My Kids Ruined My Spotify Wrapped A *Little* Bit Less This Year
Like the hanging of holly and mad dash to score $50 off Airpods on Amazon, December always brings the gift of the Spotify Wrapped list, users’ year-end review of their most listened-to songs. For some, it’s a chance to share indie cred. For others, identity politics or pop culture community (looking at you, Swifties). But for parents, it’s a moment to reflect on just how terrible our taste in music has become, and just how much our lives are not our own.
You know the narrative. Before kids, you went to Coachella and downloaded mixtapes and once attended the same party as the guy from Kings of Leon. Now, you stay up late to order tickets to CoComelon Live! and find yourself saying things like, “Actually, the Trolls World Tour album isn’t half bad!”
And as for your Spotify profile? It is thoroughly deranged. One day, you might get a recommendation for a ‘90s-era female singer songwriter. The next, The Wiggles Christmas album, followed by something called Barbie Mermaid Power.
Or at least that’s how it goes in my family, where we all share one Spotify profile and, most importantly, one ever-evolving “car playlist” which anybody can add to (but which requires a majority vote if something is to be removed.) All of which is to say, we are regularly driving to soccer practice listening to “The Chicken Dance,” (my 7-year-old son’s addition) which slowly fades into “Gimme Shelter” (my 45 year-old husband’s).
Our past few years of Wrapped have been grim. 2020 was entirely populated by the Cars 3 soundtrack. 2021 by Frozen and Frozen 2. (I could die happy never hearing “Lost in the Woods” again.) This year, however, I’m noticing a sea change. For, while our top 1 and 3 songs are obviously from Encanto (“Bruno,” “Surface Pressure,” respectively), we are, as a family, starting to listen to some slightly normal music.
Our #2 spot went to “Heat Waves,” a No. 1 Billboard hit, which hardly makes us cool, but at least makes us relevant. Then we get into more kid-friendly pop-rock (“Cake By the Ocean,” “Levitating,” a bit of the Imagine Dragons catalogue.) But then it starts to get more interesting. Our number 9 song is “About Damn Time” by Lizzo, which is arguably the best song of the year period, and one my kids use as a power anthem for everything from getting dressed to going to the dentist. (Nobody is ever allowed to tell my 6 year old it’s not about her father: “About Dan Time,” she belts). Next comes “Stand Back” by Stevie Nicks, “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye, and “Before He Cheats,” by Carrie Underwood, which my son explicably loves for the Louisville Slugger reference. Then we’re back to something awful from The Lorax soundtrack. But then there’s Beyoncé! Spoon! Fitz and the Tantrums! These are songs the adults added to the playlist of course, but ones the kids quickly glommed onto and started requesting. (For the record, my daughter demanded we add “No Scrubs” all on her own.)
In a way, all this musical sophistication breaks my heart, because it means my kids are growing up, and that we’re moving toward a period where, not only won’t we be subjected to the Vamperina theme song, we won’t even know what our kids are listening to underneath their headphones.
But for now, I’m relishing in the sweet spot of a Wrapped report that encompasses all our crazy proclivities—our shared power ballads, our funky summer jams, even our Lin Manuel Miranda earworms. I’m also trying to remember that the Spotify year-end report is supposed to be lame for parents. After all, Coachella will always be there. Our volume-up drives to soccer practice won’t be.
Still, I may secretly remove “The Chicken Dance” when no one is looking.