It’s finally here: the day of your big party, and the monumental playlist is nearly complete. Or hey, maybe it’s someone else’s big party, and the perfect moment to show everyone your encyclopedia of carefully considered party-appropriate music is on the horizon. There’s just that one looming threat: someone stealing your aux cord mid-track and chucking on Radiohead or that ‘Impulse’ song from Guitar Hero 3 or something. And let me tell you, once that ball starts rolling it doesn’t stop until the night does. So I’ve prepared a comprehensive guide for you on how to assert your hard-earned place on the music-picking throne, and stay there.

Know your audience.

Parties attract all sorts, and different parties attract even more sorts, so it’s important to know beforehand who exactly you’re going to be catering to during the proceedings, and adjust the playlist accordingly. If people like the music then the thought that it could be different won’t cross their mind, and you can keep doing what you’re doing. Parties themed around specific time periods or subcultures will make this very easy for you. Just be careful not to take too much liberty with what you choose — even though there’s a 70’s theme and you’re really getting into them at the moment, most people probably aren’t going to want to party to Faust.

Keep up to date.

On the subject of making the right song choices,While avoiding complete inappropriateness is important, so is keeping your picks relevant. Most of the time you’re going to have to inspire people with the right blend of familiarity and freshness. Obviously the new Tame Impala anything off Currents is going to go down well with most right now, or you could try Shamir for something a little bit less obvious that’s along a similar line. PC Music-esque bubblegum EDM like Sophie is a trendy risk but works wonders in the right situation. Beyond this you should rely on your own expertise. In terms of housecleaning, you can very, very safely retire anything from RAM  at this point. And if you still have ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ sitting around you may have some serious thinking to do.

Know what to do with queue.

Most of the time the shuffle button is integral to the party but only rarely is it a generous beast. While a flawlessly shuffled playlist is something we should all strive for, If it’s 11:30 on a distinctly 2015 night and you still haven’t accredited yourself with a hot Currents play or similar, queue functions are your friend. By queuing you can swiftly cultivate specific songs without worrying about that crushing moment of silence that happens when you cut off whatever’s playing by scrolling a bit too boldly. Queue can also let you dodge potential aux cord hijacks: as long as you keep a watchful eye and a keen tongue, partygoers’ requests can be redirected into queues, letting you stay on top.

Be prepared for anything.

If you’re serious about this, it can be a good idea to prepare not just one playlist, but many. Each of these can apply to different stages of the night, or different parties altogether. You can have playlists themed around hip-hop, upbeat indie pop, darker downtempo, dadrock, anything! This is a great way to show off versatility and eclecticism, and over time people may pick up on your great adaptive, all-encompassing curation skills and start to put faith in your playlists. When this is achieved, you can rest assured that no one will even think about interrupting you by starting a conversation, and you can pick away in peace.

Words by Harry Manson