Given that they are widely considered the Bad Guys when it comes to paying artists what they deserve, this is perhaps not so much a confession as a brag, but: I’m not on Spotify. I’ve got Apple Music, which like every platform is not perfect, but at least they don’t act like a slightly obsessive reply guy who watches your every move and then, on a six-to-12-months basis, tells you what you’ve been listening to, like Spotify.
We were all treated to everyone’s Spotify Wrapped at the end of 2020: endless screenshots of people’s ‘Most Listened To’ and how many times they’d played that Phoebe Bridgers song, cryptically trying to let their ex know it was due to their breakup. Of course, we probably only saw the cool ones. If you had your heart broken and, much like a pregnancy craving, the only thing that could hit the spot and make you feel slightly better was something a bit weird – like, say, Tragedy by Steps – I doubt we’re seeing it on your story. (I picked this as a joke – but, actually, ‘Tragedy’ would be a great song for a break up. Note this down for next time.)
Anyway: for their next trick, Spotify have gone even creepier with ‘Only You’, a series of illustrated slides that tell you what you’re like – via the music you listen to – and in a tone of voice that sounds like that mate you have on Instagram who calls their partner “this one”, tells you all the time how funny they are and refers to their friends as “beautiful humans”.
‘Only You’ is weird and says things like: “Playing Pyramid by Wolfmother in the evening is pretty much the most you thing ever”. It’s official: Spotify is your over-enthusiastic new boyfriend and it wants to show you how much it knows you better than you know yourself. “It’s so you to….” and “Nothing says you like…” also crop up in your new partner’s language. Well – look at that, you’re encouraged to think. I am unique, and I always knew it!
OK, though – here’s the thing. Despite being genuine when I say I think it’s weird and that reading the posts makes my feet curl up in my shoes and cringe, I’m jealous. I want to know what makes me unique! I’m a stand-up comedian, for God’s sake: tell me how special I am, Apple! I can’t help feeling, though, that mine would read much less cool than even the example above.
Realistically mine would say: “It’s so you to listen to the same music you’ve been obsessed with for the last 15 years.” Or: “Alex please try to stop wishing it was 2008 again – let mid-’00s indie go; we have glitchcore now.” Or: “We get it: every time you’re annoyed at a boy you switch from Arctic Monkeys to Beyoncé‘s Homecoming live album on repeat – please, do yourself a favour and date better men.”
Can you imagine the sheer horror at watching your life pass you by if Netflix did the same thing? “It’s just classic you that you spent 13,700 hours last year watching Peep Show on repeat and evading the present.” Or how about: “Who else but you would watch a French arthouse film with subtitles after watching the US Office so much that you actually started hearing the theme tune in your head when you went to bed, just to prove to yourself that you’re still an intellectual?”
If our kitchens could talk, we’d be screwed as well. “You bought easy-peelers 32 times in 2020 and only ate three the whole year.” (If B&Q go for that one, you heard it here first.)
The point is: I can see what Spotify were trying to do – make us feel special, keep us listening, make us feel seen. And if our timelines are anything to go – mine’s wall-to-wall ‘Only You’s – they have succeeded. I’m glad people are enjoying the social media hall of mirrors, but next time, Spotify, how about you make it feel a little bit less like you’re hitting on us in a Pret? Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to manually analyse my Apple Music, and write an email on their suggestions page. Alexa, play ‘Creep’.