Despite an irregular 2020, many artists took advantage of quarantine to write more music. Here is a list of the top songs and albums from 2020:
Top 25 songs
1. “Blinding Lights” – The Weeknd
2. “Good News” – Mac Miller
3. “The Bigger Picture” – Lil Baby
4. “The 1” – Taylor Swift
5. “Good Days” – SZA
6. “Hell on Earth” – Kid Cudi
7. “Exile” – Taylor Swift featuring Bon Iver
8. “Eugene” – Arlo Parks
9. “Kyoto” – Phoebe Bridgers
10. “Afterthought” – Joji featuring BENEE
11. “Something To Rap About” – Freddie Gibbs featuring Tyler, The Creator
12. “I miss you, I’m sorry” – Gracie Abrams
13. “Scared to Live” – The Weeknd
14. “Dragonball Durag” – Thundercat
15. “Positions” – Ariana Grande
16. “We Paid” – Lil Baby featuring 42 Dugg
17. “Heather” – Conan Gray
18. “The Steps” – HAIM
19. “Wonder” – Shawn Mendes
20. “Ooh LA LA” – Run the Jewels featuring Greg Nice & Dj Premier
21. “If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)” – The 1975
22. “Gospel For a New Century” – Yves Tumor
23. “Don’t Start Now” – Dua Lipa
24. “Friend” – Gracie Abrams
25. “Borderline” – Tame Impala
Top 10 albums
1. “Folklore” – Taylor Swift
The first of two surprise albums released in 2020, Taylor Swift takes up yet another musical genre—folk music—and does a really good job at it. “Folklore” perfectly describes the mood of 2020: a lonely, nostalgic, sweater-weather album to go along with a lonely year. Swift once again shows why she is one of the best at so many things: storytelling, song-writing, versatility and using detail-rich lyrics to make you feel hundreds of emotions at once. Piano-rich songs layer on songs of love, heartbreak and trust—all common themes in past Swift songs. After a decade of country, pop and hip-hop music, Swift has successfully added another genre to her palate, one that she will hopefully continue to use in the future.
2. “Circles” – Mac Miller
Released a little over a year after his death, Pittsburgh rapper Mac Miller was almost finished with “Circles” at the time of his death. “Circles” was the second album in a three-album series that Miller had planned, with his 2018 album “Swimming” being the first. “Circles” is unique in that it isn’t a rap album at all; it falls under the funk/soul genre, something he’s only done one other time, on his 2015 album “The Divine Feminine.” With “Circles,” Miller wanted to prove once again that he wasn’t just a rapper, even though in his 14-year career, his six studio albums and 13 mixtapes were majority hip-hop. I think he proved himself to fans and doubters alike.
3. “After Hours” – The Weeknd
Featuring the most popular song of 2020, “Blinding Lights,” The Weeknd’s fourth studio album, “After Hours,” excelled at doing what every one of his other albums has done: top the charts. “After Hours” is by far his most polished album to date, with wavy ‘80s-inspired synth riffs and booming lyrics, all while playing a character (the character can be seen on the cover art with blood dripping out of his mouth). The Toronto R&B singer method acts as a villainous character addicted to the life of money, drugs and sex. Throughout “After Hours,” The Weeknd shows why he is the most listened-to artist in the world. He fuses genres together like never seen before, all while showcasing his industry-topping vocal range with ease on songs like “Scared to Live” and “Save Your Tears.” This album has, and will continue to, push the boundaries of what mainstream music sounds like.
4. “Minor” – Gracie Abrams
Twenty-one-year-old Gracie Abrams has garnered a respectable following over the last two years, posting short clips of her singing and playing the guitar to her Instagram. Despite only releasing two songs in the two years leading up to her debut album, titled “Minor,” Abrams had already proved herself to the music industry, both as a songwriter and a singer. The short, seven-song album weaves ideas of teenage romance and heartbreak with her talented songwriting ability to make an album that really hits in the feels. Abrams’s soft-spoken voice, mixed with minimal production, results in comforting songs that make you feel like you’re in the room with her listening to her sing. Songs like “21” and “I miss you, I’m sorry” showcase her ability to tell a story through her music and pull listeners in with her catchy choruses.
5. “Alfredo” – Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist
Freddie Gibbs dons a ‘90s gangster rapper style in his music, reminiscent of hip-hop icons like Nas and Tupac. On his 2020 album “Alfredo,” Gibbs teams up with the legendary producer The Alchemist for a chill 10-track album with simple yet soothing beats. Gibbs notches features from Griselda members Benny The Butcher and Conway The Machine, as well as grammy-winner Tyler, the Creator.
6. “Punisher” – Phoebe Bridgers
On her second studio album, “Punisher,” Phoebe Bridgers solidifies herself as one of the best songwriters in the music industry. Her songwriting is multi-dimensional, capturing everyday feelings in a complex yet simple way. “Punisher” traverses past the stereotypical Indie boundaries of guitar riffs and happy lyrics, instead eyeing for more downbeat and intimate songs to go along with the album’s main theme: anxiety of the future. Bridgers’s ability to use such detailed imagery to paint the picture of dread throughout “Punisher” is what’s propelled her into the spotlight as one of the premier artists in the Indie music scene.
7. “RTJ4” – Run the Jewels
“RTJ4” is an 11-song onslaught of the current state of the U.S. The legendary duo of Killer Mike and El-P angrily examine racism in America, police violence and systemic oppression. Despite being recorded before America erupted in protest, the album still perfectly explains the current situation we’ve found ourselves in. Run the Jewels is our generation’s Public Enemy, using rap music to show their anti-violence beliefs.
8. “Future Nostalgia” – Dua Lipa
Currently the most-listened-to female artist in the world, Dua Lipa’s sophomore album, “Future Nostalgia,” was always destined to become a commercial success, notching over five billion streams on Spotify alone. “Future Nostalgia” features a retro-pop sound reminiscent of the ‘80s and ‘90s that notched her four Grammy nominations for 2021.
9. “The Slow Rush” – Tame Impala
The long-awaited fourth studio album from the extremely talented Kevin Parker, AKA Tame Impala, had very, very high expectations, especially since it had been five years since the release of his platinum-certified album, “Currents.” Parker showcased his multidimensional talents once again, recording every instrument and sound himself for the entirety of the album. Tame Impala has cemented themselves as the face of psychedelic rock for years to come.
10. “My Turn (Deluxe Edition)” – Lil Baby
Every year, a single rapper is bound to be far and above their competitors in the industry. In 2018, it was Drake. In 2019, it was Post Malone. For 2020, Lil Baby took the cake, having the most streamed album in the United States, titled “My Turn.” “My Turn” is as Atlanta as an album can get, with features from Atlanta legends Future and Young Thug. Songs like “We Paid,” “Sum 2 Prove,” “Woah,” and “Emotionally Scarred” solidify