This Year's Spotify Wrapped Knows Your Soul
Spotify Wrapped always feels like an unnerving gaze into your soul, and this year’s gaze is especially searing.
Like most people I imagine, I have a love hate relationship with Spotify Wrapped. As a music writer, it’s genuinely interesting to see my year in music distilled into numbers, genres (despite how esoteric they can get), and minutes. As a human being with self perception, it’s more often than not embarrassing as hell.
After all, Spotify Wrapped’s data means it’s the only social media that doesn’t lie. And over the years, the platform has honed its data collecting to a razor sharp edge. Not only does it know who and what you’re listening to, and for how long, this year, it now shows you how you’re listening to music: if you’re a habitual end-of-song-skipper, a playlisting fiend, or a devotee of albums. Wrapped always feels like an unnerving gaze into your soul, and this year’s gaze is especially searing.
This is thanks to a host of new features and data included in Wrapped this year, like Sound Town, a new feature that matches your listening habits up with a random town around the world (though, every Wrapped I’ve seen has featured a city in the U.S. so perhaps there are some geographical limitations to this). Not only a lesson in learning about random small towns across the country, it’s a glimpse into how music listening in the borderless age of streaming can still be community and geographically oriented; my Spotify Wrapped matched me with Berkeley, California, a city with a lot of people apparently listening to Caroline Polachek, Palehound, and Erika de Casier.
Sound Town, however, is one of the less embarrassing revelations of this year’s Wrapped. This year, the Top 5 artists category reveals which month you listened to an artist the most: aka, a detailed peek into how your delusions and mental health evolved over the year. This is only partially a joke, but my Top 5 results gave me the unwelcome illumination that I have fleeting obsessions with albums and songs when they come out (before dropping them completely a month later). My listening for Caroline Polachek peaked in February (when Desire, I want To Turn Into You came out), Lana Del Rey in March (when Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd came out), and Olivia Rodrigo in September (when “vampire” came out). In the grand scheme of embarrassing facts about myself, these are pretty innocuous. This unfortunately wasn’t the case for a colleague of mine when she discovered that “daisy jones & the six was her personality for 8 months straight.”
Perhaps the most fascinating new data insight this year is Me in 2023, the feature that most plays out like a tarot reading of the heart. Me in 2023 arrives at the end of Wrapped, ostensibly when there are no more stones left to be upturned, to upturn one more stone: your ideas about how you are as a music listener. Do you like skipping songs? Spotify’s knows. Are you an obsessive playlist-maker? It sees that, too. Do you listen to the same songs over and over again? Yeah, about that...
Basically, Me in 2023 attempts to categorize you into one of 12 listening personality types, some pleasant and some not. Types like “Hypnotist,” people who listen to albums all the way through, and “Luminary,” those who are partial to light, upbeat music are probably pleasant surprises to see. These are normal, perhaps even commendable (read: braggable). Types like “Time Traveler,” people who repeat songs over and over again, probably feel like Spotify is airing out your dirty couch cushions.
But let’s face it: At the end of the day, nothing can still make you hurt or cringe as hard as the most basic and foundational insights of Spotify Wrapped. Those are the real glimpses into your soul. Especially after you’ve spent the whole year telling friends and colleagues how you’re in your “dance music era” only to discover your top genre this year is once again pop music.
Get your 2023 Spotify Wrapped here.
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