A Year in Review: The Music That Defined 2020


Photo courtesy of wired.com.

In spite of the COVID-19 pandemic that has kept the world on its knees, 2020 has managed to miraculously produce some amazing tunes for our quarantined world. With many artists producing and dropping albums from home, we’ve all had a song or two this year that has resonated with us in a way that brings us together in a time of suffering and pain. 

Right off the bat, this year gave way to some massive #1 hit singles, including the viral Cardi B & Megan Thee Stallion collaboration, “WAP,” which has gained much of its popularity from it’s near-comedic explicit lyrics. 

Continuing down the path of popular hip-hop this year, The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights has also been hailed as one of the best singles of this year and giving The Weeknd one of his biggest hits. Other notable #1 hits this year included Roddy Ricch’s “The Box,” Lewis Capaldi’s “Someone You Loved,” Doja Cat’s “Say So,” and Harry Styles’ “Adore You.” 

In the way of album releases this year, 2020 has given us some pleasant pop music surprises, including the release of Taylor Swift’s “Folklore” and “Evermore,” which were both released out of the blue this year without warning. And earlier this year in the early days of the pandemic, critically acclaimed baroque pop singer Fiona Apple released her first album in eight years, “Fetch The Bolt Cutters,” which was well-received upon release. In addition, we also received Dua Lipa’s sophomore album, “Future Nostalgia‘, which has spawned five singles and has received both critical acclaim as well as two Grammy nominations. 

In addition to pop, 2020 was also a massive year for hip-hop, with the release of albums such as Eminem’s “Music To Be Murdered By,” Lil Uzi Vert’s “Eternal Atake,” and Megan Thee Stallion’s “Suga.” But two of some of the most notable hip-hop albums this year were from the late Juice WRLD’s “Legends Never Die” and the late Mac Miller’s “Circles.” These are notable for being the farewell albums to artists who have both passed away last year. While stylistically very different, they both carry quite a bit of emotional weight to them, making them both worthy listens.

In addition to both pop and hip-hop, 2020 has been a rather big year for rock music. But, more specifically, it’s been a big year for some legendary performers like Ozzy Osbourne; Osbourne released and his first release in a decade, “Ordinary Man.” Even though he is 72 years old and battling Parkinson’s Disease, Ozzy Osbourne still manages to belt out some amazing songs from his latest album. 

Keeping in line with classic hard-rockers, AC/DC released their seventeenth album “Power Up” just last month, in November. Despite the tragic passing of guitarist Malcolm Young, AC/DC has pulled together to release some solid new material. 

Moving onto somewhat more recent acts, Deftones released both their ninth studio album, “Ohms,” and a remix album of their hit album “White Pony” (which also celebrates its 20th anniversary this year) titled “Black Stallion,” which features guest remixes from artists such as Robert Smith of The Cure and Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park. 

In addition to new music this year, we also have some classic albums celebrating their anniversaries this year, with Radiohead’s “Kid A,” Outkast’s “Stankonia,” Linkin Park’s “Hybrid Theory,” and At The Drive-In’s “Relationship of Command” all celebrating their 20th anniversary. In addition we have Oasis’ “(What’s The Story) Morning Glory?” and Talking Heads’ “Remain In Light” celebrating their 25th and 40th anniversary, respectively.

Possibly the most notable anniversary of 2020 is the 25th anniversary of The Smashing Pumpkins’ legendary album “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.” In addition to albums such as Nirvana’s “Nevermind” and R.E.M’s “Automatic for the People,” “Mellon Collie” is one of the many albums that defined the alternative rock scene of the 90s and has spawned classic hit singles such as “1979” and “Bullet with Butterfly Wings.” Interestingly, Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan has stated that he wishes to release a sequel to “Mellon Collie,” as well as a sequel to their 2000 album, “Machina/The Machines of God.

Even with all of these new releases and anniversaries, 2020 was still tragic for the music world, as we lost many famous artists this year. Early this year, the country music world mourned the loss of Kenny Rogers in March. In addition, the hip-hip world was devastated by the loss of various artists such as Pop Smoke, Chynna, Fred the Godson, and Kiing Shooter. 

In the realm of rock music, many others were mourned as well, including Ministry’s Bill Rieflin, Fleetwood Mac’s Peter Green, and Spencer Davis. But two of the most shocking passings this year came early on this year and later on this year. These were the deaths of legendary Rush drummer Neil Peart and equally-legendary guitarist Eddie Van Halen, respectively. 

Despite the ups and downs of 2020 and the tragedies that came with it, this year has still given way to many future classics that will define both a generation of people as well as a time of hardship and pain. In the end, 2020 was a solid year for music, in spite of almost everything working against it.