I Am Ashamed Of My PlaylistVanessa King

Last summer, the very worst thing happened to me.

I was on location with my friend.  She was shooting a contained thriller in the middle of the Pennsylvanian countryside, just outside of Philly.  The days were long.  Really long.  By the end of each twelve, thirteen or sometimes fourteen-hour day, we’d come back to the hotel and collapse, trying to squeeze in what few hours of down time we could before the next morning’s pathetically early call.  Our dinners consisted of mixed greens and marginally undercooked chicken from one of the three local fast food chains in the small, working-class town.

(Shooting in a remote town in the middle of nowhere?  Believe it or not, not the worst thing.)

One day, by the grace of the celluloid gods, we somehow managed to wrap early.  And by early, I mean probably about 7 PM.  The night was young.  What were two girls to do?  Well, if I told you my friend was HelloGiggles & Real Girl’s Kitchen’s own Haylie Duff, you’d know what one girl was to do.  One girl was itching to COOK US A FEAST.

(Haylie cooking us some nom-noms?  This is obviously not the worst thing.)

So there we were, in her suite’s “kitchen” (I use the word loosely).  She was concocting some sort of an amazing feast while I diligently took on the pivotal role of “sous-chef” (again, I use the word loosely).

And then she said it:

(Here comes the worst thing.)

“V, my iPhone’s dead – hook up yours to the stereo.  This place needs some music.”


I think I gasped.  Seriously.  Audibly.  It was as if she’d asked me to strip down to my skivvies and run naked down the hallways of the hotel.  Actually, had she asked me to run around naked, it probably would have made me feel less nauseous.

“Uh…”  That was my answer: Uh.

She looked at me with a smile.  “Where is it?” she asked.  “I’ll hook it up.”

“It’s…” A panicked pause.  Where the eff-bomb was my phone?  If it was close enough, maybe I could grab it first and pretend my battery was dead, too.

I saw her scanning the area.  I froze.  All I could think was: “Please let me have forgotten it in my room… please let me have forgotten it in my room…” (As if my phone has ever been outside of a 16″ radius from my fingers.)

And then it happened: the dreaded vibration.  Usually a signal that someone loves you, this alert might as well have been sent by the devil, a freaking text message identifying the exact location of my playlist like it was sonar.

Haylie grabbed my phone and immediately started searching my music for something to play.  I watched helplessly, wanting to throw up, because I knew that nowhere in my 4,300 song library was there a single “cool” song.   No Plain White T’s, no Black Keys.  No Killers.  No Wilco.  No Sigur Ros or Kings of Leon.  I’d never once heard of The Boxer Rebellion and Band of Horses sounded like something you’d find on a farm.  There were no Strokes, no Fleet Foxes (confession: I got this list from a friend).  Heck, at that time, there wasn’t even a single She & Him (don’t worry Zooey, there is now).

My playlist was missing any song heard at any Coachella since Coachella began.  Haylie was a finger-swipe away from scrolling through 4,300 songs featuring The Carpenters, a little Bette Midler, some Wilson Phillips, the occasional Celine Dion and The Quintessential Backstreet Boys Collection, mixed in was possibly some stuff your parents listen to, smattered alongside the stand-by Top 40, some country that I pretend isn’t actually country, a bunch of one hit wonders, a lot of film scores and more songs from the ’80s than I’d ever care to admit.

Truth?  I know nothing about indie music.  It’s not because I don’t like listening to it – I just don’t know where to begin.  To me, learning Russian would be easier than managing what’s hot in that large corner of the music world.  The thought of discovering new bands overwhelms me.  Seriously.  The statement: “Have you heard this new band?” is non-existent in my vocabulary. I know, I know.  It’s a personality flaw.

Yes.  My name is Vanessa and I am ashamed of my playlist.

Because of this, I’m ridiculously protective of my iPhone musical library. I feel like my playlist is like my diary.  It’s top secret.  I don’t really want you to know what I’m listening to – even if you are my friend… actually, especially if you are my friend.  The minute you start flipping through my vast collection of A-Teens songs,  I quickly lose my cool card.  One accidental slip and Neil Sedaka might fill the room (yeah, go ahead, take a minute to Google him).  But that’s the great thing about headphones… and also why my nightmares are filled with me one day accidentally downloading Spotify.  Nobody ever needs to know.  It’s the vow of trust I share with my phone: we don’t judge each other.  I won’t second guess its Genius List Picks if it doesn’t mock me when I press play.

As Haylie scrunched her nose, obviously flummoxed by what she was scanning through, I tried to come up with an explanation for my taste in music. (“It’s my mom’s playlist!, I swear!”)  Until – deus ex machina – a knock at the door.  Sweet heavenly day: someone else.  Someone who I immediately knew would have a playlist FULL of cool, room-filling indie bands.

My iPhone was abandoned; my nausea slowly dissipated, and never ever have Haylie and I ever revisited what was on my playlist that day.

Thank God.

Image via eHow


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  1. OMG, you and I could be one and the same. My phone is full of 80′s music and yes shamefully Broadway musicals My husband constantly rags on me and my choice of music, but I quickly retort that if he doesn’t like it, he’s welcome to drive HIS car and listen to HIS music. My car-my rules!

  2. i think if there’s 1 thing in life not to be ashamed of it’s your iPod. Music is a personal thing and if other people don’t like it then tough. Mine consists of stuff from classical to Bruce Springsteen to Disney songs (even High School Musical lol).

  3. try out designers.mx, it helps me find good, new music!

  4. i am slightly ashamed of my playlist too. But play music out loud at work anyway. And none of my co-workers can relate to my music. From Regina Spektor to songs from Disney soundtracks (they make some awesome song, who can fault that) to hip hop to Motown to North African to 90′s pop (LONG LIVE THE 90′s POP!) to….what’s the most obscure? J-Pop? Christmas songs? I dont know! It’s a good mix of everything and so long as I’m lip sncing along and wriggling my hips, I don’t care tooooo much (just enough to skip a song here and there).

  5. why would you be ashamed of your music tastes? if your friend cant open her mind and hear some of the classics, i mean i am only 2o but love The Carpenters. So sick of everyone trying to be cool by only listening to “indie” music. stick with what makes you happy

  6. This is a great post! I can totally relate! I use to be ashamed of my musical tastes because it is so random. I can go from listening to a musical to some Yeah Yeah Yeahs to The Smiths and then dancing my butt off to Daft Punk and then finish it off with a little She & Him. I’m so all over the board when it comes to music! But then I learned there’s no need to be ashamed of what you like. I really agree with you that music is a totally personal thing.. But I also think it is meant to be shared with others! There’s nothing better than the moments when you’re hanging with your girl friends and that cheesy pop hit from your teenage years comes blaring over the speakers, it brings back fond memories and just makes you want to get up and dance! You may be surprised…we all have guilty pleasures when it comes to music and I bet you might share those with some of your friends!

  7. I want to know what was on that play list! I’m a HUGE music fan and I’m always interested in hearing new (most of the time oldies that are new to me) music! But any ways I understand your protectiveness over your music. I feel the same way. Kinda. But I’m more of an “I love most music” kind of person.

  8. Hey at least you have some She&Him on there now!! C:

  9. Full disclosure: I spent a lot of time role-playing on a Harry Potter site (snitchseeker.com) a couple years ago (HP nerd yo). I was RPing as a Hogwarts student, and homework for a Potions class was to write and record a song about your favorite aspect of potion-making. Which I did. It is called “Internal Organs”, about how we use the hearts of dragons and gallbladders of frogs and what not in Potions. I sound like I’m about 8 years old. (I am not 8.) It remains in my library and on my damn iPod because every time I synch it I forget to take it out. I’m always horrified someone will find it and as such, only offer up playlists and not the whole library. #shamespiral

  10. as long as YOU love the songs on YOUR ipod, then don’t be ashamed. there is a lot of new/popular stuff I don’t have, mainly because it sucks.

  11. Pssssh, I love my playlists. Fleetwood Mac, Jackson Browne, Cher, Bette Midler, Billy Joel…It’s epic.

    • I really can’t live without billy joel or fleetwood mac, I’ve tried, not possible, oh gosh, the old stuff rocks sorry, indie whatever, ahhhhhh!!!!

  12. You are me. In high school, I would literally hide my iPod screen from other people’s view so they never knew what I was listening to. My friends sat around listening to each other’s music and I guarded my iPod like a child. It’s funny, because I was listening to the ‘indie’ music you mentioned here, but of course there were some super-embarrassing songs mixed in. Wouldn’t want my Jonas Brothers obsession to shine through during a party. This is the reason I don’t own an iPod now….

  13. My playlist is basically my father’s old albuns… and that’s really embarrassing when your closest friends don’t even have a clue about who Luciano Pavarotti and Cole Porter are.

  14. Ugh, it is SO AWKWARD when someone puts on my iPod and they go, “Um, is this a song about Harry Potter?” and I have the embarrassing duty of explaining Wizard Rock to them. No one touches my iPod. NO ONE.

    Becca Sands | 12/15/2011 04:12 pm
    • Harry and The Potters rock okay? lol I think when those songs start playing, and I get that eybrow raise, it’s fun to just go “I’m a Harry Potter freak go figure!”

  15. I can never put my ipod on shuffle because of the 7 Harry Potter audiobooks I have on there. I’d be ashamed but people need to realize Jim Dale is amazing.

    Beyond that we’re pretty much the same in what we have on our playlists. I’m trying to listen to the radio more to branch out. (although the holiday music is killing me softly with it’s songs)

  16. I love your playlist. I, too, have been ashamed of my super 80′s throwback to Bette Midler iTunes collection. Alas, your courage? to post this has made me feel more comfortable liking whatever I want to–be that ABBA or that one Hanson Christmas album. Also, A-Teens? You complete me.

    • i recently found my copy of the hanson christmas album and literally squealed i was so excited. i also found two copies of the nsync christmas album. two! how did i get so lucky?

  17. I’m also ashamed of my ipod lol I have She & Him (not ashamed of that!) but I have Elvis Presley, Bon Jovi, The Beach Boys, Johnny Cash and many, many other songs/artists that people of my age would probably scrunch their noses up at lol

  18. I’m glad I’m not the only one! My playlist includes almost the whole Il Divo discography (yep, I’m addicted to these guys), Andrea Bocelli and Celtic Woman, with some Celine Dion, Josh Groban and traditional Irish songs (The chieftains, john McDermot or Celtic Thunder). But in case anyone grabs my MP3 and wants to listen to something “cool”, I have some popular songs that are played everywhere nowadays.

  19. Never be ashamed of your musical taste! What matters is that it makes you happy. There is no such thing as “right” music. My musical taste spans from classical to Beatles to Madonna to Rilo Kiley to very obscure local bands to musicals to Glee covers (seriously, Don’t Stop Believing has been played many times). I got tired of apologizing for what I liked.

    • I agree! I have all kinds of music that some people may find lame but I love all my music! I have everything from Billie Holiday to Glee and I love it all!

  20. I have this same problem! The answer? 8tracks, Pandora, etc. That way if anyone, ever, asks me to play music, I choose something cool and hip, unlike my soundtrack laden music.