Why Your ‘Spotify Wrapped’ Recap Has Songs You’ve Never Listened To

Why Your ‘Spotify Wrapped’ Recap Has Songs You’ve Never Listened To
Screenshot: David Murphy

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 pull up your brand-new Spotify annual report for 2020, but you might want to prepare for a surprise or two.

Screenshot: David Murphy Screenshot: David Murphy

First, let’s talk about the presentation. You can’t just view your report on the web this year. You’ll have to launch your Spotify Android or iOS app if you want the full animated slide deck. Otherwise, you’ll have to be content with simply browsing your “top songs” list via your browser, which isn’t as enchanting:

Don't ask. (Screenshot: David Murphy) Don’t ask. (Screenshot: David Murphy)

These reports aren’t perfect — that, or your recollection of your musical tastes over the year might not be as accurate as you think. Songs and artists might appear on your Spotify Wrapped report that you swear you’ve never listened to; you might be wrong, but you also might not be crazy. There are a few reasons why strange songs can permeate your Spotify annual report, and we have a few extra suggestions if you want a more accurate idea of how you rocked out this year.

Spotify’s 2020 Wrapped has a limited timeframe

If you’ve been going wild with some big November release, you probably won’t see any of these on your Spotify Wrapped recap. Spotify hasn’t updated its information to indicate how it pulled together your 2020 year-in-review, but the streaming service typically doesn’t cover the entire year with these wrap-ups. Spotify needs time to create it, after all. And here’s how it did that for last year’s list:

January 1st to October 31st, 2019. Any listening after this won’t be included. This gives our teams enough time to assemble everything. Some additional stories includes stats from earlier years though, such as total minutes, top artists, etc. Those stories encompass the full year of listening (Jan 1 – December 31).

I think it’s safe to assume that Spotify is taking the same treatment this year.

You might have pulled up Spotify at a party

Remember, anything you do on your Spotify account is fair game for the Wrapped report. If you let your friends pick songs during your road trip, or used your Spotify account for background music at a party (or many parties), unexpected music might show up on your report. And, no, you can’t edit these songs or artists out of your report in any way, as Spotify describes:

We’re unable to update your stats or playlists since it’s based on your personal listening history. Sorry about that! For the future, it’s always worth considering that, for instance, if you left Spotify playing in the background or let friends play their tunes with your account then your listening data might have been affected.

It’s also possible that a friend, roommate, or loved one is innocently using your Spotify account via your various smart devices, which could also impact what appears on Spotify’s annual report. That explains why there’s a lot of weird Disney instrumental stuff on my playlist this year — my fiancé often fires up the jams on our bedroom smart speaker to help her get to sleep.

Someone hacked your Spotify account

Screenshot: David Murphy Screenshot: David Murphy

This sounds a little far-fetched, but it’s not impossible, especially since Spotify still doesn’t offer two-factor (or two-step) authentication. I’ve read a number of reports from Spotify users complaining that having their accounts hacked at some point this year messed up their Wrapped report. And while this is something you probably should have noticed if you logged into Spotify and saw a bunch of strange music on your “Recently played” section, it’s possible you’ve been overlooking this.

Nevertheless, if you see a lot of music on your report that doesn’t make sense, now’s as good a time as any to change your Spotify password to something unique and secure. And once you’ve done that, log out of any other devices that might be using your Spotify account, just to be super-sure.

How to get better stats than Spotify’s report

Nothing against Spotify’s annual wrap-up, but if you want a detailed look at what you’ve been listening to over the year — or at any point, really — consider connecting your Spotify to a Last.fm account. This option doesn’t appear to exist within the Spotify apps anymore, but you can set this up on the Last.fm side.

Screenshot: David Murphy Screenshot: David Murphy

There are also plenty of third-party services you can use to track your Spotify listening statistics throughout the year. The third-party website statsforspotify.com does a great job of telling you about your top tracks and artists over the last month, six months, or as far back as you’ve used Spotify.

Screenshot: David Murphy Screenshot: David Murphy

There’s also Obscurify, which you can use to compare the…uniqueness…of your musical tastes to everyone else; Skiley, which can give you plenty of information on the tracks and artists you listen to most; PlayedMost, which is self-explanatory; and Receiptify, which also shows you your top tracks. In general, last.fm should be all you need, and I’d much rather connect Spotify to a trusteed service that has existed for decades than some random pop-up website. While I don’t think a third-party website is going to hijack your Spotify account, make sure you’re really scanning requested permissions before connecting your Spotify to unfamiliar sites — just in case.

Update 12/2/2020: We’ve updated this story for Spotify’s 2020 recap and thrown in a few new recommendations for third-party Spotify statistics.

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