When it comes to mending a broken heart, in my opinion, there are only two things that can help: a whole lot of time, and a song by your favourite artist dissing their ex. From Billie Eilish’s ‘Happier Than Ever’ and SZA’s ‘I Hate U’ to Whitney Houston’s iconic ‘It’s Not Right but It’s Okay’, these anthems are what got so many of us through our heartaches. More recently, we were gifted with two new additions to our revengeful/pity party playlist.
Both Miley Cyrus and Shakira came out with their own brutal diss tracks aimed at their respective ex. First,the ex-Disney star sent gen Zers into a frenzy on Friday 13 January 2023 with ‘Flowers’, the first single off her highly anticipated album Endless Summer Vacation due to be released in March.
It didn’t take much for netizens to read between the lines and list the many Easter eggs hidden in the song’s lyrics as well as its music video. Though Cyrus herself hasn’t yet confirmed whether the track details her relationship with ex-husband, Hunger Games actor Liam Hemsworth, fans have picked up on a few details—including the fact that it was released on Hemsworth’s 33rd birthday.
Having met in 2009 while filming for the movie adaptation of the popular Nicholas Sparks novel, The Last Song, the two celebrities had had a bumpy ride of a relationship before eventually filing for divorce in August 2019.
Furthermore, it was theorised online that, since the Australian actor had once dedicated Bruno Mars’ ‘When I Was Your Man’ to Cyrus following their first engagement in 2013, it made sense that so many of the ‘Flowers’ lyrics echoed the former hit.
Mars, who originally wrote the song in 2011 about a pre-fame heartbreak as he regrets a girl that he let get away, sings: “I should have bought you flowers, and held your hand / Should have gave you all my hours, when I had the chance / Take you to every party ‘cause all you wanted to do was dance / Now my baby’s dancing, but she’s dancing with another man.”
In ‘Flowers’, Cyrus seems to rework the fellow singer’s words into her own self-love journey: “I can buy myself flowers, write my name in the sand / Talk to myself for hours, say things you don’t understand / I can take myself dancing, and I can hold my own hand / Yeah, I can love me better than you can.”
Even the track’s opening verse was somehow linked to Hemsworth, with celebrity and entertainment magazine Us Weekly stating that the lyrics “We were good, we were gold / Kind of dream that can’t be sold / We were right till we weren’t / Built a home and watched it burn” refer to the home the couple shared, which burned down during the 2018 Woolsey Fire.
TikTokers also noticed that Cyrus’ words weren’t the only shade made towards her ex. It looks like she went one step further as it’s been alleged that the beautiful modern mansion featured in ‘Flowers’ is in fact the house in which Hemsworth once cheated on her while they were still married.
Last but certainly not least, fans went as far as to draw comparisons between the singer’s dance moves in her new music video and a past red carpet moment. In 2019, while attending the Vanity Fair Oscars party, an Access Hollywood reporter asked Cyrus and Hemsworth what a dance number would look like between the couple.
When the Hannah Montana star began dancing on her husband, Hemsworth shut her down, saying: “We’re not doing this. Not on the carpet.” One Twitter user put that video side-by-side with a promotional clip Cyrus posted on the social platform, where she appears to do a similar dance move.
Other netizens have also said that the suit Cyrus wears in some shots of the ‘Flowers’ music video looks exactly like the one Hemsworth wore to the Avengers: Endgame premiere when a clip of the actor supposedly telling his ex-wife to “behave” went viral.
Moving on to Colombian singer-songwriter Shakira, who broke the internet with her own diss track aimed at her ex, the infamous football player Gerard Piqué, ‘Out Of Your League’, making it the most-watched new Latin song on YouTube within a 24-hour period.
Unlike Cyrus, it seems Shakira decided to let the words speak for themselves, with the ‘Out Of Your League’ music video set in a recording booth. Throughout the song’s lyrics however, it’s obvious the Latina superstar is talking about the former Barcelona defender, who she was with for over 11 years before the couple called it quits in June 2022.
Going for the jugular, Shakira also makes several digs at Piqué’s new 23-year-old girlfriend, Clara Chia Marti. One savage lyric states: “I’m worth two of 22 / You traded a Ferrari for a Twingo / You traded a Rolex for a Casio.” Ouch.
Being a bad bitch through and through, Shakira also goes on to mention her recent run-in with Spanish authorities, when she was accused of tax fraud amounting to €14.5 million (£12.8 million). In ‘Out Of Your League’, she can be heard singing about how Piqué abandoned her in her time of need: “You left me my mother in law as my neighbour / Media outlets at my door and in debt with the government.”
“Lots of time at the gym, but your brain needs a little work too,” reads another burn, insinuating that the footballer should focus on mental stimulation rather than physical.
Regardless of the personal reasons behind why both pop stars needed to get those savage tracks out, it’s important to note just how helpful they are for the rest of the world. Speaking to HuffPost UK, Alice Gray, neuroscientist and science presenter explained that “music, including sad music or breakup songs, activate the empathy and compassion pathways in our brain, driving a desire to connect with other people.”
She added: “Connecting with people, seeking out our friends or establishing new friendships is an important part of getting over a breakup. So, music can help us give us a jump-start into becoming more social again when getting over an ex.”
Diss tracks may not be new—having existed within the realm of YouTube for almost a decade—however, female celebrities have tended to dodge this particular pastime. While male strength has always been celebrated, women are often deemed overly emotional or vindictive if they publically call out bad behaviour or stand up for themselves. This no longer appears to be the case, so fingers crossed we’ll get to witness more female empowerment as 2023 rolls along.
Ever since 2016, the internet has made a tradition out of celebrating surveillance capitalism in the guise of tailored reports that recap our habits of the year. Following the launch of Spotify Wrapped—the coveted feature that fans routinely grind towards and base their entire personality around when it drops every December—the concept of a ‘year-in-review’ has gripped most digital services today.
While Apple Music has its revamped Replay feature and YouTube Music offers a Recap experience, Deezer releases its summaries in the form of #MyDeezerYear and Amazon Music generates rather disappointing playlists for users. Heck, even Reddit has its own Recap feature that illustrates the amount of time you spent shitposting and visiting various subs in the hopes of finding a custom long Furby.
Over the past few years, Spotify Wrapped’s impact has catapulted the feature as a cultural reset among gen Zers and millennials alike. Today, both generations expect every single online platform to track and judge their data in exchange for aesthetic statistics they can share with the rest of the world. And, as it turns out, their dating lives are no exception.
A Spotify Wrapped report essentially gives you insights about your top five artists, genres and songs, audio personality (what even is Sorrow Escapism Liminal Space?), and amount of minutes listened. Now, imagine such information being pulled from your miserable presence on dating apps like Bumble, Tinder, Hinge, OkCupid, and more.
If you ask me, the report would read something like this: “In 2022, you swiped right on 26 crypto bros and 38 people named Matt. You went on a sum total of 25 dates with your matches, out of whom 5 kittenfished you, 13 ghosted you right after, and 2 blocked and reported your profile to our teams. You took 150 screenshots of cringey profiles to share with your WhatsApp group chat, and even rage quit our app 7 times. What was that all about, huh?”
“You also received 57 unsolicited gym selfies, but to top things off, you were among the top 1 per cent of users who slid into people’s DMs at 3 am! Congratulations, your dating app rizz is doomed beyond recovery!”
It’s worth noting that the conversation about dating apps having their own year-in-review feature has been making the rounds for a while now. In 2020, comedian Grace Hayes went viral after she uploaded her DIY Bumble Wrapped on TikTok. Leveraging the green screen effect, Hayes curated #bumblewrapped on the video-sharing platform—with 44,800 views and counting. The clip was so popular that even Bumble left a comment stating: “This is AMAZING. Inspiring us 😏😏”
The following year, software engineer Niko Draca created a third-party website for Hinge users to generate their own Wrapped reports. “First thing you’ll see is how many people you encountered on the app and how many you said yes to,” Draca explained in the widely-circulated clip. “Then you’ll see all of the likes, rejections, matches, etc over the year. You can also see what time of the day you sent the most chat messages, how many people you chatted with in total, and how long those conversations lasted.” Apart from the top three emojis, the website additionally provided users with a word cloud made up of the terms they deployed the most in DMs.
Draca was undoubtedly the trailblazer for Hinge Wrapped, and it’s safe to say that the dating app has been real quiet since the video went viral.
Fast forward to 2022, TikTok users have now taken things up a notch with a trend called ‘Dating Wrapped’—where they are seen brutally recapping their past year in romance in hopes of manifesting a better love life. Here, insights are no longer restricted to a single dating app. Instead, they focus on the participants’ relationship exploits in general, including how they met their matches, what they did on first dates, and how many times they cried over someone.
All of the data is then collated onto… a PowerPoint slideshow, and the deck is later presented using a laptop angled towards the viewers.
“[This is] truly one of the most depressing things I’ve ever done,” said Toronto-based TikToker Alexandria McLean in her video which is believed to have kicked off the trend. “I went on 21 first dates… Yikes! I met 66 per cent [of matches] on Bumble and 33 per cent on Hinge. In terms of where we went, activity and dinner are tied at 30 per cent, coffee [and] walking dates [are] at 28 per cent, and drinks are 42 per cent. I don’t know why I went on so many walking dates, I hate walking dates.”
“In terms of who ended it, 90 per cent [of matches] ended it with me. Honestly, [that’s] a low number considering I’m a walking red flag,” McLean continued. “So, if you want to go out and want to be a part of my 2023 Dating Wrapped, hit me up!”
Shortly after McLean’s video floored TikTok, users started querying the creator about the PowerPoint template and font she’d used for her presentation. It even paved the way for the rise of #datingwrapped, now with 8.1 million views and counting.
“If any of these men see this, I want you to know that you’re not special and you’re just a number to me,” TikToker Amber Smith captioned her video, which has since garnered over 3.1 million views. In the clip, Smith detailed that she went on 18 first dates, was handed two parking tickets, and spent a total of $383.36 on her matches. “I wish I had not calculated this number,” she stated. “What could I have done with this money? Literally anything else would’ve been better.”
As of today, the concept of Dating Wrapped has evolved to include star signs, age gaps, red, beige and pink flags, the number of hoodies participants have stolen from their partners, STIs they’ve treated, as well as the number of tattoos they regret getting. While some bestow digital awards to their dates, others are seen creating introvert and queer editions of the trend.
Given how 2022 still has a couple of weeks left to conclude, I wouldn’t be surprised to witness the introduction of even more metrics to publicly analyse our love lives on the internet. Maybe the presentations can have a section where people note the different aesthetics and subcultures they’ve dated in the past year?
At the end of the day, no matter how many slides you choose to include in your deck, the aim of Dating Wrapped at its core is self-reflection. So, you’re good as long as you walk away with actionable insights and don’t bring all the negative energy gathered in 2022 into your love life in 2023.
If you’ve stumbled across #datingwrapped on TikTok before, you might have noticed comments along the lines of “Don’t be shy, drop that PowerPoint template,” and “What’s the name of the font you’ve used? Where do I download it from?” Sure, these remarks might just be pointers that ultimately help others jump on the trend, however, it’s also another incognito factor that aids the popularity of Dating Wrapped.
With a presence that can be traced back to the COVID-19 pandemic, PowerPoint presentations have become the zeitgeist of gen Zers in cyberspace today. Be it to mansplain our hobbies or interests to others, give a crash course about our favourite series nobody asked for, plot moves in Clash of Clans, prove “the One Piece is real,” or justify that Chainsaw Man’s Makima is worth simping for, slideshows have become our weapon of choice to present peers with digestible chunks of information about the most unhinged topics.
If you really think about it, the resurgence of PowerPoints can be linked to our pathetic eight-second attention span. Gen Zers crave dynamicity in everything they are exposed to and what better way to explain something to the generation than using infographics they can breeze through?
The format also harbours parallels with LOL graphs or ‘silly graphs’ that first gripped meme culture in the mid-2000s. The statistical representation essentially doubled as a visual aid—designed to explain the most non-academic and trivial subjects “for teh lulz XD.”
Back to the case of Dating Wrapped, the trend checks out—considering how gen Z Spotify fans have proved to be least concerned about how Big Tech uses their personal data. “I wonder about all my stats on Youtube, Discord, Instagram,” an enthusiast previously told SCREENSHOT. “I wish there were things like Spotify Wrapped in each of them where we can see all our data like the most watched video, channel etc. And even further, I wish god would show us data of our life.”
All that being said, the possibilities of dating apps implementing a Wrapped-like feature seem bleak for the foreseeable future. Until then, you can choose to follow TikToker @cobiscreation’s advice and sneakily screenshot your crush’s Spotify Wrapped report the moment they share it on Instagram. You’ll know the exact songs and artists to stream the next time you guys hang out together.
Who knows, maybe it’ll work wonders for your 2023 Dating Wrapped… or not.