Don’t listen to the haters, babe! I want to see your Spotify Wrapped. The great ABBA once sang, “Gimme gimme gimme a man after midnight.” And I, a pleasantly medicated, highly caffeinated, trying-my-best millennial, sing, “Gimme, gimme, gimme the statistics that the algorithm gathered about you.” I don’t care if I don’t know you. If you post a picture of your top artist and caption it, “That tracks LOL”…I am going to like it.
Tell ’em, Matt.
Every year at this time, the music streaming service Spotify sends subscribers a personalized automated slideshow, revealing stats about their listening habits—top artists, top songs, top genres, total minutes listened. Spotify debuted this feature in 2015, Variety reports, and Apple Music and Tidal have tried out similar functions in the past two years. (If you don’t know how to find your Spotify Wrapped, click here—take my hand, we will find it together.)
And every year some people announce that they do not care what you listened to. Your quotidian moments, your small joys—they do not concern these people. These people would like you to know that enjoying an animated slideshow about your own preferences makes you sick, actually! How dare you like seeing the things you like?
And yet there is a whole other community of us: People who are nosy and addicted to our phones. And we want to see your Spotify Wrapped. If you spent 2021 playing “Relaxing Rain Drops on Tin Roof pt. 9” on repeat, I’m interested. If you listened to Top 40 artists, I would like to know which ones and how often. If you are going to post your Wrapped with a coy little note about how you are “sooo embarrassed,” I want that evidence so that I can show it to someone and be like, “She says she’s embarrassed, but I don’t think she means it!” Spotify made content about the content you listened to. Now show me that content.
Yes, every year Spotify gets a little more smug about how much people like this feature. They use slightly stale slang, like “You understood the assignment.” They try to be zeitgeist-y by talking about skin-care routines. People dislike this, I think, not because it’s actually that annoying but because the function of Spotify Wrapped is to make you feel like an individual, and these jokes unintentionally demonstrate how alike many of us are. It’s jarring, if you think about it—we want our paid, monthly streaming sites to show us our data in a way that flatters us but doesn’t pander.
Looking at a person’s Spotify Wrapped isn’t like peering into their soul or reading their diary, but it is like walking past their messy room and getting a quick glimpse. Whatever you listened to when you were sad, what you fell asleep to, the soundtrack of your life—it doesn’t matter whether it’s “interesting” or “cool” or “unusual.” Does it make you feel happy to see many things you love in one place? Does it make you feel good to put those things out into the world? You can look at other people’s Spotify Wrapped to get to know new artists. Or you can just look and see how happy music makes people feel.
Most people like to feel seen, and most people don’t have many opportunities to make that happen. It’s nice to trade tokens of ourselves. Now off to listen to all 102 songs on my list, all six hours and 12 minutes of them.