Observer Spotify Wrapped 2022: In our Taylor era

Ladies and gentlemen, kids of all ages, we’re back with the Observer Spotify (and other music platforms) Wrapped. Our team of student journalists, frequently found at major campus events or hunkered in our office in the basement of South Dining Hall, listen to a lot of music. Maybe even more music than the average listener, as we blast it away during late night production shifts, while traveling to cover Irish athletics or while writing a story. 

All that means that we have a lot of Spotify Wrapped data among us. Or, if you’re our esteemed Managing Editor Aidan O’Malley … we have the breakdown of our YouTube Music listening habits. Either way, we’re back with the same project as last year. We will curate a playlist for each department at The Observer and denote, as an organization, our top artists, songs and a bonus award — the top album. 

Without further ado, let’s take a look at this year’s Observer Spotify (and other platforms) Wrapped. 

Graphics, Photo and Social Media

Top Five Artists: Taylor Swift, Harry Styles, Noah Kahan, Billy Joel, Zara Larsson

We combined these departments due to their smaller nature and created their playlist as such. Over half the respondents from this group featured Taylor as their top artist, a trend that will be seen frequently throughout this article. A variety of Swift albums made their presence known in every department, but it was “Fearless” that dominated the Graphics/Photo/Social Media department playlist. Four songs from the album cracked the 25-song playlist, headlined by “The Other Side of the Door.” 

A clear second was Harry Styles, who frequently made appearances but played second fiddle to Swift in these rankings. His single “As It Was” and album “Harry’s House” featured prominently, with “As It Was” being one of the top songs throughout The Observer. Rounding out the top five, Noah Kahan’s “Stick Season” earned him a spot in this ranking, and a few of his songs appear throughout other playlists as well. There was a significant drop off into the final two rankings, but Billy Joel and Zara Larsson each notched a top-artist ranking in the department to claim a spot on the top five. 

The overall playlist includes six Taylor Swift songs and no other artist repeats. It can be found here


Top 5 Artists: Taylor Swift, Harry Styles, Phoebe Bridgers, Dylan, Kendrick Lamar

Taylor was yet again a clear winner in News, as the top two artists from 2021 came through again this year. Swift was the top artist for 47% of respondents in the News Department, and Styles earned 18% of the remaining top-artist slots. That was easily enough to claim the top two spots in the artist rankings. Three songs from “Red (Taylor’s Version)” made the playlist, highlighted by the 10-minute version of “All Too Well.” “Late Night Talking” and “Grapejuice” from Styles’ “Harry’s House” led the way for the runner-up. 

Outside of the top two artists, Phoebe Bridgers, the Observer’s overall No. 3 artist from 2021, makes her first appearance. Three of her songs make an appearance in the playlist, with a pair from her album “Punisher” making the cut. Dylan and Kendrick Lamar round out the list, although you won’t find any of the latter on the playlist, as none of his individual songs cracked the rankings. 

With 14 of the songs belonging to the top three artists (and 16 to the top four), there’s less diversity in the News playlist, but the vibes stay immaculate. Find it here.


Top 5 Artists: Taylor Swift, Sufjan Stevens, Kendrick Lamar, Florence & The Machine, Harry Styles

The Scene department is able to dethrone Styles from his regular No. 2 slot, although Taylor remains atop the list. For the second-straight year, Sufjan Stevens claims the No. 2 spot among all Scene artists. His song “Back to Oz” is the headliner on the playlist. Swift was actually considerably less dominant among Scene respondents, but no other artist was able to clearly seize control, allowing Taylor to claim the top spot for the third-straight department. Two songs from her “folklore” album boosted her numbers on this playlist.

Outside the top two, we get another appearance from Kendrick Lamar, but again, the artist has no songs featured in the top 25. Florence & The Machine is another new name, buoyed into the rankings by their song “King,” and Styles rounds out the list. “Late Night Talking” was again a hit, keeping Styles just barely in the top five. 

The Scene department had a couple of the most noticeable quirks. One respondent produced a top five songs all by Oingo Boingo, so a couple are present on this playlist. Additionally, cracking the list as the 25th and final song was “Hedwig’s Theme.” Maybe it was music used to fall asleep, or maybe it hyped them up, but either way the Harry Potter music found its way onto the list. The full playlist, featuring 20 different artists, is here.


Top 5 Artists: Taylor Swift, Morgan Wallen, Florida Georgia Line, Machine Gun Kelly, Zach Bryan

Florida Georgia Line and Machine Gun Kelly return as headliners on the Sports playlist. Taylor avenges herself after slipping behind OneRepublic in 2021 on the Sports rankings. This year, she rose back up to No. 1, putting herself one department away from a clean sweep. Country artists Morgan Wallen and Zach Bryan round out the group. 

“All Too Well,” the ten-minute version (of course), headlined this playlist as well, but it was the only Taylor song to make the list. By far, the Sports department boasted the most varied playlist, with no single artist being the primary artist for more than one song. Morgan Wallen featured in a second song, alongside his hit “Sand in My Boots,” but he was the only artist to appear twice.  

In general, the Sports department playlist brings to mind some summer vibes with the heavy country presence, as well as some expected pre-game hype. The inclusion of the song “A-OK” is notable as it’s important to mention that Associate Sports Editor Andrew McGuinness listened to the song over 1,000 times, with the tune being the backdrop of the Philadelphia Phillies’ playoff run. You can find the full playlist here


Top 5 Artists: Taylor Swift, Harry Styles, Hozier, Conan Gray, Lorde

The sweep is complete. With three first-place nods in the smallest set of respondents, Taylor Swift easily claimed the top-artist spot in Viewpoint, making it all five departments. Seven of her songs cracked the top 25. Styles interestingly showcased some of his variety of music by claiming the No. 2 overall spot despite not having one of his signature songs crack the playlist. Rather, Hozier, coming in at the No. 3 spot, featured five songs on the playlist. That included a trio from his playlist “Wasteland, Baby!” and two additional songs. The final two artists on the list each earned a song apiece on the playlist. Lorde makes her return to Viewpoints’ top five after checking in at No. 3 last year. 

The full playlist features 15 different artists and can be found here. 

Observer’s Top Five Songs

  • “All Too Well (10 minute version),” Taylor Swift
  • “As It Was,” Harry Styles
  • “Late Night Talking,” Harry Styles
  • “Stick Season,” Noah Kahan
  • “Movement,” Hozier

Album of the year: “Red (Taylor’s Version)” by Taylor Swift. 

Observer’s Top 5 Artists

No. 5 – Morgan Wallen

Morgan Wallen garnered a second-place finish in the sports department, which was enough to just barely crack the top five. “Sand in My Boots,” along with his feature in “Broadway Girls” were among his prominent songs on Observer playlists, and Wallen gives the top five some country representation. 

No. 4 – Sufjan Stevens

After appearing just in the Scene rankings last year, Stevens did the same but did so more heavily, showing up in several respondents’ data. The indie artist remains popular with the Observer despite fewer individual hits appearing on the playlists. 

No. 3  – Kendrick Lamar

Another weird phenomenon, as Kendrick showed up on two different departments’ top five artists despite a grand total of zero songs appearing on the playlists. His latest album, “Mr. Morale and The Big Steppers,” released in May 2022, provided enough for Lamar to stay relevant in 2022, although the rapper evidently lacked a major hit, at least among Observer listeners. 

No. 2 – Harry Styles

No one is surprised by this one. Styles bumps up from No. 4 to No. 2 in this year’s Observer top-artist rankings, after claiming three second-place finishes in five artists. His hit song “As It Was” frequently appeared in top-five song lists, while a couple of songs from “Harry’s House,” kept his music trending among our listeners. 

No. 1 – Taylor Swift

To the shock of no one, the happiness of many, (and maybe the chagrin of a few), Taylor remains the No. 1 artist of The Observer for the second year running. Of the 125 songs featured in the five playlists above, 23 belong to Taylor Swift, who also claimed The Observer’s top overall song with her ten-minute version of “All Too Well,” featured on The Observer’s top album, “Red (Taylor’s Version).” 

So while times have changed since I last wrote this article, some things may never change. And Taylor being played in the wee morning hours as we put the finishing touches on that day’s paper is one of those things that I don’t believe will change for a long time.

Contact Aidan at


Scene’s Top 22 Albums of 2022

22. ‘Cave World’ by Viagra Boys

“Cave World” is the third LP of punk rock band Viagra Boys, and it expands upon what made their previous records so great. The album is absolutely soaked in meta-irony and absurdist humor. Viagra Boys are simultaneously drawn to and repelled by the eclectic world of conspiracy theories, incels and the internet at large; they poke fun at this chaotic space from the inside. This isn’t even to mention the incredibly catchy riffs that permeate the album: “Troglodyte” and “Punk Rock Loser” are standouts. Overall, “Cave World” is Viagra Boys’ strongest and most interesting album to date. — Coby McKeown, Scene Writer

21. ‘Uncanny Valley’ by COIN

“Uncanny Valley,” released by COIN on March 25, is an album meant to be listened to from beginning to end. From the strong guitar twang of “Chapstick” to the piano chords and melancholic atmosphere created in “Plug Me In,” the album takes you on a musical journey that you won’t regret. Within the album’s strong futuristic concept, each song has something distinct for the listener to enjoy but flows from one song right into the next. Want to listen to something that sounds new and familiar all at once? Listen to “Uncanny Valley.” — Claire McKenna, Scene Writer

Read the review here.

20. ‘Hold the Girl’ by Rina Sawayama

Sawayama’s second full-length release, “Hold the Girl,” is anything but a sophomore slump. She jumps from slay to sadness and from pensiveness to pop-rock. The album’s sonic and thematic tensions contradict at times, but it’s held together by Sawayama’s fantastic vocals and her unwavering commitment to satisfying her inner child. — Claire Lyons, Associate Scene Editor

Read the review here.

19. ‘Proof’ by BTS

“Proof” is a compilation album by popular K-pop band BTS that hosts a vast catalog of older hits in addition to introducing five new songs. After experimenting with different genres, “Proof” feels like concrete evidence of BTS’ unique sound. The new songs, especially “Run BTS,” are exactly the hip-hop and pop fusion that the group has been aiming for. With BTS on a long-term hiatus to complete their military service in South Korea, the compilation aspect of the album feels like a farewell and a celebration of their previous work. — Caitlin Brannigan, Scene Writer

18. ‘Unlimited Love’ by Red Hot Chili Peppers

John Frusciante is back! This album is one of their most dynamic albums since “Stadium Arcadium” (2006), nearly two decades later. “Unlimited Love” brings the band back together, literally and figuratively. Anthony Kiedis’s punchy lyrics coupled with Flea’s hard-hitting bass lines, backed by Chad Smith’s pounding drums are perfectly paired with Frusciante’s unique sound. Many would disagree, but “Poster Child” is on repeat and one of the most lyrically complex songs on the album. — Willoughby Thom, Scene Editor

17. ‘American Bollywood’ by Young the Giant

Standing at a Young the Giant concert while “American Bollywood” played is an experience I will forever hold on to. “American Bollywood” is Young the Giant’s fifth album and is by far the most intimate and epic album they have released so far. It tells the story of a wayward individual trying to find his place in a world of chaos, exploring themes of identity, belonging and immigration through the marriage of beautiful alternative rock and South Asian musical influences. “American Bollywood” is a musical triumph and masterpiece which pushes the boundaries of rock music to new heights. — Rachel Hartmann, Scene Writer

16. ‘It’s Almost Dry’ by Pusha T

I was skeptical when this was effusively recommended to me in a dorm hallway. After all, isn’t this the guy who named his son Nigel Brixx? I had forgotten that he’s also the guy who remixed the “Succession” theme. Produced half-and-half by Kanye and Pharrell, the No. 1 album reacquainted us with the quality of Pusha T’s flow, pop poetic lyricism (“Had a million answers, didn’t have a clue / Why Michael kissed Fredo in ‘Godfather II’”), storytelling and investigative reporting. Familiar references to Virginia Beach cocaine and rap industry rivalries are plentiful (certainly not limited to his son’s name), but it’s a far more unique, catchy and supremely well-produced record. I’ll say it: Move aside, Kendrick. Go home, Drake. Rap album of the year. — Isa Sheikh, Associate News Editor

15. ‘Dawn FM’ by The Weekend

The Weeknd has been at the top of the pop pantheon for years now, but where does he go from here? How about teaming up with legendary chart-topping producer Max Martin and creating a concept-based synth-pop record that explores passion, love and the inevitable approach of death? By seamlessly combining his older and darker songwriting with his newer retro style, The Weeknd creates his most cohesive project to date. — Coby McKeown, Scene Writer

14. ‘Wet Leg’ by Wet Leg

Wet Leg is a force to be reckoned with. After releasing two debut singles in 2021, Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers found themselves on charts all over the world almost instantly. The English duo has firmly established themselves on the scene, and we are not complaining. Their blend of indie, punk and disco is a mash-up we didn’t know we needed. Some instant favorites are “Chaise Longue,” “Angelica” and my personal favorite, “Oh No.” They are everything that the world needs: a band that makes “sad music for party people, and party music for sad people.” — Willoughby Thom, Scene Editor

13. ‘Un Verano Sin Ti’ by Bad Bunny

“Un Verano Sin Ti” is Bad Bunny’s third album and diverges from his previous discography. Instead of boxing himself into the style of his previous releases, Bad Bunny embraced the album’s Caribbean musical influences, inspired by his childhood visits to the coasts of Puerto Rico. “Un Verano Sin Ti” is an exquisite reggaeton album that encapsulates fun, thrill and soul. — Rachel Hartmann, Scene Writer

12. ‘Gemini Rights’ by Steve Lacy

Released this summer, “Gemini Rights” was Steve Lacy’s second album. Lacy immediately saw internet fame with songs “Static” and “Bad Habit” going viral on Tik Tok. “Gemini Rights” takes the listener on a journey, with no two songs sounding like another. Lacy opens with the familiar “Static,” a short two-minute song that parallels the entire album. In this track, Lacy is calling out to an ex who self-medicates after their breakup. This contrasts beautifully with his final song, “Give You the World,” which also sees him begging for the forgiveness of a lover. — Olivia Schatz, Associate Sports Editor

11. ‘Surrender’ by Maggie Rogers

Maggie Rogers’ sophomore album bears the same name as her Harvard Divinity School thesis (“Surrender”) and it’s no surprise, as the singer-songwriter effortlessly inserts divinity school-worthy questions into a slate of pop-rock anthems. She wrote the album mid-pandemic in her family’s Maine home, and indeed the album’s intensity feels like a necessary catharsis after months in COVID isolation.

Rogers is “surrendering.” She commits fully to her desires on “Want, Want,” to feeling deeply on “Shatter” and to escapist fantasy on “Anywhere With You.” Her commitment pays off. As Rogers soared to the top of my Spotify Wrapped, I couldn’t help but surrender, like she did, to this beautiful album. — Katie Muchnick, Scene Writer

10. ‘Special’ by Lizzo

“Special,” Lizzo’s fresh new album, is a masterpiece about self-love and loving others. The twelve songs are a gorgeous mix of pop, R&B and hip-hop that invites listeners on a journey of self-discovery and acceptance. After the massive commercial success of “Truth Hurts,” Lizzo had a high bar to live up to and she succeeded with this album. It is a raw, vulnerable and special work that proves Lizzo’s musicality and solidifies her place as one of the greats in the contemporary music industry. — Rachel Hartmann, Scene Writer

Read the review here.

9. ‘The Car’ by Arctic Monkeys

“The Car,” Arctic Monkeys’ seventh studio album, displays the British rockers’ perspectives on life, love, fame and more through the rearview mirror (or rather, through a mirrorball). It features copious orchestral components (similar to frontman Alex Turner’s side project, The Last Shadow Puppets), cinematic elements and an air of mystery and intrigue in both the instrumentation and lyricism. In “The Car,” the band progresses their sound’s sophistication and states their desire to make music for its own sake rather than the sake of their fans. — Anna Falk, Scene Writer

Read the review here.

8. ‘Being Funny in a Foreign Language’ by the 1975

This year was rife with releases from many 2014 Tumblr favorites, most notably the 1975’s “Being Funny in a Foreign Language” (“BFIAFL”). This LP’s lyrics are as quirky, laughable, sincere and cutting as ever, and the sound is the most consistent from their discography. “BFIAFL” features vocals from Michelle Zauner of Japanese Breakfast on “Part of the Band” and (as many TikTok users are aware of) guitarist Adam Hann’s wife, Carly Holt, on “About You.” Healy maintains his usual live performance antics, but this album remains one of the band’s most honest and coherent pieces yet. — Anna Falk, Scene Writer

Read the review here.

7. ‘RENAISSANCE’ by Beyoncé

It’s late summer, and I play “Plastic Off the Sofa” on repeat as I edit articles for my internship in a fever dream. Beyoncé’s silky vocals, the track’s blissed-out chords and sweet lyrics almost distract me from my task. Queen Bey’s seventh studio album, “Renaissance” feels like a return to her early 2000s R&B sound but still draws on unique influences like afrobeats, gospel and 1970s disco. — Angela Mathew, Manger of Talent & Inclusion

6. ‘Laurel Hell’ by Mitski

Mitski’s sixth studio album marked a return to the industry after a four-year hiatus. After her 2018 album, “Be the Cowboy,” she took a break from music and the public eye. But now, she’s back with “Laurel Hell,” an ‘80s-inspired dance-pop tour through the tangles of interpersonal relationships and Mitski’s complex feelings toward her career. Sobering lyrics play against synthy electro-rock beats to weave a rich and layered tapestry of vulnerability, guilt, finality and forgiveness. I’ve written about “Laurel Hell” before, and I’ll continue writing about it as long as it continues wrecking me with each replay. — Natalie Allton, Scene Writer

Read the review here.

5. ‘Dance Fever’ by Florence + the Machine

In F+TM’s “Dance Fever,” Florence Welch resurrects like Jesus “in a beautiful dress” (“Choreomania”). Emerging from the pandemic, Welch’s new album uses mountainous harmonies to offer a characteristically witchy portrait of her life. She searingly defies gender expectations and challenges oppressive institutions in “Free” and “King.” She retrospectively explores all-too-universal battles with addiction and depression in “Daffodil” and “Girls Against God.” In “Dance Fever,” Welch explores trauma from COVID and the patriarchy through her innovative and gut-wrenching orchestral clashes. — Connor Marrott, Scene Writer

4. ‘Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers’ by Kendrick Lamar

“I’ve been goin’ through somethin’ / 1,855 days / I’ve been goin’ through somethin’. / Be afraid.”

Wake up! It’s 2022, and Pulitzer Prize winner and rap legend Kendrick Lamar has just released his newest album since the chart-topping original “Black Panther” soundtrack. In “Mr. Morale,” Lamar reflects on the eventful past few years, on how the world has gone up in flames and on how he’s trying to put it out. The album’s complicated, but I’m a “Die Hard” fan of the production quality and Lamar’s lyrics. — Claire Lyons, Associate Scene Editor

Read the review here.

3. ‘Stick Season’ by Noah Kahan

Both of Noah Kahan’s singles in “Stick Season” went viral, making his “ode to New England” highly anticipated. Kahan fully encompasses the changing of seasons. The first half of the album is upbeat, with lyrics about love and memories accompanied by a cheerful acoustic guitar. At the midpoint, the album falls into the winter season where his tracks transition into a more solemn tone. He ends with “The View Between Villages,” a piece that fully encompasses the entire album, as well as the feeling of being displaced in your own home, something many college students can relate to. — Olivia Schatz, Associate Sports Editor

Read the review here.

2. ‘Harry’s House’ by Harry Styles

With the release of “Harry’s House” in May, Harry Styles leapt to a greater level of stardom than he had ever experienced before, including in his days with One Direction — something that surprised even Harry himself. The album captures the split desire to dance or cry your heart out. Here, you don’t have to decide; you can do both.

Recently someone asked me, “What color is Harry’s House?” Answer: the yellow of sunglasses, the green in eyes and fried rice, the grape juice blues and most of all, the gold of a shining star — because 2022 was Harry Styles’ year, and the world is his home. — Alysa Guffey, Editor-in-Chief

Read the review here.

1. ‘Midnights’ by Taylor Swift

On Oct. 21, when the clock struck midnight, a wonder was released across the world … Also known as “Midnights” by Taylor Swift. There was doubt lingering in all of our minds as we played the album: Could Taylor Swift do it again? Could she enchant us and have us screaming her lyrics for the days to follow? 

And, yes, she did.

“Midnights” captured the essence of thirteen sleepless nights with exciting pop songs and heart-wrenching slow tracks that kept listeners on their toes. The album captured our hearts as we pondered the meaning of Swift’s brilliant lyrics and related to her restless midnights. Swift succeeded once again, and “Midnights” is exactly the album that 2022 needed. — Rachel Hartmann, Scene Writer

Read the review here.

Some of our favorites didn’t make the top-22, but they still deserve an honorable mention: “Aethiopes” by Billy Woods, “MAN PLAYS THE HORN” by Cities Aviv, “And in The Darkness, Hearts Aglow” by Weyes Blood, “Emails I Can’t Send” by Sabrina Carpenter, “Stereotype” by Cole Swindell and “Sweet Tooth” by Mom Jeans.


‘Stick Season’: An ode to New England

Noah Kahan teased his newest album “Stick Season” as an ode to New England. When he released his first single, the namesake of his album, it blew up on Tik Tok, and the once-niche indie singer was thrown into stardom. The single “Stick Season” was released on June 8, while his second single “Northern Attitude” was later released on Sept. 16. 

Kahan’s album captures a sense of nostalgia for a region many people have never even been to. Stick season is a term coined for the transition in Vermont from fall to winter. He opens the album with his two singles, both of which encapsulate the changing of the seasons.

The album follows this pattern as well with the first seven songs on the track list being more upbeat, with a quick strum of the guitar in the background of lyrics about love and memories. While fall may be considered a depressing time of year, there is something about the beauty of the changing of the leaves that we simply cannot hate. The first new song of the album is “All My Love.” This track, just like many of the songs on this album, talks about forgiveness and lost love. “Now I know your name, but not who you are”, Kahan sings, “there ain’t a drop of bad blood, it’s all my love.” This sentiment of yearning for what was, but also accepting the passing of time, follows throughout the album. 

“She Calls Me Back” takes its spot as track four, and again has the fun guitar strums in the background as Kahan sings about a love that once was. It is in the fifth track “Come Over” where the audience sees its first shift to a darker tone. Especially in contrast to “She Calls Me Back”, in “Come Over” we hear Kahan’s longing for the love that he once had. “I don’t think that I can take this bed getting any colder,” he sings before repeating the name of the song. 

“Everywhere, Everything” is when the audience really sees the shift of the season and the album. Despite also following the story of two lovers, this song takes a much more melancholic outlook on love. He wants nothing more than to die with his lover’s hand in his. He wishes to rot, just as does everything at the turn of the seasons. Regardless of the more pessimistic tone in this song, it is still relatively upbeat when compared to “Orange Juice”, his next track. 

While all of his previous songs had a darker tone toward love and nostalgia, “Orange Juice” follows the tale of a friend who has struggled with sobriety. The soft strum of the guitar combined with Kahan’s gentle voice contrasts with the second half of the song, where he can sense the frustration with the situation, a struggle with sobriety familiar to many. 

The remaining songs all add onto each other, and Kahan perfectly transitions from a beautiful fall season to the dark uncertainty of winter. It mirrors his transformation from a singer from Strafford, Vermont to performing in front of a national audience. 

While the first half definitely has a lighter mood than the second, mental health is another theme present throughout the album. From the start, medication and trauma are intertwined with the lyrics. This does not distract from the overall album, but rather deepens the meanings and intention of each song. It is a personal album for Kahan, and we see this the best in his final song “The View Between Villages.” 

If you instantly repeat the album after listening to “The View Between Villages” it would be hard to imagine that it belongs in the same one as “Stick Season.” But Kahan so beautifully transitions from one song to another that the audience is simply immersed in the beauty of the album. 

“The View Between Villages” is the perfect ending to Kahan’s love letter to New England and his childhood. Any college student can relate to the feeling of being trapped between two stages in life, and this song encapsulates those emotions perfectly. 

“A minute from home but I feel so far from it,” he sings as the chorus starts to pick up. We feel his anger, frustration and confusion, all before the guitar slows down, and the audience is left with an ambiance of nothingness. For the final minute of the album, there are no lyrics, and the audience is forced to sit and think. 

This album feels like a wave rushing over you, and there is no better time to listen to it than when the leaves are falling and the first bit of crispiness is hitting the air. 

Artist: Noah Kahan

Album: “Stick Season” 

Favorite tracks: “Homesick,” “The View Between Villages”

If you like: Gregory Alan Isakov, Dean Lewis

Shamrocks: 5 out of 5

Contact Olivia Schatz at