â€œIn 2021 you did what you had to do.â€
â€œYou always understood the assignment.â€
â€œYou deserve a playlist as long as your skincare routine.â€
No, these phrases were not uttered by a TikTok star or a cool mom. Instead, they are idioms that appear in the annual data-driven marketing campaign known as Spotify Wrapped.
The feature, which was released on Dec. 1, shows users of the streaming music service the songs and artists they listened to most throughout the year. Its arrival reliably inspires a number of screenshots and memes on social media. In 2020, for example, people posted about how fittingly depressing (or soothing) some of their most-listened-to tracks were.
This time, much of the commentary revolved around the campaignâ€™s use of internet slang (â€œliving rent-free in my head,â€ â€œvibe check,â€ â€œmain characterâ€) and its references to popular topics (NFTs, skin care regimens). In one meme, a Twitter user joked about personal finance using the tone of the Spotify campaign: â€œYour checking account balance was in the bottom .003%. Weird flex but ok!â€
Some users also noted surprising revelations about their listening habits. (Who knew they were in the top .05 percent of Doja Cat listeners?) Others found something resembling self-knowledge in the â€œauraâ€ readings that Spotify generated based on the moods suggested by their music tastes. (One person on Twitter jokingly reported that Spotify had deemed their audio aura as being â€œfertile and breedable.â€)
After the featureâ€™s Dec. 1 release, the hashtag #SpotifyWrapped trended for a couple of days, and the memes have been endless. In short, Spotify has collected a lot of data and is now reaping the benefits.
Kelsey McGarry, 28, who lives in Los Angeles and works as a grant writer and coordinator for the cityâ€™s homeless services, spent practically a whole day poring over her own Spotify Wrapped. She said that the results felt like an accurate read of who she is.
â€œMy Spotify Wrapped is very gay,â€ said Ms. McGarry, who added that her top artist of the year was Charlie XCX. She enjoyed looking back at her year in music but noted that the language in this yearâ€™s Wrapped was occasionally distracting.
â€œMy skin care routine isnâ€™t even long,â€ Ms. McGarry said. â€œLike, what are you talking about?â€
Rajat Suresh, a 26-year-old comedian and writer, was one of the many people online who joked about Spotify leaning into playful language and buzzwords.
â€œIn 2021, you were not cancelled,â€ Mr. Suresh wrote in a meme he posted on Twitter. â€œBye Felicia! You got your Fauci Ouchie, and thatâ€™s got the whole world shook.â€ Along with the image, he added a question: â€œWhy does Spotify talk like this?â€
Ms. McGarry said that for her, those â€œcringeâ€ moments, where the app seemed to be pulling phrases from a word cloud of popular slang and search terms, were a reminder that Spotify was a corporation and that sharing snippets from its Wrapped campaign on social media was â€œfree advertising.â€
According to Taj Alavi, the global head of marketing at Spotify, the company is always looking for new and creative ways to connect with Spotify listeners, of which there are more than 381 million worldwide.
â€œWe often lean into playful language and user experiences â€” itâ€™s a core part of who we are as a brand,â€ Ms. Alavi wrote in an email. â€œWhen we consider what the user experience will include, one of the most important factors is connecting with culture, not just making it all about Spotify. So youâ€™ll notice playful references to cultural trends from 2021 reflected in the interactive user experience.â€
Mr. Suresh said that he uses Spotify a lot, making it â€œone of the companies that knows everythingâ€ about him. For him, though, this yearâ€™s roundup reached a little too far.
â€œIt just felt like a classic Twitter thing of when the brand is trying to seem like a human or something,â€ he said in a phone interview from his home in Brooklyn, noting that heâ€™d rather just see the data.
Thatâ€™s not to say he didnâ€™t check his Spotify Wrapped with genuine curiosity. His top artist, he said, was Elliott Smith.