How to “Top 5”

Hi there! Time to share your music passion with a “Top 5”!

“Top 5 Records” is a fun show-and-tell method of sharing your passion and appreciation for music! It’s an ode to Nick Hornby’s Novel and the cult classic movie of the same name, “High Fidelity” where the three protagonists, record-store clerks and lovable music snobs, Rob, Dick, and Barry rank their favorite albums, songs, and artists based on whimsical themes they propose to each other throughout their days behind the counter at their record store, Championship Vinyl.
We adopted and expanded their idea of “Top 5 Records” and turned it into a Live and in-person Talk-show/Podcast-type event that we host during DJ events with friends. Challenging and fun, it’s like taking the making of a mix tape to the next level!

Here we’ll show you exactly how to make your own Top 5 Presentation, either just for yourself or for a Top 5 Event! 

1. Start with a Keynote or PowerPoint.

First off, start with a blank PowerPoint or Keynote Presentation (basically the same presentation software applications from Microsoft and Apple, respectively). Either is ok, and you needn’t be a pro! This is your canvas to share your music-loving passion! Let’s have fun! 

2. You actually have 10 slides.

Even though it’s called “Top 5”, you can use the 10 slides as creatively as you wish. But as a rule of thumb, think of it like having one slide for the front cover of your Top 5 album, and a second slide for the back cover. The usual default 16:9 aspect ratio is best.

Rule-bending is allowed at Top 5. Make the most of your 10 slides …or 11 if you must 😉

3. Determine your Topic

Next, determine what your theme is. Maybe you’ve made a theme for yourself, maybe a Top 5 Records event host (like me, Brian) has already set a theme for you. Or maybe you’ve decided collectively with your pals.

This was a pretty wide-open theme we used for our 4th Top 5 event on “Covers” which sounds straightforward, but it’s up to each presenter to interpret the theme however they like!

4. Get Images!

Next, get the images that will convey your “Top 5” passion! Take photos of your own records with your own devices, or use creative-commons or license-free images from the web.

You might only need images of the records themselves, but you might also want images of the artists, memorabilia, concerts, record shops, etc., to help give your Top 5 context. 

5. Drag and Drop, Fill the Slide.

I’ll explain how I usually lay out my 10 slides with my actual Top 5 “Covers” presentation.

Start by dragging and dropping your images onto the slide. For my first slide, I used the album cover and some images to fill the slide.

*Notice the lack of text. The more effort an audience needs to spend reading text on your slide, the less attention they have to listen to you.

6. Collage Away!

Whoa! Woodstock is a Tri-fold Gatefold Album! Lots of options to layout. for my 2nd slide, I went with an image of the album’s back cover, an alternate cover/insert, and one more killer image of that unforgettable Joe Cocker performance at Woodstock!

7. Album Cover and Vinyl Record.

This is a simple, good, and standard way to lay out a slide: Album cover with accompanying vinyl record …colored wax in this case pictured here, from fellow Okies, The Flaming Lips who covered Sgt. Pepper’s in its entirety for this one. Bonus Note: INCREDIBLE cover, with Miley Cyrus and Moby, of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. Check this one out

8. Back Cover and Album Inserts.

Back cover and album insert, to fill out the slide. Pretty Standard.

Proceeds of this album went to The Bella Foundation dedicated to animal welfare and helping pets in need of help. 

9. Use your own images.

Another album cover with the record coming out of it. This was photographed on top of my piano, The Black Keys’ “The Big Come Up” that I had signed when I saw them live at the Boulder Theatre back in about 2002. Killer cover version of The Beatles’ “She Said, She Said” on this. (My little twist on this particular Top 5 was that they were all Beatles covers.)

10. No need to overthink it.

Ok, just the back cover. I could have filled the slides up with some more, but it’s fine. Not every slide needs to be over-thought, multiple images, collage masterpiece. This is just fine.

11. Break the Rules.

Breaking the rule here. This is Native American singer, Emma Stevens doing an incredible version of The Beatles’ “Blackbird” with her fellow tribespeople in their native Mi’kmaq language. Absolutely stunning. There was in fact no album which contains this song. It’s only on Youtube, so I just made some screenshots, then followed my standard collage method for this slide…

12. The Image is Everything.

…and one more powerful edge-to-edge image for the 2nd slide. Notice how the big bold image really captures your attention and imagination. There is no need for text or explanations here. I can just explain about the artist during my talk and let the image speak for itself. 

13. Dare yourself!

Broke the rule again. Another cover of a Beatles tune that doesn’t actually live on an album, rather only on YouTube, this time a version of “For Your Blue” by son of Beatle George Harrison, Dhani. I dared myself to choose this song even though I had only discovered it on the very day that I was preparing this particular presentation…

14. Be Spontaneous!

…The lesson, there: Be Spontaneous. Let the music take you where it will in choosing your list and in designing these slides. Think of how much can be said with just images, and with so few words.

Next up, a few other examples of how my fellow Top 5 Records hosts, “bemsha” and Michael do it. But first…

15. Do I need a Title Slide? No.

Let’s answer the question: “Do I need to make a Title Slide?”

Generally no, you don’t need to. If you’re coming to my (Brian’s) event, I’ll likely have one made for you, like this one I made for Bemsha for our theme “Heroes Just For One Day”. I’ll add a “Thank You” slide for you too!

16. Can I have my own Title Slide? Sure.

However, if you want to make your own Title Slide, that’s ok too! Why not! That goes for so much with Top 5. Just have fun! This is bemsha’s Title Slide for his “Heroes” theme presentation, a little bit of a spoiler but it also gets you excited for what’s to come!

17. All media welcome.

Bemsha, the voracious reader and die-hard Patti Smith fan, had to include some of her books in this slide for his Top 5 “Heroes” presentation! LOVE IT! Nice creative layout (and great soft light too), bemsha! Oh, and killer Patti Smith track, “People have the Power”.


18. Text on slides DOES work …when done right.

Pal, Michael Warren is a bottomless well of record knowledge and has a super highway of musical synapses. He gets encyclopaedic with his slides! I might not catch all the stats and anecdotes he shares on his slides, but they’re future-proof cuz I can go back to study and reference them like entries (like Nat King Cole’s “That Sunday, That Summer”) in an almanac. Text on slides can work too. So do what you think is best for your slides.  

19. Less is More? It’s up to you!

Here’s one from our “Concept Albums” theme, (Pink Floyd’s masterpiece, “Wish You We Here”).

Quite minimal, don’t you think? Too minimal? Maybe so. But, perhaps it’s perfect. Really it’s up to you! There are no rules so do what you like! You’re welcome to chat me up for constructive feedback!

20. Export your slides, publish and share!

There are many ways forward from here. If you’re sharing your slides at a Top 5 event, then you can “File -> Export -> Images” and send them to the host. Then present them live at the event!

If you’re creating a Top 5 List just for yourself, and want to record a narration, you can do it right in Keynote (or Powerpoint) with “Record Slideshow” or many other ways. You’re done!

I hope this has helped you get your head around “How to Top 5”. The main goal is to have fun and to share and celebrate your passion for music! Moving forward, we may find better ways to formalize the “Top 5” method and archive your creations. Feel free to share your ideas, feedback, and questions with us here!

Happy Top 5-ing!

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