What the hell is ‘Escape Room’ in everyone’s Spotify Wrapped?

Spotify Wrapped

It’s that time of year again! The summer heat is well and truly here, Mariah Carey is playing in every store, and everyone is sharing their Spotify Wrapped statistics saying “I’m not surprised!!!” (me included). Every year, the app unveils its data collection of our listening habits for the last ten months (Spotify collects this information until the end of October), having analysed our behaviours, what we’ve discovered, loved and become obsessed with. From playlists which soundtrack the many (many) ups and downs of the year to interesting statistics about which podcasts you listened to the most, the Spotify Wrapped information can be an interesting time indeed.

However, as with every year as well, it also presents its own set of head-scratching questions, and there is one in particular that has once again surfaced this year: What the hell is ‘Escape Room’?

Often showing up in people’s top genres, the term ‘Escape Room’ is not exactly well known like many of the other genres it features alongside, like ‘Indie Pop’. It is also somewhat sinister to read as well: escape rooms are scary for those of us who experience claustrophobia, so why the hell would I be listening to music which evokes this feeling?

Thankfully, many have reported clarifications about the genre and the many artists who fall into it. ‘Escape Room’ is not, in fact, a steadily closing in, foreboding and ominous type of music. Instead, it’s actually just the genre the likes of Shygirl, Cakes Da Killa, Tommy Genesis, Azealia Banks, Rico Nasty, Charli XCX and many more fit into. In fact, according to the website Every Noise At Once (as reported by The Fader), similar and overlapping genres include hyperpop (SOPHIE, A. G. Cook), art pop (Caroline Polachek, Perfume Genuis), trap queen (Kash Doll, Mulatto), deconstructed club (Zora Jones, Lotic), and electropop (Robyn, Sky Ferreria). In other words, ‘Escape Room’ is actually a vibe!

The Fader further reported the origin of the confusing name, which actually came from someone who worked at Spotify. Data alchemist Glenn McDonald first coined the term back in 2016, saying it came out of necessity when he realised there was a certain vibe of music appearing which didn’t quite fit anymore.

“I made up the name myself, because I couldn’t figure out any existing one to apply,” he said.

“The vibe is kind of an underground-trap/PC-music/indietronic/activist-hip-hop kind of thing, and I thought of “escape room” both for the sense of escaping from trap, and for the ideas of excitement, puzzle-solving and indoorness implied by the actual physical escape-room phenomenon.”

So there you go, ‘Escape Room’ is a total vibe and while you won’t find me in an actual escape room any time soon, you will absolutely find me listening to it all year round. Check out Every Noise At Once’s playlist of ‘Escape Room’ tunes here:

Words by Emma Jones



Just a Robyn stan who loves going to the club.