Dear Spotify

Image of Various Spotify Apps

I’ve been using Spotify for 2+ years now, it deserves a longevity award. It also deserves some sort of honor for being one of the few subscription services I dole out for on a monthly basis1I no longer pay fro a subscription. I am happy with the ad-supported version. Sure, its a little annoying, but I don’t listen to music enough these days to make a full account worthwhile. – placing it alongside Netflix – and everybody has Netflix.Spotify Client Apps

In spite of a number of other options, including from mega companies like Google and Amazon, I still prefer Spotify. It is entirely free if you don’t mind the ads and the premium account is $5/mo $10/mo.

That said, I do have a few things I’d love for Spotify to incorporate:

  1. Tagging – Playlists are cool, they are like categories, but everyone knows that you need categories and tags (ala WordPress). I like creating playlists – but what if I want to listen to a song on a specific subject? Or what if the song is on multiple subjects? Yes, I can create multiple playlists – but this quickly becomes cumbersome.
  2. Listens – It would be great if Spotify displayed how many times one has listened to a song. I am an explorer – always trying out new bands, new albums – and oftentimes forgetting who I’ve listened to previously and which songs. If I could see how many times I’ve listened to the song it would allow me to more efficiently explore.
  3. Searching Artists, Songs, Albums – I’ve listened to a lot of artists and this list of artists (or songs or albums) can become overwhelming. Sometimes I know I want to listen to an artist that begins with some letter or word, but I can’t remember its name in its entirety, it would be great if I could search only what is in “Your Music.”
  4. Language / Topic Filters – I know that Spotify includes “explicit content” warnings on songs, but I’ve listened to far too many songs that had “explicit content” and weren’t marked as such. This becomes important when (a) one is playing the music in the presence of others who might find the content offensive, (b) one finds it offensive, or (c) one is allowing Spotify to post to one’s Facebook timeline and has an audience that includes individuals of young(er) age for whom such content might be inappropriate.
  5. Shazam Functionality – If I am listening to the radio in the car I still have to use Shazam to find out and save what song I’m listening to. Adding this functionality into Spotify’s mobile app would be huge…especially since Shazam now makes me integrate with Rdio.

Which of these features? Or what other features would you like to see in Spotify?

Water Within’s Better Off Broken (Song)

I’m always stumbling around looking for new musical artists…and Spotify surfaced a band called Water Within. I’d never heard of them and their songs all had well under 2,000 listens – indicating they aren’t very popular. Usually this means that they aren’t very good…but on rare occasions…such as this one…it means they are amazing and just haven’t made it big yet [but I’m betting they will.]

Water Within Musicians
Water Within Musicians

Their music reminds me of JJ Heller’s earlier albums, though lyrically I can’t place them, perhaps somewhere near Michael Card…so fuse Heller and Card together in your mind and you might get something close to Water Within.

Anyways, I’ve been listening to their album Unlocked and there have been several songs I’ve enjoyed but Better Off Broken knocked my socks off…ok…I wasn’t wearing socks, but if I was…

Seriously, this is my new favorite song…Listen to it and read the lyrics (I listened to the song and wrote up the lyrics, so there are probably some discrepancies between the actual words and what I have).

[Sidenote: While the lyrics are sad, the music is upbeat…and they make it work.]

[Sidenote 2: Calvary Community Church’s (where I pastor) slogan is Broken people growing together communicating the idea that all of us are in need of a Savior and that one of the primary ways God grows us is through deep community]

My scars are so visible.
How can I help but notice
My mind holds tragic memories
Its hard to keep my focus
Who do I think I am
Doubting your voice when
You say you make all things new
Why do I think I can stand
On paperthin pride that denies
That i need you

I’m crying out
Come in tear down these walls
I can’t do this alone
I’ve been so lost
I need to come home
Break through all of the scars
Heal me as only you can
I’ve tried to fix myself
But I’ve found
I’m better off broken

So worn out
So weak now
Your strength in me
Makes me need you
I’ve been wounded
So beaten
The death of me
Lets you shine through

Who do I think I am
Trying to heal a heart
That deceives itself
Why do I think I can stand
When I’m on my face
Oh God, I need your help
I’m crying out

So worn out
So weak now
Your strength in me
Makes me need you
I’ve been wounded
So beaten
The death of me
Lets you shine through

Better off broken (repeated w/variations)

If I’m fixed just break me
If I’m broken then take me
And make me whole again
This is restoration

When I’m lost come find me
When I’m found refind me again
The power of restoration
Ohhhhh

I’m crying out
Come in tear down these walls
I can’t do this alone
I’ve been so lost
I need to come home
Break through all of the scars
Heal me as only you can
I’ve tried to fix myself
But I’ve found
I’m better off broken

Better off broken [repeats with variations]

Don’t Be Rude (and Parodies)

The Song & Videos

I’d never heard of the band Magic! before their song Rude began to dominate the air waves. I must confess that I enjoy the song – even though I feel ambiguous about its lyrics.

The song has an upbeat and happy feel to it, at its best speaks of true love unwilling to allow any obstacle stand in its way, and it reminds me of the song in Disney’s The Little Mermaid “Kiss the Girl.”

You can watch the original music video embedded below:

Then you have to watch the parody by Benji Cowart portraying the dad’s side of the story:

Nicky Costabile’s parody from the perspective of the daughter is also worth viewing:

And if you have time you might check out Alisha Thomas’ parody, also from the daughter’s perspective (and quite different from Costabile’s):

Reflections on Lyrics & Videos

I mentioned at the beginning of this post that I feel some ambiguity about the lyrics. Why? Because I can empathize with each of the different perspectives presented…and I think, as in most conflicts, all sides can have legitimate points.

I believe that in most situations if opposing sides can take the time to empathize and understand the mindset of their opponent, common ground and understanding can be found.

[Sidenote: I’m not naive, I’ve been burned multiple times, sometimes quite severely, in attempting to live by this belief…but I try not to allow these painful collisions to dethrone my hope…not b/c in the future I won’t be hurt, but b/c I don’t see a better way…this way, with its potential for suffering, is the best way I know.]

In the music video the boyfriend sees the father as a stereotypical white collar man who is concerned primarily about one’s prestige (based upon employment), possessions (nice car, nice clothes), and appearance (wearing a suit and tie).

The father meanwhile sees the boyfriend as a stereotypical young man who is self-absorbed (spends his time making music instead of getting a real job) and lazy/undisciplined (unwilling to spend the time and effort to dress appropriately).

The boyfriend perceives himself as hard-working but communally focused; concerned with living life well rather than making life stable.

The father perceives himself as hard-working and family oriented; concerned with ensuring life is stable for those he loves rather than experiencing life as it comes.

Here we have a clash of generations and of worldviews…and the opportunity for growth on both parts, or for a retrenchment of current positions.

The young man would do well to learn to be more concerned about the future stability of his family, the father would do well to look beyond appearances to recognize the worth of the individual himself.

The father’s response is provocative – he doesn’t suggest ways in which the young man must change in order to be acceptable but rejects the man’s proposal out of hand.

The young man’s response is similarly provocative – he doesn’t respond by asking what it would take to become acceptable to the father but instead threatens to go around the father.

The way perception affects one’s interpretation of the song is most clearly seen in Nicky Costabile’s parody in which she refuses both the father and the boyfriend’s control insisting that “I’m human too.”

This perspective will seem strange to many fathers who don’t assume they control their daughters – only that they desire to protect their daughters from the evils of this world – and that they have a right not to control whom their daughter marries but to give or withhold their blessing upon the marriage.

And the perspective will seem strange to many young men who would assume that asking for permission to marry someone’s daughter is not asking for control but for blessing and is a cultural sign of respect for the parents and the daughter by willing to engage in tradition in securing the relationship.

Additionally, many (most?) young men would have already talked to their girlfriend about whether she was willing to marry him before he asks permission of the father…and even if he asked permission of the father first, it is almost certain he would then ask rather than demand that the daughter marry him.

Thus, one sees how the song has no implications to most men about male chauvinism but to some women (e.g. Costabile) the actions appear forthrightly chauvinistic.

A Final Observation

I thought it was interesting how the music video begins with the boyfriend and girlfriend in a bedroom together (an intimate location) where he is playing music for her (a non-sexual interaction). This (to me) infers a certain respect for the woman by the man (e.g. he is not taking advantage of her, but is acting in an honorable manner).

At the same time, the video portrays towards the end behavior by the girlfriend influenced by the boyfriend that to the father, in appearance (and perhaps actuality) is indicative of a negative dimension to the man’s influence upon his daughter.