’t be a real problem. Part of it is with multiple DJ’s they often duplicate songs so trying to coordinate would be good.

A mixup of songs is good. Sometimes when 1/2 the crowd goes “Huh?” and the rest go “Wow, I’ve not heard that in years” its a good thing. So I’ll sign up to bring my iPod with a mix of Polka, Sousa marches, Square dance tunes and Big Band Hits. Think about Lunacy, was that not a Square dance music opportunity? With the robots and their “partners” attached to them, it would have been perfect!!

It’s also fun to have some familiarity with the music from the local area or region. It was really amazing watching the stands go crazy at the OKC inaugural regional when the DJ played some George Strait. That’s actually one of my favorite memories in FIRST, watching that connection happen and everyone singing, including me.


This is a good topic for some searching.

Looking through the archives and updating any previously compiled playlists, or summarizing which attitudes that have stayed stable and which have drifted over the last few years could offer some interesting insights.

Siri - Care to take on the challenge?

The music during breaks is especially important. The dance songs are great, and I would add in the Hokey Pokey (yes it is good to be a 4 year old every now and then). I would also add in light hearted sing-alongs to the breaks. Basically go to a piano bar and right down their play-list for fun sing-alongs. Do not play the sing-alongs while actual action is taking place.
Brown Eyed Girl
Sweet Caroline
Friends in Low Places (debate worthy appropriate)
If I had a million dollars.
Don’t Stop Believing

There is a pretty good list here:

  1. Who let the Dogs Out
  2. Hey Jude (or Vee Neun…)
  3. Stayin Alive
  4. Intentionally skipping (whitney song)
  5. Mony Mony
  6. I love Rock and Roll
  7. American Pie
  8. Bohemian Rhapsody
  9. Smooth
  10. YMCA (covered under dance songs)

Another “Top 10” with surprisingly few repeats:
Top 10 Sing Along Songs
10. Margaritaville :: Jimmy Buffett
9. Livin’ On A Prayer :: Bon Jovi
8. Hotel California :: The Eagles
7. Sweet Caroline :: Neil Diamond
6. Yellow Submarine :: Beatles
5. Hey Jude :: The Beatles
4. Piano Man :: Billy Joel
3. Paradise By The Dashboard Light :: Meat Loaf
2. Bohemian Rhapsody :: Queen

  1. American Pie :: Don Mclean

And a top 13 (what your top 10 goes to 11, ours goes to 13!)

Lots of repeats with a couple key add-ons:
2. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap- AC/DC
4. Happy Together- The Turtles:
10. Saturday Night- The Bay City Rollers:

This is a cool idea, Blake, but I’m not actually sure what archives you’re talking about. You mean FIRST-specific (how? match footage seems…long) or Top 40 lists?

IKE, nice lists! I love the sing-along idea, and would definitely add “Livin’ on a Prayer” to the list. “Yellow Submarine” and a few others might work as well. (especially for the water game next year! :P)

As far as the repeat issue, I’d advocate a ‘previously played’ list. That way new DJs know what’s been played when, but can still read the crowd and adapt to FMS issues and timeouts.

I remember at Kettering and Ann Arbor this year, immediately when the final score was posted, the DJ put on “We are the Champions” by Queen. It was a great way to punctuate the moment at both events. Just my $0.02.

Agreed. Also, don’t play them at lunch. I can’t say that I’ve heard it happen, but it seems like a mistake easily made.

Some songs that I haven’t seen suggested yet:
-Final Countdown, for the second finals match (and for that match only…not really an appropriate song for the rest of the competition)
-We are the Champions (Queen), for the awards ceremony (they still do do music during the awards, right?)
-Any Way You Want It and Don’t Stop Believing (both by Journey) are good for singing along, as long as they’re played in moderation.
-Sweet Home Alabama (Lynyrd Skynyrd)
-Rock and Roll all Nite (Kiss)
-School’s Out (Alice Cooper)
-Respect (Aretha Franklin)
-Play That Funky Music (Wild Cherry)
-Crazy Train (Ozzy Osbourne)
-Iron Man (Black Sabbath)
-Sandstorm (Darude)

Just an example regarding playing music for all ages: In 2008 at Pittsburgh, most of the music played was oldies (60s/70s, if I had to guess). I remember talking to my mentors about it, complaining that I would have liked to hear more upbeat things that I could sing along to. The response I got was “WHAT!? But this is good music! This was my childhood!”

If I was DJing an event, I would make sure to not play music from just one generation. As everyone has said before me, mix it up. You’re totally allowed to play Beatles hits next to today’s #1 single (assuming it’s appropriate…).

For individual songs, I’d just like to throw in a request for minimizing remixes. Not only are the original songs a lot better, but if everything is a funky techno remix, it all sounds the same.

Plugging “Music” into this site’s Search function (see the pull-down near the top of the portal page) returns a long list of threads, including this one:

Searching on “playlist” get a similarly long list of (overlapping) hits.

Using Advanced Search lets you search the Whitepaper archives.