Spotify Wrapped: A Great End to an Unexpected Year


Jonathan Tenenbaum

Managing Editor Jonathan Tenenbaum explores the delights of Spotify Wrapped.

Jonathan Tenenbaum, Managing Editor

Sitting with bated breath, I tap the Spotify app on my phone. At the top the banner reads, “View your Spotify Wrapped.” Alerted by one of my friends that Spotify rolled out this year’s edition of this beloved annual tradition, I excitedly tap the banner, but hesitate before entering the personalized video created by Spotify, recounting my top artists and songs of the year. I think back to how my music taste has evolved. I remember how quarantine brought me to delve deeper into the discography of artists and to discover new ones through articles and videos. I think of the people I have grown close to over this year, how they’ve impacted and shaped my taste in and knowledge of music. Most importantly, I consider how songs and albums I adore now are profoundly intertwined with memories, good and bad, and friends; some songs feel almost inseparable from the person whom they remind me of. I think back to the loss of Jordan Groggs, one third of Injury Reserve, a rap trio that helped me through the thick of quarantine. I enter the video, to the tune of Freddie Gibbs’ “High” featuring Danny Brown, I watch the faces of artists like JPEGMAFIA, MF DOOM, Tyler the Creator, and Kanye West transition on screen over a multicolored, gradient backdrop. The screen reads, “The longest year ever isn’t over yet… But your Wrapped is finally here.”

As this impossibly difficult year winds to a close, many avid music listeners, like myself, greatly anticipated the 2020 Spotify Wrapped, a retrospective snapshot of our most-listened-to songs and artists of this year. While a light at the end of the tunnel gradually reveals itself in the form of increased vaccine roll-out and availability, Spotify Wrapped has been a special highlight for music lovers as it displays the music that helped many of us through 2020’s most difficult moments. Spotify Wrapped does not just end at top artists and songs, though. It provides an intensive view of Spotify users’ listening habits and experience over 2020, including the number of genres, top genres, total number of streams, and even users’ top throwback track and a song users listened to before it reached 50,000 streams.

However, the most memorable aspect to Spotify Wrapped is likely its social media presence. When each year’s Wrapped is released, it is simply inescapable—no Instagram or Snapchat story is safe from the Wrapped end screen, a brief summary of a user’s top artists, songs, genre, and total streams, replete with a picture of their top artist. Many users go a step further and share the screen displaying in what percentage of their top artist’s listeners they find themselves, and with some listeners in the top 1%, 0.5%, or even 0.0001% of their favorite artists, Wrapped becomes an effective tool to flex one’s diehard devotion to their favorite musician. Despite my typical hesitance towards internet trends, I adore the surge of Wrapped posts, enabling me to see who I have songs and artists in common with and connecting over our mutual enjoyment of an artist’s work.

“I love Spotify Wrapped because I’m always curious to see if I can predict my top five listened to artists,” said Danna Amitai (’21). “I also really like the fact that everyone can now easily share their Wrapped on social media and show others their favorite music.”

“Spotify wrapped is awesome because each song brings back a memory of the time period in which I listened to them—like songs from Aminé’s album, Limbo, remind me of the summer,” said John Aljian (’21).

Of course, no discussion of Spotify is complete without a pro-Apple Music contrarian.

“Apple Music has their own version of Spotify Wrapped and it updates every Sunday at midnight,” said Thomas Lederer (’21). “I check it every weekend to see how my music taste has changed throughout the year, and provides the same information as Spotify Wrapped.”

I feel the fact that Spotify saves users’ music listening trends for the end of the year and presents it as a sort of grand event is both compelling and charming. It turns users’ listening habits into a holiday of sorts, a celebration of the year and the ever-evolving nature of music tastes when equipped with streaming platforms like Spotify, committed to encouraging discovery through easy access to a seemingly infinite bank of music.

To find your 2020 Spotify Wrapped, simply search “2020 Spotify Wrapped” on Google, click the first result, and log into your Spotify Account. Alongside your personalized video you will also be provided a playlist with your top 100 songs of this year.

For those curious, my top artists this year were BROCKHAMPTON, Tyler, The Creator, Madlib, MF DOOM, and Kanye West. My top songs were “SMUCKERS” – Tyler, The Creator, “Baby I’m Bleeding” – JPEGMAFIA, “Really Doe” – Danny Brown, “327” – Westside Gunn, and “SWAMP” – BROCKHAMPTON. I amassed a total of 30,454 minutes of listening and my top genre was hip hop. My top throwback track was “Raid” – Madvillain. My top podcast was the Joe Rogan Experience. Reflecting how significantly my music taste has changed, I haven’t listened to BROCKHAMPTON for the last few months, but my obsession with their music culminating in my attending of their concert pre-COVID landed them as my top artist and me in their top 0.5% of listeners.

So, as this year comes to an end it’s often hard to pick out the positive memories, to ignore the beast of a year so many of us have experienced and undergone, but upon seeing my 2020 Wrapped, I can’t help but remember the moments and people that not only made this year tolerable but enjoyable.