How Spotify's "Lorem" Playlist Became Gen Z Canon
Lorem blends bedroom pop, mainstream pop, and up-and-coming indie in one of Spotify's most popular "genreless" playlist.
Curated Spotify playlists can make a larger impact on the music industry than you might think.
Those looking to get a jump on the next radio hits tune in to Spotify's Pop Rising playlist, which has over two million followers. Hip-Hop heads often favor the frequently-updated Rap Caviar playlist, which has accrued a whopping 13 million followers and counting. The cleverly-titled Are & Be, the straightforward Rock Classics, and the workout-themed Beast Mode each have millions of followers of their own.
But there's one playlist that, despite not really fitting into a clear genre category of its own, is becoming one of Spotify's fastest growing curated playlists: Lorem.
Lorem quietly emerged on Spotify at the beginning of 2019 and has since grown to amass over 1.1 Million followers. With a nondescript title and a vast range of artists featured on the playlist, Lorem is curated with the intention to construct a "vibe" rather than limiting itself to one specific genre.
It's fascinating, then, how this "vibe" has become so popular—particularly among Lorem's majority female, Gen Z audience. Its description reads: "songs u can send to ur, friends, or keep for urself," with an intentional Internet shorthand that echoes the playlist's Very Online nature.
Lorem's curator, Lizzy Szabo, keeps one specific question in mind when it comes to picking tracks for the playlist: "What type of music are younger audiences ready for, based on their other habits?"
"With Lorem, we've honed in on artists that we really wanted to focus on, and I think it has a clear enough narrative that you can understand what the Lorem brand is," Szabo told Pigeons & Planes late last year. "Yeah, it's going to step out on different genres a bit, but not so much that it's just a mix of who-knows-what. Now we've seen what works, what people engage with most on this list, and how we can put discovery artists next to top tier artists and make it work."
Lorem seems to be based around a certain aesthetic that feels like 2020's iteration of the "art hoe." As YouTuber-gone-singer-songwriter Conan Gray says in a short promo clip for Lorem, it's "like if you took all the kids from art class and put them on a playlist."
Lorem is tailor-made for the zoomers who idolize Clairo, Gus Dapperton, and Omar Apollo, who probably went through a Brockhampton and Rex Orange County phase in 2017, who know what it means to ask somebody if they listen to Girl In Red, who likely bleached two face-framing strands of their hair in quarantine.
Lorem feels heavily inspired by young artists who've broken the barriers of "bedroom pop" in a literal sense, but have maintained a remote sense of intimacy and authenticity among their listeners despite their meteoric popularity. "It's sort of like bedroom pop gone to the mainstream and a lot of things adjacent going on around that," Szabo explained.
So on Lorem, you can find artists as mainstream as Billie Eilish, Lauv, and Harry Styles, who have each surpassed billions of streams on Spotify. However, the playlist also takes into account steadily-growing bands like Wallows and Goth Babe. Even if you've never heard of these artists, they pretty much all boast millions and millions of streams—thanks, in part, to the virality of Lorem.
The aesthetic that surrounds Lorem doesn't exactly have a title, but like "VSCO girls" and "e-boys," it stems heavily from the Internet. It calls to mind the bold, vintage-inspired style of young Internet personalities like Emma Chamberlain and Enya Umanzor, who have the power to dictate what's "cool" with a single outfit picture on Instagram.. (It's worth noting that both Chamberlain and Umanzor have also been romantically linked to Lorem artists Role Model and Roy Blair, respectively.)
The TikTok explosion this year has acted like an echo chamber for this carefree, colorful style to take over, as well as the type of music that's now become inextricably linked with it. Artists like BENEE, Joji, and SALES have all been added to Lorem after going viral on TikTok. "I tried to put in some nods in there sometimes and create a listening experience that's similar for an 18-year-old girl that's having to go from app to app and from Twitter to Instagram to TikTok or VSCO," Szabo said.
What makes Lorem and its adjacent aesthetic so fascinating is that, since rebranding from Spotify's Left of Center playlist, it's almost become the new "center," altering what it means for an artist to be "indie." Szabo asserts that, despite occasional conspiracy theories, there has never been any heavy marketing around the promotion of Lorem.
Still, Lorem has come to represent a playful, artistic lifestyle and an open-mindedness towards music—if hundreds of thousands of young folks online resonate with that, maybe the future does look bright.
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