2020 has come to an end, and despite being an extremely formidable past 12 months, we have been blessed with some compelling music. Here at ENRG Music and Arts we have put together some of our favourite albums, artists and singles that we have helped us through these turbulent times.
Our favourite albums of 2020
Aminé – Limbo
“This a black album like Shawn Carter.”
This line of Aminé’s opening song Burden perfectly depicts the true essence of what Limbo entailed. Aminé has always been my favourite lyricists in the music industry and especially within Limbo as he manages to: show his vulnerability as a young black male, how he deals with grieving the death of Kobe Bryant, but also his own self-worth and self-confidence- using his talents at a full capacity relentlessly. These tracks plus the interludes and monologues that appear create a mellow sequence with mixing essences of Soul and Hip-Hop with lyrics of wit which allow you to enjoy the album from beginning to end. Artists like Young Thug, JID and many more feature on this album and bring their sounds to these songs making them so unique. Concluding the album to not having a single skip-worthy song.
Amy Macdonald – The Human Demands
Scottish singer-songwriter Amy Macdonald released her fifth studio album The Human Demands in October of this year. The album reconnects Macdonald with her indie roots and exposes a more vulnerable truth in comparison to previous releases. The album features ten tracks including singles “Fire”, “Crazy Shade of Blue” and lead single “The Hudson” which peaked at number 12 on the Scottish Singles Charts. The Scottish icon described The Human Demands as “an album about life and its many ups and downs” and hoped that it could become “a comfort in these turbulent times”. The album has an emotional tone as Macdonald portrays her thoughts of feeling unsure about what the future holds. This creates a personal connection for listeners as many of us can relate to this through society’s current challenges. Alongside the album release, Macdonald announced her well anticipated 2021 European tour however in the meantime, The Human Demands is definitely worth a listen.
Blossoms – Foolish Loving Spaces
British rock music was a bit of a no mans this year. Arctic Monkeys’ only offering was the ‘Live at the Royal Albert Hall’ album, the 1975’s ‘Notes on a Conditional Form’ was, at best, lacklustre and whilst the likes of Declan McKenna, Sports Team and Easy Life all delivered some pretty great records, nothing seemed to stand out above the rest. Nothing except Blossom’s ‘Foolish Loving Spaces’. Tom Ogden’s tender lyrics shine on tracks like ‘Your Girlfriend’ and the band’s sound as a whole show’s signs of huge evolution on songs such ‘My Swimming Brain’. The Stockport based quintet had already put out two very solid albums prior to 2020, but ‘Foolish Loving Spaces’ cements there status as one of Britain’s best bands going into the new decade.
Charli XCX – How I’m feeling now
An album which can really encompass the recent anxieties that we have all been experiencing, is Charli XCX’s fourth studio album, How i’m feeling now. Made entirely during quarantine, the album represents the angsts of experiencing social isolation. How i’m feeling follows on from Charli XCX’s 2019 album Charli which received immense praise from critics and fans alike and also hosted a myriad of feature artists. Whereas How i’m feeling barely has any features apart from producers, instead the album showcases Charli XCX’s raw talent and her evolution into hyper-pop.
Tame Impala – The Slow Rush
Following the staggering amount of praise given to their 2013 release ‘Currents’, it seems laughable to call Kevin Parker and his Tame Impala project “underrated”. And yet, with ‘The Slow Rush’, Parker has proven himself to be one of the 21st century’s great musical minds. ‘The Slow Rush’ is an outstanding album. Parker expands on his already impressive technique, trading the adrenaline fuelled peaks of his previous work for a deeper, softer but no less impressive sound. ‘Borderline’, ‘Posthumous Forgiveness’ and ‘It May Be Time’ are all tracks that standout, yet even the deeper cuts on the record demand revisiting. If ‘Currents’ introduced the world to the name Tame Impala, hopefully ‘The Slow Rush’ will have more people knowing the man behind it.
Our favourite upcoming artists
You can find her name and song All My Girls Like To Fight on Former U.S. President Barack Obama’s ‘Favourite Music of 2020’ list. Tala introduces us to a new sound of music- a mix of RnB and Bossa Nova, and lets you enter an atmosphere that makes you remanence the summer heat that we barely got to see earlier this year. From her EPs Starry Ache, Sensitive Soul to her 2020 EP Girl Eats Sun, Tala has showed so much range within such a specific genre which only makes you more intrigued with her, earning collabs with Raveena and Aminé along the way. Hope Tala is somebody to look out for in 2021.
20-year-old Beabadoobee has made 2020 hers. Releasing her debut album Fake it Flowers earlier this year, she has become a pillar in the modern-day indie scene. With a sound similar to that of a late 90s teen coming-of-age film, she represents the sudden surge of love for the Y2K era. Since releasing her first EP Patched Up back in 2018, Beabadoobee has signed to Dirty Hit, the ominous indie label home to the likes of The 1975 and Wolf Alice. Her debut album, Fake it Flowers, demonstrates her charming storytelling. Although a lot of her lyrics appear simplistic, they are highly relatable and show a flood of emotion. It is hard to believe that at the age of 20, Beabadoobee has conquered an extremely competitive genre in such a short span of time.
Our favourite artists of the year
Artist of the Year may seem lofty for an act that’s only released two songs all year, but the heartfelt sincerity that Twenty One-Pilots has exuded in handling the current global situation with their music has made them a clear cut favourite for me. The release of ‘Level of Concern’ was right in the middle of lockdown, an apt time to discuss the worry and fear that came with the time, a fear that is just as relevant now as it was back in April. Furthermore, Twenty One Pilots gave their fans something special to lift their own spirits with this track, with a 24/7, fan organised stream running all the way until the release of their latest track, ‘Christmas Saves The Year’. The fear and uncertainty that existed in ‘Level of Concern’ is temporarily subsided for a feeling of renewed hope and a sense of seasonal optimism, as while the news of another lockdown has hit us all hard, the best we can do is cherish the time we have together over the festive period. Christmas (and even Twenty One Pilots) may not be able to save the year, but it may just help us move forward with hope into the next.
It’s hard to ignore the presence of Rina Sawayama, her alluring concoction of genres make for a compelling listen. Her 2020 album Sawayama was possibly one of the most prominent releases of 2020. Singles such as XS and Comme des Garcons show her fluidity throughout genres such as pop, techno, R&B and dance. A notable point in 2020 for the artist, was the Mercury Nominations, where many believed that Sawayama would be among the nominated albums, but as Rina was born in Japan and predominantly raised in the UK, her album was not considered. Her fight to get her album recognised just emphasised the messages of self-identity that can be found scattered throughout her music. Her music provides a safe haven for many and the feeling of self-expression is rife.
I feel like a day does not go by without me thinking about Yaeji. The Dj released her debut mixtape What we drew earlier this year and showed her progression into rap house. Her vision reminds me of a cartoon, her small appearance contrasts the immense feeling of her music. Throughout quarantine she worked hard, performing a live set for the Boiler Room that was filled with her illustrations and also contained the remix which she did for Dua Lipa’s remixed version of her album Future Nostalgia. Despite What we drew being her debut mixtape it still presents her originality that she has perfected from years of releasing fresh and innovative house music.
So there it is, our round-up of 2020. Despite its ups and downs, we have had music by our side and hopefully, no matter what happens in 2021, it will help us through whatever comes next!