It’s officially Spotify Wrapped season! For the uninitiated, this is the time of year when Spotify subscribers receive their year-end data on what they listened to the most throughout the previous twelve months. The streaming app tells you your top songs, artists, albums, genres and any other cookie they’ve been tracking. Every user’s Spotify Wrapped is packaged up nicely into an immensely shareable infographic that dominates social media for days. I do not share mine because my music listening habits when no one is watching are completely embarrassing! But a lot of people do, usually to show how cool or niche their music or podcast tastes are.
I am willing to reveal that one of my most listened to artists this year was country singer Morgan Wallen — and I am not alone; Wallen had the most streamed album, One Thing At A Time, and song, “Last Night,” in the US on Spotify.
Despite Wallen’s relative popularity, Twitter/X users had a field day mocking people who listen to his music.
“responding to every gay who has morgan wallen in their spotify wrapped by asking where they were on January 6th,” one viral tweet said.
“Everytime I see Morgan Wallen in someone’s top 5 on wrapped,” a self-proclaimed Swiftie wrote next to a gif of a woman pretending to vomit.
“y’all have morgan wallen on your spotify wrapped and you’re posting that? youre not embarrassed?” another user said, garnering nearly 300 likes.
“morgan wallen on ur spotify wrapped is a red flag,” one person declared.
There are two implications of these plentiful posts:
1. Morgan Wallen’s music is bad and you have bad taste for enjoying it and,
2. Only racists and/or bigots listen to Morgan Wallen
Everyone is entitled to their own opinions about music quality, although I personally find people who reflexively reject all popular music exhausting and annoying. But the idea that Morgan Wallen’s fans are a bunch of racists is especially tired and divorced from reality.
The assumption comes from the fact that almost three years ago, Wallen was caught on a Ring camera drunkenly calling his white friend as the N-word. The CMA Awards banned Wallen that year and his music was pulled from hundreds of radio stations in response to backlash over the incident. Wallen apologized for his behavior and donated half a million dollars to black charities. A lot of people thought the entire cancellation attempts were absurd, especially given the context in which he used the word and his swift apology and retributive action, and continued to listen to his music. Wallen gained new fans, as well, because of the notoriety and name ID he gained through the entire episode, and his album Dangerous was immensely successful as a result.
The online “woke” mob, though, has been unable to move on from what Wallen did. They don’t believe in forgiveness — and they especially hate Wallen because he is a white man who wears cowboy boots (and because Wallen treated illogical Covid restrictions with the unseriousness they deserved). Wallen’s broad appeal has made him an ever-present boogeyman for the left; he is their caricature of a cocksure, mediocre white man who enjoys massive success at their expense. He is victimizing them just by existing.
There’s a great lesson in this whole saga. The Twitter/X mob despises Wallen and would cancel him with a snap of their fingers if they could. But they can’t. Wallen’s 2023 tour for his album One Thing At A Time sold out arenas across the globe. I went to one of the shows at FedEx Field outside of Washington, DC and I haven’t seen young women that hysterical for a male musical act since Justin Bieber. I could hardly even hear Wallen singing over the screams of his adoring fans (not my ideal concert experience, to be honest, but c’est la vie). Wallen’s single “Last Night” topped the Billboard Hot 100 for a stunning sixteen weeks. He took home eleven Billboard Awards in November. Wallen currently stands aside global phenomenon Taylor Swift as the king of pop-country.
Social media mobs are not real life! When they tried to accuse Jason Aldean of promoting lynching through his song “Try That in a Small Town,” it became a radio smash and the video went viral. Last week I wrote about Matt Rife, a comedian under fire for a domestic violence joke, who is amassing new fans and views on his Netflix special over the supposed controversy. Those people in high-level positions who are charged with responding to cancellation attempts — CEOS, PR professionals, label executives, award show boards, television producers, etc. — must look at Wallen’s success and realize how siloed his detractors really are and how pointless it is to try to placate them. And those of us who are merely consumers should see it and believe that we are the normal ones and we have nothing to apologize for! Maybe I will post my Spotify Wrapped, after all.