Things I Learned from My Terrible Playlist

by Evil HR Lady on May 28, 2020

My brother challenged us all to make a playlist of our favorite 25 songs. The rules are no Christmas music, only one song per artist, and it shouldn’t take more than five to ten minutes to make. The latter is so that you don’t overthink it.

I love music. i love all kinds of music. I was excited to put together my playlist and get the playlists from my siblings. I followed the instructions, went through my Spotify account, and put together 25 songs that I love.

I shared it with my siblings and they all declared the loved the Record Player Song, which they had never heard.

I thought I would listen to this playlist over and over again, and you know what? I don’t.

It’s not that I don’t love the songs. I do. But, it’s that it’s a terrible playlist. To jump from an old gym to REM to Broadway is jarring. There is no consistency and no continuity.

Why do I bring this up? Because putting together a playlist is a lot like filling a department. You can look for the best people–type As all around. The best in their fields. But, if they don’t work together, it doesn’t make any sense. It’s a jarring transition and you can’t accomplish a lot because they aren’t a team.

You can work to solve this while hiring by looking for cultural fit. The problem with cultural fit is that without a defined culture, and a tendency for both hiring managers and candidates to lie during interviews, cultural fit often becomes code for “just like me.” That makes an even worse playlist: hours of the same song over and over again.

You can work to solve this through teambuilding exercises. Some of these are great and lots of fun. Others just drive everyone crazy.

But, you can slowly work hard as a manager to help people build business relationships. This isn’t the same as trying to get everyone to be friends with everyone else. Friendship isn’t necessary for success. Working together is.

Don’t end up with a department that is disjointed like my playlist. Pay attention to how people work together.

And bonus points for anyone who shares either their playlist or one of their favorite songs in the comments.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Michelle May 28, 2020 at 3:05 pm

My all-time favorite song is Danny’s Song by Loggins and Messina.


Scout Finch May 28, 2020 at 3:35 pm

They were a very talented band.

I just saw a GREAT live version of Angry Eyes on YouTube. Posted in 2012, I think. Still got it.


Scout Finch May 28, 2020 at 3:31 pm

Stainsby Girls – Chris Rea
Going Home (Theme From Local Hero) – Dire Straits
Doors – Michael Johnson
Love & Happiness – Al Green
Loan Me A Dime – Boz Scaggs
LA Freeway – Jerry Jeff Walker
Melting Pot – Booker T & The MGs
Call Me, Tell Me – Pure Prairie League
The Core – Eric Clapton
The Joke – Brandi Carlile
1985 – Paul McCartney & Wings
Famous Final Scene – Bob Seger
Roll With The Changes – REO Speedwagon
Shoot High Aim Low – Yes
The Best Of Everything – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
Would You Settle For Love (live version) – Joe Ely
Speed Of The Sound Of Loneliness – John Prine
The End Is Not In Sight – Amazing Rhythm Aces
Telegraph Road – Dire Straits
Pretzel Logic – Steely Dan
He Stopped Loving Her Today – George Jones
You Wreck Me – Tom Petty
The Mountain – Bob Seger
Speedway At Nazareth (live in Rome) – Mark Knopfler
Tupelo Honey – Van Morrison


grannybunny June 1, 2020 at 1:47 pm

What Scout said.


Mr Just Ask for It. May 28, 2020 at 4:53 pm

Long ago, in a State not so far away, the Hatchet Man from corporate sponsored several small group lunches to get to know the Department. During the group lunch with me, he chose “name a favorite song” as an ice-breaker exercise. I was near the end of the ordered seating, and I was trying to select something “known, but not heard frequently, that I liked”. Songs spun thru my head, and when he called on me I blurted out:

“Money For Nothing” by Dire Straits.

A couple of months later I had a severance package and job search on my hands.

Prophetic, my wife says.


Evil HR Lady May 28, 2020 at 4:55 pm

Ha ha. Oops.


Kathy May 28, 2020 at 5:42 pm

I’d be interested in more about hiring for culture if you’re willing to write it. The roadblock I see is that most places have a culture poster on the wall that says “We are every good thing!” Of course, they are not. Each company takes culture directions which include trade-offs between equally good options (like a work-hard-play-hard culture offers better career growth in exchange for poorer work-life balance.) But when they pretend to be both, candidates can’t really be informed, and hiring ends up on a know-it-when-I-see-it basis, which tends to inch toward decisions based on “same age/sex/race as we are.” How can a company be so honest about culture that candidates can be informed clearly and hiring managers really can use culture fit to make rational hiring decisions?


Roseann Wilford May 28, 2020 at 6:45 pm

The moment you said only one song per artist, you lost me. There are artists who have had such an influence on me there is no way I could choose only one song. I guess what I’m saying is while I love the idea of this exercise I would not be able to reasonably complete the task without overthinking each song.

Follow the Sun by the Beatles would have to be on my list. I always want to replay it 2 or 3 times whenever I hear it.


James May 28, 2020 at 11:01 pm

I definitely agree that a list of favorite songs doesn’t necessarily make a good playlist. My list would include things like the following:

Orinoco Flow (Enya)
You Lost My Memory (Skyclad)
NIB (Black Sabbath)
Mummer’s Dance (Lorenna Mckennet)
Yatta (Yatta–well worth looking up on YouTube if you have a few spare moments!)

A playlist listing my favorite songs–bouncing between ethereal Celtic, heavy metal, and pure randomness–could quite easily drive someone insane!

The idea that you CAN over-think a song is weird to me as well. Music is art. It’s meant to be enjoyed, yes, but it’s also meant to be pondered. It took me a long, long time to fully understand my reaction to Orinoco Flow the first time I heard it, and I think that was time well spent.


MariaRose May 28, 2020 at 11:10 pm

There’s a big difference in knowing how to work in a team and making the team run with I will team players. I used to quote the phrase there’s no I in the word team for dealing with co-workers who felt their version was the better way than the required company way. The song that helped me through was —-I will survive–sung by various singers.


Phil Brown May 29, 2020 at 3:41 am

Hey Jude-Wilson Pickett
Dark End Of The Street-James Carr
Stop-Howard Tate
Dust My Broom-Elmore James
Leaving Trunk-Taj Mahal
Shake Some Action-Flaming Groovies
Dyin Flu-Albert Collins
Where There’s A Will There’s A Way-Lonnie Mack
Vietnam-Jimmy Cliff
Twist And Shout-The Isley Brothers
Alimony-Ry Cooder
Dr. Brown-Fleetwood Mac
Down At The Bottom-Howling Wolf
Gold-John Stewart
Gates Of Steel-Devo
People Who Died-Jim Carroll
Another Country-The Electric Flag
The Fat Man-Fats Domino
Gonzo-James Booker
Stay-Lorraine Ellison
So Far Away-Dire Straits
Big Bird-Eddie Floyd
The Kids Are Alright-The Who
I Believe To My Soul-Ray Charles
Ain’t Doing Too Bad-Bobby Bland


Jane June 3, 2020 at 5:37 pm

I thought about this and Yessss your playlist might be disjointed but not your culture and department.


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