Do Spotify’s army of robots know me better than I know myself? Can an affinity for late 90s musical theater flops and Carly Rae Jepsen really define who we are? What if you only listen to Death Cab For Cutie when you’re shitcanned? Each week, I’ll attempt to decide who I am, what I like, and why on earth I like it with the help of Spotify’s Discover Weekly.
I’ve wanted to start this series for a while now - the problem was Spotify’s suggestions for me are very hit or miss. This is probably because Spotify has somehow both diversified and limited the music I listen to. I save anything that sounds interesting and then once every few months go on a new music binge where I listen to all of it at one time. On the day-to-day, however, I listen to a lot of comforting garbage ("you can do that on Spotify, because you don’t have to pay for it" she said, feeling intense musician guilt). I also have a tendency to listen to the same song over and over again. Yes, I know, you do that too, but I don’t think you do it as much as I do. I’m actually frightened to start linking to my personal account here because I don’t want anyone to know just how many times I listen to “Alive With The Glory Of Love” by Say Anything in any given month. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a good song, but it’s not 1547 times a month good.
I also really, really love the song “Expensive” by Tori Kelly - it makes me happy every time I hear it. You know what else I listen to a lot? The original London cast recording of American Psycho. You know what else? “I Wanna Get Better” by Bleachers. You know what else? Lorde’s new song. And Radiohead’s old songs. And Fall Out Boy. And Lizzo. And sometimes I get drunk and listen to my own music on Spotify like an asshole because it’s easier than pulling up the mp3s on my laptop. No wonder the robots are confused.
Fortunately, for my inaugural week of this blog I got a pretty good mix. So let’s start with…
“FUU” - Dream Wife
This is my new anthem for ass kicking. Not that I kick a lot of ass, but this song makes me feel like I COULD PROBABLY IF I FELT LIKE IT. These women are UK based at the moment, but fingers crossed they make it to New York sometime soon. Also there's no lyrics for this song online and I'm dying to know what the last verse means, so if you speak Icelandic hit me up.
Probably chosen for me because: I listen to “Rebel Girl” whenever I’m trying to overcome social anxiety.
“Fountain of Youth” - Local Natives
I, like many the incorrigible narcissist in their early to mid 30s, sometimes see my life as if it were a tv show or movie. I am the protagonist (it’s my Head TV, I get to be in charge), and my friends and frenemies all have arcs that contribute to the major theme of...I don’t know, the harsh realities of adulthood or some shit. Anyway, this song sounds like it should be playing over the last few minutes of the final episode, as our heroes realize that under the Trump regime the world is no longer safe, for most people it never was, and that their previous feelings of hope and comfort were merely the illusions of arrogant youth. Still better than the final season of How I Met Your Mother.
Probably chosen for me because: I have a playlist saved on my phone that is almost entirely male-fronted indie rock bands from the mid-to-late oughts. I made it for my friends but I think I’m the only person who listens to it.
“Black Stars” - Xenia Rubinos
This song is absolutely gorgeous. I had never heard of Xenia Rubinos before and I'm so glad to have been introduced to her music. I was immediately struck by how unique and sparse the production is on this track, and even more so after reading what the artist herself had to say about the lyrics. This one was my favorite of the week, so good job, robots.
Probably chosen for me because: I’ve been actively trying to listen to fewer male-fronted indie rock bands from the mid-to-late oughts.
"Born Again" - Saint Motel
I am an absolute sucker for songs like this that pair snarky lyrics about the World At Large with jaunty, optimistic arrangements. This song had me at the first line: “There’s no need to be nervous, I’m not dangerous anymore." It bops and sways along for the first three minutes only to build to a choir at the end, because it’s poking fun at religion so of course it does. I’ll be checking out more from these guys as well, hopefully the rest of their songs are as delightful as this one.
Probably chosen for me because: I spent several months listening to I Love You Honeybear before I started to think that maybe Father John Misty is not making a meta commentary on fragile masculinity, but is actually just male and fragile.
“Intermission” - Emma Pollock
I saw Emma Pollock open for *I THINK* Rilo Kiley around 2007. I was both absolutely stunned by her music and super jealous that she was as good as she is and opening for *I THINK* Rilo Kiley. (Internalized misogyny is a rough gig, kids.) I spent a whole summer listening to her album Watch The Fireworks - my memory is a little foggy on this, but I may have bought my copy from her directly at the merch table. Just hearing her voice again filled me with this sort of bittersweet nostalgia. It makes me want to be 25 again and have picnics in Central Park and go to Yoga To The People and stay out all night and pine after terrible boys. Her voice sounds like believing in your future.
Probably chosen for me because: Spotify has been stalking my musical tastes since before Spotify existed; Spotify is clearly Skynet.
Honorable Mentions: “Boundary Road” - All Our Exes Live In Texas (like the Dixie Chicks and The Roches all smushed together!), “Child” - Ninet Tayeb (not Running Music so much as Running Away From Your Troubled Past Music)
“Blue Diamonds Fall” reminds me of “Footloose” and I can’t get past it. “American Girls” reminds me of “Celebrity Skin” and I can’t get past it. “Good Medicine” is pretty but preachy, “Brook Revisited” is pretty but didn’t do anything for me. Grimes annoys me and I have no idea why, I never really liked The Shins even circa Garden State, and Two Door Cinema Club is not the band I thought they were. I think I thought they were Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.
OVERALL GRADE: Most of these songs were pretty enjoyable and sounded like Things I Would Like. I give this playlist two out of three Dream Wives.
That’s all for now, friends. Tune in next week for further adventures into whatever portion of my brain is responsible for my occasionally great, occasionally awful taste in music.
Note: I thought I would be able to link to last week's playlist before it recycled into a new playlist and I...could not. So I'll have a full playlist of all the tunes linked next week but for now you'll just have to search for them yourselves, you lazy jerks.