It was just a month or so ago that I finally did one of those genetics DNA tests, out of curiosity, and I happened to choose Ancestry. It was kind of a letdown, to be honest, because my genetics are so thoroughly white coloniser from parts of the United Kingdom. Frankly my dog's DNA test, which I did at the same time, was more surprising.
When Ancestry updated their results a few weeks ago, I somehow went from 66% British to a whopping 83%. What was cool about it was how Ancestry helped me on the Smith side of my family, where I could tap into a worldwide Smith DNA project to accurately check my lineage along an extremely common name. I found a relative who was part of George Washington's bodyguard detail at Valley Forge, ancestors who settled Salem, MA and were married by notorious Salem Witch Trial instigator Cotton Mather, and a renowned surgeon who was the first person in the western hemisphere to operate on a cleft palate. They were all men, of course, because history rarely cares what women do.
It's the kind of thing that might be cool if you are from multiple regions, so you can get a sampling of lots of the world. I'm English/Western European, Scottish/Irish, and the typical 1% Benin/Togo (which covers Nigeria — which is weirdly a country where my grandparents lived in the '70s while working for oil companies — Togo, Ghana, and Burkina Faso along the coast of Eastern Africa). Obviously the Benin/Togo music that got dropped into the playlist was the most unknown to my Western ears, and frankly some of the most interesting — very upbeat and danceable.
I got dealt U2 for my possible Irish heritage, which is insulting if I'm actually Scottish and just boring if I am Irish (I honestly don't know which I am). There's some Amy Winehouse, Ella Mai, and Jade Bird for my British side. But the Western European region in my DNA? I happen to know it's from France, because of that surgeon I tracked down. He was a second generation Virginian, born to a pair of French surgeons who came over to fight with the U.S. in the battle of Yorktown. But there's no ye-ye pop or Air soundtracking The Virgin Suicides on my playlist, just The Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony."
Okay, if I'm being totally honest: I'm just relieved there was no Ed Sheeran on my playlist. I did have at least one nice discovery, with the sultry "How Bad Can A Good Girl Be" by Irish singer Imelda May. If I had to guess, I'd say these playlists are influenced by your listening, or likely listening, to the artists from regions you're familiar with.
Here's the final verdict: if checking this playlist out sounds at all interesting to you, you're better off making your own ancestry-based playlist on Spotify. Not only will it be more accurate if you know anything about your lineage, because Ancestry's current regional breakdown is so broad, but it will be loaded up with people you like rather than random British artists (I'm looking at you, ridiculous alt-j track randomly dropped in the middle). It will also be as new or old as you want: I'd rather listen to some traditional Irish drinking songs and the waltzes that would have played at a French dance hall to celebrate my lineage than Amy Winehouse's "Rehab." It's a fine song, but it's got nothing to do with my DNA.