If music be the food of love, swipe on…


New year, perhaps not so new dating habits? The Sunday after the first of January has come to be colloquially known as ‘dating Sunday’ with more people using Tinder than on any other day of the year. As someone who has already swiped left on my new year’s resolution to give up dating apps, I have ended up redownloading and making a new account which has included adding an ‘anthem’. Connecting to Spotify has been a new dating app frontier for me and has left me wondering about the relationship between a persons’ music taste and their love life.

In 2023 I somehow doubt that wooing with mixtapes is a typical stage in courtship, however music is no less relevant in forming new connections. Whether you are listening to the tunes born on DJ Dave B’s decks in Jimmies, a coral concert in the Cathedral or, or to SoundCloud rappers on a tinny speaker in a student kitchen; music plays a central role in our lives and often sparks conversation. Music taste has been cited as the most common first date conversation topic (shockingly more popular than opinions on Kinder Bueno as seen on PalatiDates) and its relevance to the so called ‘talking stage’ on dating apps is no less important.

Music taste has been cited as the most common first date conversation topic

Tinder added the option of an ‘anthem’ selection to its users in 2016 allowing people to connect to Spotify showcasing music taste on their profiles. According to the app, 40% of members aged 18-25 have an anthem. Bumble also offers to display recently listened to artists and gives the option to send playlists after a survey of its users found that 59% of people believe music to be the most romantic way to express feelings. There is even a dating app launched specifically to match people by music taste called POM that advertises itself with the tagline ‘meet through music’.

Tinder’s ‘dating wrapped’ of 2022 revealed the top 10 dating anthems in the UK:

  1. Unholy (feat. Kim Petras) – Sam Smith, Kim Petras
  2. Bad Habit – Steve Lacy
  3. I’m Good (Blue) – David Guetta, Bebe Rexha
  4. 505 – Arctic Monkeys
  5. No Role Modelz – J. Cole
  6. Jimmy Crooks (feat. 21 Savage) – Drake, 21 Savage
  7. Anti-Hero – Taylor Swift
  8. Super Freaky Girl – Nicki Minaj
  9. Die for You – The Weekend
  10. As it Was – Harry Styles

An eclectic mix of pop, R&B, rap, and indie songs seem to be giving hints about users’ intentions in their profiles. Before its release, Unholy (the number one most added track), was described by Sam Smith as their entrance into their ‘villain era’ and as their ‘time to get sexy’. Steve Lacy’s Bad Habit of closeting his feelings is described in the song amongst wistful guitar riffs in the second most popular anthem. Besides the clear messaging in their titles and the sensual themes in their lyrics, these songs have sparked a buzz online as most of them are ‘TikTok viral’. It would seem that they are also causing users to interact on Tinder – profiles featuring an anthem receive 10% more matches.

Even if anthem clad profiles are leading to an increase in matches, this does not necessarily mean that the users behind them are becoming more lucky in love and the top ten most used tinder anthems aren’t necessarily the songs that connected the most lovebirds. Harry Styles’ As It Was was the most streamed song of 2022 but only number ten on the anthem list.

We found students’ profiles that listed anthems were relying heavily on Taylor Swift

Music can be an amazing way to bond with others and many of my relationships (whether platonic or romantic) have been strengthened by sharing songs, albums and playlists. Having music taste in common with others has been found to make people more attractive to each other. I put my friend’s thumbs to work swiping on Tinder in Durham and we found students’ profiles that listed anthems were relying heavily on Taylor Swift, so called ‘soft-boi’ indie music along with an impressive showing by Pitbull! Personally, I do not think that my playlist is going to be shaped by the music I’ve seen displayed on dating app profiles, even if it could potentially make me more attractive on tinder. A research study historically found that among heterosexual participants a love of country music would ‘diminish attraction in respondents of both genders’ and I am not ready to give up Kacey Musgraves for the sake of straight boys.

My tinder anthem You Sexy Thing (the Zella Day cover version) will remain on my profile even though I am unsure whether dating apps are the platform I would most like to be sharing music on. I am excited for new music discoveries this year but think that I will be enjoying these with friends rather than with my matches!

Image Credit: Wesley Tingey via Unsplash

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