Art requires context.
You wouldn’t isolate one focal point of a painting, movie, or book without recommending the whole first. So why shouldn’t we treat music the same? It would be a disservice to the song’s meaning if you were to isolate it. Simply listening to Eminem’s “Stan” without listening to the whole album robs you of the chronological significance of the Marshall Mathers LP. Listening to the popular song “One Dance” by Drake without listening to the Views not only robs you of the opportunity to connect with the songs in order but also fails to acknowledge the artist’s intention for the album.
Still, music is not all about listening to albums, and it would be pointless to expect everyone to devote large chunks of their lives to that one form of listening.Sam Pennington ’26
Still, music is not all about listening to albums, and it would be pointless to expect everyone to devote large chunks of their lives to that one form of listening. Singles are the staple of the music industry, making it silly to try to convince every music listener to stream only albums. Singles hold a vital role in listening, being the easiest, most convenient way to enjoy music for a casual listener. No taste in music is regarded as “bad” because that is solely on opinion. But one might say so from lack of originality, narrative, or varied lyrics and/or instrumentals. Keeping track of, or trying to memorize song titles, albums, and artists can be difficult, so all of these can be sorted into playlists.
But listening to popular singles on “recommended” fuels a music enthusiast’s undeveloped surface-level music taste.
Customized playlists allow listeners to take different songs from different artists or albums and put them in their own order. Most people take advantage of this perk on Spotify playlists. The artists put their albums in a specific order for a reason. Therefore, if you listen to just one song from an album, you may lose the emotional intention that the artists want to convey. But if you prefer a different order of the album you can order it any way you choose by making a customized playlist. For example, listening to “Hotline Bling” from Views, one of Drake’s most popular songs with more than 1.8 billion views on YouTube, won’t have much effect on your emotional interpretation of the entire album.
Albums, singles, and playlists all paint a different picture.Sam Pennington ’26
Albums, singles, and playlists all paint a different picture. Playlists allow for customizing singles and albums by preference. Albums present the artist’s preferred song order, and singles are usually the best songs off of a later released album or simply a song the artist wanted to make that doesn’t need an album. All three modern ways of listening to music in the age of Spotify are valid and all have implications for the listener’s experience.
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