All Tech Considered
3:18 pm
Mon August 13, 2012

For Playlist Junkies, An App To Send You Down The Rabbit Hole

Chicago DJ Mary Nisi is no stranger to the art of the playlist. As president of the wedding DJ company Toast & Jam, she builds them regularly for receptions of all kinds.

But this week, Nisi's giving the music app Songza a spin. Songza, available on iPhone, Android and Kindle Fire, offers ready-made playlists for all kinds of activities, from "Waking Up" and "Unwinding After a Long Day" to lists with tongue-in-cheek names like "Indie Music That's Not Too Weird."

Nisi finds little fault with this virtual mix-tape builder — but she has one word of warning: Once you load it up, you may not be able to put it down.

The whole app is based on the idea that you log in, and it's Wednesday, and it's late afternoon — and it gives you six options of what could potentially be happening to you [at that moment]. It could be working, "About To Head On Your Commute," "Home From Work," "Studying," "Midday Dance Party."

Click on "Midday Dance Party," and [Songza] gives you pretty broad genres, like " '90s," "2000s," " '50s-'60s," "Indie Pop." And then it might have some weird wild card in there, like "European City Dancing."

One of the few complaints that I have for this app is that it's like a rabbit hole. Especially for someone like myself; I want to hear what I want to hear — I will keep going deeper and deeper and deeper into the app.

I actually convinced my spin instructor to play it, and we chose "Massive Pop Hits," which was basically what I want out of exercising. I want to feel like I'm dancing at a gay dance club. There was a remix of David Guetta's Titanium featuring Sia, and that set the room on fire — people went kind of bananas for that one.

Overall, the app itself is pretty great. Instead of having to make a playlist for every situation you go into, if you are going to a barbecue, or if you are cleaning the house [or] not cleaning the house, studying, taking a study break, dancing in your living room — there's literally a playlist for everything in there. It pretty much has something for everybody.

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Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And now time for a sweaty dance party.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SHE BLINDED ME WITH SCIENCE")

THOMAS DOLBY: (Singing) ...she blinded me with science...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BUST A MOVE")

YOUNG MC: (Rapping) ...with something to prove. So don't just stand there, bust a move...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BUST A MOVE")

THE BUGGLES: (Singing) Video killed the radio star...

BLOCK: This playlist is created by an app called Songza. And if you're up to get down, this app has virtual mixed tape for you. Songza offers ready-made playlists for all kinds of activities , everything from waking up to unwinding after a long day, to lists with tongue-in-cheek names such as indie music that's not too weird.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WHITE WINTER HYMNAL")

FLEET FOXES: I was following the pack all swallowed in their coats...

BLOCK: Well, we have Chicago-based wedding DJ Mary Nisi to trade in her turntables for a Smartphone for this review.

MARY NISI: The whole app is based on the idea that you log in, and it's Wednesday, and it's late afternoon and it gives you six options of what could potentially be happening to you. It could be, you know, working, about to head on your commute, home from work, studying, midday dance party.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SOMEBODY THAT I USED TO KNOW")

GOTYE: (Singing) You didn't have to cut me off...

NISI: Click on Midday Dance Party, and then within that it gives you pretty broad genres, like '90s, 2000s, '50s,'60s, Indie Pop. And then like it might have some weird wild card in there, like European City Dancing or whatever.

(SOUNDBITE OF A SONG)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Singing in foreign language)

NISI: One of the few complaints that I have for this app is that it's like a rabbit hole. It's like, especially for someone like myself that, you know, I want to kind of hear what I want to hear, and I will keep going deeper and deeper and deeper and deeper into the app.

(SOUNDBITE OF A SONG)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Singing in foreign language)

NISI: So I actually convinced my spin instructor to play it and we chose Massive Pop Hits, which was basically what I want out of exercising. I want to feel like I'm like dancing at a gay dance club.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TITANIUM")

NISI: There was a remix of "Titanium" by Sia, and that kind of set the room on fire. People went kind of bananas for that one.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TITANIUM")

DAVID GUETTA: (Singing) I'm bulletproof, nothing to lose. Fire away. Fire away...

NISI: Overall, the app itself is pretty great. You know, instead of having to make a playlist for every situation you go into - if you are going to a barbecue, or if you are cleaning the house, not cleaning the house, studying, taking a study break, dancing in your living room - there's literally a playlist for everything in there. and I will say it pretty much has something for everybody.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YOU GOT IT")

ROY ORBISON: (Singing) Anything you want, you got it...

BLOCK: That's wedding DJ Mary Nisi with her review of the app called Songza.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YOU GOT IT")

ORBISON: (Singing) Anything at all, you got it...

BLOCK: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.