Nov. 30 marked the sixth annual celebration of my favorite unofficial holiday — the launch of this year’s Spotify Wrapped. Spotify Wrapped is a viral marketing campaign launched by Spotify starting in 2016 and has since been released annually around early December. Spotify users are shown a compilation of data about their listening activity over the past year in a story-esque manner and encouraged to share it on social media. Every year there are those who say they don’t care about anyone’s Spotify Wrapped, because they hate fun, and there are those who eagerly await the opportunity to boast about their listening activity to all their followers no matter what.

Outside of being a marketing strategy that has strangely normalized the collection of people’s data, Spotify Wrapped is truly an amazing opportunity to relive the year through one’s listening habits. It gives us the soundtrack of our lives year after year. A recap of all the songs that saw us through the good times, the bad times, through love and heartbreak, from the pregames to the parties and to the mornings after. It’s also the ultimate music call-out of the year. Our listening habits are laid bare and to an extent so is the truth of how the year has been going. I thought that I was listening to less sad music this year and then Mitski was my top artist once again, making me realize that I am still very much caught in the chokehold that sad indie music has had on me for the past three years. The time of day listening activity of this year’s Wrapped truly added a new level to the callout that it truly is, with people receiving “goblincore,” “wistful heartache cottagecore,” “clowncore,” and many others as the mood of their music for one part of the day. Nothing quite stings as much as having Spotify tell you that you are listening to sad music all day every day, or that you are listening to “exciting angsty energy,” a long winded way of calling me emo. 

Beyond showing listeners their top five artists and songs from the year, Spotify Wrapped also creates a playlist of a listener’s top 100 songs, 101 this year. The top songs playlist is a great opportunity to reflect on the songs that carried you through the year and get back into artists and music you may have briefly abandoned in the hustle and bustle of finding new music and the highs and lows of the year. It catches all the songs that we loved throughout the year, from the artists our friends put us onto, to the hidden gems we found along the way, and even to the songs we unironically like but will never admit to. 

Spotify Wrapped may be calling us out in every which way possible but it most importantly allows us to share the music we enjoy with everyone in such a massive way that the fear of judgment or even the shame we may hold of our own tastes feels non-existent. It invites us to reflect on the year through the songs that carried us through it, a musical journey of how the year has gone. Truthfully, Spotify Wrapped may be the only thing that keeps me going from year to year, just to see how much music I’ve consumed, how much my tastes have changed and if I will ever break free from the chokehold sad indie girls seem to have on me. Spotify Wrapped may have started as a marketing campaign but in its six years it has become ingrained in how we think about the music we listen to, how music streaming services market, how we share the music we listen to with others, and even has its own niche corner of memes. In just six years, Spotify Wrapped has cemented itself as a large part of music culture in the streaming era, and will likely stay as such for years to come. 



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