Spotify's YOUR TIME CAPSULE [2017]

Millions of Spotify users like myself woke up to find a new fully personalized playlist waiting for them this past weekend: Your Time Capsule. Our own personalized throwback to our teen years in high school based on the birth year we provided at signup and our listening habits. I pressed PLAY soon after waking up and proceeded to go about my normal routine while the music played. Upon checking the iPad display, I noticed that the cover art was supersized, further setting this playlist apart from all others. If the Your Time Capsule was a game of Battleship, Spotify has scored both some surprising direct hits and some wild random misses. Let's take a look at the playlist created for me to see how close the algorithms, digital voodoo and data crunching came to recreating what I may have been listening to as a high-schooler.
1On The LooseSaga1981
2Why Me? (Extended Version)Planet P Project1983
3When It's OverLoverboy1981
4Desperate But Not SeriousAdam Ant1982
5Don't Walk On The GrassUB401981
6Let Me GoHeaven 171982
7Fight The Good FightTriumph1981
8Promises In The DarkPat Benatar1981
9FantasyAldo Nova1982
10(We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove ThangHeaven 171981
11Hard TimesThe League Unlimited Orchestra1982
The playlist starts off great with Saga's "On The Loose", a song that sounds sort of strange without "Wind Him Up" immediately following it - I swear that is how it used to be played here on the local rock stations and so that's how I have it in my digital library, both tracks joined as one. Planet P Project's "Why Me?" is another favorite from my teen years though I have no idea why its presented in its Extended Version here rather than the album or single version - I didn't even know there was an Extended Version until nearly twenty years after I was a teenager. Loverboy's "When It's Over" keeps the synth-rock (is that a thing?) party going and then Adam Ant shows up to the picnic with his second solo single after "Goody Two Shoes". The playlist takes its first major misstep with the inclusion of a UB40 track - it really doesn't matter which one it is as the band has never been a favorite of mine, then or now or at any point in the intervening thirty-five years. The playlist gets its groove back with my favorite Heaven 17 track followed by my second favorite Triumph track behind "Magic Power". Pat Benatar keeps the rock going with "Promises In The Dark" and Aldo Nova brings "Fantasy", another blast of synth-rock (patent pending). Heaven 17 returns with my second favorite single in their oeuvre and then Martin Rushent, under his guise as The League Unlimited Orchestra, features a cut and spliced reworking of The Human League B-side "Hard Times". On a scale of one to twenty, the first part of My Spotify Time Capsule earns a 17.
12Being BoiledThe Human League1980
13She's TightCheap Trick1982
14Who's Behind The DoorZebra1983
15Baby Talks DirtyThe Knack1980
16(Keep Feeling) Fascination (Improvisation)The Human League1983
17I'll Fall In Love AgainSammy Hagar1981
18Cruisin' The Streets (Original Extended Version)Boys Town Gang1981
19I Won't Be Home TonightTony Carey1982
21Hot Girls In LoveLoverboy1983
22Ein Bett Im KornfeldJürgen Drews1976*
Although it kicks off with an early Human League track and later features an Improvisation of another track of theirs, this portion of the playlist is undeniably AOR featuring my all-time favorite tracks by Cheap Trick and Zebra. A track from the Knack's sophomore album keeps the rock level high before that second Human League track ruins the vibe. I loved, Loved, LOVED their Dare album and the follow-up Love and Dancing EP by The League Unlimited Orchestra but follow-ups "(Keep Feeling) Fascination" and "Mirror Man" left me wanting. Sammy Hagar brings the rock back with a hot track from his great 1981 album Standing Hampton and then the disco Boys Town Gang show up. Having never heard of them before my head-first dive into the Disco Discharge series a couple of years back, there is no way I would have listened to them in my teens. Let me rephrase that - there is no way I would have heard Boys Town Gang as a teen. I wasn't attending clubs and they weren't getting radio airplay. Tony Carey reestablishes the rocking status of the playlist with "I Won't Be Home Tonight" and is immediately followed by the title track to the Scorpions 1982 album Blackout. I listed it as my tenth favorite album of my all-time favorite year in music - 1982 - and it remains a huge favorite to this day though I would have preferred to see and hear "No One Like You" or "Arizona" or "Can't Live Without You" rather than "Blackout". I have a similar issue with Loverboy's "Hot Girls In Love". Love the first two Loverboy albums but felt the third one was noticeably weaker so "Hot Girls In Love" didn't get a lot of spins. And then there's the final track of this section of the playlist which I had never heard until earlier today - it's a German-language take on "Let Your Love Flow", my favorite Bellamy Brothers song. From 1976, when I wasn't yet a teenager. The second part of My Time Capsule earns a 14.
23Juke Box Hero (Nearly Unplugged Version)Foreigner1981
24Don't You Know What Love IsTouch1980
25AntmusicAdam & The Ants1980
26Walks Like a LadyJourney1980
27Hey DeanieShaun Cassidy1977*
28Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You)A Flock Of Seagulls1982
29Good Girls Don'tThe Knack1979
30SoulburgerSoulful Torino Orchestra2008*
31Kosmo Vinyl Introduction (Live at Shea Stadium)The Clash2008*
32Don't Let Him GoREO Speedwagon1980
33Poison ArrowABC1982
While I love "Juke Box Hero", this Nearly Unplugged Version loses all that is good about the song: the dramatic vocals, the throbbing bassline, and that rocking chorus. Maybe they should all plug back in and try it again. And while I'd love to say I was fully familiar with the severely underrated Touch back in my teen years, I'd be a liar as I came to them later as once again, they never got any airplay on my local stations despite sounding like Foreigner or Journey or half a dozen other bands of the time, which wasn;t a bad thing in my book. I was late to the party but all over "Antmusic" after witnessing it on American Bandstand on May 16, 1981. Departure was the last eight-track tape I bought brand new and only because I was cuckoo for "Any Way You Want It" and the vinyl album was sold out. Soon fell in love with rest of album and it remains my second favorite Journey long-player to this day with the snazzy jazzy "Walks Like A Lady" an anomaly in the band's catalog. I have admitted to liking to Shaun Cassidy's "Hey Deanie" more than once so that's no news but as it was 1977 track, so it costs this section of the playlist a couple of points. "Wishing (If I Had A Photograph of You)" is my second favorite track on A Flock Of Seagulls self-titled debut album so I got no truck with it being on the list. The energy level rises with another track from The Knack, one I'd pick today, right now over "My Sharona". No idea how "Soulburger" snuck onto the list - it reads more like a $10 hamburger restaurant than a song title - or why Kosmo Vinyl's brief introduction (below) of The Clash at Shea Stadium, opening for The Who on October 13, 1982, made the list:
Good evening New York City, How ya doing? Come on Shea Stadium ya sound like you're half asleep. Come On, let's hear ya! How ya doing? It's good to see a few people who aren't worried about a bit of rain. You ain't worried about no rain are ya? Rain's a lot of rubbish, don't worry about rain. Anyway, what we got for you tonight is, we ain't got no baseball tonight, no baseball tonight. We ain't got no football, they're on strike. But what we have got for ya is a little bit of what's goin' on in London at the moment. So will you welcome all the way from Ladbroke Grove London W10, THE CLASH! Come on!
Both are 2008 releases and I was well out of my teens by then. (At least age-wise.) Very few albums got more play in my room in 1980 and 1981 then REO Speedwagon's breakthrough Hi Infidelity and the album-opening "Don't Let Him Go" probably got more plays than seven of the other songs on that album. "Poison Arrow" still sounds absolutely divine and only one maybe two albums got more plays in 1982 and 1983 than ABC's The Lexicon of Love, my number two favorite album of 1982 though it's probably since been bumped down to number three in light of a whole mess of spins for Prince's 1999 as I continue to grieve his untimely passing. My Time Capsule part three scores a 12 on the 20 point scale.
34What I SeePlanet P Project1984
35Talk TalkTalk Talk1982
36Rockin' The ParadiseStyx1981
37Saved By ZeroThe Fixx1983
39Still They RideJourney1981
40Wind Him UpSaga1981
41Set Down Your GlassSnow Patrol2008*
42Little Too LatePat Benatar1982
43Why? (12'' Version)Bronski Beat1984
44Dancing In The StreetVan Halen1982
Tony Carey and Peter Hauke return as Planet P Project with another favorite "What I See" though it was released my freshman year at the University of Arizona so while I was technically still a teen, my high school days were behind me. Talk Talk's self-titled track most definitely rocked my world back in 1982 as did the tracks by Styx and The Fixx. (As I was on the edge of seventeen, Stevie Nicks shoulda made this a rhyming artist name triple play.) I first heard "Situation" as part of our school's modern dance recital (thanks for the invite, Vicki) and it is been a constant in my life ever since. "Still They Ride", another little-played Journey favorite mellows things out though a consistent vibe had yet to be established within the playlist. "Wind Him Up", the Saga track I mentioned earlier, makes an appearance thirty-nine tracks late but the playlist screeches to a halt with the next track, a 2008 song by Snow Patrol. Pat Benatar arrives a "Little Too Late" to get the party re-started but man I have some fond memories of her Get Nervous album. The energy level rises with the 12" version of Bronski Beat's "Why?" another late 1984 release like "What I See" above. And this portion of the playlist ends with one of my most played songs from 1982, Eddie Van Halen's inventive interpretation of the Motown classic "Dancing In The Streets". Like the first portion above, this section of My Time Capsule scores a 17.
45Light In Tunnel (Instrumental)Red Rider1983
46Is That Love?Squeeze1981
47Speed Your Love To MeSimple Minds1983
48The ZooScorpions1980
49Senses Working OvertimeXTC1982
50Love Plus OneHaircut 1001982
51Vive Le RockAdam Ant1985
52(You Can Still) Rock In AmericaNight Ranger1983
53Yesterday's HeroBay City Rollers1976*
54Pulling Mussels (From The Shell)Squeeze1980
55Girls On Film (Night Mix)Duran Duran1981
The instrumental "Light In The Tunnel" is the first track on Red Rider's Neruda album and it plays like an intro to the album's second track "Power (Strength In Numbers)". Somebody somewhere made the decision to pair "Light In The Tunnel" with track three on the album, a groovy little tune titled "Human Race" and make a music video of the two songs joined together though I first heard it on the radio that way as music videos weren't really my thing back then. Thanks to the fortunate discovery of a copy of East Side Story on an abandoned runway, I was familiar with Squeeze's "Is That Love?" but it couldn't have gotten more than a handful of plays during my teens. I owned three Simple Minds albums during my teen years and "Speed Your Love To Me" is on Sparkle In The Rain, the least played of the three. Scorpions came into my life via 1982's Blackout but backtracking to their previous release, 1980's Animal Magnetism, I soon fell in love with "The Zoo". Shamefully, I was not into XTC, had never heard of them, until 1986's Skylarking album. I liked "Love Plus One" from the moment I heard it but never bothered to buy the album or 45 as I had it on the K-Tel album, The Beat, which got lots of spins, especially on the Sharp VZ-2000 I picked up off layaway in late 1983. Adam Ant's "Vive Le Rock" did not make a good first impression on me but I bought it and played it a few times though it has gotten many more plays in the past ten years than it did in the first twenty years. The rock returns with a favorite from Night Ranger but then something goes wonky and the Bay City Rollers make an appearance - sure I love their music nowadays but with the exception of "Saturday Night" did not play them at all during my teen years. Squeeze returns another one of my favorite songs of theirs though I would be out of my teens a few years before I heard this particular song when I picked up a used copy of 45s And Under. The Night Mix of "Girls On Film" came into my library via Duran Duran's Carnival EP in late 1982. As I did I then, I believe it is the weakest of the four tracks on Carnival. This final part of my Time Capsule playlist scores a 16. Give me a moment while I tally up a final score from the five parts... 76 out of 100. A C? Guess I graded it more strict than I thought. If I were to give it a straight-up letter grade, I would give it a B. I've created two additional, more accurate playlists of what I listened to during my final three years of high school beginning with an alternative to My Time Capsule:
Back in March 2017, I began curating a playlist of songs I fondly remember hearing on KWFM and KLPX, the two radio stations it took to replace my beloved WLS when we moved to Tucson in August 1981. I've supplemented this playlist with actual station playlists I've discovered online. On a scale of 1-100, the playlist below is a solid 95 as it relates to the music I was listening to during my sophomore, junior and senior years of high school.
How well did Your Time Capsule playlist do in guessing the tunes you listened to during your high school years? 

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