Over the last five years, Spotify’s Wrapped has ushered in a new holiday tradition. Each December, the app feeds our own data back to us in a neat little package, listing off the top five songs, artists and genres we listened to over the past year. Then, we’re conveniently given the opportunity to post our results to Twitter or Instagram, distributing this audio portrait of ourselves for public consumption. Other platforms like Apple Music offer similar end-of-year roundups.
Spotify Wrapped, of course, is a controversial function. Some people dub the day of its release “the worst day on social media,” namely because it’ll dominate your timeline regardless of whether you’re a Spotify user or not. I, for one, don’t mind it, though — I love to be a hater and a critic. If Taylor Swift was your number one artist this year, I’m judging you. I think you should be free to enjoy whatever music you like, but I’m also free to enjoy judging you.
Meanwhile, I actually like being judged. My music taste is full-on bad, almost performatively so. The top songs I listened to this year included Limp Bizkit, and I get a little thrill thinking that someone might form an opinion about me based on this, regardless of what that opinion may be.
Still, even I have some trepidation about how my taste in music might be perceived. The other night, I spent time listening to Billie Eilish’s “Happier Than Ever.” It’s a good song, but admittedly, I’d be reluctant to have it characterize who I am. In fact, I may be just pretentious enough to worry that one of my top songs is one that gets played in Oculus Quest 2 commercials.
Fortunately, I don’t have to worry about that at all until January 1st. As Spotify’s support Twitter @SpotifyCares tweeted in 2019, Spotify Wrapped only utilizes data from January 1st to October 31st on any given year — November and December aren’t included. This means one, vital thing: Any listening habits we develop after the release of Spotify Wrapped won’t be included in that year’s roundup. Thus, December may be the only time in which we can listen to music in peace.
That’s probably a good thing, considering that for many of us, our December music choices differ significantly from the rest of the year. I’m certainly listening to “All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey more regularly than I would in July. So it’s a relief to know that none of it matters, and I can listen to my Mariah without any fear of a public outing.
Obviously, I could abandon the tradition of sharing my Spotify Wrapped next year, keeping my musical interests purely to myself, but why the fuck would I do that? Being present and active on social media and participating in these trends may feel compulsory, but it’s also fun. I will not deprive myself of the chance to be a hater and be hated on. Still, it’s nice to know that for the month of December and maybe November, I get to take a little break.