Best Apple Music playlists

Americans have caught the music streaming bug. Streaming services generated almost 80% of the US music market’s revenue in 2019. Companies like Apple Music and Spotify provide users with millions of songs, innovative music discovery tools and lots of playlists. After launching in 2015, Apple Music quickly grew into one of the most used platforms in the country. It now has more paid subscribers in the US than Spotify and at least 60 million subscribers around the globe. 

Apple’s music service offers a wide array of goodies like artist interviews, the latest music videos and shows on Apple’s radio station Beats 1 — with real DJs. Its playlists are also impressive. Several are curated by teams of editors and music icons like Lars Ulrich and Drake. 

Why you should listen to playlists

Playlists are essentially collections of songs grouped by genre, mood and dozens of other hierarchies. Creating the perfect playlist is not only part of the fun; it’s a way to organize music around moments of your life, like driving, studying and working out. There’s also social value in sharing personal and curated playlists with friends.

Apple takes pride in its playlists, choosing to employ humans as curators rather than relying purely on algorithms. The services playlists are fantastic for discovering new music as they span numerous genres and are constructed by artists and experienced editorial teams. Apple’s radio station, Beats 1, produces shows like New Music Daily and Songs that Defined the Decade, which have their own playlists featuring highlighted music. 

One of Apple’s few algorithm-created-playlists is Replay. Launched at the end of 2019, it includes users’ favorite songs of the year. And Apple plans to keep each year’s playlist in perpetuity. So in 2023, you’ll be able to listen to the 2020 Replay playlist and get lost in nostalgia.

Top Apple Music playlists by genre

Below are our favorite playlists from a few of Apple Music’s most popular genres, including EDM, Hip-hop, Indie and more. 

Hip-hop – Ovo Sound Radio curated by: Drake | The Pharmacy curated by: Dr. Dre

The fact that Ovo Sound Radio is curated by one of the most influential rappers of our time is reason enough to check it out. It’s a great way to hear what’s influencing one of the most innovative rappers of our time. Artists on the list vary from Sting to The Weeknd. 

The Pharmacy is a show hosted by the infamous Dr. Dre. And like New Music Daily, Dre’s show features an ever-changing playlist that mixes new beats with classics from Travis Scott, Nas and, NWA and more. For the best of Hip-hop, why not trust one of the most refined ears in the industry? 

Pop – The Candy Shop curated by: Charli XCX | Elton John’s Rocket Hour curated by: Elton John

Charli XCX’s list features powerful female voices and songs that you won’t find on the radio. She merges her tastes from across pop to bring you exciting and imaginative tracks. Expect to see a lot of Charli XCX next to Carly Rae Jepsen and Flume. 

Sir Elton John’s specially curated playlist is comprised of electric pop hits. But that doesn’t mean he’s stuck in the 1970s. This playlist features plenty of new tracks from the likes of Harry Styles to Childish Gambino. The only thing the songs have in common is that they’re pop.

EDM – danceXL curated by: Calvin Harris | New Electronic Friday curated by: EDM Sauce

If you’re going to have someone put together a list of the best EDM, why not Calvin Harris? This playlist is an homage to the rave culture that made EDM what it is today. Harris says, “I wanted to rediscover the way I originally began producing music 22 years ago, before I ever thought about how it might be perceived by outside forces.” 

EDM Sauce’s New Electronic Friday is a 70-song playlist that updates on Fridays. It’s a collection of the newest and most creative sounds in EDM and includes tracks from St. Vincent, Lost Kings and Lane 8. 

Indie – Untitled curated by: Apple Music | Today’s Indie Rock curated by: Apple Music

Untitled serves up a mishmash of obscure and up-and-coming indie music that transcends various genres like electronic, rock and R&B. It includes music from artists such as Courtney Barnett, Caribou and Beach House. Apple Music’s curators regularly update the playlist’s 75 tracks with new music. As the editors’ notes explain, “Depending on where you’re from or what year you were born, the word ‘indie’ can mean many different things.” And this list refuses to put a label on it.

Today’s Indie Rock refreshes its playlists every week. It delivers punk, pop, folk and lo-fi sounds while exploring emerging voices. Expect to see Orville Peck next to Lord Huron and Japanese Breakfast. 

Country – Southern Craft curated by: Apple Music Americana | Back Porch Country curated by: Apple Music Country

For music fans interested in alt-country and Southern folk, Southern Craft is the real deal. You’ll hear honest lyrics from The Avett Brothers to the ever-popular Dawes and The Lumineers. This playlist is great for discovering new folk music from proven and emerging talent. 

Back Porch Country gives you what you would expect when you think about country music —Or country-rock or pop-country. You’ll hear plenty of today’s most popular country performers, including artists such as Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley. 

Rock – It’s Electric curated by: Lars Ulrich | The Riff curated by: Apple Music

Metallica’s drummer Lars Ulrich’s brings you the best old-school and contemporary rock. It’s an intricate collection of tracks that complement one another with bands like Metallica followed by the Smashing Pumpkins.

The Riff is another list kept updated weekly by Apple Music’s editors. Head here for a blend of classic heroes like Ozzy Osbourne, modern hits from artists such as Avenged Sevenfold and deep cuts from bands such as Slipknot. 

R&B – R&B Now curated by: Apple Music | ALT-R&B curated by: Apple Music R&B

If you’re a fan of R&B, you’ll want to check out Apple Music’s R&B Now — it features a strong catalog of hit songs from Usher, HER and other popular R&B artists. It’s regularly refreshed and will keep you up to date with today’s best R&B. 

ALT-R&B is not your traditional R&B playlist. Rather than focus on old hits, or even tracks that sound like R&B, this playlist celebrates tracks that push beyond the genre into new territory. Focusing more on experimental and indie tracks, it’s an introspective conglomeration. 

The takeaway 

Apple Music holds some of the most well-thought-out, professionally curated playlists in all of streaming. With curators ranging from Dr. Dre to Elton John, it’s like listening to ongoing mixtapes from the minds that shaped music over the past decades. Other genres and lists like ¡Dale Play!, A-List Pop and Trap Kingz can be found among Apple Music’s popular playlists. You can also create your own playlists with upwards of 100,000 songs. Apple Music’s attention to artist involvement and curation gives its listeners the best, most comprehensive playlist experience.

Zack Kulm

Zack Kulm is a writer and contributor of He covers a variety of topics from entertainment and gaming technologies to pop culture commentary. Kulm received a degree in English from Penn State University and Film Studies from Pittsburgh Filmmakers Institute. He also produces award-winning documentaries.