Every year since 2014, I’ve reflected on the albums I’ve listened to most throughout the year and compiled a top ten list. 2020 was a terrible year for almost everything but thankfully, music isn’t one of them.
10. Haim — Women in Music Pt. III
The Haim sisters came back for a much-welcome return to form in 2020. Like their best material, Women in Music Pt. III is breezy, catchy, and never overstays its welcome.
Favourite Songs: “Los Angeles”, “The Steps”, “Don’t Wanna”
9. Grimes — Miss Anthropocene
With Miss Anthropocene, Grimes released a concept album about the effects of climate change that doubled as her darkest album to date. Even if it was a slight decline from previous efforts, the album features highlights that would rank among Grimes’s best.
Favourite Songs: “Delete Forever”, “New Gods”, “My Name Is Dark”, “Idoru”
8. Jessie Ware — What’s Your Pleasure?
Jessie Ware returned to her dance/disco roots in 2020, and her music is better for it. What’s Your Pleasure? is Jessie Ware in her element and features some of her catchiest songs to date.
Favourite Songs: “Spotlight”, “Ooh La La”, “Save a Kiss”, “Mirage (Don’t Stop)”
7. Dua Lipa — Future Nostalgia
The aptly-titled Future Nostalgia combines sounds both old and new to make for one of the year’s most enjoyable pop albums. A fine example of an artist pushing past the dreaded sophomore slump.
Favourite Songs: “Don’t Start Now”, “Physical”, “Levitating”, “Love Again”
6. Run the Jewels — RTJ4
Killer Mike and El-P returned right when the world needed them the most. RTJ4 speaks on behalf of the disenfranchised and captures the zeitgeist of 2020 perfectly.
Favourite Songs: “Yankee and the Brave (Ep. 4)”, “Ooh La La”, “Walking in the Snow”
5. The Weeknd — After Hours
With After Hours, The Weeknd completely reinvents himself once again sonically, all the while sticking to the lyrical themes that fans have grown accustomed to. The album feels like an absolute tour-de-force, but the 56-minute runtime comes and goes without a second thought.
Favourite Songs: “Escape from LA”, “Faith”, Blinding Lights”, “After Hours”
4. Taylor Swift — Folklore
With a little help from The Nationals’ Aaron Dessner, Taylor Swift released an honest-to-goodness indie folk album in 2020 with little fanfare. By writing about something other than herself for once, Taylor Swift dug herself out of her artistic rut and crafted the best album of her career thus far.
Favourite Songs: “The 1”, “Exile”, “This Is Me Trying”, “Epiphany”, “Hoax”
3. Fiona Apple — Fetch the Bolt Cutters
Even by Fiona Apple’s standards, Fetch the Bolt Cutters is supremely weird. I can’t say I’ve ever listened to anything quite like it, with its conversation-like writing and instrumentation that sounds like it was made with items in my kitchen. An album that rewards multiple, careful listens, and an open mind.
Favourite Songs: “Shameika”, “Fetch the Bolt Cutters”, “Relay”, “Cosmonauts”
2. Phoebe Bridgers — Punisher
Phoebe Bridgers’s ability to write about grief, pain, dread and everything else bad is unmatched. Punisher is a true-blue quarantine album, and one I’ll be returning to consistently when I’m feeling sombre.
Favourite Songs: “Garden Song”, “Kyoto”, “Punisher”, Halloween”, “Moon Song”, “ICU”, “I Know the End”
1. Bad Bunny — Yo Hago Lo Que Me Da La Gana
My favourite album of the year is one where I don’t understand 99% of what the artist is saying. A consistently catchy and danceable album from top to bottom, YHLQMDLG kept my spirits high during self-isolation and will always be remembered fondly for getting me through a truly bizarre year.
Favourite Songs: “La Santa”, “Yo Perreo Sola”, “La Zona”, “Vete”, “A Tu Merced”, “Una Vez”, “Safaera”, “P FKN R”