There’s no such thing as “embarrassing music”—any music you like should be worth shouting from the rooftops!—but I conveniently forget that truth when Spotify Wrapped rolls around every year. The music streaming service’s oh-so-clever ploy to get us to engage with it through a mishmash of every song we’ve listened to over the last year is, unfortunately, very effective, and in 2022, I found myself desperately trying to beat the “in the top 0.05% of Enya listeners” allegations.
It’s not that listening to Enya repeatedly is embarrassing, per se (she’s a goddess); it’s more that being handed a list of exactly how many times I listened to Enya—and Abba, and the Fun Home cast recording—makes me feel far too seen. For reassurance, I turned to the rest of the Vogue staff, who generously agreed to share their most embarrassing factoids gleaned from Spotify Wrapped with me.
Of course, new releases dominated much of our listening. “I was pissed to learn that my most embarrassingly re-played song was Taylor Swift’s ‘Vigilante Shit,’” said Alexandra Gurvitch, Vogue’s associate director of creative development, adding, “I love Midnights and am a #Swiftie, but that was not my favorite song of the album.” Vogue Runway’s production and editorial coordinator Irene Kim shared Gurvitch’s standom, saying: “I’m a Swiftie, don’t get me wrong, but I have to say that I’m shocked that my most listened-to Taylor song this year was ‘I Forgot That You Existed’ from her album Lover. Out of all of the Taylor Swift songs that could have been my number-one, it was really this one?”
Fashion and style writer Christian Allaire refused to give in to shame, saying: “Am I embarrassed that Beyoncé’s raunchiest Renaissance song, ‘Pure/Honey,’ is my most-played of the year? No! Am I embarrassed that my top five songs of the year are also all from Renaissance? Also no. (‘Alien Superstar’ is second, obviously.) It was a masterful pop album that brought me joy, dancing, and made me feel hot this year. And I simply won’t be ashamed of it. I am, however, embarrassed to learn that I was in Britney Spears’s top 0.01% of listeners. Pop queens only.”
For many of us, Spotify Wrapped humiliation came not from our choices, but from just how much time we spent listening to an artist’s music. “I’m not embarrassed to be a Charli XCX stan, but discovering just how much of a Charli XCX stan I am did come as a mild shock when I checked out my Spotify Wrapped yesterday,” said contributing editor Liam Hess. “Not only was Charli my top artist of the year, but I apparently spent over 2,000 minutes listening to her, which a Google convertor thingy informed me is a full day and a half of my life. Sure, that makes me a big gay cliché, but who cares? Blaring ‘7 Years,’ ‘Official,’ and ‘Constant Repeat’ (all usually on, well, constant repeat) dancing around my bedroom was my catharsis during this hellscape of a year. That’s the joy of Charli, baby!”
For some, perusing Spotify Wrapped was a family affair. “God, I’m so sorry, but Machine Gun Kelly is all over my Spotify Wrapped,” admitted Global Network Lead and U.S. deputy editor Taylor Antrim. “I’d like to blame my eight-year-old son and my 10-year-old daughter–and both love MGK—but the truth is that I, their Gen X father, with my impeccable indie rock taste, introduced them to ‘Maybe’ from Mainstream Sellout and told them this was nothing more than a route to enjoying actual pop punk, or emo, or hardcore, take your pick. Except, ugh, ‘Maybe’ is a banger, and so I put it on the car playlist along with ‘Title Track’ and ‘Forget Me Too,’ MGK’s duet with Halsey, and it was lights-out, constant rotation, the kids singing every (woefully age inappropriate) lyric. That’s been my parenting year—explaining lines about Percocet, f-bomb singalongs, agreeing that Halsey is too sexy. Dad of the year right here.”
Another staff dad, senior features editor Corey Seymour, shared Antrim’s woes: “As a parent to two young kids, the shock of looking at my Wrapped to see that my Spotify has been largely commandeered to play the grade-school version of 100 Gecs over and over is a thing of the past (suffice to say that ‘It’s Corn’ is the ‘Watermelon Sugar’ of the 10-and-under crowd). Still, I wasn’t ready to see that ‘Wannabe – Sped Up Version’ by Why Mona is my fifth most-played song of 2022 (the rest of the top five, of course, are all Olivia Rodrigo). Questions abound: How did my 10-year-old daughter find a seemingly rando cover of the Spice Girls’ landmark debut single (TikTok)—and why does she need it sped up, a la the Chipmunks? Should I now be concerned with lyrics like ‘If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends’ when I previously didn’t care a lick about them? Does anything about this give me an insight to what my daughter wants, what she really really wants, other than silly, incredibly catchy pop music? And what does it say about me that I. . . don’t hate it? Thanks, Esme.”
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Features editor Marley Marius was also disquieted by her most-played song, saying, “I went to a lot of concerts (Steve Lacy! Sigur Rós!) and fell down a lot of rabbit holes this year, but I was not prepared to find out what topped my list. ‘Body’s In Trouble’ by the Canadian singer-songwriter Mary Margaret O’Hara, sister of actress Catherine O’Hara?? Goodness gracious, let me explain. I discovered that song on a person’s Instagram Stories over the summer, and I could not stop listening to it for days. In one way, I stand by that—it sounds like being stoned and restless on a steamy afternoon, which, yeah…—but then again, the rest of my top five is strictly vintage R&B. Chaos!”
Similarly, Vogue Runway global director Nicole Phelps found a surprising life update in her Spotify Wrapped. “I’m not embarrassed by any of my top 100 songs, but I was a bit concerned to discover that my number-four genre is… Adult Standards?! As in old people’s music? ‘Goodbye Mr. Blue’ by Father John Misty is my top-played song of the year, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to my fellow olds and the youngs.”
Fashion archive editor Laird Borrelli-Persson had perhaps the most sanguine reaction to this prompt, explaining, “I’m proud, not embarrassed, of my list :).” But senior fashion news writer Liana Satenstein had the last word via email: “You know what is crazy? I use iTunes still.” Happy Spotify Wrapped season to one and all, even iTunes users!