The excitement over the end of Lockdown 2.0 was overshadowed by another much-anticipated event last week: the release of Spotify’s Wrapped 2020. Racking up more than 43,000 mentions on social in just two days, it’s safe to say that it has become a mainstay of the end-of-year events calendar (Brandwatch, 2020). However, Spotify Wrapped is just part of a long tradition of making ‘Best of the Year’ lists. From The Rolling Stone’s 50 Best Albums of 2020 to The Guardian’s Best Books of 2020, just about every form of entertainment is covered. We decided to take a look at why these lists might be especially important to us this year.

Looking back, happy and comforting memories has been a key theme throughout 2020. During the first lockdown, the7stars and YouGov found that a quarter of Brits were feeling most nostalgic for moments within the preceding 12 months, compared to any other time of their lives (the7stars.) When asked what helped them feel fondly about the past, 41% of people said listening to old music and 37% said watching old TV shows. We have all experienced the transportive powers of music, films or books associated with a particular place or time in our memories.

You could also say that we have all become greater arts and culture aficionados this year, as it provided much of our company and entertainment during lockdowns. Over Lockdown 2.0, entertainment usage was up across the board: 42% of people used TV and film streaming services more often, 25% streamed more music, 23% listened to more radio and 21% listened to more audiobooks and podcasts (the QT, the7stars.) This year, we might see the critics’ Best Of lists as affirmations of our good tastes (rather than reproaches for all the books we didn’t find time to read).

Collective list writing is also an act of community-building. Spotify exemplifies this well. On the one hand, the Wrapped list is a collection of our personal data and a reflection of our unique music and podcast listening habits. It makes us feel special (that moment of pride when you’re in the top 0.01% of fans of your favourite band), but it also makes us feel part of something bigger when we share it on Twitter or see Spotify’s data about our community posted on OOH.

Our obsession with the recent past says a lot about how we felt this year, but the way we look back also raises some questions about how we will move forward. As Spotify shows, brands who can get meaningfully involved in these conversations will win the hearts of consumers.

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