New music is a highlight of a difficult year

2020 was a year unlike any other and music played a vital role in keeping us all sane. Despite all its challenges, 2020 was a big year for music. Quarantine allowed us to revisit old albums and discover new music, but also allowed artists time away from touring to churn out music. Spotify and other music platforms saw an increase in users and subscribers, as many of us were looking for a way to escape. Despite the quarantine blues, artists used this shared experience to bring everyone together.

Every year, Spotify releases a Wrapped experience, where listeners can see their top songs, artists and even the total number of minutes they listened throughout the year. Spotify Wrapped is a fun way for people to see their listening habits throughout the year. Spotify even creates a personal playlist for users with their top 100 songs. Apple Music has a similar feature called Apple Music Rewind, as does Tidal, which is called My 2020 Rewind. 

There were several highlights this year: fledgling artists beginning to increase in popularity, veterans returning to the music scene and artists skilfully navigating in the midst of a pandemic.

There were several highlights this year: fledgling artists beginning to increase in popularity, veterans returning to the music scene and artists skilfully navigating in the midst of a pandemic. 

Megan Thee Stallion, Doja Cat and Rico Nasty received lots of attention this year, as several of their songs went viral on TikTok. All three women are American rappers, singers and songwriters. Megan released her debut album Good News in late November. She also worked with Cardi B. on “WAP” which quickly became incredibly popular. Doja did not put an album out this year, but dropped a few singles and remixes, including a version of “Say So” featuring Nicki Minaj. Rico also dropped a debut album entitled Nightmare Vacation.

Conan Gray released his debut album Kid Krow in March, and it debuted at number five on the U.S. Billboard 200, making it the biggest U.S. new artist debut of 2020. His two most popular songs, “Heather” and “Maniac” are featured on the album. 

100 Gecs, an American musical duo containing Dylan Brady and Laura Les, released the companion remix album 1000 Gecs and the Tree of Clues. There are features from artists including: Rico Nasty, Kero Kero Bonito and Charli XCX. Their music can be classified as hyperpop; it is chaotic and includes a clashing of several genres and sounds.  

Pop stars Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga and Dua Lipa did not disappoint this year. Each of them released an album; Grande with her sixth studio album, Positions; Gaga also dropped her sixth studio album entitled Chromatica; and Dua Lipa released her sophomore album, Future Nostalgia.

Taylor Swift recently released her second surprise album this year, entitled evermore. It is the sister album to folklore, which came out in late July, and is also Swift’s ninth studio album. Both albums have an indie folk sound, the lyrical content is emotional, introspective, and beautifully written. Billie Eilish proves to be a continued force within the industry: she released three singles this year: “No Time To Die,” “my future,” and “Therefore I Am.” She is nominated for four Grammys; three of which are for her song “everything i wanted.” 

Other artists who released albums this year include: The 1975, The Neighbourhood, Sufjan Stevens, Joji, Tame Impala, BENEE, HAIM, Hayley Williams, Fiona Apple, Kesha, Grouplove, Soccer Mommy, Tennis, Juice Wrld, The Weeknd, Car Seat Headrest, Glass Animals and many more. 

Classic artists Pearl Jam, Green Day and Bob Dylan released music this year too. Pearl Jam, released their 11th album, Gigaton, which is the band’s first album in seven years. Green Day released their 13th studio album, entitled Father of All… Bob Dylan released Rough and Rowdy Ways, which spans a whopping 70 minutes and is his first release of new songs in eight years. 

Artists to watch out for include Poppy and Phoebe Bridgers who will make their first appearances at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards in late January. Bridgers is nominated for Best New Artist, Best Rock Performance, Best Rock Song and Best Alternative Music Album, following the release of her sophomore studio album, Punisher, in mid-June. Her song “Kyoto,” which she refers to as a “rocker,” is her most popular song off of the record. 

Poppy, known for her bizarre YouTube persona and abstract videos, is also a musician, and her song “BLOODMONEY” has been nominated for best metal performance. She is the first female artist to be nominated in this category. Over the years, her music has evolved from a more bubblegum pop sound to heavy metal. Quite the stark difference in genres –– she rocks both.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to progress and as live music becomes a possibility again after the distribution of a successful vaccine, musicians will find more creative ways to reach their fans. Live music may not look the same and once it comes back, all will be grateful to share a musical experience with other music-lovers again.