I'll kick this one off by saying that I know Spotify is not the music streaming service to use for audio purists, but let's be real here, Tidal is severely lacking when it comes to features. I've already expressed my frustrations with the service, stating my reasons as to why I jumped ship and remorsefully returned to Spotify.
While Tidal has attempted to add new features to its roster such as the daily refreshing playlists and yearly review (in a similar vein to Spotify Wrapped), it can't compete with Spotify which appears to be adding new features to the platform practically every week. However, the latest feature that I've become obsessed with has flown under my radar, but now I can't stop using it.
Introduced in 2021, Spotify Blend is a feature that has introduced a level of versatility and chaos I didn't realise I wanted from my streaming service. The premise is simple; you create the Blend, invite your friends and Spotify will create a playlist based on the songs and artists that you and your friends have been listening to. Better yet, this playlist updates daily, meaning the selection of music on the playlists is in constant rotation, leaving you with a brand new playlist every day.
From a practical standpoint, Spotify Blend is a marvel, as it has already broadened the variety of music I listen to. While my friends and I generally have similar overarching music tastes, it has allowed me to branch out and find new tracks both within and outside of my comfort zone. Obviously, results may vary in this regard, but the likelihood is you'll find some hidden gems among your Blend members.
Blend is also a lot of fun, as the chaotic mix of tunes is a riot on shuffle. The musical whiplash of listening to the upbeat, melodic dance beats of Delilah (Pull Me Out Of This) by Fred Again to the sombre and fragile Radiohead hit Creep is unparalleled. I have two Blend playlists on the go currently, and both offer this ridiculous level of contrast. At the time of writing, I have David Bowie, Madonna, Taylor Swift, Daft Punk, Fleetwood Mac and Stereophonics all coexisting on one playlist. While there is plenty of chaos involved, it is also quite organised, as Spotify uses an algorithm to determine how close your music taste is with your Blend comrades to ensure the playlist works, no matter how obscure the mix is destined to be.
Checking these playlists has become a habitual part of my daily routine, and they've quickly become my go-to playlist for my morning and evening commutes. Better yet, you can check why a certain song has made it onto the Blend, as it will identify which person has been listening to a specific song or artist. This has made naming and shaming those with questionable music tastes a common occurrence (all in good humour I assure you), while the triumph of finding a song that we've all listened to is strangely gratifying.
Ultimately, Blend won't be for you if you prefer your playlists to be carefully curated; but if you want my advice, give Blend a go. The joy (and sometimes detriment) of streaming services is the abundance of choice, with new tracks out there waiting to be discovered. This feature can act as a safer and more controlled way to branch out and explore new songs without being overwhelmed by the millions of options out there, and it can be a great way to expose your friends who don't want you to know that they've had the Mamma Mia soundtrack on repeat.
Check out our 2023 music roundup: What Hi-Fi? Wrapped
As well as our full Spotify review
And our list of the best Bluetooth headphones