Brendan O’Connor’s Mid-Life Crisis: “Another scary thing Spotify knows about me that I never really knew about myself is what they call my ‘musical aura’. .. “


There is something sinister about the way Spotify, my music streaming service of choice, sends me a recap of my listening for the year.

It’s not just the tone that seems to aim to flatter me for doing a good job listening to music, as if listening to music is something to be proud of. “You got the mission,” he told me at one point.

Nor was it the fact that I was almost a little fooled by the little animation they did for me that told me what a good taste for music I have. “Go ahead and share your unique tastes with the world,” he tells me as he tries to share my “2021 Unwrapped” stats with me.

If it wasn’t just a one-sided conversation, I would explain to Spotify that people would think I had a personality transplant if they got a happy, upbeat message from me trumpeting the music I was playing. listened to in 2021.

Why would anyone even want to know? I’ve had enough of a mature boredom and excessive sharing without subjecting people to it.

No, the real reason it’s sinister is because my Spotify Movie of the Year knows a lot more about me than I do.

So for example, if you asked me what is my favorite band from last year, maybe I could name 10 bands. But I probably wouldn’t mention the Mexican Sound Institute.

I discovered the Mexican Institute of Sound only about six months ago. One of their songs was at the end of a TV show and I searched for it. “They” is a project based on a Mexican DJ and producer called Camilo Lara.

He’s an interesting character and he seems to use a lot of samples and snippets of often traditional Mexican music that he layers with basslines and beats, with rap and vocals and a whole load of modernity.

It’s pretty cool, and I think something about Mexican brass and strings has soothed my soul this year, bringing me to a place of life, color, and sunshine, even though the gritty side of Mexico has also been relied on in rap, vocals and grooves.

It was also great music for driving, running and general fun. It was an ambiance, an atmosphere, a texture.

You might not sit down and listen to her intently when you are feeling pensive. But whether you have a few drinks, drive, or run, MIS is your man.

Imagine my surprise when Spotify told me that technically Mexican Institute of Sound is my favorite band right now. But they are. I have listened to them more than I have listened to any other band this year. Not only that, but I’m in the top 0.05pc of listeners in the world. I’m practically their biggest fan.

When I first saw the statistic, I misinterpreted it as the top 0.5, so I was like, “OK, I’m in the 200th top listener.”.

But no. It’s actually 0.05. I’m in the top 2000. So if you put me in a random group of 2000 average Mexican Institute of Sound listeners, I’d be the one who listens to them the most..

And, keep in mind, that includes the people of present-day Mexico. Presumably, it would be as if someone in Mexico listened to more Damien Dempsey than the average Damien Dempsey 1,999 listeners, including his Irish fans.

Spotify does this slightly scary thing where they offer you a button you can press if you want to thank the Mexican Sound Institute, which would presumably generate some sort of thank you message from me that he would never look at. I think, damn it, he / they should thank me. I am waiting to hear from him at Christmas.

Presumably, when the folks at MIS get their Spotify listener of the year data, I’ll be on some sort of “super-listeners” list.

Or maybe they will notice that they have an unusually high number of plays in this territory this year, and they will decide, “hey, maybe we should tour Ireland when the Covid is over.” But then they’ll look again and say, “No, it’s actually just one guy. ”

Maybe they will come and play at my place. Maybe I’ll open the door one day and he’ll be there with his turntables and samplers and a few gentlemen with big guitars. Which, believe me, I would appreciate it.

Because it turns out that I listen to so many MIS, and a few similar acts that I have discovered through MIS, that Alternative Latin is one of my top five genres of music.

Some of the artists you listen to a lot thank you. In your playlist of your most played songs of 2021, Spotify hides these short little videos. I almost jumped out of my skin the first time it happened, when a song ended, and then Arlo Parks appeared to thank me for my support.

It hurt a bit, because Arlo Parks is only at the top of the list because I listened to his album nonstop for a month at the start of the year, before moving on and forget it.

Another scary thing Spotify knows about me that I never really knew about myself is what they call my “musical aura”. It turns out that my best musical moods are “melancholy” and “happy”. And you know what? they are right about that too.

Indeed, if you take what has probably been my favorite band most consistently over the years, New Order, they actually embody those two things – happy music with melancholy vocals, sad disco music. Anyway, I think it’s going to be a Mexican themed Christmas at my place.


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