Wrapping up Spotify Wrapped

By Janet Briggs, Editor-in-Chief

Spotify Wrapped 2020 has arrived, and it appears that Harpeth Hall’s predictions were rather skewed. Wrapped was released on Dec. 1 this year – a day earlier than last year. Beyond just top musical artists and tracks, this year’s Wrapped also focused on podcast streaming more heavily than years past. 

The Wrapped focused on your streaming minutes of particular songs, artists and podcasts. Podcasts particularly had a record streaming year on the listening platform. The Joe Rogan Experience was the most popular podcast, but Ted Talks Daily and The Daily were close behind along with The Michelle Obama Podcast and Call Her Daddy.

While the Harpeth Hall musical minds believed that Ariana Grande was a shoo in for top artist, Grande did not place in the top five. Bad Bunny took the top spot globally with 8.3 billion streams of his music this year. He was followed closely by Drake, J Balvin, Juice WRLD and the Weeknd – not a single female artist broke the top five. 

One thing to consider about Grande’s lack of ranking is her most recent album “positions” released at the very end of Oct., and Spotify Wrapped only tracks listening from Jan. 1 to Oct. 31. The same could be said for artists like Billie Eilish and Taylor Swift who had record setting releases in the latter half of 2020. Bad Bunny’s album “YHLQMDLG” released in Feb. which already gave it a streaming advantage. 

Another factor is location. The United States top artists were Juice WRLD, Drake, Lil Uzi Vert, Post Malone and Taylor Swift, in that order. The perception of the Harpeth Hall community more accurately represents the listening trends of the US charts than global charts. 

As far as songs go, “Blinding Lights” by the Weeknd was first globally with 1.6 billion streams this year. “Dance Monkey” by Tones and I took the second spot globally, primarily from European listening. However, the impact of TikTok can really be seen in spots three and four with “The Box” by Roddy Rich and “Roses-Imanbek Remix” by Imanbek and SAINt JHN which were both popular sounds on the app throughout 2020. 

In the US, Roddy Rich had a very strong streaming year, placing first and fourth with “The Box” and “ROCKSTAR” by DaBaby which he was featured on. “Blinding Lights” by the Weeknd took second and “Blueberry Faygo” by Lil Mosey placed third. “Life is Good” by Future featuring Drake took the fifth spot – again no women broke the top five songs. 

As far as Harpeth Hall listeners go, some were more accurate than others with their predictions. 

Freshman Eden Powell was spot on with her prediction that Kendrick Lamar would be her top artist. However, he did not appear in her top song list at all. “Wishful Thinking” by BENEE took her top spot, and “circle the drain” by Soccer Mommy took spot two, which she expected to be her top song. Her other top artists included Ariana Grande, the Killers and Clairo. She was a bit surprised that her top genre was pop as opposed to rap, but beyond that she was not shocked by the results of her Wrapped. While she initially guessed she would have around 1000 streaming hours, she actually listened for about 784 hours this year, which was the most of those in this piece.

Sophomore Anne Louis Todd was not shocked by her Wrapped this year with Lorde and Billie Eilish taking her top spots. However, she was more shocked by Cardi B and Juice WRLD making an appearance in spots four and five, which could be attributed to TikTok. Her top songs were different from her initial predictions with “Ribs” by Lorde and “i’ll die anyway.” by girl in red taking the top spots. Unsurprisingly pop was her top genre. She expected to have around 1000 hours of streaming, but in actuality, she ended up with around 510 hours. 

Junior Emory Morgan was spot on with her guess that Elliott Smith would be her top artist again this year, and she was in his top 0.01% of listeners. His song “Twilight” also took her top spot for the second year. However, the rest of her artist list included Nirvana, Harry Styles, Conan Gray and Frank Ocean. As predicted, “Motion Sickness” by Phoebe Bridgers did appear on her top song list along with “Heather” by Conan Gray and “505” by the Arctic Monkeys. The biggest surprise to her was that her top genre was pop instead of her second genre rock, but she expects artists like Conan Gray and Harry Styles might have pushed her listening into the pop realm. She lowballed her streaming hours with a prediction of 160 streaming hours, but she actually had around 620 hours!

Junior Katherine Hu also predicted her top artist with Frank Ocean and was right. She was in the top 1% of his listeners this year. Tyler, the Creator took her second spot, but she was surprised that the Glass Animals took the third spot as opposed to artists like Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar. She also accurately predicted that her top song would be “I Met Sarah in the Bathroom” by awfultune. “Futura Free” and “White Ferrari” by Frank Ocean took spot two and three. Then “Avant Gardener” by Courtney Barnett which she was surprised broke the top 5. Her top genres were predictably rap and modern rock. Her minutes were a bit inaccurate because her Spotify was hacked halfway through the summer, so while she predicted around 1000 hours, she actually had only 177 hours on this new account. Either way, she enjoyed her Wrapped and was not surprised.

Senior Elise Ikejiani might be one of Conan Gray’s biggest fans and her Wrapped reflects that. Gray was her top artist and appeared in four out of five of her top song slots with “Maniac” and “The Story” taking spots one and two and “Comfort Crowd” and “Affluenza” taking spots four and five. “fever dream” by mxmtoon took the third spot to break up the Conan Gray party. She was in the top 0.5% of his listeners and his music took up almost a tenth of all of her listening time. With a prediction of 300 to 400 streaming hours, she had low expectations and actually ended up with around 180 hours. She expects this to be because she was more reliant on her old favorite albums and artists as opposed to discovering too many new artists.

Upper School Math Teacher Ellen Sevits was actually more active on her Spotify than she initially thought. Her personal love for 80s music was prevalent in her top songs which included “Alone” by Heart, “If I Could Turn Back Time” by Cher, “Time After Time” by Cindi Lauper and “What’s Love Got to Do with It” by Tina Turner. Her more casual listening with her family appears more on her top artist list with Lady Gaga taking number one and DJ Snake and Ariana Grande taking spots four and five. Those artists would also explain her top genre being Dance Pop. Overall the balance of listening with her family and on her own seems to have tipped in her favor this year.

Upper School Art History Teacher, Mr. Robert Womack was potentially the most accurate of the bunch with Glass Animals taking his top spot and The Killers following just behind. His prediction of the Glass Animals’ most recent album “Dreamland” dominating his charts was also accurate with “Dreamland” and “Tangerine” taking his top two spots. He also expected the Red Hot Chilli Peppers to make an appearance in his charts which they did with the song “Easily” in his fourth spot. Thom Yorke was also represented in his charts taking spot five on his top artists and his song “Atoms for Peace” taking the fifth spot on his song chart as well. While he overshot with a prediction of 1000 streaming hours, he still had around 500 hours of listening this year and one of the most accurate predictions of the bunch. 

Overall, Spotify Wrapped this year reflected increased listening and discovery in a time when music was something holding people together. Seeing the pandemic in the scope of music allows for a more positive reflection on the year and lets us grapple with all its changes in a more positive way.

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