Anybody who has walked through the hallways at Hunter knows that CUNY is a diverse place. But there’s one type of diversity that isn’t reflected in Hunter’s official demographic statistics. According to a project called Every Noise at Once, which tracks what students at different colleges listen to on Spotify, Hunter students listen to music in over 60 distinct genres, from rap to k-pop to soca to vapor trap.
Glenn McDonald is the programmer behind Every Noise at Once. He says that since students sign up for Spotify using their school e-mails, he can measure music taste at different colleges.
McDonald’s algorithm takes into account not just what songs are most popular among Hunter students, but also how unique Hunter students’ tastes are.
“It’s a balance between absolute popularity among Hunter student accounts and what share of global listening does that listening represent, so the best possible score would be every single Hunter student has listened to this song and nobody outside of Hunter plays it at all.”
Every Friday, McDonald updates the algorithm based on data from the most recent week. This week, Hunter’s favorite song is a Dominican pop song called Tukuntazo by the artist Tokischa.
Eileen Cruz is the president of Hostos, a Latinx culture club at Hunter. Before the pandemic, Hostos used to have events featuring Latin music and dancing. Cruz says it’s nice to be at a college where others share her heritage.
“I think having that space at Hunter where people of the same background can come together and celebrate their shared culture, I think that means a lot and I think that does make Hunter special.”
In addition to Spanish, Hunter’s playlist also includes songs in Arabic, Bangla, Chinese and Korean.
Somi Ahmed, who’s a member of Hunter’s k-pop club, says that even though she doesn’t speak Korean, she finds that k-pop picks her up when she’s feeling down.
“It doesn’t matter if I understand the word or not, but if I like the sound and beats, I can listen to that song a thousand times.”
Ahmed says she’s starting to pick up a few Korean phrases and she hopes to study abroad in South Korea next year.
Music, her story seems to suggest, can take you anywhere.