Spotify’s Release Radar Is the Musical Mind-Reader You Need in Your Life
Get the party started with its personalized mixtape of fresh music
When firing up Spotify’s new mixtape Release Radar for the first time this week, I was surprised to find David Bowie in there. For one, I was expecting tracks I’ve never heard before. And I’m still reeling in from his death.
New music from artists who’ve already gone to the Hall of Fame in the sky is nothing new, of course. But I was caught off guard in this case. When his last album Black Star dropped last January, I spent one whole afternoon listening to it on Spotify. The next day, he passed away.
And now here he was again, showing up on my Release Radar as “new music.” The song, a live version of Rock ‘n’ Roll with Me is an old one, but part of an upcoming box set release. So technically, it does count as new music—and, yes, of course it would show up on my feed. Spotify’s AI robot overlords probably don’t know about the time I spent wandering around the office in shock after news of Bowie’s death broke (or do they?). But for sure they noticed how much time I spent listening to all his albums on their app weeks after.
Spotify’s algorithms are dead-on accurate like that. As comedian Dave Horwitz once tweeted, “It’s scary how well Spotify’s Discover Weekly playlists know me.” Launched late last year, Discover Weekly mines your listening habits to deliver a piping hot, personalized playlist of great music every Monday. Release Radar works the same way, except this time, the playlist is exclusively devoted to just-released music.
Like with anything that analyzes your app habits, what you get depends on how much you’ve already invested in the first place. As an omnivorous, if-it-has-a-sound-I’ll-listen-to-it daily Spotify user, my first peek at Release Radar revealed a messily random playlist—which is exactly the way I like it.
Aside from the David Bowie track, there was a slinky remix of an already sexy Ariana Grande song:
There was a chill new synth tune from Germany Germany, whom I just remembered I’d been obsessed with in 2011:
There was meditative stuff that sounded eerily similar to the kind of music I’ve been digging lately:
There was a song that could make you cry if you heard it late at night:
There was a sloppy CHVRCHES remix, which is a shame because I like CHVRCHES.
If you’re app-rehensive about how much apps are watching you, Spotify’s Release Radar will do little to calm your fears that artificial intelligence is taking over the world. It’s almost scary how they can craft such a thoroughly enjoyable playlist. But if you’re listening, dear AI robot overlords, lay off the sloppy remixes next time. And maybe give Bowie a break. I’m still grieving.