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Professor Playlists: Music You Can Actually Hum To

If you’re one of the many Columbians currently packed into Butler like sardines, chances are that you’ve long-ago exhausted whatever antiquated 90s slow jams got you through midterms seasons. The good news is this: there’s no better way to drown out that girl with noisy heels as you try to cram for finals than new and exciting tracks from a Professor Playlist. In our latest installment, Ethnomusicologist (filed under: words we can’t pronounce but use in essays) and Music Hum Graduate Student Instructor James Napoli reinterprets the prompt, in true Core fashion. 

Desert Island Discs: Nothing but you, ten MP3 tracks, and the open ocean (and also, probably some sort of elaborate cocktail served in a coconut with a crazy straw) for miles.

At the start of every semester I ask my students to share their Desert Island Discs—the five albums (or, for the post-album Millennials, ten mp3 files) they would bring if stuck on a deserted island for the rest of their lives. It’s not an easy exercise but it’s very effective, and we learn quite a bit about each other as we reveal our musical tastes.

In the spirit of the season, when music websites are all publishing “Year’s Best” lists, I’ve decided to limit my playlist to music released in 2011. This was a challenge, given the slew of wonderful new releases from Kate Bush, Nicolas Jaar, SBTRKT, Feist, Beastie Boys, Givers, and so many other artists. However, if Spotify could stream but ten of this year’s tracks to my deserted island, I’d choose the following:

1. James Blake, “The Wilhelm Scream

2. tUnE-YaRdS, “Doorstep

3. Tom Waits, “Chicago

4. Björk, “Crystalline

5. Radiohead, “Morning Mr Magpie

6. Washed Out, “Amor Fati

7. Panda Bear, “Slow Motion

8. St. Vincent, “Cruel

9. Peaking Lights, “All The Sun That Shines

10. TV On The Radio, “Will Do

The opposite of where you are right now via Wikimedia Commons.

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8 Comments

  • nathan says:

    @nathan fuck indie

  • you're dumb says:

    @you're dumb He has great music taste!

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous where’s c-ute???

  • ha says:

    @ha good strategy, being alone on an island and picking songs that make you want to kill yourself

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Why not just link pitchfork?

  • So much Pitchfork-core. says:

    @So much Pitchfork-core. It’s almost painful. I mean, I like St. Vincent & Bjork as much as the next guy, but both of them had some pretty mediocre releases this year. That’s okay, though, James Napoli. Your taste is your taste; you like what you like – if your favorite artist is Pitchfork’s throbbing, red three-pronged… *ahem* Anyway. Good for you, Mr. Napoli. Good for you.

  • anti-pitchfork backlash? says:

    @anti-pitchfork backlash? I knew I loved you guys

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