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Spotify: Unwrapped
Adam Elayan ’24

Adam Elayan ’24 is an aspiring journalist and leader of the Big Blue Sports Network. As a music connoisseur, he unwraps musical tastes in this witty and sharp Op-Ed that will be featured in the upcoming edition of The Pingry Record. It is being reprinted here with permission from the author.


Spotify: Unwrapped

     Who do you listen to music for? Yourself, obviously. After all, you are the one listening to it, and you’re probably doing this alone (thanks to your AirPods). There’s nobody else you could be listening for. But maybe it’s not that simple.

    I think about this more deeply when Spotify Wrapped comes out every year. Some of us boast about our results, proud to fit in or to do the opposite. Some of us hide our phones, embarrassed to be too conforming or too weird. For a few days every year, it is the talk of the school. This phenomenon begs the question: how could such a massive social event fail to influence the way people listen to music?

     For people who are attracted to the possibility of drawing oohs and aahs for their eclecticism, Spotify Wrapped is an impetus to try more genres and dig deeper into the underground. For those who would rather fit in and want to avoid getting made fun of, there might be less of an inclination to branch out if doing so would mean an unwelcome guest in the top five. Those who want to prove their fandom to their number one artist will be even less curious, because where is the time for curiosity when they are working towards being in the top 0.00001% of Drake listeners?

     Given that Spotify Wrapped affects music listening all year, then so will unexpected or disappointing results. Two days ago, I found that Taylor Swift infiltrated my top five and made it all the way up to number two. Wanting to do my part to slow her world domination, I resolved to forget about my TS playlist this coming year. This might be welcome to her fanbase, however, as none of the songs on my playlist are “Taylor’s version.” Needless to say, she will be third on my list next year.

    Of all the Wrappeds I’ve seen in the past of couple days, only a few have shown noticeable variation. How could everyone’s music taste be so similar in this age? It certainly isn’t the availability, as nearly every album since the 30s is findable on the app, and Spotify has channels and mixes for every genre that run 24/7. Really, this should be the age of kaleidoscopic music tastes. Back when seventeen-dollar CDs were the only way to listen, most people didn’t have the means to play from more than a few artists. Now, with a $10-a-month barrier to entry for the entire world of recorded music, it’s shocking that young people are staying so close to the surface.

    So what accounts for the conformity? Could it be Spotify Wrapped, as silly as that sounds? No, obviously. It could play a role, though. People have always gravitated towards music that is recent and popular. Whereas before, people could hide their Marilyn Manson CDs and their Sex Pistols records without incident, now there is pressure to come clean, and pleading the fifth is an admission of guilt. Sure, some people find validation in being proven unique, but for many, validation comes from being accepted, which is easiest by way of conformity.

    I am not in favor of this, for the simple reason that I get bored of seeing the same list over and over again. I want to see some Velvet Underground, some Nina Simone. So, for my sake, don’t be afraid to find your music this year, whatever it may be. Your friends will just lie to you and say they think it’s cool, anyway.  

Note: Adam's top artist this year? The Beatles. ("Yes I'm a senior in high school, not a senior citizen").


To contact the author: Adam Elayan '24

Portrait by Flex photographer Aiden de Asla '24