Discovering new music can be thrilling, but sometimes we just want to listen to songs we’ve heard a million times before. Like returning to a book you’ve already read, there’s something uniquely pleasurable about a classic throwback anthem – whether it’s the party banger that sums up your first year of university or the mopey acoustic track you played on repeat in your teenage bedroom (driving your parents and siblings mad in the process).
That’s the thinking behind a new feature on Spotify, which reckons it can pull together all the songs you loved back in the day into one personalised, automated playlist.
Dubbed Your Time Capsule, the feature uses Spotify’s algorithms to analyse the music you’re currently listening to. This data is then cross-referenced with your age and location, allowing Spotify to suggest songs it’s pretty damn sure you will have had on your cassette player/Walkman/iPod Nano as a teen.
As with any automated service that relies on algorithms, Your Time Capsule doesn’t get it right every single time. One Stylist staffer was delighted to see 2002 emo-pop anthem Swing, Swing by The All-American Rejects on her playlist, but said that she’d never even heard of Phil Collins’ Strangers Like Me (which turned out to be a song from the 1999 Tarzan soundtrack, a film she’s never seen).
However, for the most part, Spotify users seem to be thoroughly impressed (and/or dealing with a lot of emotions they haven’t felt since they were 17).
If you’re wondering why so many of us are powerless to resist the music we loved as teenagers, science could have the answer. According to Daniel J Levitin, a music psychologist and professor emeritus of neuroscience and music at McGill University in Canada, our social lives undergo huge changes in adolescence – and the soundtrack to those new experiences feels monumentally significant.
“Pubertal growth hormones make everything we're experiencing, including music, seem very important,” Levitin told the New York Times. “We’re just reaching a point in our cognitive development when we're developing our own tastes. And musical tastes become a badge of identity.”
In addition, a study by researchers at Cornell University in the US found that people have deep emotional connections to music released during the first two decades of their lives, as well as music from their parents’ generation (which they likely also heard in those formative years). Not only did the participants in the study feel affection for this music, they also deemed it superior to music from other eras.
Psychologists at the University of Southampton, meanwhile, found that nostalgic music can make us feel less depressed and less lonely.
In other words, most of us will be powerless to resist checking out Your Time Capsule. We’ll see you down memory lane…
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