#NerdMusicMonday: Spotify Star Wars
Welcome to #NerdMusicMonday, where we feature some of the greatest geek-inspired music to start your week on the right note. We also review geek-inspired music things that we see floating around the Internet, for better or worse.
So in case you guys missed it, last December Spotify jumped on the hype train for Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens by letting you find out which Star Wars character you are through Spotify Star Wars. Both Spotify subscribers and guests can jump on that list, and – using the same algorithm that they employ for their Discovery Weekly playlists – toss over a playlist that, in theory, reflects the music genres that you listen to the most. Each playlist is named for characters from across all Star Wars movies. I decided to check out all of the lists for myself.
(That probably explains why it took me two and a half months to write something, yep.)
The verdict is in. While Spotify Star Wars was an excellently done marketing strategy (complete with a lightsaber replacing the tracker bar on Spotify’s desktop app), most of the lists suffer from being incredibly uneven or downright weird with their selections. Many of them don’t even reflect the characters in question well.
For a bit of context, I’m coming from the same school of thought that the founders of the Fan Soundtrack Project had back on Livejournal. For many fans who did FSTs and continue to do playlists on places like Spotify and 8tracks, making a mix meant trying to capture the essence of a series, a ship, or a character through music. Sure, this was often limited by the fan’s own preferences in music, but in theory it was about selecting the perfect songs from genres that could make anybody listening to the list associate it with the subject matter at hand. Fanmixes are much like the musical versions of fanfiction and fanart: a perspective on a character, a ship, or a series through the lens of someone who loves said character, ship, or series.
Yes, it can be argued that it was not the intention of Spotify Star Wars to make fan mixes in the first place. The LEAST they could have done is try, though, right? Some of the lists, in fact, are pretty decent in the sense that you could imagine a character “sounding” that way (like the lists for Finn and Rey), or listening to that particular genre. Most of the lists, though, feel like they attempted to force a connection that just wasn’t there. Like Yoda’s list, which was full of weird, ambient things that did not remind me of Yoda or the Force at all.
OTHER lists felt contrived in almost insulting fashions. Take, for example, the Mace Windu, Lando Calrissian and Finn lists. The Finn one isn’t so bad, but all three may give the listener the uncomfortable impression that Spotify Star Wars just went “well, they’re black! OF COURSE THERE HAS TO BE RAP/R&B/BLUES IN THERE!”. This was especially glaring in the Mace Windu list, which is, by far, the most confused playlist in the lot.
Then you’ve got the weird lists that make you wonder what the fuck Spotify was thinking. My favorite example of this would be the Emperor Palpatine playlist. Honest to God, it made me think “clubbing music for gay British DOM”.
If you’re looking for new music to check out, maybe you’ll find something at Spotify Star Wars – it’s highly dependent on the genre that you’re interested in. The artist listing also contains playlists that compile original scores from the movies. Just don’t think about the character playlists as Star Wars playlists. Save yourself.
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