2020 is finally nearing its end. The days are getting darker and the last thing you want to do is leave the snug embrace of your duvet. It’s also that time of year when most young people in the UK get excited about one thing. No, I’m not talking about getting drunk at Christmas, but rather Spotify Wrapped. Released at the beginning of December, your listening tastes are bundled up and packaged in a neat array of graphics, stats, and facts that people then use to brag about their edgy credentials or laugh at how basic they are.
Curious to know how people felt, I reached out to see how keen people were to see 2020 being summed up through their own choice of bops, podcasts, and sad songs. I conducted two Twitter polls – highly credible of course – to assess the mood of the nation. Interestingly, like another famous British poll, it split 52% to 48% (52.4% to 47.6% to be precise) between those who had no idea what to expect compared to those who believed theirs would hold few surprises.
waiting for Spotify wrapped to come out pic.twitter.com/635ZoW9xvC
— mk (@m_arykate) November 27, 2020
My own Spotify Wrapped is an interesting revelation every year. While friends get stats saying that they listened to more indie artists than 96% of Spotify Listeners, mine include no such thing. The best assessment of my music taste would be that it is “cliché gay”. Last year, four out of five of my songs were by Kim Petras with the other by Charli XCX. My top artist of all time is Beyoncé and my top five in previous years have included the likes of Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, Lana Del Rey, and Ariana Grande. Nevertheless, I expect this year to be quite different with new additions like Florence and the Machine (though still very gay, don’t worry). When I looked at my top songs in May, Charli XCX took up all three spots after releasing lockdown-produced how I’m feeling now.
my spotify wrapped this year pic.twitter.com/WvYNfJdpLz
— Paul (@pauldierksheide) November 25, 2020
In terms of changes, Beyoncé looks likely to lose her top spot having not released a solo album in four years (there are only so many times one can listen to Lemonade on repeat). Lana Del Rey will probably not appear for the first time.
The one artist who will be a surprise new entry is one Taylor Swift and I feel I’m not alone in folklore being the sole reason for her appearance. As one person told me, “I listened to Taylor before but not in the capacity I did since folklore”. The number of posts on Twitter about it from friends suggest the same.
my 2020 spotify wrapped my 2019 spotify wrapped pic.twitter.com/j9H2dppbUi
— dr “bimbo batman” malpractice, phd | ia (@hasbro_ouija) November 23, 2020
Another influence on peoples’ music tastes (while probably not mine) in 2020 is Tiktok. The app that got songs like ‘Say So’ and ‘Savage’ trending on the charts has brought out a whole new craze of dance trends. Some have even become so popular they’ve become meme crossovers. One friend tells me the app made him “look up songs on Spotify” after he’s come across them on the app, while another expects plenty of Doja Cat and Nicki Minaj after playing songs on repeat trying to learn how to dance.
Others feel their Spotify Wrapped will take them through the emotional rollercoaster rides of 2020. One friend made sure to amp up his edgy credentials telling me that unlike most gays, he didn’t listen to this year’s “big releases like Chromatica and Future Nostalgia”. He believes his top songs are going to be populated by indie and singer-songwriter female artists with “plenty of breakup songs”. As for many of us, “Spotify became [his] own sort of therapy”.
Another believes it will be “an insight into my emotional state”. As for why she likes Spotify Wrapped, she tells me it gives you “the entire vibe for the year was. What came out, how I was feeling, what I was doing or what I overcame in some ways”. “It’s a year captured in time,” she tells me very poetically though she does acknowledge afterward, it is just “a really, really good marketing campaign that plays perfectly to my own vanity”.
Nevertheless, after the year we’ve had, many still expect few surprises. One person believes that Bastille, her number one for the last five years, are unlikely to lose their top spot. Another seems adamant that despite expecting several new additions in the way of Swift and Rina Siwayama, most of the old favourites like past X Factor charity singles will still make an appearance. Like many of us during lockdown, she just seems “to be listening to the same songs over and over”.
Spotify Wrapped doesn’t always get things right. One person told me that it once put her top genre as “Irish folk music” because she listened to Pierce Brosnan on the Mamma Mia soundtrack. Nevertheless, it’s still pretty fun even if you already know the result. Don’t expect her to be sharing it on social media (“It’s gonna be very embarrassing”), but I would personally recommend a hearing test based on what I know so far.
We’ve all got something to look forward to, even if our playlists contain more cheese than a supermarket dairy aisle. If you want to blast Rebecca Black’s ‘Friday’ all day long, good for you. At the end of this year, you might decide you need to take action and diversify your music tastes. I’ve done the same many a time, but we all know it never happens. You always go back to the staples and who could blame you for doing that this year.
I started the piece with one credible Twitter poll so it only seems right to finish it with another. While I would consider myself to be in the group dreading what December might bring, a clear majority of 58.1% said they can’t wait to see what their Wrapped has in store despite how Covid-19 has influenced our music tastes. It won’t be long to find out either way: Spotify has already put up the website for 2020 and with 2019’s results released on December 6th, it’s likely only a matter of days for 2020’s.
Words by Ed Barnes
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