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Local lifestyle columnists

Spotify tells truth about my music taste

By From page A2 | May 25, 2014

Sometimes, the truth comes in a form we can’t ignore.

I’m a diabetic and one thing I like about my hemoglobin A1c number is that it does just that: It reveals what my blood sugar levels have been over a three-month period. It’s black and white. It’s not based on what I feel like it should be or what I remember it being. It’s a number, based on facts: My average blood-sugar level.

Same thing with sports. There’s a final score. You may think your team played well, but the final score tells who won the game. Like it or not, it’s real. The championship goes to the team that wins the championship game. Period.

It’s beautiful.

But sometimes, the truth is ugly – such as with the “Discover” suggestions on my Spotify account.

To the uninitiated, Spotify is a way to listen to music online. Most albums are available for listening on Spotify for no charge – you just have to listen to occasional commercials. You can make your own “playlists.” You can listen to “radio,” made up of genres of music.

But this isn’t a commercial for Spotify, this is about how its “Discover” feature, which makes suggestions for you based on what you’ve listened to in the past. In other words, it tells the truth about what kind of music you really like.

The Spotify people don’t know me. Their computers simply analyze what I listen to and then suggest what I might like.

Spotify suggested that among others, I might want to listen to Debbie Gibson and David Cassidy.


Like most people, I think I listen to cool music. My definition of cool may be different from yours – I don’t like heavy metal or country, for instance; I like R&B and standards. But I’d like to think that if the NSA broke into my Spotify account to see what kind of music I like, they’d see suggestions such as Earth, Wind and Fire, Frank Sinatra, the Gap Band, Stevie Wonder or Michael Buble.

But they wouldn’t. If they looked under “Discover,” they’d see Andy Gibb and Wilson Phillips.

And Donny Osmond.


Donny Osmond? Oh, Captain and Tennille, too.

Seriously? Seriously.

This comes as no surprise to Mrs. Brad, who greeted me recently by saying “you do listen to cheesy music, don’t you?”

I had been listening to a Spotify list of the top songs of 1981, including “I Love a Rainy Night” and “Queen of Hearts,” so I’m not sure what she meant.

I’m cool, right?

Even though Spotify suggested the Thompson Twins and the song “Disco Inferno” to me. And Dan Hill, who in the 1970s sang the godawful torch song “Sometimes When We Touch.”

I’m cool. Really. In fact, as I write this, I’m listening to Jackson Browne. He’s no Maureen McGovern or Ambrosia (both suggested for me), is he?

I guess the big problem is that my musical tastes can best be described as “popular.” Almost anything that gets played enough on the radio ends up on my favorites list. Once I became an adult – with the exception of my kids’ teen years – I listened to music that reinforced my opinion. Therefore, I have a soft spot for Ludacris and Usher (popular in the mid-2000s), but no appreciation of modern music before or after them.

I have my music. Which, according to Spotify, should include Dan Fogelberg, Michael Bolton and Seals and Crofts.

If I’m looking for a measure of dignity, I can point out that classic rock bands Boston, Toto and Foreigner are suggested for me, as well as the Foo Fighters (yes! Semi-modern!) and Adele.

But let’s be honest. My Spotify “Discover” list includes KC & The Sunshine Band and The Little River Band, so I’m not very hip.

But let’s keep that between you and me. As Tiffany (also suggested for me) once sang, “I think we’re alone now.”

Reach Brad Stanhope at 427-6958 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bradstanhope.

Brad Stanhope

Brad Stanhope

Brad Stanhope is a former Daily Republic editor. He began his career at the DR in the last millennium. He spent 24 years as a sports editor, associate editor and news editor before leaving the Daily Republic in 2014. Brad lives in Suisun City with his wife, Mrs. Brad, and two sons. He enjoys cheese.

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