Forget Christmas, every year in December I’m looking forward to one thing and one thing only: my Spotify Wrapped.
That’s right, nothing beats being presented with meticulously and worryingly specific tracked feedback on my own listening habits, packaged in a collection of colourful graphics and already-outdated buzzwords.
Hear that? It’s the sound of the serotonin speeding around my bloodstream at a rapid pace as I’m told who my favourite artist is and what my…musical aura…is? (It’s ‘spooky’, in case you were curious.)
But every year this time rolls around it’s met with two groups of people.
We have those who are feverishly salivating, practically frothing at the mouth, to see what music they were listening to this year, despite knowing exactly what music they were listening to because they were the ones listening to it.
They’ll screenshot and share these perfectly presented social media tiles to all who is within ear and eyeshot, either celebrating the fact their most-played song falls into the parameters of what some may deign to ‘hip’ and ‘with it’, or self-flagellate, in a still pretty braggy way, their most streamed artist was Taylor Swift when all their mates got [insert obscure indie band no one else has ever heard of here].
Then in the second group, you have those who roll their eyes and cluck their tongues at the mere existence of such a technological offering, chiding those who love to take a walk down musical memory lane. You’ll see the telltale sign of this group signposted with tweets such as ‘No I don’t care about your Spotify Wrapped’, or ‘People who share their Spotify Wrapped’ alongside a bunch of red flags in an attempt to both shame and bring back a meme that died a very painful death several months ago.
There is no in-between.
Perhaps it comes as no surprise I fall very hard into camp A. I do, very much so, care about your Spotify Wrapped.
It goes so much deeper than just having a little playlist of your most-listened-to songs.
Not only am I getting a pretty great glimpse into my own musical soul – turns out I have the taste of a middle-aged dad who hasn’t yet figured out how to do the floss – but it’s shone one hell of a light on my mates too.
And, I’m not the only one getting a lesson.
Just today a colleague who is most definitely reading this (hey Jess!) shared her surprise at the sheer number of ‘classics’ on my list.
‘I thought there’d at least be some Little Mix.’
It was then I realised, after having a hunch for, oh the last, say, 20 years, that music shows the most base level of our personality (I know, I’m so deep). It reflects our moods, our wants, our likes. I may flit around life with the kind of perky personality that suggests to many I’m a Mixer and fond of a Shout Out To My Ex or Break Up Song to get me through the day, when in fact I’m shuffling along to Wuthering Heights or Golden Years, or, perhaps most surprisingly, a little Slipknot to get me through the afternoon. Emo Mel lives on.
Watching the shared slides of my friends start to take over Instagram and Twitter is also sending a joy pulsating through those nerve receptors that no mince pie can match.
From dancefloor bops to 80s power ballads and jazz crooners, there is no better insight into someone than via their playlist.
You might lie and say you’ve only listened to Levitating by Dua Lipa ‘once or twice’ but then ol’ Spotify pops up, adjusts its glasses, fingers through some papers and goes ‘er, actually…’ and reveals you spent four billion minutes listening to it since last October.
I might go so far as to say the whole premise has made us own our musical tastes. Who gives a flip if you love a bit of Britney Spears as well as a solid helping of Alt-J. I’ve seen so many proudly share a taste in music that was kept secret not that long ago. It’s amazing what an infograph made of primary colours can do for our honesty.
Does any of it even matter? Not really. But when people are already worrying about another Christmas lockdown and the world is quite literally either on fire or melting into the sea it’s quite nice to have a few days of distraction to talk about our favourite songs and laugh about how long we spent (some may say ‘wasted’) bingeing Maneskin.
I’m sure there’s something much more philosophical or scientific as to why we care or don’t care to such a high level of public decree, but, also, it’s really not that deep. It’s the most harmless of the humblebrag that, turns out, is a brilliant conversation starter and, at the very least, a great sticky beak at our neighbour.
So go forth and share your playlists with zesty abandon, my friends, caring not for the judging judgement of those who perhaps just aren’t ready to look at their true most-played in the harsh light of day.
They’ll come around one day.