Tag Archives: spotify

A pop playlist of “relaxing, easy favorites” on Spotify

“Relaxing, easy favorites… with less talk!” That radio pitch from how-many stations in collaboration or owned by the same company? Maybe I’m wrong on that, but “Warm 107 FM” / “Warm 107.3 FM”, “Warm 94.9 FM” all pushed he same type of easy-listening, or a toned-down variety of music from the past few years or longer. It wasn’t that distant to the past that the stations trekked from what I remember… except in rare events for shock or approval. Seeing I’m referencing stuff I heard on the airwaves in the 80’s and 90’s, basically those throw-back numbers were from the 60’s… if they happened at all.

A few years ago I started putting together a personal playlist on my iTunes that mixed together a number of songs that weren’t rockers, or necessarily pop… Then again, some are legendary (Yesterday by the Beatles, Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton, Hotel California by the Eagles). The song list grew as I remembered certain tunes from the past as well as picked up some indie songs by way of listening to Lonely Oak Radio.

That’s led to a playlist of 224 songs spanning a total of 13 hours and 49 minutes. Not all of them perfectly fit the motif of “relaxing, easy favorites” but that’s the title of the playlist. And my own recreation of it is available on Spotify.

The Spotify list doesn’t perfectly recreate things as I’ve taken certain songs off my personal list, I was unable to add others (such as Paul McCartney’s (I Want To) Come Home, Michael Stipe’s mixed-group performance of U2’s One, as well as others). It’s still 182 songs in length…

I could see people arguing “relaxing” does not describe performances by the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s (Under the Bridge and Soul to Squeeze) and of course there are songs you may never have heard by artists you’ve never heard of. Some may seem all right, others may make you turn your nose up entirely upon hearing (which is a standard with radio airplay, ain’t it). Whatever, they’re on the list along with a lot of others. And unlike those Warm FM stations, the time span of the tracks covers songs of the last 60 years of pop music. There aren’t that many from the 1950’s, I’ll admit, but there are also few from the 21st century at current. In time, that might change. That, or I’ll be further stuck in silence (for the rest of my life) and not mess with music that I miss. Who knows? The point is – the playlist is public on Spotify and maybe you’ll be interested in looking into it or – gasp! – listening.

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Listens and flaws are found at Spotalike

It’s easy to come to a dead end when you’re trying to find more music of a certain sound, temp, or variety. I’ve posted requests for song suggestions before as proof of that. Suggestions can lead to other people’s tastes from a wide variety of performers, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into you willingly following through on suggestions… Especially if you don’t know the artists.

There’s a tool out there on the web that I crossed last weekend, called Spotalike. It’s got a winter holiday motif that you need to ignore, that and it’s powered by way of Spotify. Simple directions: if you put a song/artist in the entry field, it’ll produce a list of what it considers similar songs. The first three entries tend to be by the same artist while what follows is a variety from other artists. What sold me on the entire tool is how I would enter songs from an easy-listening playlist that I have, and some of the first suggestions would be other songs from the list. The right similarity was there.

I also know it’s not perfect, though….

I like Streets of Philadelphia by Bruce Springsteen; throw it in that easy-listen playlist because of the light music (side note: I need to find Bruce’s Oscar performance of the song where he played piano).

The problem here is Spotalike’s first suggestion. Born in the USA is a rocker with a strong beat, heavy lyrics and of course the famous chorus chant that people fixate on. There are others produced in the top 10 results that fit the bill (Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton, One by U2) and others that make me shake my head and say “no” (I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing by Aerosmith).  I guess this list is just proof no playlist suggested can be perfect, but some songs fit while others just seem to be a reach.

Yet the results for “Streets” aren’t what led to this post, no, no. I went with an early 1990’s rocker by one of the top axe men in music, Are You Gonna Go My Way by Lenny Kravitz:

That was off a top album in 1993 (but failed to crack the Billboard Top 100). The attitude, the energy, the guitar work by Lenny, it’s just fantastic. Is it a one-of-a-kind ode? Arguable; there are plenty of songs that could be suggested just for guitar work and early 90’s popularity (Green Day and Basket Case as well as Longview immediately come to mind).

Yet one-of-a-kind is how Spotalike seems to be looking at it as it stands. Upon entering the song and going for the results, “Are You Gonna Go My Way” is the only song result. No playlist gets generated. It’s one thing for that to happen with an indie band (Pretty Voices are on Spotalike, for example, but don’t generate results) but for someone who has been so prominent in popular music and rock and roll to get brushed off? That’s either a flaw in the system, a business conflict between the powers-that-be and Kravitz’s camp or just an outright disrespect towards a musician someone at Spotalike doesn’t like. I’m going to side with the flaw factor. I’m sure it pops up with some other songs by popular artists.

This shouldn’t hold sway over you using Spotalike or not; there’s too much music out there to get hung up on flaws and misgroupings. So much music and so few quality suggestion tools exist. The system can’t be perfect but it seems like Spotalike is sound to one decree or another.

 

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