Scrolling through Tumblr today, someone in my dash mentioned something about a “word” function on the music streaming app Spotify. This specific person mentioned that the function was Spotify’s best kept secret. This same person had also mentioned that this “word” made them wish they had gotten Spotify sooner. As a curious Spotify listener who uses the app for nearly a third of every day, I obviously wanted to see what this “word” was. After researching and discovering that it’s apparently not a function, but a featured genre, I decided to check it out.
One must go into the menu on Spotify, click browse, and scroll down to the very bottom of the page. This is where Word is. Other than it being a genre of some sort, I had no idea what was actually on it; I didn’t know what to expect. My first thought was that you could put in a word and then it would come up with songs that were related to that word- yeah, I then realized I had just described the search bar. I clicked on Word and was greeted with a playlist of audiobooks.
There are legitimately audiobooks on Spotify. Honest to goodness BOOKS! I love reading, but have never gotten around to listening to books because most audiobooks cost a lot of money and I figured, “Why pay to listen when you can read the physical book instead?” Yet, Spotify is stocked with book after book. There is Kafka’s Metamorphosis, a book I was just discussing with an upperclassman yesterday. One can be plunged into the world of John the Savage when listening to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. I fell asleep to Oliver Twist and woke up to The Cask of Amontillado.
Not only are there classic novels by Charles Darwin and short stories by Edgar Allan Poe, there is also poetry. Some poems are read by actors such as Ralph Fiennes and Benedict Cumberbatch, but many are read by the actual authors themselves! There are modern poems scattered around, but there are also Shakespeare’s poems, as well as classic beat poems. My favorite so far is Allen Ginsberg performing his own poem Howl. Howl is one of my favorite poems and hearing the poem over a 20-minute radio broadcast was absolutely enthralling. The realness of it all is astonishing. You can even hear a cough in the audience and Ginsberg’s hesitance to start speaking again when he wants to emphasize a verse. All of the live broadcasts are like this: exciting and extremely personal.
There are books and poetry, but there are also radio broadcasts all the way back from the 1940s. May 6th is Orson Welles’ birthday, so I spent some of my afternoon listening to Welles read aloud The War of the Worlds and then in a separate broadcast, he and H.G. Wells (the author of The War of the Worlds) met for the first and last time to discuss H.G.’s books and Orson Welles’ film career. Orson Welles was notoriously known for his voice and the way he frighteningly portrayed horror in many of his sci-fi radio dramas. The very broadcast that is available to listen to on Spotify actually caused panic back when it was aired in 1938 as a Halloween special. The broadcast was taken out of context and many thought the “breaks” in the program were real, when really they were just part of the adaption of the book. If I had not found Word, I would have most likely never had listened to many of these programs or read the books.
Another thing I would most likely never do? Learn Russian. Yet, as the final surprise that I found in Word, I can do that. There are 10 different languages that have playlists dedicated to them in Word. Each playlist is called “Learn (insert desired language here)”. From Spanish to Chinese to Arabic to French, all have instructors narrating translations, explaining verb tenses, et cetera. Forget Rosetta Stone, I can learn Portuguese on Spotify!
As if there isn’t enough to hook a user into going through Word, there are also self-help and meditation playlists. With tracks like “Recovering From Errors” and “Managing your study time”, Spotify has literally everything a person may need to get through a stressful day. These specific playlists are most likely targeted towards the average student and/or working adult. The how-to tracks are entirely beneficial for someone who wants to learn while going through troubling times. From topics like overcoming self-esteem issues to how to train a cat, as stated before, Spotify legitimately has everything someone might need on a stressful day.
Word has brought something different to Spotify, bringing a whole new side of art and culture to the users of Spotify. It is no longer a place to simply listen to music, it’s a place to explore the ideas and works of some of the greatest minds in the world! Introducing it’s listeners to presidential speeches, Russian literature, beat poems and self-help gems, Spotify has established itself once again as the quintessential app on your phone.