Spotify Users Are Noticing Something Very Strange About Their Top Genres

Forget your horoscope, enneagram number or Myers-Briggs personality type—if you really want to unearth new layers of who you are, you’ve got to check out Spotify’s Wrapped List. Every December, the streaming music service creates a custom year-in-review for each user, revealing the songs they listened to the most—and how that compares to everyone else—as well as what genres they gravitated toward. Only this year, users noticed something a little, uh, different about their results.

Almost everyone had one particularly niche genre. So niche, in fact, that people started wondering whether Spotify was trolling them with the results.

“My number five was filter house…like what?” one Spotify user tweeted.

“I think Spotify makes them up, because my number two genre is Escape Room,” another added.

The conversation spilled into Instagram Stories, as the bloggers behind Young House Love called into question their “emo rap” and “indie poptimism” results, and soon received a flood of messages from their followers, all sharing similarly obscure results: things like chamber psych, vapor soul, Midwest emo, post-teen pop, melodic metalcore and pony (yep, just “pony”).

Turns out, these are all actual Spotify genres—and the super niche categories are nothing new for the brand. After learning one of her top five genres was “escape room” in 2016, journalist Cherie Hu took a deep dive into Spotify’s categories, uncovering Every Noise at Once, an interactive “scatter-plot of the musical genre space” that Spotify data alchemist Glenn McDonald created. Basically, it considers how the sounds and aesthetics of a song, as well as the era and region in which it’s produced, relate to other songs out there. Finding these similarities—no matter how niche—helps create algorithmic playlists, where one song flows to the next, helping you uncover new music you didn’t know you’d love.

Back in 2016, there were 1,482 genres on Spotify. Today, Every Noise at Once identifies 5,071. The ever-growing list of genres makes sense, as new artists and stylings emerge. After all, just because you love Lizzo doesn’t mean you’ll like all pop or rap artists. (In fact, Minnesota Hip Hop—as in Yung Gravy, Call Me Karizma and Mod Sun—may be more your vibe, according to Every Sound at Once.)

“Some people get what they think are weird ones, but the fact that there's a cluster of listening means that the genre is a real thing, even though I might have made up the name,” McDonald told Spotify for Artists in 2018.

So yes, you may not be able to find cinematic dubstep or neo honky tonk in the music section at Walmart—or even your local, incredibly cutting-edge independent record store. But don’t let that stop you from exploring it further on Every Noise at Once and creating your own fandom. Own it.

candace davison bio

VP of editorial, recipe developer, kitsch-lover

Candace Davison oversees PureWow's food and home content, as well as its franchises, like the PureWow100 review series and the Happy Kid Awards. She’s covered all things lifestyle...