This week, Spotify came out with a new playlist called "Your Time Capsule," a personalized collection of 30 songs Spotify says will "take you back in time to your teenage years," and will "bring on the memories with 2 hours of iconic throwback tracks — all picked just for you." The experience is poignant, fun, and occasionally embarrassing. (I don't love the fact that Papa Roach is on my playlist, for instance, but I also know it is an accurate depiction of my angsty teenage listening habits.) But how do you find your Spotify Time Capsule playlist?
First of all, you have to be over 16 to have a time capsule — Pharrell's "Happy" doesn't count as a throwback yet, no matter how much your mom may love it. As long as you are old enough to drive a car though, the playlist is available to most users in 60 markets around the world.
"'Your Time Capsule' follows on the success of Your Summer Rewind, Spotify’s latest personalized playlist launched this summer, but is designed to evoke powerful memories from your youth," said Alice Löfgren, a social media market manager at the company, in a piece published by Billboard.
So how do you access your playlist? To peek into your listening past, you have a couple of options.
Go to timecapsule.spotify.com by clicking here. You see that handy button that says "Get Playlist?" You guessed it — click on that. Afterward, Spotify will prompt you to log in to your Spotify account if you haven't already. And voila! You're in!
Go to Spotify. Type "Your Time Capsule" into Spotify's search bar. Toggle over to "Playlists." The "Your Time Capsule" playlist should be the very first one on the list.
Unlike Spotify's other playlists, like "Discover Weekly" or "Release Radar," your time capsule, much like your youth, is unchangeable, frozen in digital amber. And while I can only speak from my own experience, its song choices are eerily accurate.
My playlist, for example, features Eminem's "Lose Yourself," a song that I, as a 13-year-old girl going to school in suburban Maryland, deeply identified with. Walking slowly to the front of the classroom to deliver a Spanish presentation, I'd think, "This must be just what Marshall Mathers felt like when he was going onstage for that rap battle." (I didn't get out much.)
There's "In The End" by Linkin Park that I listened to when I was angry with my parents; "It Wasn't Me" by Shaggy and "Say My Name" by Destiny's Child, songs which made me contemplate the complicated morals of adultery before I had even ventured beyond first base; "Santeria" by Sublime, that served as my soundtrack while I experimented briefly but enthusiastically with hemp accessories; and "Buy U a Drank" by T-Pain, the song that played in the background of every ninth grade party, while packs of sweaty teens rubbed against each other.
Sure, there's something a bit unsettling about the accuracy of these playlists. One journalist at the Independent, a newspaper in the U.K., claimed that between 15-20 percent of the songs in his time capsule were ones he had never included on any playlist he curated himself, which means Spotify was able to make those assessments based on information in his profile.
But if, for a moment at least, you can put all of the machinations behind the playlist out of your mind, you're left with something quite beautiful. Listening to the songs you listened to before you knew who you were or what you'd be, you get faint shivers of the anxiety and fear and longing that you felt so strongly as an adolescent, emotions you still feel, but rarely with as much poignancy and urgency. Because adolescents, still hormonal and raw and unformed, are able to be scarred and shaped by music in a way that is rare for us as adults. Listening to the time capsule takes you back to a time when everything was terrifying, and everything seemed possible. And what could be more beautiful than that.