A feast for the ears: Four food-centric party scenarios & playlists for each.

Leilani Polk helps craft the perfect soundtrack to your next summer food-fest.


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Iggy Azalea
  • Iggy Azalea

Even if your occasion only vaguely resembles the ones I’ve described below, the playlists I’ve put together – or at least some of the songs recommended – should work for you regardless. Or, perhaps these’ll inspire an idea for a party you should be throwing, or simply turn you onto some songs you should be vibing. Enjoy.

Backyard Barbecue & Pool Party A lazy afternoon get together where guests breeze indoors to catch the score of whatever sports are happening on your big screen TV while grazing on a spread that includes all the barbecue standards – fruit, veggie and cheese platters, a tray of Cuban sammies, chips of all varieties, and heaping stacks of just-grilled burgers n’ dogs along with any topping you could possibly want to put on them. Outdoors, you’re casually manning the grill (next up: steak, chicken and veggie kabobs) and cranking some funky upbeat hip hop tunes touching on old joints, new joints and everything in between. Some of your friends are engaged in a heated game of pool volleyball, others sprawled on towels in the grass, reclining on gravity chairs or gathered around the wet bar drinking and discussing topics that range from student loan relief programs to the upcoming season of Big Brother (starts June 25 on CBS). This playlist provides a good head-bobbing, ass-shaking soundtrack.

The Bloody Beetroots feat. Cool Kids, “Awesome”
Ol’ Dirty Bastard, “Shimmy Shimmy Ya”
Big Boi feat. Phantogram, “Objectum Sexuality”
Juvenile, “Ha”
Iggy Azalea, “Work”
Trey Songz featuring Nicki Minaj, “Bottoms Up”
Mos Def, “Umi Says”
Kendrick Lamar, “Swimming Pools (Drank)”
Outkast, “Da Art of Storytellin’ (Part 1)”
Chuck Inglish, "EASILY" (Feat. Ab-Soul & Mac Miller)
Missy Elliot, “Pass the Dutch”
Joe Driscoll & Sekou Kouyate, “Faya”
J. Cole feat. Amber Coffman & Cults, “She Knows”
Q-Tip, “Vivrant Thing”
Vic Mensa, “Orange Soda”

Growler Gathering This shingdiggy has a two-fold purpose: spread some craft beer wisdom with (32-oz) growlers of local brews, and introduce your friends to some high quality music that’s dropped so far in 2014. Thus, your playlist comprises all new music – songs you’re digging relentlessly that you insist be added to everyone else’s playlists, too, and stat. You even put together goodie bags that include a thumb drive with everything played on this night, along with a Word doc cataloging all the beers that were imbibed and pertinent hyperlinks to each of the respective breweries responsible. Guests are encouraged to bring their own favorite craft brews from anywhere in the U.S. and a few of their own favorite 2014 jams.

The War on Drugs, "Red Eyes"
Teleman, “Mainline”
Mac DeMarco, “Passing Out Pieces”
Trouble with Templeton, “Soldiers”
Morgan Delt, “Barbarian Kings”
1,2,3, “Big Weather Part 1”
Tobacco, “Eruption (Gonna Get My Hair Cut at the End of the Summer)”
The Fresh and Onlys, “Animal of One”
Angel Olson, “High Five”
Vertical Scratchers, "Memory Shards"
Temples, “Sun Structures”
Haley Bonar, “No Sensitive Man”
Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, "Cinnamon and Lesbians"
St. Vincent, “Digital Witness”
Each Other, “Send Your Signals”
Eagulls, “Tough Luck”
Real Estate, “Talking Backwards”
Wake Owl, “Candy”
Black Belles, “Wishing Well”
Thee Silver Mountain Orchestra, “Take Away These Early Grave Blues”

Finger Foods, Cocktails & Conversation Fête “Casual chic or dressy casual, whichever you prefer / but make sure you match the suit of cards: black like clubs or spades, red like diamonds or hearts,” reads the invite to your classy fete, at which a few bow-tied caterers pass finger foods – mini red velvet cupcakes, rare beef tenderloin bites, dark chocolate-covered bourbon brownie balls, pigs in a pumpernickel blanket, tomato crustinis, raspberry and blackberry tarts – and the playlist includes down-tempo grooves, indie dream-gaze and ambient post-folk odes. Meant to take a backseat to potential conversations but also to pique the interest of musically curious guests.

Bob Schneider, “Digging for Icicles”
Junip, “Suddenly”
Sylvan Esso, “Coffee”
Neil Finn, “Flying in the Face of Love”
Sun Kil Moon and The Album Leaf, “What Happened to My Brother”
Bahamas, “Never Again”
James Vincent McMorrow, “Red Dust”
Snowbird, “Porcelain”
Damien Jurado, “Silver Timothy”
The Jesus and Mary Chain, “Sometimes Always”
Mr. Scruff, “Render Me”
Thundercat, “Heartbreaks and Setbacks”
Seun Kuti & Egypt 80, “IMF”
Nostalgia 77, “Your Love Weighs a Tonne”

Hangover Brunch Sunday You were partying ‘til 3 a.m. the night before with most of the guests you invited to your noon-time brunch, so the “festivities” actually kick off around 2 p.m. when everyone has recovered enough to start trickling in, and all of you are nursing pounding heads, sour stomachs and exhausted battered bodies. The food befits the mood, more breakfast-oriented than lunch (bagels with all the trimmings, thick-cut bacon strips, fried tater tots, Eggs Benedict bites, cheese grits with Canadian bacon), and the alcohol offerings have doubled to include several light summer ales, cider and Irish coffee along with all the makings for Bloody Marys and mimosas. Your playlist starts sweet and bright, and continues in a warm mellow vein to accelerate the hazy glow you should be experiencing on a weekend.

Portico Quartet, “Prickly Pear”
Sufjan Stevens, “The Black Hawk War…”
Thao and the Get Down Stay Down, “Kindness Conceived”
Fleet Foxes, “White Winter Hymnal”
Frente, “Open Up Your Heart (and Let the Sunshine in)”
Kishi Bashi, “Philosophize in It! Chemicalize with It!”
STRFKR, “German Love”
The Zombies, “Care of Cell 44”
Hamilton Leithauser, “I Retired”
Air, “Heaven’s Light”
Ray LaMontagne, “Supernova”
Shuggie Otis, “Sweet Thang”
Cate Le Bon, “Are You With Me Now”
Ages and Ages, “Divisionary (Do The Right Thing)”
Viva Voce, “Business Casual”


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