A Spiral Into Spotify Wrapped

Around a month ago, my cousin and I sat on her bed compiling a list of our Spotify Wrapped predictions. We were throwing around artist and song names, trying to out-niche and out-cringe each other. I sought genuine enjoyment from this. Seeing a list of my most cherished music made me feel individual, actual, self-assured and different. Then I got my results this morning, a mixture of Aussie indie that makes it look like I’m sponsored by triple j — I thought I was cooler than this!

With our Spotify stats available and flooding our Stories, it makes me question why the annual event is so exciting and popular. Is it an example of how far our desire for individualisation extends? Is it a seeking of community? Likeness? Does the concrete configuration of music – the sounds that drive us, make us cry and dance – reaffirm our aliveness?

Ok, it’s not that deep. But what I’m getting at, is that it can be.

Essentially, Spotify Wrapped is a creative time capsule into who you are. Every top song has some sort of memory attached, and the depiction in extravagant glory, its big letters and colourful backgrounds, sends a message of importance. It’s just a song, but to you, so much more. So, you share it to your Story and declare it yours. And now, equipped with whatever your personalised musical ‘aura’ is — is it wistful, angsty, happy? What does it even mean?

But then, if music is this crazily-intrinsic thing, why are we always seeking validation for our taste? This concept isn’t only centric to Spotify Wrapped, but is a common experience in the comparison-fuelled sphere of social media. I think we’ve all been there: you’re posting a pic to your Story, and are scouring for an aesthetically-fitting song. It’s a search for individualism, the yearning to be different.

Spotify and Instagram are a formidable duo in the attempt to control how you’re perceived. I mean, some people put their Spotify links in their bios, and remember the countless memes amid Taylor Swift’s ten-minute ‘All Too Well’ release? So much music, so little time to assert ourselves in the cultural phenomenon of it all. It also doesn’t help social media’s esoteric communities built around artists like Fiona Apple, Kate Bush, Alex G… the list goes on. Everything seeks individualisation. A song isn’t just instruments and lyrics. It’s an identity, a fake happenstance, it’s an alteration in the critical analysis of you.

What is also fascinating to think about is the lead-up to getting our results, kind of like when you’d cram a tsunami of knowledge in the night before an exam. I’ve seen some people play artists and songs on repeat to bring them to the top of their lists. Spotify Wrapped becomes less of a wholesome look at the year, and becomes a carefully-curated list to assert your uniqueness.

Music is melancholic, adventurous, artful, ambivalent, cringe, full of rage and melody. So for this year’s Spotify Wrapped, embrace it, become it, get lost in it and appreciate the aloneness and togetherness of being individual.

Or maybe use Apple Music instead.

Written by Savannah Selimi

Catalyst has been the student publication of RMIT University since 1944. We may be older than your parents but we’re still going strong!

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