Spotify is the Way to My Heart
Expressing Your Feelings and Dancing Through the Pain
Back in 2017, the Internet was consumed by a flirting strategy for those struggling to tell a crush how they felt. Hannah Woodley, a 17-year old who couldn’t figure out the best way to confess her feelings to her crush, took to Spotify and ignited a trend many called “Spotify Flirting”.
Hannah decided to create a Spotify playlist, carefully constructed to make a message through song titles. She then posted a screenshot of her work on Twitter and the strategy exploded in popularity. Soon, there were hundreds of commenters posting screenshots of their own clever playlists.
I remember hearing about “Spotify Flirting” on Twitter and I couldn’t help but smile as I browsed through the comments of the many hopeless romantics vying for their crush’s attention. Although I was in a committed relationship at the time, I thought back to my years in high school and wished I had been as clever as Hannah. Sure, I had gone the route of compacting a mixtape for my girlfriend back when I was still crushing on her from a distance, but I never worked up the courage to give it to her until we had been dating for several months.
The Best Gift I Ever Gave
In a time where the way we express our feelings and interact with the world around us is so intertwined with social media, it’s very interesting to me when trends like “Spotify Flirting” take the online space by storm. As technology evolves, the way that we communicate follows suit. I’ve always been a sucker for the concept of mix tapes; specifically the idea of spending hours creating a track list of all the songs that remind me of someone special.
Back when I was an angsty 16 year old, feeling real love for the first time in my life, I presented a CD to my girlfriend with a shaking hand. As she turned the disc over in her hands, my heart was pounding and I started to regret my decision as her eyes fell on the handwritten note I had taped to the back of the case. I’d spent the night before writing an explanation of why each song reminded me of her, where I was when I listened to it for the first time, and when I first connected that song with her.
See, I had been hopelessly in love with my best friend for two years. I, like Hannah, couldn’t bring myself to simply tell her how I felt. I was so afraid to tell her how I felt and spent two years putting up walls around myself during the school day and listening to the songs that reminded me of her at night. On that disc was the development of my feelings for her, marked by love songs and angsty ballads, and I cringed as she read the note.
As it turns out, I think that mix tape (well, CD) was the best gift I ever gave my ex-girlfriend in the seven years we were together. Our relationship ended badly and now, two years later, I still struggle whenever one of “our songs” comes up on Spotify. Sometimes I wonder where that disc ended up. I discarded every gift she had ever given me, threw away the journals I had kept during the early years of our relationship, and set fire to the love notes she’d written for me in high school. I assume that she probably did the same.
Still, that CD was the most genuine, thoughtful gift I ever gave her. That CD was my heart in physical form and I had never been more vulnerable in my life up until that point. I can still remember the way she looked up at me after reading the note, her blue eyes filled with tears. I guess I had done a pretty cool thing after all.
The Audio Love Letter of Our Generation
I’m in my mid-twenties now and I’ve found that I love that feeling of vulnerability that comes with creating a mix tape for someone I love. I’ve written love notes and I’ve given girlfriends thoughtful gifts but there’s nothing quite like music when it comes to conveying feeling.
Over the years, I’ve used Spotify to craft playlists for a number of special people in my life- not just girlfriends. I’ve had playlists made for me. I’ve cried in bed listening to the songs that those who have since become distant memories once said reminded them of me. Music is a vessel for human emotion and any feeling that has ever been felt exists somewhere in an audio file. As I meet new people, whether romantically or otherwise, I always find a song that represents them almost perfectly. These tracks become a part of their place in my life. When I want to remember someone that became a ghost to me, there’s a song that gives me peace. When I’m lost in the confusion of developing feelings, there’s a song that brings clarity. And yes, when I have a crush on someone, I still make playlists.
There’s only one difference when it comes to my audio love letters now: I don’t always hand them over. I’m a bit more careful with my heart these days and I reserve that vulnerability for the people that I trust with it. My Spotify account is filled with playlists upon playlists and they’re special, sacred even. I’ve felt true pain and I’ve felt true loss. I’ve suffered and I’ve overcome. Still, those songs are mine and they’re me and they’re those I love and have loved. Spotify is not only the way to my heart but my heart itself.
When I see something like “Spotify Flirting”, it brings me a special kind of joy because it encompasses the way I’ve viewed music for so long. Music is both an extension and expression of the self and, although difficult, sometimes it’s the most real that you can be. It isn’t easy to tell someone how you feel but music somehow makes things a bit easier. If you’ve received your own personal playlist from me at one point or another, you were truly special to me and those songs will always be yours.