What My Spotify Wrapped Should Have Said

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Of all the personal details I’ve shared on this site, sharing my Spotify wrapped is probably the most vulnerable thing I’ve done because it utterly exposes me. For many people, this time of year is a time to show off what cool new artists they’ve discovered or what podcast they’ve learned so much niche knowledge from. While I think this music tool is incredible, I dread it every year because I know what’s coming: basic, super white, over-produced pop. It makes me cringe to even admit that, not just because my music taste is super basic and I need to-decolonize my ears, but mostly because I never feel like the playlist truly represents who I became throughout the year.

Let me give you an example.

According to Spotify, these are my Top 5 Most Played Songs of 2022:

  1. “Late Night Talking” by Harry Styles
  2. “Yuck” by Charli XCX
  3. “Silk Chiffon” by MUNA
  4. “Range Rover” by Ben Rector
  5. “Cruel Summer” by Taylor Swift

The only reason songs 1, 2, 3, and 5 are so high is because I had this very intense one-month summer fling with someone I was low-key obsessed with. The only way I could get my emotions out was through these scream–in-the-car-with-the-windows-down kinds of songs. I clutched on to these with a death grip, even as the fling came to an abrupt stop and I spent too long crying over–what would’ve been — a ridiculously toxic situationship. Listening to upbeat lovesick pop was the only healthy way I could get my emotions out.

Song 4 is really just embarrassing. For those who don’t know, Ben Rector is a cis white dude who was (and maybe still is?) making music in the Christian Pop-adjacent world. It’s not explicitly religious, but I remember someone telling me in my “I want to be a nun” phase that he’s a “safe” family-friendly Christian option (funny how I’m literally gagging watching myself type this). The thing is, I don’t even remember ever listening to him that much, which is why I’m so confused by this. The song is about him leaving a woman because she only wants him for fame and fortune. It has no relevancy to my life in any way (other than I, too, own a Civic and not a Range Rover like he sings in the song). I really can’t justify it for you. I guess I like it because it’s catchy and in my baritone vocal range.

Do you see how these five songs easily represent a very small (and annoying) part of my year? I always feel like the algorithms never do me justice, so I’m going to give you my Spotify Wrapped According To Me, my experiences, my feelings, and how I navigated 2022 as a queer, single, slightly unstable, 27-year old.

The following are in chronological order, not by how many times I think I would’ve actually played the song.

  1. “Don’t Lose Sight” by Lawrence (which was actually my #7)
  2. “Nobody Like U” from Turning Red
  3. “Soulmate” by Lizzo (which was actually my #29)
  4. “2 Be Loved” by Lizzo
  5. “Emergency Contact” by Kate Cosentino (which was actually my #39)

Alright, so maybe parts of this are still embarrassing, but let me explain why I’m more okay with justifying this lineup.

Right before the beginning of 2022, I found out that I was going to be a writer for Autostraddle. I worked so hard to give myself the title of “writer” and it finally felt like I was moving forward in the dream career/life I wanted. I also took my first ever full-benefits full-time (but very shitty) job since living in LA, so I really felt like I was doing the grind to get to where I wanted to go. Throughout the year, I quit jobs, started new jobs, wrote for different places, and even decided to go back to school. Throughout all of it, the spirit of “Don’t Lose Sight” was always with me. I felt so tired, drained, and overworked, but it was worth it for the light at the end of the tunnel.

“Nobody Like U” represents how emotionally impactful the movie Turning Red was on my life. Not only did it address real generational-trauma issues I was dealing with in my half-Asian family, but it also helped me recognize how much I missed having a best friend girl crew like the one in the movie. From there, I took steps to invest in friendships that had a strong feminine energy to them.

Lizzo got me through this whole year. Her series Watch Out For the Big Grrrls completely changed how I feel about my own insecurities. I always felt like her music was extremely relatable, especially as a happy single individual, but her voice of advocacy really stood out to me this year. From wearing her Yitty line to watching her TikToks, I always felt like I had a friend to tell me I’m beautiful and worthy just as I am. “2 Be Loved” became pretty significant towards the end of this year when I started to name what it is I really want in my love and sex life. That song helped me put lyrics to what I was already working through in therapy: acknowledging that I, in fact, want to find a loving, romantic partner to settle down with.

The final song represents how 2022 was a year of recognizing the adult desire within me to be closer to family, emotionally and quite literally. While this song is about being in romantic love (something I certainly did not experience this year), for me it’s mostly about who sings it. Kate is my soon-to-be sister-in-law. Of course, this is a big deal, but it’s an even bigger deal because my brother is the first to get married in our family. Throughout the year, I’ve had extremely deep and vulnerable conversations with my brother, sister, cousins, aunts, and uncles, which is a fairly new thing for me since my family was never super close. I had a few big crisis moments throughout the year, and each time a family member pulled through for me, which again, is a new concept for me. Inviting a new kind of familial love was a big 2022 theme for me.

So sure, what I’ve learned is that I’ll never be one of the cool kids when it comes to music, and maybe I really should expand my horizons, but most importantly I’ve learned that a ranked list of songs can be just as powerful as an end-of-year journal entry.

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Em Win

Originally from Toledo, Ohio, Em now lives in Los Angeles where she does many odd jobs in addition to writing. When she's not sending 7-minute voice messages to friends and family, she enjoys swimming, yoga, candle-making, tarot, drag, and talking about the Enneagram.

Em has written 70 articles for us.


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