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Alexa Plays The Highwaymen Instead Of The Highwomen

"Me: Alexa, play the Highwomen. Alexa: Shuffling songs by the Highwaymen. Me: [dies of patriarchy]."

Posted on September 20, 2019, at 3:58 p.m. ET

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Amanda Shires, Maren Morris, Brandi Carlile and Natalie Hemby of The Highwomen

The Highwomen is an all-female quartet, whose self-titled album debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's top country albums list — and people are complaining that requests to play the group's music on Amazon Alexa–powered smart speakers are being misheard. Alexa is playing the Highwaymen instead. A BuzzFeed News test found the same result on the Google Home speaker.

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The Highwaymen is a 1985 collaboration between Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson. The Highwomen, which came together earlier this year, is comprised of Brandi Carlile, Maren Morris, Amanda Shires, and Natalie Hemby.

me: Alexa, play the Highwomen Alexa: Shuffling songs by the Highwaymen me: [dies of patriarchy]

Last week, a billboard with an Amazon Music logo, seemingly intended to promote the new album, was spotted in Nashville. It read, "Alexa, play the new album by the Highwomen." A test by BuzzFeed News confirmed that the advertised command, as well as "play the Highwomen," prompts music from the Highwaymen instead on an Amazon Echo and Google Home speaker.

Gmail's spellcheck feature also suggests "The Highwaymen" when you type "The Highwomen."

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Another billboard in Times Square reads, "Alexa, play Redesigning Women," a command that does, in fact, prompt Alexa to play the correct song.

Twitter user @fallingwater37 said Amazon support blamed Spotify for the error. Amazon, Spotify, and Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

@AmazonHelp 25 minutes chatting with Amazon support it’s been determined Alexa can’t differentiate between The Highwomen and The Highwaymen when you ask for The Highwomen. And that it’s also Spotify’s problem too.

"Oh, the irony," tweeted writer Staci D. Kramer of the issue. While the Highwaymen is the group's namesake, the Highwomen was born out of an initiative to tell authentic stories from women's perspectives.

"[Women] tell the story of half of the human race, and when that's not represented in the arts, then half of our stories are not getting told to our little girls. I think that's not a menial problem — that's a really big problem," explained Carlile in an interview with CBS. "Over the course of [the past] year, we started talking about how to include other women and how to make it into less of a band and more of a movement."

In an announcement of the group's first single, Carlile tweeted, "Empowered women, empower women."


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