Letting the algorithms find my tunes in the seventh wave
My COVID Playlist

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Canada’s AHI is Juno-nomonated etc and one of xx artists on my COVID Playlist (Marc Lacatell photo)


Letting the algorithms find my tunes

I didn’t lose my sense of taste or smell when COVID invaded in July. But the virus pushed me to the couch and I was left listless and uninspired. I turned to Spotify’s weekly Release Radar to deliver an automatically generated stream of new songs each week to perk things up. The playlists included new music from artists I have in regular rotation while the algorithms match me with songs from other artists it predicts I’ll like.

Using algorithms is a complicated, detailed and deeply researched process aimed at delivering a “personalized user experience”. It aims to keep subscribers happier with Spotify than any of its competitors. To get an idea of how it works read Why Spotify’s Music Recommendations Always Seem So Spot On.

Today I’m sharing some discoveries via My (Covid) Summer Playlist. I’ve tinkered with one of the Spotify Release Radar collections to share these 21 songs. I’ve dropped a few songs, added some different artists and more. It’s a musical smorgasbord variety presented in the spirit of discovery.

My (COVID) Summer Playlist


Echo: AHI A rousing, soulful and passionate piece. Ahkinoah Habah Izarh, who performs as AHI is a two-time Juno Award nominee from Brampton, Ont.

La Llorona: Marisa Anderson Ambient Americana stylings

Problem With It: Plains, Waxahatchee, Jess Williamson / Waxahatchee is led by American Katie Crutchfield who has released five albums since 2012

Below Sea Level: Ben Harper / Coming up to 30 years of recording Harper’s latest bloodline Maintenance is earning strong reviews. this is one of the album’s quieter pieces

Ofele: Pierre Kwenders, Uproot Andy / Congo-born and Montreal-based, Kwenders latest cd is up for a Polaris Music Prize

Mon Amour: Stromae, Camila Cabello / Belgian rapper and producer Stromae (aka Paul Van Haver) features Cuban-American Camilla Cabello on his latest single

What I Do: Sons of the East / An Australian indie folk trio formed in 2011. They have released three EPs and a number of singles

Exile: Bonny Light Horseman / A third single from folk supergroup trio’s soon-to-be released album Rolling Golden Holy

Believe: Lucy Dacus / A down tempo and sombre cover of Cher’s power ballad

Born Like Me: Jake Clemons, Allison Russell A fundraiser for US social justice school the Highlander Center, this project was initiated by E Street Band sax player Jake Clemons who recruited Canadian Allison Russell to sing the lead vocal

La Corriente: Silvana Estrada / A young talent emerging as one of Mexico’s top musicians. Her first solo album, Marchita, has earned rave reviews

Kalan: Fatoumata Diawara / The Malian singer-songwriter is said to be the first female solo guitar player in Mali. Her new album, Maliba, is a soundtrack to a film about the preservation of important historical artifacts – the Timbuktu Manuscripts

Sweet: Jon Batiste, Pentatonix, Diane Warren / A big winner at this year’s Grammy Awards, Jon Batiste duets with American a cappella group Pentatonix. Batiste led the band on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert between 2015 and 2022

Fade Into You: Valerie June / Rolling Stone writes: “…her handsomely idiosyncratic brand of Americana, steeped deep in electric blues and old-time folk, gilded in country twang and gospel yearning….a blend of spacey hippie soul, blues and folk with June’s pinched, modern-Appalachian voice at the center”

When We Say Goodnight: Bonnie Raitt / Veteran player slides her bluesy guitar through a good groove

Siku: Nicola Cruz / Ecuador’s Cruz blends traditional acoustic folk instruments (pan pipes and more) with smooth electronic beats evident on this track

An Alien in Minneapolis: Ondara / Nairobi-born and Minneapolis-based Ondara has just released his third collection, Spanish Village No. 3 Tales of America

Tragwyddoldeb: Cerys Hafana / The triple harpist, pianist and composer from Mid Wales is inspired by nursery rhymes and the sound of the rain. She uses techniques and effects to evoke the sound of the language and weather of her homeland

El Bueno Y El Malo: Hermanos Guitiérrez / The title track from this Swiss-Ecuadorian guitar duo’s upcoming album. Their twangy sounds suggest the soundtrack for an Ennio Morricone film

Savanne: Vieux Farka Touré, Khruangbin / Mali’s Vieux Farka Touré collaborates with innovative Texas trio Khruangbin (which is the Thai word for ‘airplane’) 

My All: Daniel Lanois / Noted Canadian producer and singer songwriter Daniel Lanois’ new single from upcoming album piano, player. He says the album emulates a vintage sound: “I decided that if I was going to make a piano record, I wanted it to sound like recordings from the 40s and 50s, when the piano was soft and beautiful. ”