Every August, students pack up their belongings, say goodbye to their loved ones, and head off to college. In addition to handbooks, maps of campus, and guides for getting acquainted, they’re usually given a list of required (or at least recommended) reading. Although summer reading may help in the classroom, it won’t save them in the dorm room when they no doubt find themselves in a conversation with a music nerd.

We’re those nerds. And we’re here to give you give you a well-rounded musical education across genres and decades of song. Check out our playlists and get up to speed. You never know when there’ll be a pop quiz!


The ‘60s and ‘70s were a time of self-expression and free thought, which led to the birth of rock and roll as we know it today. Classic rock has had a huge impact on American society and culture, and it has influenced generations of musicians. Classic Vinyl (Ch. 26) takes you back to school with a playlist of some of the most important music from the era of vinyl music.

Learn from artists like Led Zeppelin, Derek & the Dominos, The Beatles, Cream, The Eagles, Van Morrison, Animals, Guess Who, ZZ Top, Rolling Stones, Marshall Tucker Band, Jethro Tull, Steppenwolf, David Bowie and more.

Click here to hear Classic Vinyl’s “Required Listening” playlist.


Studio 54 was a New York nightclub open from 1977 until 1980. In its heyday, it was the epitome of freedom. It was a place where disco met depravity and decadence. Even after it closed its doors, it continued to influence the global dance culture. Forty years later, we’re still dancing and singing along to those same songs. Studio 54 Radio (Ch. 54) takes you back to those glory days with a playlist of the most influential songs spun on the club’s dance floor.

Learn from artists like Chic, KC & The Sunshine Band, Sister Sledge, Silver Connection, Santa Esmerelda, Lipps Inc., Thelma Houston, BeeGees, Diana Ross and more!

Click here to hear Studio 54’s “Required Listening” playlist.


TurboThe ‘90s were a fascinating time for rock and metal. Alternative music hit the mainstream with a variety of new styles and sounds emerging in its wake. Throughout the decade and into the early 2000s, alternative rock and numetal began to blend together with elements of rap-rock finding its way into the mix. SiriusXM Turbo (Ch. 41) takes you back to the days of supercharged guitars, pulsating rhythms, distortion, angst and musical mayhem.

Learn from artists like Metallica, Korn, Linkin Park, Rage Against The Machine, Evanescence, Godsmack, Drowning Pool, Papa Roach, System of a Down, Puddle of Mudd, Rob Zombie, Limp Bizkit and more.

Click here to hear Turbo’s “Required Listening” playlist.


Prime CountryThe ‘80s and ‘90s were responsible for the rise of contemporary country music as a major genre at a time when rock and pop were drastically changing. During this time, country artists were writing about small town USA as well as the Big City, spreading the idea of working hard all week, partying hard on the weekend and keeping family, friends and America close to their heart. They went from playing honky tonks and theaters to large stadiums, and passion for this music spread across the world. Prime Country (Ch. 58) takes you back to the days of the line-dancing craze with their larger-than-life country playlist.

Learn from artists like Alan Jackson, Kenny Rogers, Reba McEntire, Brooks & Dunn, Trisha Yearwood, George Strait, Garth Brooks, Alabama, Shania Twain, Tim McGraw, Johnny Lee, Travis Tritt, Kathy Mattea and more!

Click here to hear Prime Country’s “Required Listening” playlist.  


On the heels of gangsta rap and R&B ballads, a new sound emerged that blended the two genres: The Remix. Hip-hop and R&B merged together in an entirely new soundscape with Teddy Riley’s New Jack Swing changing the party sound forever. The motto of the era? Party and look your most FLY. SiriusXM FLY (Ch. 47) takes you back to the era that brought together your favorite emcees and crooners with their slammin’ playlist.

Learn from artists like 50 Cent, Bell Biv DeVoe, Boyz II Men, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Jay Z, Juvenile, Lil Wayne, LL Cool J, Mary J. Blige, Naughty By Nature, TLC, Tony! Toni! Tone!, UGK and more!

Click here to hear SiriusXM FLY’s “Required Listening” playlist.


Lithium

The ‘90s saw the breakthrough of alternative rock in the mainstream. Effectively abolishing hair metal’s dominance, the Seattle Sound permeated airwaves and televisions thanks to a new found appetite for direct, unpolished rock music with a slacker attitude. These bands laid ground work for DIY recording and unconventional song structure while penning lyrics about angst, alienation and depression — relatable topics for a generation of drop-outs clad in baggy jeans, T-shirts, flannels and Doc Martens in search of an identity. Lithium (Ch. 34) brings you the smell of teen spirit with their loud and gritty playlist.

Learn from artists like Alice In Chains, Beck, Foo Fighters, Dave Matthews Band, Green Day, Everclear, Nirvana, No Doubt, Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Oasis, Smashing Pumpkins, Soundgarden, Weezer, Stone Temple Pilots, Sublime and more!

Click here to hear Lithium’s “Required Listening” playlist.


1st WaveAt the same time that Michael Jackson, Madonna and Guns ‘N’ Roses were dominating the airwaves, other genres of music were bubbling underground. Outside of the mainstream was an edgy, adventurous new group of “alternative” bands who built followings by touring constantly and getting publicity in fanzines and on college radio. The alternative scene embraced diverse styles of music including new wave, power pop, dark wave, gothic rock, grunge, synthpop, shoegaze, indie pop, punk and countless other subgenres. Although many of these artists never had a Top 40 hit, their influence on future musicians is undeniable.1st Wave (Ch. 33) takes you back to the experimental days of the ‘80s with their playlist of classic alternative tracks.

Learn from artists like The Psychedelic Furs, Billy Idol, Flesh for Lulu, Thompson Twins, Ramones, Tears For Fears, Q-Feel, Peter Gabriel, New Order, Yello, Dave Edmunds, Oingo Boingo, Julie Brown, Simple Minds and more!

Click here to hear 1st Wave’s “Required Listening” playlist.


The 2000s, unlike the decades before it, did not see the emergence of countless new genres. Instead, the convergence of music styles defined the aughts. Technology was rapidly advancing, and new software changed the way music was recorded and distributed. The popularity of teen pop acts flowed over from the ‘90s into the 2000s, and rock continued to be a mainstay. But as the decade progressed, contemporary R&B and hip-hop began to dominate. The Internet allowed unprecedented access to music, and record labels were no longer vital to finding an audience. This vast new exposure to music allowed musicians to draw from a variety of influences and cross genres in their sound. Pop2K (Ch. 10) takes you back to the days of Limewire and vanity ringtones with their playlist of the millennium’s first pop hits.

Learn from artists like P!nk, Black Eyed Peas, Britney Spears, Staind, Jay Z, Dave Matthews Band, Kelis, Green Day, Madonna, Bon Jovi and more!

Click here to hear Pop2K’s “Required Listening” playlist. 

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