Every December, in anticipation of the new year, Spotify users around the globe open their music listening apps to see their Spotify Wrapped: the accumulation of songs and artists they listened to the most over the course of the past year. And this week, to everyone’s excitement, was no exception. 

On Wednesday, the morning of the release, my phone was flooded with messages from my fellow Spotifiers, asking if I had seen my Spotify Wrapped yet — my friends, my roommates, my cousins, even my father. They wanted to know how many minutes of music I had listened to (59,286),  how many times I had listened to my top song (“Hypnotized” by Fleetwood Mac, 51 times), my top genre of music (indie rock). All of this information, and more, is displayed on everyone’s Spotify Wrapped. 

While this is perhaps one of the most exciting events of the year, I also find reflecting on my own musical journey throughout the last 365 days to be one of the most emotional experiences known to man. Every year, I wake up on the initial release and open my Spotify Wrapped in the comfort of my own little bed so I can scroll through my year of music with watery eyes in private. Many things make me cry — indeed, I am a Pisces — but seeing my own emotional state reflected back in a year of music is one of my biggest tear triggers.

My “Top Songs of 2021” playlist reflects a deeply multifaceted transformation through a strange yet exciting year. Nearly the entirety of Adrianne Lenker’s album “songs” is on there, which I listened to repeatedly during my prolonged mental breakdown this summer. Soccer Mommy appears a few times, reminding me of the afternoons I spent scraping my knees while trying to ride my hot pink skateboard last spring. There’s plenty of Erykah Badu, who I played in the bathroom on winter nights while I took scalding hot showers before bed. Snoop Dogg, who played in my ears while I tried my hand at rock climbing in order to overcome my fear of heights. 

I have tried new things (Toro y Moi), built an igloo in my backyard (Cat Stevens), turned my camera off so I could cry during Zoom classes without anyone looking (Cocteau Twins, Beach House), tried to become more confident in myself and my abilities (SZA, Simon & Garfunkel, Mariah Carey). I drove home to Illinois and back to Rochester in my little Honda Fit several times (Joni Mitchell, Big Thief, Grateful Dead). I made new friends (Bob Dylan, Big Thief). I started my senior year of college (Lauryn Hill) and now am halfway through (Megan Thee Stallion). 

All of these moments, which slipped through my fingers like tiny grains of sand, are accounted for in my Spotify Wrapped playlist. The top 100 songs we listened to demonstrate an intimate portrait of the kind of year we had — whether it be good, bad, or something in between. Listen to yours over winter break with an ear for nostalgia. Until next semester. . . Liv.

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