Every Monday, Spotify creates a playlist for you with music they think you’ll like. It’s called “Discover Weekly.” It can be hit or miss – but I usually give it a shot at least once during the week. This week it did not disappoint.
Leading off the playlist was Vienna Teng’s “Hymn of Acxiom.”
I recognized the song, but not immediately. I was used to it not with words and digital harmonies but with a brassline. It was the Bluecoats’ ballad in their 2014 show, Tilt.
I had no idea this was originally a song with lyrics. And as I heard the true meaning of the song for the first time I was pulled in.
Let our formulas find your soul.
We’ll divine your artesian source (in your mind),
Marshal feed and force (our machines will)
To design you a perfect love—
Or (better still) a perfect lust.
O how glorious, glorious: a brand new need is born
Acxiom is a provider of marketing software. They do a lot of stuff, and having experience in the industry I don’t want to over-generalize the pros and cons of them or their competitors. But let’s say they have a lot more to gain from your lack of privacy than they do defending it. “Hymn of Acxiom” presents a dystopian farce; a religious rite of a company tracking and manipulating people.
Imagine if 1984 was written from the perspective that Big Brother really was just the best.
Vienna Teng performs the song live and explains its origins in this video.
The song has been my work soundtrack for the week. I’ve been known to listen to songs on a loop before and this one really fit my mood. In past jobs I basically sold people’s information to companies, a part of the internet I really hate. My day to day now lets me fight on the right team: advancing an open web, advocating for both transparency and privacy where both are needed.