Because I foolishly chose to use Amazon Music with my Alexa smart speaker (because it’s cheaper, and certainly not because it is better), I can only look on in envy as my friends share their their annual “Spotify Wrapped” recaps, which offer a whole bunch of interesting data on the songs they listened to across the last 12 months: most played, most repeated in a single day, top genres, and much more.
But even without my own Spotify history to offer up for public pillorying (ask me about sharing an account with someone who listens to a lot of Katy Perry covers as performed by the Chipettes), I can benefit from my friends’ data in a bunch of ways — including as a roadmap to exploring genres of music I think I hate.
It’s that time of year again: Spotify is here to tease you remind you about your musical habits over the past many months. Most people should have a pretty good idea of what albums and songs they binged this year. For a friendly reminder, all you need to do is...Read more
I got the idea from my friend Meghan, whose social media identity is steeped in Goth; I have never met her in person, but I am pretty sure if I did, she would appear from out of a blackened cloud in bone-white makeup, held aloft by majestic bat wings and bearing a sword made of human bones. Suffice it to say, she is not the person who comes to mind when I hear the words “dance pop.” Yet the other day, she tweeted this:
I consume music like Godzilla consumes cities so I love seeing the Spotify Wrapped stuff because it's a well curated way to see already vetted faves from people. Like, if this band or song is in your top 5, it must be interesting and I have to give it a try!— Meghan Ball (@EldritchGirl) December 2, 2020
In subsequent tweets, she goes on quite a journey as she explores the effects of exposure to Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Cut to the Feeling,” a fantastic but decidedly un-Goth song I happen to love, which she encountered in the Wrapped summary of a similarly black-clad mutual friend of ours who nevertheless knows a good beat when he hears one. Meghan’s stance on sunny, danceable tunes quickly transitioned from trepidation to “confused cocker spaniel” to, well:
After listening to one (1) Carly Rae Jepsen song I can confirm that, yes, this woman should be given a sword— Meghan Ball (@EldritchGirl) December 2, 2020
This is when it occurred to me that this experiment will hold true for any friends with whom you might not share a mutual taste in music. You ostensibly care about these people, so perhaps it means something that they find joy in, say, country music (to chose an oft-maligned “I like all kinds of music, except…” genre), and you’ll understand it better after you listen specifically to the songs they love.
You can’t access someone’s Wrapped summary unless they share it with you, even if you follow them on the service. Considering the topic has been trending on social media all week, you probably won’t have to ask for it twice (or at all) — and you can always visit their profiles on Spotify itself to see what artists they’ve been recently playing. That’s not as good as a best-of-the-year list, but it can still be a solid source of musical inspiration.
So why not dig into the year-end summaries of others you trust to see what outside-your-wheelhouse songs they liked enough to put on repeat several hundred times over the course of the last 12 months? As long as they aren’t a parent whose child has corrupted their listening history (or Lifehacker tech editor David Murphy, whose Wrapped summary is full of the soothing ambient music he puts on to fall asleep), you’re bound to uncover some gems. Worst-case scenario, your own judgements about what constitutes bad music will only be confirmed, and who doesn’t love a resolutely opinionated music fan?