On December 1, 2021, whether they saw it on their account, or social media, Spotify users woke up to “Top 5” blasted everywhere. Olivia Rodrigo’s “Sour,” Doja Cats “Planet Her,” and Billie Ellishe’s “Happier Than Ever” might have been one of your top choices this year.
Spotify Wrapped, originally called “Year in Music,” first came out in 2015, as a feature for Spotify users to cycle back at what they listened to in the past 365 days. Most importantly, it highlighted each user’s top songs and artists in the past year.
“Year in Music” did not gain much popularity until updates in the following years.
Since 2015, additions and advancements have molded Spotify Wrapped into what it looks like today. Instead of solely learning what their top artist and songs were, users now get a full personalized slideshow of their entire music and listening experience over the past year. The slideshow includes a list of the top 5 songs and artists, the specific number of minutes they listened to music, the specific number of times they listened to their favorite song, and their favorite genre, all while having their top songs play in the background. Additionally, Spotify produces a playlist consisting of users’ top 100 songs of that year. In 2021, it was called “Your Top Songs 2021”.
All this was created by Spotify’s algorithm that examined how many hours each user played each artist and how many times a song was played.
Similar to other social media, Spotify’s algorithm is constantly updating. An algorithm is simply a computer taking in a set of inputs and spitting out an output. For Spotify, it takes what specific songs and artists that users are listening to and curates a playlist based on the information the algorithm collects. Spotify is known for creating personalized and generalized playlists every day. Spotify updates daily its “Top Albums” from data globally and nationally, and “Top Songs” also globally and nationally. Additionally, every Spotify user gets six daily playlists called “Daily Mixes” that each has different genres of music made with songs that each user has been listening to.
Furthermore, Wrapped gives its users the ability to share their music statistics from their Wrapped presentations directly to their social media, messages, and Photos. As a result, people enjoy sharing what they have been listening to over the past year. Often, those people “show off” what they listen to put themselves in a specific music niche, such as indy, pop, punk, or rap.
“I did share my Wrapped on my [Instagram] story because I believe that it accurately represents me,” said Aidan Bandte ‘22.
Each person has a unique taste in music, but having a “good” music preference simply means they do not listen to mainstream pop. It represents that they listen to artists or songs that many people do not know about.
Since the app collects data from the whole year, songs that were listened to at the beginning of the year, are often forgotten about by users. This results in some confusion about why certain songs and artists are on their “Top 5” lists. Although, some users are okay with it because it reminds them of songs and artists that could have been forgotten.
“I do not like the fact that it exposes you a little bit because all the embarrassing songs that you listened to that you do not want people to know you listened to are revealed,” said active Spotify user Ella Leo ‘22.
Despite some hesitations, most users look forward to looking at the interactive, personal, and colorful presentation of what they listened to that year.
“I think the Spotify Algorithm did a good job. I think it is a good predictor of what I listened to. It put my favorite song as #1 on my Spotify wrapped playlist,” said Danny Sullivan ‘22.
It has become a tradition that users look forward to each year. Not only does December represent the holiday season, but it is also now a reminder of when users are going to receive their Spotify Wrapped.
“I like Spotify Wrapped because I can prove to everyone that I have really good music taste,” said Leo.