Nothing sets the mood better than good music, and with the TikTok-fueled ascent of POV playlists, the soundtracks have never been more specific.
Titled pov: ur slow dancing with your love at midnight, this playlist drifts through Ella Fitzgerald, Johnny Hartman, and Julie London, nostalgic ballads full of old-world romance.
Each song was carefully chosen to evoke the quiet intimacy of dancing with a loved one, swaying around the kitchen late at night.
Another POV playlist, called pov: ur in an 80s film driving at night, features dark ambient instrumentals with 80s style synths. These pulsing, humming tracks capture the eerie intensity of driving late at night, with a twist of 80s flair.
The playlist pov: you are a hot single mom in the 90s took a different approach, collecting fun, upbeat female-led pop songs from the 90s, putting the listener in the POV of a “hot single mom in the 90s”.
These POV playlists have curated drastically different styles of music, but all have a similar goal: leading the listener into an immersive world of their imagination.
The rise of POV playlists
The POV playlist, or point-of-view playlist, is carefully arranged to evoke a certain scenario, character, or time.
It’s all about bringing the listener to an unfamiliar and exciting point of view through music.
The playlist titles give a brief description of the scenario, and there’s usually a picture accompanying the songs, a representation of the scene one might imagine alongside the music.
These situations can be entirely conventional, like pov: ur the hot ex, or delightfully bizarre and specific, like pov: u borrowed an alien’s headphones.
For all the daydreamers who need a soundtrack to their imagination, these playlists bring a cinematic appeal to music curation, giving listeners the chance to enter a parallel world through music.
Fandom-centric POV playlists are also popular for the same reason– with a subset of POV playlists set in fictional worlds, mixes for putting yourself in the Blade Runner universe, or dating Steve Harrington from Stranger Things.
No matter what floats your boat, there’s probably a POV playlist out there for it.
A new appetite for pov content
Before the rise of POV playlists, there were POV videos on TikTok, a comedy format that helped lay the groundwork for the current popularity of POV playlists.
The standard TikTok POV has creators filming short comedy sketches or skits from the first-person point of view as if the viewer was the one encountering the situation.
These POV videos typically deal with small social embarrassments, the minutiae of teenage life blown up to hyperbolic, hilarious extremes. For example, this skit pokes fun at classmates who pretend to be your friend to score a piece of gum from the pack you just opened.
They might also characterize certain types of people, like the ‘pick-me girl’: a girl who subtly puts other girls down to make herself seem more desirable.
Familiar, day-to-day encounters are satirized, allowing people to laugh at uncomfortable situations behind the safety of a screen.
POV videos have maintained steady popularity among TikTok users, even as dance trends rise and fall.
POV playlists caught a ride on the coattails of this trend, shifting the format from video to audio content. While the POV videos on TikTok usually have a narrative or characters, the experience of a POV playlist is far more diffuse and open to interpretation, but they come from a similar creative impulse.
In fact, many of the well-known POV playlists on Spotify gained traction on TikTok first.
Masked Mortal Music is an influencer on TikTok who posts playlists, often POV-themed playlists. His most popular playlist, POV I’m gonna fist fight a demon, has reached 135,000 followers at the time of writing.
Undoubtedly, many listeners came from the promotional video on his TikTok page. Other music influencers like him are starting to emerge on TikTok, forming an ecosystem for teens in need of a healthy dose of escapism.
The next generation of music curators
The instinct to collect and arrange music harkens back to the days of cassette tape mixes.
This is just the latest evolution of the mixtape and is aided by platforms like Spotify where users have access to unimaginable amounts of music, almost anyone can take part.
A personal and authentic listening experience
Playlists have proliferated, and part of their appeal is their approachability. The titles are usually written with anti-formal caps lock letters and abbreviated words, all popular vernacular among Gen-Z.
In the age of algorithmic music recommendations, listeners know that each song on a POV playlist was chosen for them by a peer, which can make the listening experience feel more authentic and personal.
Though the majority of these playlists are made by regular people in an unofficial capacity, Spotify has released a few POV playlists of their own making.
They seem to have recognized the potential in this new form of music curation and are throwing their hat in the ring.
Since the waning of mixtape-sharing website 8tracks (which was cannibalized by Spotify’s emergence), there has yet to be another platform dedicated to playlist sharing and curation.
Still, these POV playlists prove there’s still an interest in homemade mixes, reminiscent of the times when peer-curated playlists were the coolest way to enjoy music.
For those who want to create these playlists, the barrier of entry is lower than ever. It can be a great way to showcase a certain subset of music you’re interested in and bring others into that world.
Below is a tasting menu of some fun, intriguing POV playlists to listen to.
Next time you find yourself in the mood to fist fight a demon, you’ll have the perfect songs to set the scene.