How Spotify's "Discover Weekly" Changed My Life
As cheesy as it sounds, I remember hearing “All My Friends” by Dermot Kennedy as if it were yesterday. It was an early morning in January of 2016 and I was on my usual 6AM car ride to school. My grandparents were bickering — as is their custom during long drives — as I was blasting music through my earphones.
This is a habit that I’ve had for as long as I can remember. There’s something about listening to music that calms me. I have had mild anxiety since my parents’ divorce when I was ten, which sometimes I neglect to recognize fully. This anxiety has manifested in many parts of my life, most notably in normal day-to-day things like car rides. Every car ride, you can find me with a far-off gaze, earphones in my ears, drowning out my own ever-consuming thoughts.
That particular morning, wanting to listen to something besides whatever was on the “Top Hits” playlist, I begrudgingly put on Spotify’s Discover Weekly playlist. This playlist is generated using an algorithm that takes the music that you frequently listen to and generates a playlist of songs “to discover”. This feature was something that I had never used before, since I just liked listening to whatever I already had saved to my library. As willing as I am to try new things, I never thought about listening to anything that deviated from what is popular. I guess it was my way of trying to assimilate my tastes to be the same as everyone else’s. But that particular morning, that wasn’t the case.
And I am so glad to have discovered Dermot Kennedy when I did. Since music has such an active presence in my life, I found myself immediately drawn to this Irish singer’s soulful drawl and even more captivated by his words that, at least in my opinion, resembled poetry. Enraptured, I began to try to find more of his music and was disappointed to see that only a handful of songs were available on his Spotify (at the time). I had even less luck when making Youtube searches and in vain, tried to find live versions of his music. But still I held out hope, and it was worth it. Slowly, he began releasing more music and I followed his growth, always checking to see if a live performance of his was uploaded or if he had released any concert dates that I could go to.
Seeing the growth of a person with talent like Dermot’s was astounding, almost unreal. And almost as if time moved in warp speed, I found myself, now a senior in high school, attending a concert on his “Keep the Evenings Long” tour. I remember seeing his post on Instagram back in June of this year, announcing a pre-sale. And if memory serves me, I spent part of my first paycheck from a summer job on two tickets, one for me and anyone who was willing to go with me.
I remember the excitement I felt the days leading up to the concert date, which was at a small venue in Downtown Houston, TX, and the countless hours I spent listening to his entire discography. But this did not prepare me for the experience I had, which was unlike any other concert I’ve been to.
Like I mentioned before, the venue was one of the smaller ones in my city and was only standing room, so I made sure I was there early so that I could get a place in the front. Once I situated myself in the front row, my friend and I, along with the other concert-goers, waited for about an hour for his opening act to come up. The O’My’s, a group hailing from Chicago, IL, lit the venue up with soulful and heart-wrenching (in the best way possible) tunes, and the lead vocalist’s range was nothing short of spectacular. Hitting high notes and harmonizing with feeling that is almost palpable, I had never experienced a performance like this one. I was truly unprepared for what was to come, which of course, was Dermot. The long wait was now worth it to me; the time I spent listening to and supporting this artist was all too real when I stood only a couple of feet away from him as he opened the show up with none other than the song that made me a fan in the first place.
Being there was a jarring experience that I would not trade for anything else in the world and I hope that by reading this you, the reader, are encouraged to seek something new, and to be adventurous in life. Discovering Dermot Kennedy’s music when I did was a catalyst for change that I so needed in my life. Because as insignificant as it may seem, finding something for yourself is more rewarding than having it handed to you. Life is awfully short to only listen to Billboard’s Hot 100 and to force yourself to enjoy the same things that people around you do, just for the sake of fitting in. And I’m not saying that it is bad to like things that are popular, I too can say that “Thank You, Next” by Ariana Grande is my favorite song at the moment. Rather, I encourage you to always be in the pursuit of something to add a little pizzazz to your life and to try something new.