Languages evolve. Otherwise, the middle English in Chaucer would be as easy to read as your Facebook feed.
Spotify listeners have created over 2 billion playlists. Those playlists have titles. By looking at the words in those titles in anonymous aggregate, we can find subtle (and not-so-subtle) changes in how people use language to describe the music they’re collecting into playlists, revealing societal and cultural trends.
To explore these trends, we looked at the tokens (one word), bigrams (two words without filler words like “and”) and trigrams (three words without filler) whose inclusion in Spotify playlist titles most increased from 2014 to 2015. If playlist titles were language, these would be something like the widely-discussed additions to the Oxford English Dictionary.
For starters, 2015 appears to be the year of the jam — not as in jam bands, or even the strawberry jam, as pictured above. Instead, “jams” showed up as a substitute for “favorite song” — as in “this is my jam.”
The following “jams” bigrams and trigrams saw the largest percent increases, according to Spotify playlist creation in 2015:
- Throwback jams: 363%
- Fall jams: 231%
- Summer jams: 209%
- Car jams: 204%
- Morning jams: 175%
- Shower jams: 139%
- Current jams: 129%
- Jesus jams: 127%
- Party jams: 110%
- Gym jams: 105%
- Work jams: 100%
- Late night jams: 100%
- Old jams: 94%
- Chill jams: 92%
- Country jams: 90%
- New jams: 75%
- Feel good jams: 68%
- Workout jams: 63%
- Slow jams: 48%
- Hood jams: 45%
That’s a lot of jams, indicating that in 2015, people made playlists of their favorite songs for nostalgia, seasons, driving, their morning/shower routines, and more — and called all of it “jams” — as never before. We saw plenty more playlist trends in 2015, compared to previous years:
- “Spotify [and] chill” increased an astronomical 21,600% in 2015 — in part because the term was practically unknown before this year. Now, tens of thousands of these playlists can be found on Spotify.
- “Tropical house” is up 392% — perhaps no surprise, as Rolling Stone described the new genre as “EDM’s sound of the summer.”
- “Senior year” playlists climbed 208%, and “junior year” playlists climbed 89%, while sophomore- and freshman-themed playlists failed to crack the 1K most-trending bigrams..
- “Sex” playlists are up 206% (see “Spotify and chill”).
- “Wedding” increased 125% in playlist titles, as more couples apparently used Spotify to power their wedding dinners and dancefloors.
- “Honeymoon” playlists increased a whopping 487% in 2015.
To learn more about the music that’s in these and other playlists, log into the Playlist Miner web app with your Spotify account.
Jam photo courtesy of Flickr/Mike Beales