some nice music

Not sure what I was thinking when I promised you ‘famous music you’ve always avoided listening to but will actually enjoy.’ That was a really dumb idea, like walking into the jungle and picking the best six leaves.

Instead, I’ve built a Spotify playlist of some diverse old hits you should hear. Some are lesser known songs of famous artists, some are accessible tunes from a tough genre, some are just gems I tripped over one day. It’s as random and diverse as can be.

The playlist is called “Nice” subtitle “genre crazy hits.”

If you don’t have Spotify, I’ve included the list below with links, organized loosely by genre.

And I have a new promise: Listening to this list will make you intensely sophisticated and culturally educated.

Let’s go.


I know this isn’t a real genre. Stay with me.

It started out with Gregorian chants, and we invented polyphony (multiple notes at the same time!!!)

Then Baroque, the intensely ornamented style of Bach, Handel, Vivaldi. Classical,  by composers including Beethoven, Haydn, and Mozart. And let’s not skip romantic classical, brought to you by Debussy, Chopin, and Tchaikovsky (gesundheit).

But you know these guys from school, so try a couple of modern maestros.

Ride, by Samuel Hazo. This piece takes you for a sunny spin in a sports car, featuring intricate percussion.

Angels in the Architecture, Frank Ticheli. I love this piece for more than its melodic complexity and story; while a percussionist for Angels, I had to damp a base drum with my knee. I noticed a lump, and my doctor discovered a tumor. So thanks, Ticheli!

Rock & Roll

All right, there’s no narrowing down this genre. So we’ll leave it to the King:

Jailhouse Rock, Elvis Presley

Here’s a mellow one…And so it goes, Billy Joel

HipHop and Musical Theater

No, they’re not usually combined. But unless you’re living under a rock, you’ve heard of Hamilton. So come out from under that rock, baby, it’s 1776.

And for genre defining musical theater, try some Frank Sinatra. He’s our man with a wonky ballad: My Funny Valentine.

While we’re with Frank, get pop-y and add–Let’s Face the Music and Dance.

The Beatles. (and the whole British Invasion crew)

They do their own thing, and you don’t have to like it but you have to deal with it because they’re Famous. Try this one–Hey Jude

Jazz and Pop

Supposedly this song is both. That I don’t know, but I know it’ll blow your mind. A great song sung by a great artist: Strange Fruit, Billie Holiday

Alternative Rock

U2. The dudes have been around forever…and still haven’t found what they’re looking for. (see what I did there?)

Folk Rock

Lot of rock derivatives on here. Huh. Well, add some folk and you get this dynamic duo.

Simon and Garfunkel, Bridge over Troubled Water, and The Boxer

To find these (and some more quirky gems) check out the Spotify playlist “Nice” genre crazy hits.


And I’ll leave you with this brief history of music by the epic Pentatonix: