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Don’t Judge My Spotify Wrapped

This year, I learned that I listened to 62 hours of “White Noise for Three Hour Long Sleep.” For anyone looking for quality sleep, I would recommend streaming and downloading three hours of a whirring fan and the hum of an air conditioner. But for others who are looking to share their yearly Spotify Wrapped, I would be wary of all and any interaction with it.

For those who are unfamiliar, Spotify Wrapped is the end-of-the-year roundup of Spotify users’ favorite artists and songs. This year, Spotify gave listeners a city that objectified their tastes in genre and artist. Cleverly called “Sound Town,” Spotify paired its listeners with 1,300 cities in the world. Last year, Spotify gifted its listeners with listening auras.

This year, popular artists I have seen appear on people’s lists are Taylor Swift, SZA, Dua Lipa, Justin Bieber and Harry Styles. As a Spotify user, whose top-listened to songs are not within this popular lineup, there is a pressure to defend the choices of what I listen to. 

There is this push for college-aged gen-zers to have certain tastes in genre and artists: one should either listen to songs in the top-50 charts or listen to indie artists who have under 1,000 streams. Screenshots of Spotify Wrapped are a humblebrag that you are one of these two listeners.

“I didn’t share it on social media because I did not see the need,” senior Maggie Winston said. “I did share with friends and siblings, though. And we laughed at how unoriginal our tastes were.”

This phenomena of Spotify Wrapped subverts individualist taste. Everyone is different, so everyone’s taste in music and culture should be different. No one is basic or “cheugy” because they only listen to Taylor Swift or Drake. No one is “indie” or “hipster” because they only listen to The Neighbourhood and boygenius. No one is sophisticated because they only listen to Beethoven or Mozart, either. 

These preferences and tastes are trivial and do not shape your identity. Today, there are listeners who are not loyal to only one genre. One can listen to pop, country, rock and indie. There are no strict instructions of what you can and cannot listen to.

Yet, a person’s taste in certain genres and artists generates stereotypes about their listener, which defeat music’s very purpose. No one is immune to these perceptions. As a society, we have agreed that genre is a trustworthy indicator of sexuality, character and who you voted for in the 2020 election. 

I am not saying that Spotify Wrapped is responsible for these stereotypes, but the yearly roundup does encourage them. In the past week, I have heard more assumptions of country music and pop-lovers than I have this whole year. 

This stereotyping subverts the work of an artist. The social response to rap was just one example of this. Older generations saw rap and hip-hop as violent and dangerous for young listeners, calling for its ban. Yet, rappers were telling profound and necessary narratives of their own struggles. Kendrick Lamar, for example, released “To Pimp a Butterfly” which discussed the Black struggle in capitalist America. When we pigeonhole an artist and their genre, we bypass the opportunity to learn and understand their story.

I thought of a Rolling Stone interview where Harry Styles famously said, “Who’s to say that young girls who like pop music— short for popular, right?— have worse taste than a 30-year-old hipster guy? That’s not up for you to say.”

We should let everyone enjoy what they enjoy. Similarly, we should not judge anyone for sharing or not sharing their Wrapped. So listen to what you want and be proud of your Wrapped. It’s yours.

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