By getting Spotify to discourage the mixing up of an album’s song order, Adele is standing up for artistic vision even as the very nature of streaming erodes it
When you are the most powerful, popular artist in the world, you can insist on anything. And so Adele has persuaded Spotify to hide its shuffle button, to encourage listeners to listen to her new album 30 – and, presumably, every other album – in the order intended by the artists. “We don’t create albums with so much care and thought into our track listing for no reason,” Adele said. “Our art tells a story and our stories should be listened to as we intended.”
I am of the generation that still cleaves to the notion of albums as the greatest and most convenient expression of a musician’s imagination: that 40 minutes is pretty much the ideal length to explore most of the things, musically and lyrically, an artist might have to say, without the risk of boredom. With an album, I am getting what I tell myself is the least mediated version of the artist’s vision. My natural inclination is to take Adele’s line.