Why is Spotify Wrapped a cultural phenomenon?



Claire Schuppel writes about her thoughts on why Spotify Wrapped’s release is a beloved time of year.

Claire Schuppel, Arts & Life Editor

The holiday season does not commence with the end of Halloween, nor with Thanksgiving but something far more important: the release of the annual Spotify Wrapped (or Apple Music Replay). 

There is nothing I look forward to more than seeing every person I know post their favorite artists and songs of the year. However, why do we care to see a glimpse into the musical lives of others?

It is part of the human condition to crave any sort of connection, which can even apply to Spotify Wrapped. If you’re anything like me, you’ll take any excuse to gush over your favorite musicians or the meanings behind your favorite songs. Psychology Today reported that we gravitate towards people with our shared music taste, so posting the Wrapped graphics could potentially spark a new conversation about a mutual love for Harry Styles or Kendrick Lamar.

The article also states that music can help us build first impressions. While it is never productive to judge someone by something superficial, we can learn a few things about a person based on their favorite artists. If they enjoy quiet, meditative music, that might be because they have an introverted and thoughtful personality. If they enjoy loud house, catchy music, they might lead an extroverted and lively life. Yet even the quietest people can surprise us by being fans of bands like Metallica or Muse – it is a good representation of how dynamic human beings can be.

For those of us in a music drought who can’t seem to find anything fresh, Wrapped can serve as a source of inspiration. I have trusted peers I turn to when hunting for new music that aligns with my usual taste so I pay close attention to what they were listening to throughout the year.

The convenience of Wrapped is a huge bonus as it provides you with a list of your top 100 songs of the year. The playlist it creates can be a reminder of what songs we might have forgotten what songs we were obsessed with in January or February. 

“I like how it puts all of my favorite songs from the year into one place. I was proud to be in the top 1% of The Lumineers fans!” says Grace Salvino ‘24. 

With December inevitably comes a reflection on what each year has entailed. Spotify Wrapped serves as a unique way of viewing the past as the music we listened to during different times in life can become period-defining. I can still sense my old dorm room whenever I hear “Sober to Death” by Car Seat Headrest and I can feel the crisp spring morning air when I put “And The Grass Won’t Pay No Mind” by Neil Diamond on. While time travel might not be physically possible just yet, music can give close to that same sensation. These yearly Wrapped releases become a walk down the best and worst times of the year and you can feel the exact moments when those tracks were on repeat.

Included in this article are some of our editors’ Spotify Wrapped graphics. Use these as an opportunity to get to know us better and take away some incredible music recommendations.