Spotify has an end-of-the-year feature that allows users to display statistics on their music choices for the past 12 months. It’s called Spotify Wrapped, and it compiles a list of the top 10 songs, albums, and recording artists you listened to all year. The results come in a graphic that’s easy to share on social media.
It can be a pretty fun look at what you piped into your ears during 2022, as long as your actual music taste aligns with your professed taste in music.
On the other hand, some of us — and you know who you are — like to present to the world the image of an interesting, eccentric fan of off-beat music and you-haven’t-heard-of-them-yet bands, so it can be an embarrassing shock to discover that the top song on your Spotify Wrapped is Taylor Swift’s “Anti-Hero,” followed by Taylor Swift’s “Bejeweled.” It’s hard to maintain a hipster dude profile when Spotify Wrapped reveals that you are, musically speaking, a sorority sister.
I have a very successful friend, one of the top real estate agents in New York City, who proudly showed me his Spotify Wrapped. His top songs, though, weren’t songs at all. What he listened to in 2022, by a wide margin, was something called “Real Estate Agent Affirmations.” Not music. Not news or podcasts. Not even Taylor Swift’s “Anti-Hero.”
What he listened to was someone he has never met tell him in a recorded, endless audio loop what a great real estate agent he is, how he’s got the world by the tail, how he’s in the zone and on a roll, how he will achieve his sales targets with grace and ease. In other words, just utterly ridiculous stuff.
Still, it’s popular. Though I had never heard of it, the “Affirmations” category on Spotify is one of its most-streamed.
“I listen to those every morning,” my friend told me. And he wasn’t even embarrassed about it. “It’s a series of very positive and upbeat affirmative statements that get me into the right state to go and face the day.” I tried not to laugh.
“I can see that you’re trying not to laugh,” he said. “Go ahead. But remember that in 2022, I was one of the top three producers in the New York metro area.”
This is true, as his deeply irritating Instagram account proves. It’s a kaleidoscope of Italian vacations and brand-new Range Rovers, of impossibly glamorous Manhattan apartments and chunky-shaped knitwear from Brunello Cucinelli.
As we talked, he began scrolling through the many different kinds of affirmations that are available on Spotify. There are streamable affirmations for tennis players, computer coders, Uber drivers, and goalies.
“Wait,” I said. “Goalies? Like, in hockey?”
“Or soccer,” he said. “You have a choice.”
I could only imagine what Goalie Affirmations might sound like. “You are going to stop that puck. Your knees, your gloves, your whole body is a perfect instrument of protection. The puck is a virus, and you are the immune system working at peak power. Repeat after me: Not today, hockey puck. Not today.”
I was suddenly aware that an awful lot of people are beginning their day with a pre-recorded litany of “You’re Doing Great!” affirmations. People like my friend are walking around town, earbuds in place, and instead of hearing music, they are listening to what psychologists call “positive self-talk.”
“I’m telling you,” he said, “this stuff really works.”
That can’t be true, can it? My friend is a very accomplished real estate agent because he’s pushy and gregarious and utterly impossible to embarrass. It’s not because he listens to Real Estate Agent Affirmations.
Again, I tried not to laugh. Especially when he said that there are affirmations for employees of the U.S. Postal Service. “You are not a letter carrier. You are an ancient and venerable messenger, carrying news from far and wide. You have winged sandals. You are better than your little jeep and more powerful than that dog in the yard. You are Hermes. You are Mercury.”
“I can see that you’re trying not to laugh. So, OK, show me yours,” he said. So, I went to my Spotify app and got my Spotify Wrapped statistics. It was tragically revealing.
My most-listened-to song in 2022 is something called “Deep Relaxation with Nature Sounds,” followed by “MindQuiet Piano” and “Ambient Sounds for Doing Nothing.” My top albums were all along the lines of “White Noise for Emptying the Mind” and “Electronic Tones for Being Not Doing.”
My Spotify Wrapped 2022 painted a pretty accurate picture of my 2022, in which I did a lot of sitting around and not much of anything else.
“Clearly,” my friend said, “one of us is listening to the wrong thing.”
Rob Long is a television writer and producer and the co-founder of Ricochet.com.