Feature photo courtesy of @spotify
My friend Devin said, “Fa Mulan did not infiltrate the Chinese military for you to write about Spotify Wrapped.” Despite his snub, I’d argue that perhaps our ancestors’ greatest hopes for us did, in fact, include the ability to find pleasure in inane, ultimately inconsequential things. It’s called *thriving*. So maybe they envisioned our source of happiness as becoming a-doctor-by-day-a-lawyer-by-night-amphibian and not data-mined statistics about our complete lack of originality, but we can confront that disappointment, among their many others, in the afterlife.
Photo credit of @dudewithsign
But I digress. And I admit that Devin has a point. Spotify’s 2019 Wrapped has pitted my friends against each other, with half eagerly sharing their top artists of 2019, and the other half laughing mercilessly at the ones who did so.
As for myself, I am somewhere in the middle. Did I post it on my story? Of course not. I’m not the guy from my Media Theory class who likes Drake just a bit too much. Did I send it to three of my friends to discuss, in detail, my disbelief with the fact that I listened to 23 hours of Lizzo? Yes. It’s called statistical analysis.
While I haven’t stooped low enough to plaster my Spotify Wrapped all over Instagram, I felt everyone definitely deserved an in-depth look at my bland music taste and to read an editor-mandated 1200-word analysis on Bobblehaus.
Let’s take a little walk of shame down my Spotify 2019 and Decade Wrapped for all artists and podcasts I got super really into, listened on repeat, nonstop for three weeks and never touched again.
My winter was dotted with Aminé’s ONEPOINTFIVE, Lana Del Rey’s hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have - but I have it, and Logan Paul’s Impaulsive (I started listening to this ironically because of the contentious nature of this show and later unironically for its controversial guests), and well, my Spotify 2018 Wrapped playlist. (What can I say, I’m a *sentimental person*, not ready to turn 20 and desperate to bathe myself in my teenage nostalgia).
My spring followed up with a single girls’ trip to Brussels on Valentine’s day, where of course Lizzo’s Cuz I Love You and Cuz I Love You (Deluxe) served as the literal and thematic soundtrack. (Is it really a single girls’ trip if you two aren’t screaming “you coulda had a bad bitch” while sitting on the cobble-stoned ground of Grand-Place?) David Dobrik and Jason Nash’s VIEWS also had a sizeable share of playtime during my commute to class, alongside my personal playlist, life lessons (which is my own iteration of a ‘top’ playlist, filled with songs I don’t tend to skip).
My sizzling summer started with the same two albums by Lizzo and Billie Eilish’s debut album, WHEN WE FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?, a chillingly prime experience that became the soundtrack of my hot girl summer as it was a steaming 40 celsius in Taipei and I felt like a xiaolongbao.
The year ended with VIEWS occupying its usual slot again (I had gotten used to falling asleep to it), 88rising’s Head in the Clouds II taking a lead, and my favorite track off the collective album, Shouldn’t Couldn’t Wouldn’t by NIKI featuring Rich Brian. I also didn’t forget my roots, and simmered in melodramatic regret over debatably ‘better’ times by listening to my 2018 Wrapped playlist (cue cutting my own hair with fabric scissors at 2am listening to Green Light by Lorde so I could feel in control of my life again).
To no one’s surprise, I have been to concerts of all of my top artists in the past year. Statistically speaking, this is most likely how they became my top artists as my ears are soaked in their respective discographies leading up the concerts. (Causation, not correlation, am I right ladies? I’m telling you, this is basically a stats research project.) From Aminé to Vampire Weekend, I have racked up hours of listening - for research purposes, of course, to prevent the embarrassing scenario of mumbling the wrong words at their concerts.
Spotify also crowned me as a world citizen for listening to artists from 35 countries. I wasn’t quite sure how until I saw the list, which included Billie Eilish (United States), 5 Seconds of Summer (Australia), Lorde (New Zealand), The1975 (United Kingdom) and ABBA (Sweden). Similarly, they credited me for being genre-fluid, as I popped through pop, indie pop, and Mandopop. (By Mandopop, I do not mean Jay Chou, I mean Wu Bai’s You Are My Flower, with full choreography, and shouting Power Station’s Walking along Jhonghsiao East Street Nine Times on the top of my lungs in car rides with my dad.)
As they’ve done in past years, Spotify picked out my most-listened-to songs and compiled them into a playlist for me. If next year is anything like this year, I see myself cocooning into this familiar playlist again, avoiding experimenting with new kinds of music.
Spotify also doesn’t forget to remind you of uncomfortable memories: in 2016, when I was in a terrible relationship, my top artist was gnash and my top track was feelings fade; in 2017, when I was going through a bad breakup, my top artist was Lorde and my top track was Liability; in 2018, when I was going through a slight identity crisis my top artist was Joji (coincidentally who also went through a major transformation in his identity) and my top track was Billie Eilish’s idontwannabeyouanymore; in 2019, as I had a grasp of my identity and self-worth, my top artist became Lizzo and my top track, Truth Hurts. Now standing at the end of the decade, my problems feel so distanced. It’s called *growth* and I’m obsessed.
As the trip down memory lane draws to a close, Spotify thanked me for being with them since 2016, and for having Spotify Premium since 2017 (something I don’t quite deserve, since I’ve been casually leeching off my brother’s family plan). I, too, feel grateful that we have such a productive relationship: they give me music in exchange for my presence, time, and personal data. But beyond that, Spotify has been babysitting me for nearly half of the last decade: making my daily mixes, reminding me of new releases, and encouraging me to attend upcoming concerts in my area. I mean, this is nearly maternal behavior. And Spotify even has a tender side, reminding me that I’m never doing as bad as I think. After listening to my 2019 Wrapped and Decade Wrapped, I realized that the past few years haven’t been half-bad. I listened to SLOW DANCING IN THE DARK way less than I expected. As the decade draws to an end, I am excited to see what next year has in store for me: will I listen to Lorde’s Melodrama on repeat as I go through yet another personal crisis? Or even find a new, healthier obsession with Lizzo’s Truth Hurts? Only time, and Spotify’s data-mined analytics, will tell.