Spotify Wrapped, AKA Gen Z’s Met Gala, is an annual staple of internet culture, leading to musical taste debates and superiority complexes year after year. 2021’s end of the year recap dropped on December 1st, and the last week has been flooded with the Spotify stats of music lovers worldwide, with many already preparing for next year. But you may have noticed that there was something a little off with Spotify Wrapped’s aura this year, namely that it came off very “How do you do fellow kids?” The brand fell victim to a classic case of a corporation trying too hard to appeal to younger audiences.
Soon after the highly-anticipated reflection of our most-listened-to artists, albums, and songs of the last year dropped, Gen Z offered a collective eye roll over the language used in the presentation.
“You were the main character.”
“While everyone was trying to figure out what NFTs were…”
“You deserve a playlist as long as your skincare routine.”
“Even your music gets a vibe check.”
“You always understood the assignment.”
The list of cringe-worthy comments goes on. It’s not much of a surprise that big brands are desperately attempting to win the favor of Gen Z – especially when you take how much we hate capitalism into consideration – but, besties, this effort is having the opposite effect. There’s a difference between a playful inclusion and a script forcibly incorporating every trending TikTok sound of the year, and it is stark. And of course TikTok jumped on the critical bandwagon, with one user offering us what is perhaps the best use of the “Oh my god, girl queen!” audio. One commenter went on to add, “Someone said it’s the Buzzfeedification of society, and I completely agree.” (Buzzfeed being a frequent offender in trying too hard to impress the younger generation.) There’s just something about how brands tend to view Gen Z; it’s not necessarily offensive, but it’s undeniably laughable.
But even though Spotify’s aura this year was considerably cheugy, it didn’t take away from how much we love to show off our musical footprint. My top artists for this year were top-tier (hello Olivia Rodrigo, The Neighbourhood, Taylor Swift, and Chase Atlantic!), and I’m not biased in the slightest. Music shows a lot about a person, and there’s a unique beauty in analyzing our friends’ frequent plays – and even in the bit of a competition to see who garnered the most impressive top five that ensues. Not to mention the thrill you feel when someone’s guilty pleasure is revealed (Glee Cast, I’m looking at you!).
Despite inorganically cramming every single “2021 buzzword” into their recap, Spotify Wrapped is still the highlight of sad girl season (unless “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version)” was on your 2021 playlist). But as much joy as it brought (secondhand embarrassment aside, of course), I’m begging Spotify to let a Gen Z member of the team work on the text next year. A sprinkle of internet slang would have been plenty, but Spotify said, “Ah, f*ck it, give me that damn bucket,” and poured the whole lot in. But I give credit where credit is due, and while most of it could stand to be taken down several notches, the music auras were on point.