Updated: Nov 30, 2020
Given the obvious turn of events this year has had, it's safe to say music was one object that was served plentiful. Artists this year took a leap forward maturing their sound in ways we haven't heard before. Some even took the time to release albums via quarantine, emoting our sadness into physical form. Below you'll find the top 10 albums that made their mark this year. Check out our recap playlist available now on Spotify.
10. What's Your Pleasure? - Jessie Ware
If you're looking to revitalize yourself in glamour, look no further than Jessie Ware's 'What's Your Pleasure?'. In its spotlight track (pun intended), "Save A Kiss" managed to get all of us to dance alone in our bedrooms. Illuminating the optimism for what can only be a soon to come future. We can't help but look forward to the day when we can all just kiss random strangers in a club.
9. Woman In Music Pt. III - HAIM
This year, HAIM set out to make a statement with their latest record. Widening the bridge on what it means to be acoustically pop versus alternative. Standing out with their songwriting the HAIM sisters strived to give imagery through their lyrics. Setting out to pull you in, they provide a deep melancholic depression through songs like "I Know Alone". Each sister drew from personal experiences making a stellar record slated for an Album of the Year nomination at the 2021 Grammy Awards.
8. Future Nostalgia - Dua Lipa
It's been a record-shattering year for Dua Lipa, to say the least. With countless collaborations under her belt just this year alone, to numerous Grammy nominations, she has catapulted into super-stardom. Her album, 'Future Nostalgia', shines like no other disco ball. The album gives a fresh take with pulsating songs such as "Hallucinate", hits like "Don't Start Now" and "Physical". Lipa has taken matters into her own hands, giving fans their own personal concert from the comfort of their own bedrooms. Touring is a big part of promoting an album, Lipa amidst all the circumstances has achieved the impossible. Managing to bring to life the galactic concept of her album in the midst of a global pandemic makes you wonder what lies ahead for Lipa.
7. Miss Anthropocene - Grimes
Grimes has rightfully solidified her place in the mainstream media this year with the birth of her son (X Æ A-Xii) and with the release of one of the greatest albums this year. In comparison to 'Art Angels', her latest album 'Miss Anthropocene' once again rejects what punk can be expressed as. The record as a whole can be shortly described as otherworldly, transporting you to her own planet built from the ground up. Standout track "4ÆM" draws inspiration from Bollywood metrics creating a beautiful instrumental. The lyrics on the other hand are mostly abstruse but that is purposeful. The album is very playful at times giving listeners a great dance record as a whole with tracks like "Violence". Grimes even gives us her own version of a ballad with "Delete Forever". While there will never be another record as iconic as 'Art Angels', Miss Anthropocene cuts the mark pretty close.
6. After Hours - The Weeknd
With what just became one of the most controversial albums of the year after scoring zero nominations at this year's Grammy Awards, The Weeknd's 'After Hours' has taken the term "concept album" to new heights. Bloody noses seem to be a coherent theme across the album, performatively speaking. With every performance Abel has drafted out from this album, only excellence has been perceived. The album falls short on giving listeners radio hits other than "Blinding Lights" but makes up for it by providing a perfectly cohesive album. The title track probably gives the best glimpse into what Abel's vision was when mapping the album. The Weeknd sends out a mess of signals screaming of sexual tension, melancholia, and love. Harboring a mainstream sound, Abel has seemingly created the perfect blend with his original sound in comparison to his prior projects.
5. SAWAYAMA - Rina Sawayama
After releasing a multitude of singles, Rina Sawayama has finally shared her debut album. In it, she explores her expressions of self-awareness within each track. Creating the perfect balance between grunge, R&B, and pop, SAWAYAMA dares to be at its most vulnerable when it's backed by nostalgic instrumentals. The first single on the album "STFU!" details racist micro-aggressions Sawayama has had to deal with in her life. Living in this self-awareness the single marked a stellar introduction to the SAWAYAMA era. It solicits the message of being in a stoic state of mind.
4. Fetch The Bolt Cutters - Fiona Apple
In what was made to be one of the most timeless albums of all time, Fiona Apple created one of the most liberating records of the year. Living in an unapologetic world, Apple expresses her rage and desperation through her personal struggles. 'Fetch The Bolt Cutters' compiles stories of abusive relationships, undeniable lovers, and a dash of feminism. What almost seems to be a poetic reading, Apple provides a sensation of assertiveness with its visceral sound play. Taking sounds bits recorded from her own home, the album gives listeners abstract beats that are surprisingly pleasureful.
3. The Slow Rush - Tame Impala
This album seems like it was released a lifetime ago, when alas 'twas only back in February that fans were blessed with the latest from Tame Impala. What can be marked as one of the most experimental albums in Parker's discography, The Slow Rush re-awakens a longing for an electronic setting that fans haven't received since 2015. With 'Currents' (his previous record) being released over 5 years ago, time seems extraneous when listening to 'The Slow Rush'. Parker proves that when enough time is taken to make an album, it can truly blossom into a work of art. Proving his trademark sound, it's an undeniable moment when you listen to a Tame Impala track. Familiar at times, 'The Slow Rush' gives an eclectic perspective when it gives glimpses into a past self. Each song tells its own story lyrically and solely instrumental at times. While it lacks his signature guitar strokes, he makes up for it when introduced to his retro electronic composition.
2. Chromatica - Lady Gaga
In what is arguably one of the most vulnerable bodies of work by Lady Gaga, 'Chromatica' proves to be undeniably raw. Tackling issues like mental health, addiction, and feminism, it's also rich in its audacious production. From start to finish, Gaga gives listeners an infectious rage of self-love and promise, really exploring the acceptance of being flawed. Thanks to producer BloodPop, 'Chromatica' masks all the sorrow through its stupendous composition. The album features collaborations with Sir Elton John, Ariana Grande, and BLACKPINK, all big names this year. Combining upbeat pop with downright sad lyrics, Gaga takes you on quite the emotional rollercoaster.
1. folklore - Taylor Swift
This album marks Taylor Swift's first album, not from her point of view. In a refreshed approach to songwriting Swift exceeds all expectations on 'folklore'. Completing an entire record in quarantine over what seemed like a couple of months, Swift is masterful in the art of album making. The whole project is a cohesive body of work taken straight out of many diaries. With only a year gap between the release of 'Lover' and 'folklore', the album serves as a reminder that not only is Taylor Swift a pop-star, she is a stellar songwriter. While 'folklore' is a much more muted album in comparison to Swift's previous projects, each chapter of the album takes you through a warm journey of love and anguish. In a glorious duet with Bon Iver's Justin Vernon, the duo created one of the standout tracks on this album. Screaming silent accusations across one another's table, the song aches in betrayal. You can see the amount of growth Swift has had over the years, and it shows in her songwriting. Blending fictional stories with real ones, Swift has forged her own path during this quarantine. Abandoning her own stories, she shines a spotlight on others while creating beautiful ballads.
Listen to our best of 2020 playlist on Spotify here