I heard one person describe it as ‘more embarrassing than forgetting to lock to the toilet door and have someone walk in on you’. That’s fairly embarrassing, right? It ranks alongside accidentally replying to ‘all staff’ in an email when then the message was only meant for one recipient, or sending a text to the person that the text was about. Yet I can’t really agree with the sentiment in relation to this particular incident. Is listening to Tiffany’s ‘I Think We’re Alone Now’ more mortifying than someone accidentally bearing witness to your business in the bathroom?
Spotify is one of the world’s most popular online subscription-based music streaming services. In layman’s terms, it’s the music equivalent of a library, only you don’t need to ‘return’ the music once you ‘borrow it’. It may have its critics – some artists feel it doesn’t give the musicians due reward – however it’s proven very popular in Ireland since it was launched in November 2012.
So how can it embarrass you? Like many online services or apps, Spotify is linked with your facebook or twitter account. For some reason – a cynic may suggest marketing and sales purposes – it’s more or less unavoidable that if you’re a Spotify subscriber anyone can see what you’re playing and what you have played, even if it was only once.
However, there is a setting that allows you a ‘private session’ while using Spotify. I only discovered this recently. Literally two days ago. I find it slightly baffling; internet privacy is one thing, but ‘private session’ sounds almost seedy and nefarious. We’re just listening to music here, right? Wrong.
Perhaps I’m slightly outside the main demographic, but for many Spotify users the ‘private session’ button is frequently in use. In short, some people are embarrassed about the music they want to listen to, so much so that they will eliminate any chance of others finding out about it. It’s more than just about listening to music: it’s about peer acceptance and credibility. Speaking of which, it’s a pity I didn’t realise this function existed sooner. Otherwise people might not have discovered that I had listened to the classic Wilson Phillips song ‘Hold On’. And that I’d listened to it more than once. No, wait, I can explain! It was for research purposes, honestly I swear.
I’m relieved that I can blame my children for songs such as ‘Gangnam Style’ and ‘What Does The Fox Say?’ cropping up on my publicly-available list of recently played songs, but it’s hard to come up with an excuse for ‘Alone’ by Heart, or ‘Electric Avenue’ by Eddy Grant. But is this embarrassing? Hardly, and I wouldn’t put it on the same level as forgetting to lock toilet door. (That was a genuine tweet I saw from a Spotify user, bemoaning the fact that she had forgotten to switch on ‘private session’ and drawing the comparison.)
I can see how our changing musical tastes will always be a source of amusement. The old chestnut of ‘the first album you ever bought’ is always a lively conversation on the radio or in the pub. Young kids are, more often than not, drawn to pop rather than more ‘credible’ or ‘cool’ alternative music. They discover Radiohead and The Smiths later in adolescence; in fairness why would you want to ruin your sunny carefree childhood by listening to Morrissey moaning about having no clothes to wear? Nonetheless, I wonder what percentage of One Direction fans will be embarrassed about their devotion in ten years time. I suspect it might be quite high; however I wouldn’t put it past them to have a ‘private session’ with Niall Horan and his mates, a decade from now, purely for nostalgia. My first album was Appetite for Destruction, the Guns N Roses classic. Okay, it wasn’t. It was Push, by the band Bros. There, I’ve said it. Does the fact that Appetite for Destruction was actually my second vinyl LP offset this humiliating admission?
Sharing photographs on social media causes enough mortification; do we now have to fear public ridicule because listening to Glenn Medeiros is a guilty pleasure? On second thoughts, don’t answer that question. I wonder what will come next; people judging you by the items you’ve looked at on Done Deal? ‘Oh I see you were checking out a second hand vacuum cleaner Joe, how uncool and embarrassing.’ Music is entirely a matter of taste and we shouldn’t feel embarrassed about the songs that crop up in our online playlists, even if it’s a band like Wilson Phillips or Simply Red or Shaggy. Yes, I am available to DJ at weddings, parties and christenings.