How to Create a Music Bingo in Minutes


I was recently asked to help organise a ‘music bingo’ for students of horseriding association BLOK. To be completely honest with you, I feel that bingo is probably one of the most boring party games out there as the only ‘skills’ involved are paying attention and bookkeeping.

Music bingo, however, puts a nice twist to the original game that makes it more fun, exciting and skill-based. Music bingo is like regular bingo with some minor differences that make it just so much more fun. The first difference is in the bingo cards: these consist of a grid of cells like in regular bingo but each cell contains a song title instead of a number. Instead of drawing random numbers from a tumbler, songs are played from a (randomized) playlist. If a song is played, it can be marked on the card and once a player has five marked cells in a row, they shout ‘BINGO!’ and collect their prize.

In this blog post I will describe how to organise a music bingo. Some coding is required for now, but I might come back to this fun topic and create some tooling for non-tech-savvy music bingo enthusiasts. I might also delve a bit deeper into some mathematical properties of bingo (i.e. combinatorics and probabilities of getting a bingo etc).

My preparations for a music bingo consist of the following ingredients:

I will describe how I got to these ingredients and then add some additional suggestions to make your music bingo extra special.

Creating the playlist

A fun evening of music bingo starts and ends with a great playlist. You can create a good music bingo playlist by picking songs that most of your audience will know. You have to understand that it’s quite frustrating to get ‘stuck’ on a song you feel is impossible to guess. In the end, the game of bingo is mostly about the element of luck, even if you are playing music bingo. As some of your audience members will surely not know some of the songs, it helps to select songs in which the title is clearly embedded in the lyrics.

Besides choosing relatively ‘easy’ songs, you could consider a particular theme for your music bingo event. What constitutes a suitable theme depends strongly on your audience. Since recognizing the songs is the biggest fun factor in music bingo, I would suggest taking well-known songs of some bygone era. In my case, I was asked to create a music bingo night with a ’90s theme. Perfect! If you are curious, you can find the list here.

Some additional hints regarding the playlist:

Finally, create an export of your playlist so that you can easily generate bingo cards. Again, many tools are available. I used Exportify to download the randomized playlist.

Printable bingo cards

After having created, randomized and exported the playlist, it’s time to generate some cards. I created a small python script to generate bingo cards in HTML. You can find the code on Github. It’s not great but it works.

In case you use my code, make sure to input the file using the following structure (tabs for illustration purpose only):

playlist_order,     track_id,       track_name,     .....
             1,           32,    "Never Alone",     .....
             2,          104,     "What's Up?",     .....

The track_id column contains random numbers. This helps in verifying bingos during the event.

I added print-specific CSS styling to ensure that a single bingo card does not end up on two pages in print. You can see how the bingo cards turn out here.

List all songs

During the event, many people will have a bingo at once. As you might not want to rely on your own memory for verifying which songs have been played already, it helps to have a list available to check off songs that have been played. You can simply create the export you have created before. I added an extra column to keep track of songs played so far

playlist_order,     track_id,       track_name,     played?,    .....
             1,           32,    "Never Alone",           x,    .....
             2,          104,     "What's Up?",            ,    .....

Use this list in Excel or OpenOffice and you’ll verify a bingo in no time. Use the auto-filter to quickly check whether the crossed of songs have actually been played.

That’s it! You’re all set to have a great bingo night.

Get creative

You can get creative as well. Here are some ideas:

Things to consider

The success of the bingo night depends on a good preparation. Here are some things to consider:

Finally and most importantly: don’t forget to have fun :)