“Wrapped or it didn’t happen.” This is the tagline for this year’s Spotify Wrapped.
First launched in 2016, Spotify Wrapped is a year-in-review customised for Spotify users based on their listening activities in the year. Users are also allowed to share their Wrapped results on social media, which include top artists, top songs, top genres and more as each year passes.
This year, the global head of marketing experience at Spotify described the bustling newsroom due to the launch of Wrapped as “almost like election night”. So… why the hype?
It is not hard to imagine why something like Wrapped would go viral every year. It is extremely fascinating because we get to see what our time on Spotify could amount to when we simply listen to music day in and day out.
It is even more interesting to find out what this can tell us about our lifestyle, habits and musical tastes. It is no wonder that many are super excited to share their Wrapped on Instagram.
Yet, I also know of people who would feel slightly embarrassed to share their Wrapped.
Perhaps it is a feeling of our privacy being exposed; no one really knows what we listen to during our own free time until it is all revealed because of Wrapped.
Or perhaps it is an embarrassment that comes from comparison — we may feel more “basic” because of our music preferences than we’d like to admit. Or for Christians, perhaps we feel that we are not as “holy” if our top songs are not worship songs.
Whichever category we might belong to, have we ever wondered if this yearly fixation (or flex) is healthy?
Is Wrapped a healthy trend?
Honestly, why do we feel like we have to show people our Wrapped? Are we hoping to show off our good taste or that we are among the top 0.5% listeners as the true fans?
A critic from The Guardian says, “In a world where streaming is the main means by which music is consumed these figures appear to act as a badge of honour, ‘proof’ of how into music you are, a 2020s equivalent of walking around school with an album you were either borrowing or lending tucked under your arm to signify the seriousness of your commitment to prog or punk or metal or soul.”
If we are not careful about our motivation, our excitement towards Wrapped can easily turn into a spirit of comparison and pride. We might hope to show that we have exquisite taste and that we are cool, or we might hope to prove how “holy” we are by showing how much time we spent listening to worship music.
Furthermore, have we thought about what this data really reveals about us?
“It’s kind of ironic that at the end of every year people are celebrating the fact that Spotify is spying on them. I think it’s particularly insidious, because music is so personal and emotional. The music that we listen to is part of who we are,” says Evan Greer, director of the digital rights advocacy group Fight for the Future.
“Plus, all of that is valuable to advertisers. This isn’t just demographic data, but intel that spans users’ moods, tastes, and habits,” Greer added.
Sharing our Wrapped on social media tells people more about ourselves than we realise. I would even push it further to say that is almost comparable to sharing our browser history, because it tells people what we indulge in during our personal time.
As one WIRED writer puts it, “The music we listen to might not seem like intimate, personal data. But a graphic showing that someone played “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” 120 times may indicate the user has a child. Too many sad songs may suggest a listener is really going through it.”
Have we carefully considered what we are revealing to everyone on our social media before deciding to share our Wrapped?
Can Wrapped be meaningful?
That said, it is definitely not to say that Wrapped is meaningless. I personally do find Wrapped meaningful in some aspects because it reminds me of specific moments and seasons that I have gone through with people and with God.
This was the song that my friend introduced me to when we met to catch up… This was the song that encouraged me when I was going through a low season that month… This was the song that prompted me to surrender to God when I was making that difficult decision…
As I look through the Wrapped playlist which reminds me of many snippets from this past year, it brings to mind many meaningful moments and much cherished memories.
Instead of comparing how much time we have spent on Spotify or whether we are the top 0.5% fans of Taylor Swift, perhaps it would be more meaningful to look back on how we have spent the year for ourselves, for the people around us and for God.
How much time have I spent on exercising and keeping myself healthy? How have I made time for the people that matter to me this year? How have I grown in my habit of quiet time this year? These are all worthwhile questions to reflect on.
Wrapped or not, it did happen
Aside from the problems of comparison and privacy, Wrapped can help us to walk down the memory lane and look back on the year with gratitude.
But as I reflect on the year more carefully, I realise that there has been quiet growth even in the dark places, and there were new surrenders even through some of the painful seasons.
…His love for us isn’t changed by how many minutes we spent in prayer this year. And how He sees us isn’t tainted even if we are not the top 0.5% Bible readers. He simply sees us as His beloved children…
I dare not say that I have gone through this year very well, nor do I think that I have been the most faithful in all seasons.
But this I know: it is God’s grace that has carried me through, and His love for me has never changed.
His love for us isn’t changed by how many minutes we spent in prayer this year. And how He sees us isn’t tainted even if we are not the top 0.5% Bible readers. He simply sees us as His beloved children because of what Christ has done (Matthew 3:17).
As you look back at 2023, perhaps there are some fun and new memories, some thanksgivings and some breakthroughs.
Perhaps there are, also, some meh moments, some sorrows and even some painful regrets. But that’s the journey of life — always full of ups and downs.
We can enjoy and embrace every part of it because God is with us every step of the way, and He will never leave us (Deuteronomy 31:8). He continues to walk this journey with us year after year, unto eternity.
2023 was fun. Same time next year?
- How was 2023 for you?
- What are some things that you can give thanks for this year?
- What are some lessons that God has taught you this year?