Spotify knows that when you have friends over for dinner and some drinks, you will need music: The music-streaming platform has 22 official dinner-party playlists, all of them wildly varying in quality. So Grub sorted through all of them and ranked them based on some admittedly subjective measurements — mood-setting ability, variety of genres, and likelihood to not draw too much attention away from the dinner party itself — putting them in order of “vibes.” Here, how the playlists stacked up.
22. Dinner Romance
Score: 8 out of 100 vibes
Highlights: “Love” — Lana Del Rey; “Friends” — Francis and the Lights and Bon Iver
A playlist that includes Enrique Iglesias’s “Hero” and “I Knew I Loved You,” by Savage Garden, is the exact opposite of romantic. The only time anyone will appreciate the songs here — “As Long As You Love Me”? An extremely earnest Richard Marx ballad? Five different Ed Sheeran songs? — would be after that last bottle of wine has been drained and you’re looking for some DIY karaoke material.
21. All Rock Dinner
Score: 8.5 out of 100 vibes
Highlights: “Don’t Speak” — No Doubt; “Wait For Me” — Kings of Leon
Despite the name, this playlist is actually all about power ballads. Recently divorced dads may love it, but for everyone else, the Ugly Kid Joe cover of “Cats in the Cradle” is probably best left unheard.
20. Piano Dinner
Score: 9 out of 100 vibes
Highlights: “Cassiopeia” — S.A. Karl; “Acacia” — Laura Frey
This is basically four and a half uninterrupted hours of lullabies, so your dinner will be very chill.
19. Classical Intimate Dinner
Score: 22 out of 100 vibes
Highlights: “Nocturne No. 15 in F-minor” — Fréderic Chopin; “String Quartet in D-major” — Felix Mendelssohn
The only people who play classical music at a dinner party are (1) actual classical musicians, (2) serial killers, or (3) the cast of Succession. If you play this and don’t fit into any of these categories, your guests will definitely think you’re trying too hard.
18. Dinner Lounge
Score: 36 out of 100 vibes
Highlights: “To Judge” — Far Ocean; “Retrouvailles” — Ooyy
There’s such a thing as dinner playlists that are so niche as to be odd, and this is that playlist, which would be a better fit for a yoga retreat than a Saturday-night get-together. (Ten of the songs featured on this playlist contain the word chill.) Unless they’re actively rolling, no dinner-party guests will enjoy this mix.
17. Flapper Jazz Dinner Party
Score: 37 vibes out of 100
Highlights: “Wolverine Blues” — Jelly Roll Morton; “Ain’t She Sweet” — Gene Austin
Flapper music is charming. There’s the wide-eyed, orchestral love songs of Cole Porter and Russ Colombo and jittery, upbeat tunes that once backed the Charleston, but that’s about the breadth of it. Unless you’re hosting a Great Gatsby party, this kitschy playlist will wear on your guests fast.
16. The Perfect Italian Dinner
Score: 49 out of 100 vibes
Highlights: “Volare” — Dean Martin; “Primo Amore” — Carlo Buti
The perfect playlist for the nights you want to re-create the red-sauce experience at home: You won’t find “Mambo Italiano” or “Tarantella Napoletana.” Instead, there’s a great mix of songs by classic Italian singers (Giacomo Rodinella, Giuseppe Di Stefano) alongside Italian-American singers like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Vic Damone, Bobby Darin, and Tony Bennett. In other words, 45 songs high on emozione.
15. Foodora Dinner Playlist
Score: 50 out of 100 vibes
Highlights: “Ordinary People” — John Legend; “Make You Feel My Love” — Adele
This long-forgotten dinner playlist from 2015 plays more like a Top 40 radio station from 2010 than the soundtrack to a nice dinner. Plus it gets its name from a German food-delivery company. It’s the equivalent of the “college jams” playlist that’s been lingering in your Spotify since 2010. Time to delete.
14. Jazzy Dinner
Score: 52 out of 100 vibes
Highlights: “Time After Time” — John Coltrane; “Let’s Fall in Love” — Stan Getz
“Jazzy Dinner” gets points for offering some relatively deep cuts, but unless your friends enjoy lengthy discussions of postmodern literature over apéritifs, you’ll look like you’re trying too hard.
13. Romance, Dinner, R&B
Score: 60 out of 100 vibes
Highlights: “The Morning” — the Weeknd; “Words I Don’t Remember” — How to Dress Well
Another forgotten Spotify playlist from 2015 that’ll leave you wondering how many times can you put Frank Ocean on the same playlist. Five different songs — including both the explicit and non-explicit versions of “Thinking Bout You” — is probably too many.
12. Dinner Unplugged
Score: 62 out of 100 vibes
Highlights: “All Apologies” — Nirvana; “Dog Days Are Over” — Florence + the Machine
This playlist has so many cuts from ’90s-era MTV Unplugged sessions you’ll wonder if Kurt Loder put it together. Why anyone would want to listen to “Tears in Heaven” — perhaps the saddest song in history — during dinner is a mystery.
Score: 65 out of 100 vibes
Highlights: “Tracks in the Snow” — the Civil Wars; “Winter Snow” — the Head and the Heart
This playlist is yet another that hasn’t been updated since 2015, and it shows: Iron & Wine, Laura Marling, and Fleet Foxes all make appearances, so break out the kale salads and Edison bulbs to fully embrace the indie-Brooklyn spirit here.
10. Amazing Dinner Mix
Score: 70 out of 100 vibes
Highlights: “I’m Not the Only One” — Sam Smith; “Lovers” — Anna of the North
The more accurate name might be “Totally Acceptable Dinner Mix.” There are lots of sound choices — Daniel Caesar x H.E.R., Jorja Smith, a Duffy song that’s not “Mercy” — but there are also a few too many tunes from Jack Johnson and the One Direction diaspora.
9. Wine & Dine
Score: 75 out of 100 vibes
Highlights: “The Greatest” — We Are KING; “So Into You” — Tamia
Imagine if a non-Madea Tyler Perry movie came to life and you’d get this playlist. Bobby Caldwell’s “What You Won’t Do for Love” deserves a place in the dinner-party pantheon, but it will also hit you over the head with slow burns that would make Teddy Pendergrass blush.
8. Dinner With Friends
Score: 78 out of 100 vibes
Highlights: “You” — Snoh Aalegra; “So Good at Being in Trouble” — Unknown Mortal Orchestra
This is basically a sex playlist. Tracks from Steve Lacy, Anderson .Paak, Toro Y Moi, and Mac DeMarco set a Big Mood.
7. Mellow Dinner
Score: 80 out of 100 vibes
Highlights: “Brandy Alexander” — Feist; “Blue Moon” — Beck
“Mellow,” in Spotify parlance, apparently means “lots of indie music that is actually mostly just sad.” Fleet Foxes, Feist, Real Estate, and the Sufjan Stevens song about doctor-assisted suicide all make appearances.
6. Chill Dinner
Score: 81 out of 100 vibes
Highlights: “I’m Not in Love” — Kelsey Lu; “Je Pense à Toi” — Amadou & Mariam
This playlist gets points for clocking in at a whopping nine hours and 23 minutes. As promised, there are plenty of slow tracks featuring a diverse array of artists, including Solange, Frank Ocean, Sylvan Esso, and Caribou.
These two playlists are virtually identical. They share a lot of the same artists, but Soulful Dinner features more deep cuts (i.e., Marvin Gaye songs that aren’t “I Heard It [Through The Grapevine]” and “What’s Going On”).
3. Latin Dinner
Score: 88 out of 100 vibes
Highlights: “This Land Is Your Land” - Chicano Batman; “Around The World” - Señor Coconut
While non-Latinx folks might want to think twice about a Latin-music playlist, this is still incredibly well crafted. It features a number of familiar artists — Chicano Batman, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Quantic, Celia Cruz, Tito Puente — but relies mostly on music that runs the Latin gamut with salsa, bomba, and pop-flamenco all making appearances.
2. Feel Good Dinner
Score: 87 out of 100 vibes
Highlights: “In Your Eyes” — BADBADNOTGOOD ft. Charlotte Day Wilson; “And Then” — James Tillman
This capably straddles a few different lines: It’s laid-back but won’t put your guests to sleep. It has a few obscure artists (who’s Fieh?) but is still totally accessible. There’s some Robyn, BADBADNOTGOOD, Kaytranada, and Alabama Shakes. Whereas “Dinner With Friends” (No. 8) tries a little too hard with a number of hypebeast-friendly tracks, “Feel Good Dinner” woke up like this.
1. Dinner Music
Score: 92 out of 100 vibes
Highlights: “Save Me” — Aimee Mann; “I Have Learned to Do Without You” — Donny Hathaway
Of course, the best playlist is the one with the most straightforward name. It’s music. For dinner. Within the first hour of the playlist, you go from Donny Hathaway and Carole King to Rhye and Kacey Musgraves over to Roberta Flack and Mavis Staples. The mixture of old and new on this playlist makes it enjoyable for anyone of any age, which makes it absolutely perfect.