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playlist profiles 2 // amber zafar

This Playlist Profile is all about my fave, Amber Zafar. Although our music tastes are pretty different, I always love to hear her recommendations and her pure excitement when discussing a new song she loves (mainly Kelly Rowland's new release). Despite the fact we'd never really listen to the same artists, we both share an appreciation of Ashlee Simpson and Hilary Duff's music careers in the 2000s, as well as extensive knowledge of the music video for Girl by Destiny's Child.

Amber is a journalism student from Luton, currently studying in London and bound to grace your radio one day. We currently co-host Yam On It (the seriously lighthearted podcast) along with our friend Akshay, so if you like her music choices you should check out our weekly discussions.

If you haven't read the last Playlist Profile, featuring my sister, click here!

What song stands out from the first album you ever bought? One of the first albums I ever remember buying probably has to be Pop Princesses. It had probably over 20 tracks of all different artists. I loved it! It had Christina Milian, Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Lopez and more. It was all these dope singers who I idolised singing about love and boys and parties. It came with a bonus DVD with music videos and I probably must’ve watched those videos on repeat at least a thousand times. It was definitely one of my favourite albums when I was young and I have so many memories just blasting it and getting about as hype as you can at about 6 years old. My favourite song was AM to PM by Christina Milian.

A song that stands out from the best gig you ever went to: I’ve been to quite a few concerts over the past couple years as I’ve gotten older. I absolutely love them, the atmosphere and vibes are fucking amazing! The most stand out song would probably have to be by Jorja Smith. I went to see her in Brixton and she was singing February 3rd. Her music is contemporary, R&B and soulful. She explores acoustics and jazz and it just makes the richest melodies. That paired with her smooth voice and tone was angelic. I stood there completely mesmerised by this elegant woman singing with such passion, emotion and feeling. As audience we stand there singing along in chorus, bodies swaying, the faint smell of kush in the air as this artist shares part of herself in her musical journey of self discovery. It was just beautiful ethereal energy. SZA was just as amazing, she had the greatest energy.

A song you love right now: A song I have on repeat right now will probably be Take You There by H.E.R. She’s just released Part 2 to her EP and my brother and I won tickets to her show as Apple Music’s Up Next artist. She samples Belinda Carlisle’s Heaven is a Place on Earth which I wouldn’t ever listen to and it’s just so smooth and raw. I love R&B jams and soulful acoustics and I feel H.E.R’s music is reminiscent of old school R&B and Aaliyah and I’m a huge Aaliyah fan.

Your all time favourite song: To name my all time best song is quite a hard task. There’s so many songs and artists who I bump so heavily and I go through different phases where I intensely listen to artists or songs on repeat for a short time. I don’t know if I could mention one single best song but probably any Aaliyah track, like Come Over.

A song you really hate/don’t understand the hype over: I cannot stand Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran. I think his music so just sickly sweet and cheesy and I don’t enjoy it. His songs are increasingly overhyped and overplayed.

Your favourite ‘guilty pleasure’ song - a song you love but are kind of ashamed of because you know its not cool: I used to be a huge Fifth Harmony fan like a massive fan. I’m usually not a fan of pop or that sort of manufactured girl band brand. I kept up with all the stuff they’d get up to, events, interviews, performances. I’d watch everything online and absolutely loved them. Anything by them is my guilty pleasure, especially ‘Angel’ and ‘Work From Home’. Nothing gets me hype like a little 5H.

Put your phone on shuffle and tell me the first song to come on: DONT LIE!!! Late Night by GoldLink. I absolutely love GoldLink, such a vibe! I’m a fan of deep beats and bass and GoldLink really make bops.

A song you wanna dance to/would go crazy if you heard on a night out: I feel like I get hype to most songs I know but recently having started the second academic year of university, I’ve been getting crazy to Mo Bamba by Sheck Wes. It’s just a shouting, raving hype song. Really has me jumping and screaming. It’s becoming more mainstream now so it’s getting a lot of plays, it really gets the whole room of the club jumping and shouting.

If your life was a movie, what would you want the first song of the credits to be? Probably 17 by Mahalia. She just addresses all the young concerns and feelings of being a young woman, finding yourself and your voice and being proud of that. Struggles, challenges and hope - her songs are like poetry. I feel that would be a good embodiment of my life.

A song you listen to when you’re pissed off and why: If I’m pissed I’ll probably put on Spotify’s ‘Rap UK’ or ‘Grime Shutdown’ playlist. I’ll listen to something that’ll make me screw, something harsh that’ll give me a stankface. I like that deep bass or heavy beats, like Funky Friday by Dave x Fredo.

A song you listen to when you’re sad and why: Whenever I’m sad I usually listen to slower, sadder songs. Usually Blue Dream by Jhene Aiko, Sade for heartbreak, or 6lack or Daniel Caesar - those sort of sad romantic vibes. You can always tell I’m really in my feels if I’m listening to Bollywood music, the sad romantic songs from the films really get me in my emotions.

A song you listen to to put you in a good mood/ when you REALLY need to cheer up and why: I have this playlist I made like years ago entitled “The Playlist” and it’s just got all these songs from the past that I used to listen to. I used to add to it all the time and then I left it and whenever I want to put myself in a good mood I’ll play it. Whatever comes on shuffle is like a good memory and I’ll usually just know every word or I’ll skip through and go through all the emotions or memories I’ve tainted the songs with and the time at which I used to listen to them most. It’s just a nice sentimental throwback. At the moment though I've been listening to Tints by Anderson. Paak and Kendrick Lamar.

If you had to do karaoke right now, what song would you sing: One hundred percent anything by Beyoncé or Kelly Rowland. I’m a huge Kelly Rowland fan. Always a good karaoke choice, or even better put the two together! Destiny’s Child tracks are always a good banger - Bootylicious is always great fun with my girls

A song you wish you could see performed live: Absolutely any track by Aaliyah. I wish I was able to have seen any live performance of hers, no matter what song but just to have been in the presence of such a legendary artist with vocal abilities comparable to none. Such clean, smooth, perfect vocals and songs. Her collaborations with Timbaland, Missy Elliot, Static Major were monumental exploring all these new sounds. She was ahead of her time, redefining genres and gone too soon. Rest in paradise.

A song that you loved/was important to you growing up: Definitely Alicia Keys- You Don’t Know My Name. It is the single most beautiful amazing track of all time! The instrumental, the piano melodies, her voice and the skit absolutely makes it! “Hello, can I speak to Michael? ... This is the waitress from the coffee house on 39th and Lennox. You know, the one with the braids?” Absolutely love it. She’s shooting her shot and it’s just a cute crush song. I listened to it on repeat again and again. To be fair I’ve always loved music and I’m not sure which songs redefined my childhood. There was such an array I was exposed to mainly from my older brother and I just loved them all. From Ciara to Destiny’s Child. Bumping Ashanti and Ja Rule to like B2K or Jodeci.

A song you think everyone should listen to right now: Girl by the Internet ft Kaytranada - it’s a vibe and a half. No further explanation needed.

Here's Amber's playlist profile:

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