Dubai Diaries: What's life without a soundtrack?

Here's what Spotify's Wrapped said about me this year.

By Gopika Nair

Published: Sat 11 Dec 2021, 12:21 PM

You know it’s December when Spotify sums up your year in music with the words: “Your Wrapped is here.”

Wrapped gives Spotify users a rundown of their top songs and artists of the year, but with vibrant graphics and phrases like: “While everyone was trying to figure out what NFTs were, you had one song on repeat.”

Soon after the music giant released its yearly data-driven marketing campaign for 2021, social media exploded with a deluge of screenshots and memes about streaming behaviours.

Some wore their most-listened-to track like a badge of honour, while others meekly accepted their love for Taylor Swift’s 10-minute version of All Too Well after Spotify revealed that they were, in fact, an undercover “Swiftie”.

Wrapped taught me a lot, both about myself and the people I haven’t spoken to in well over two years. My college roommate, for instance, listened to nearly 20,000 minutes of the Unsolved Murders: True Crime Stories podcast. A classmate I was once paired up with for an art history presentation shared the same green “audio aura” as me. In vague Spotify terms, that meant our musical moods for the year were “focused and happy”.

I listened to 58 genres in 2021, but the one that stood out was vapor soul. I’m still not sure what that means, but my top tracks weren’t in the minority of strange genres. Many others revealed their favourites were classified as “weirdcore”, “post-teen pop”, “Midwest emo” and “humppa”.

Spotify mines users’ data for its annual campaign, so privacy concerns come with the territory. One Twitter user astutely pointed out that Spotify is “the only tech company to successfully rebrand ‘we’ve been tracking you’ to ‘isn’t this fun’” with its Wrapped feature.

But data mining aside, Wrapped is, indeed, pure fun because it’s littered with quirky, and at times bizarre, revelations about yourself and others.

If you didn’t know you could listen to one song 149 times (a record I achieved with Stay With Us by Seoul), Spotify Wrapped will shatter those illusions while reassuring you that it is your right to stream the same song another 149 times. Perhaps the most enjoyable thing about the posts that flood social media is getting a taste of what people listen to when they’re walking down the streets by themselves, as opposed to curating a neutral playlist for a party of five.

My closest friend from college openly loves The 1975, but it’s also nice to learn about her hidden gems, the songs that defined her highs and lows in 2021, from halfway across the world.

My own Spotify Wrapped was a telling reflection of 2021, featuring the indie-pop songs I listened to on hour-long Metro commutes, the jazzy tunes I Shazamed on nights out and the wistful melodies that reminded me of certain times, places and people. And the unexpected, embarrassing favourite, the one I listened to when I walked down the streets with a pep in my step, was Paris Hilton’s Stars Are Blind.

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