Image: Emir Dalgıç via WikiCommons

Alex Bird: breaking down my 2023 Spotify Wrapped

The festive period is home to mulled wine, ugly jumpers, and awkward family meals, but it also marks the release of Spotify Wrapped. It summarises every shower karaoke, cry session, and dance party. Having spent the year providing Spotify with plenty of data, the infographics and accompanying playlist of Wrapped provide both excitement and dread. Yet once it comes out, I often find myself unsurprised. Will 2023’s Wrapped be a repeat of this or will I learn something about myself? Let’s unpack my Spotify Wrapped.

Honestly, this Spotify Wrapped we all learnt more about the people of York than we did ourselves.

As ever, Wrapped opens with a summary of what genres you listen to the most, in my case Modern Rock. Like the suggested genre playlists this aspect of Wrapped does leave me confused. Primarily because despite it being my third most listened-to genre (out of one hundred and twenty-three) I couldn’t even begin to explain what Spotify means by pov:indie.

One aspect of this year’s Wrapped that has inspired much conversation on X (formerly Twitter) is Spotify guessing where you live based on your listening. Drawing conclusions that have placed most people in York, including myself, this isn’t too far off as I am originally from Yorkshire. However, what Spotify claims makes me from York is Los Campesinos!, Blossoms, and James Mariott, a strange mix. Especially since according to X users, York is also home to fans of Taylor Swift, The Killers, and the cast of Glee. Honestly, this Spotify Wrapped we all learnt more about the people of York than we did ourselves.

Then finally, we arrive at the meat of Spotify Wrapped, the top song. Mine was ‘Dance, Dance’ by Fall Out Boy, which is disturbingly on brand for me. It has been a favourite for many years and its place at number one is both unsurprising and uninspiring. Despite this, I am also comforted by the fact I have turned to this energetic, punchy track throughout the year. Out of 6,922 songs, there could have been a lot worse taking the top spot.

The rest of my top five was occupied by ‘Romance is Boring’ by Los Campesinos!, ‘We’ve Got a Big Mess on Our Hands’ by The Academy Is…, ‘There are Listed Buildings’, again by Los Campesinos!, and ‘Love From the Other Side’ by Fall Out Boy. ‘Romance is Boring’ was my predicted top song for the year and this year marks its second year in my top five, as in 2022 it placed fifth. Fall Out Boy and Los Campesinos! dominating my top five surprised me as there were many songs that I feel have defined this year for me which didn’t place as highly. This includes ‘I Can See You (Taylor’s version)’ by Taylor Swift and ‘Nothing Matters’ by The Last Dinner Party, which were on my prediction list for the top five. While these songs have made a significant mark on my year, the data disappointingly does not align. There is no reassurance that I am a person capable of growth (listening to new music).

I remembered it was thousands of minutes of my life accompanied by my favourite soundtrack

This sense of personal stagnation continues with my top artists: Fall Out Boy, Los Campesinos!, My Chemical Romance, The Academy Is…, and Taylor Swift. While I do adore these artists, I am disappointed in the lack of variety in my top five. Moreover, following the release of This is Why by Paramore at the start of this year I am saddened to see their absence in my top five artists. In terms of predictions, I had expected to see Fall Out Boy dethroned as number one this year in favour of Los Campesinos! whose lyricism resonated heavily throughout the year, particularly in April, according to Spotify. It was a turbulent time as I wrote my dissertation, applied for a Masters, and was generally emotional. Yet given the release of So (Much) For Stardust this year, the band have kept their top spot for a third year in a row.

Wrapped ends by informing you how much time you spent listening, clocking in at 87,186 minutes or sixty non-stop days. If like me you have found Spotify Wrapped once again to be an underwhelming repeat of the year before, seeing the amount of time spent listening can feel like a waste. Then I remembered that it was thousands of minutes of my life accompanied by my favourite soundtrack in the world, my playlist. Despite how exposing seeing a breakdown of the years of listening history can be, it is nice to be able to reflect on the year, and what songs got us through it all. Ultimately, I am unsurprised by Wrapped but this is not a bad thing, instead, I take pleasure in the comfort of the old favourites.


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