Finally! The post you’ve all been waiting for. Obvi.
My Favorite Albums:
- Perfume Genius “Set My Heart on Fire Immediately” (May) Oh my, this album. Falsetto swoony dramatics can be hit or miss for me, but I absolutely loved this. Favorite songs: “Jason,” “Nothing at All,” and “Some Dream.”
- William Prince “Reliever” (February) This deep voice of calmness was so soothing. I guess this is labeled as country. If you like Eddie Vedder’s solo stuff, you might like this. Favorite songs: “Always Have What We Had” (with the best line “I can miss you from anywhere” SWOON) and “That’s All I’ll Ever Become.”
- Ethan Gruska “En Garde” (February) don’t know what made me pick this one up (maybe the collab with Phoebe Bridgers?), but it stuck in my head. It’s certainly got a bit of an Elliott Smith vibe which turns out to be the kind of sound I was seeking all year long. Perfect for a melancholy “OMG it’s the end of the world” year like 2020, am I right? Favorite songs: “On the Outside,” “Enough for Now” (w/ PB), “Teenage Drug” one of my favorite songs of the year for sure.
- Phoebe Bridgers “Punisher” (July) Speaking of Elliott Smith vibes… I wrote ‘Yup, yup, yup” next to pretty much every song on this album. I know this was Taylor Swift’s year to many people (and I do like both those albums enough to have them on my top 10) but I will maintain that this album and the HAIM release (below) are JUST AS GOOD, if not… better? Heh. Don’t come at me, Swiftees, I’m allowed to have a different opinion than you! Favorite songs: “Moon Song”, “Graceland Too”, “Kyoto”… And all the rest of them. Ha.
- HAIM “Women In Music Pt III” (July) Do I own or know anything about parts 1 and 2, if those indeed exist? Nope, I don’t, but this album just really dug its way in to my eardrums. There’s all kinds of musical nods happening in the backgrounds, it’s so upbeat and fun in a LOT of ways. There are several songs with just a great! beat! on this album. What fun. Favorite songs: “Los Angeles,” “The Steps”, “I Know Alone”, “Up from a Dream” “Don’t Wanna”, “All That Ever Mattered”, “Now I’m In It.”
- The Weeknd “After Hours” (April) Cringe. Some of his lyrics are so misogynistic, I don’t think I’d love my teenage daughter getting obsessed with his music. Those are probably all the songs I like the best HAHAHAHA OMG life is frustrating. I just… always love every album he puts out and then one day I find myself analyzing the lyrics I’m singing along to and get annoyed. Oh well. Such is life. Sometimes great songs have shitty messages. Music is complicated like that. Favorite songs: “Hardest to Love”, “Heartless”, “In Your Eyes”.
- Kesha “High Road” (February) I had never bought a Kesha / Ke$ha album before but this one was totally worth it. TOTALLY. A wild mix of upbeat rock and pop, melancholy country, it’s up, it’s down, it’s all over the place. Favorite songs: “Cowboy Blues” (“Did I fuck my whole life up?”), “High Road,” “Birthday Suit” (so ridic), and “Resentment” (w/ Brian Wilson and Sturgill Simpson, of all people).
- Waxahatchee “Saint Cloud” (April) Pretty sure Busy Phillips’ instagram stories put this on my radar as I’ve never really been a Waxahatchee fan in the past. This album has what is definitely a contender for song of the year: “Fire”. I take it for granted / If I could love you unconditionally / I could iron out the edges of the darkest sky / For some of us it ain’t enough / It ain’t enough. Cannot stop listening to it, singing it, humming it, getting lost in its chorus. It’s 2020’s Maggie Roger’s “Alaska.” Other favorites: “Lilacs” (so Dylanesque) and “Hell.”
- Taylor Swift “Folklore” (July) OK are the “Cardigan” commercials not cracking everyone else up at this point? I mean, it seems insane months (and another album) later to suddenly see them a million times every Hulu show I watch. Heh. Favorite songs: “Exile” (feat Bon Iver) duh, “Seven,” “This Is Me Trying,” “Invisible String”, and “Mad Woman.”
- Taylor Swift “Evermore” (December) Seriously, if this album was just the song “Ivy” in every single position, I would love it just as much. SONG OF THE YEAR, people, song of the whole damn year. Oh, goddamn, my pain fits in the palm of your freezing hand. But, sure, there are others I liked. I guess. Favorite songs: “Willow,” “Champagne Problems,” “No Body, No Crime” (feat HAIM), “Dorothea,” and “Coney Island (feat The National).
- Little Big Town “Nightfall” (February) In keeping the favorite list to 10, Waxahatchee knocked this one off. But there are a ton of songs on this album that really *really* stuck with me. Favorite songs: “Questions” and “The Daughters” might be the best back to back on an album all year.
- BLACKSTARKIDS “Whatever, Man” (November) Oh wow, I dig this one. But.. I got it in November and then didn’t really start listening to it until 2021. Heh. I am always up for trying albums recommended by Hanif Abdurraqibb because his writing about music just sucks me in! But a lot of times it turns out I don’t hear what he heard in it. This one, however, is aces. Favorite song: “Camp Whatever” Haven’t felt alive in a while, but I’m not dead.
Best 1-2 Punch of the Year:
“WAP” Cardi B. & Megan Thee Stallion to be followed immediately by “Watermelon Sugar” Harry Styles. I know, what are we-teenagers? Just take my word for it.
Favorite Songs Not From Aforementioned Albums:
- “Conversations in the Dark” John Legend – just all kinds of big swoony love for this tribute to CT.
- “No Time for Love Like Now” Michael Stipe – definitely my favorite song of those early Pandemic days. Ah, those early Pandemic days.
- “Hard to Forget” Sam Hunt – yes, I love his cheesy sappy fratboy albums. But never all the way through. This song though…
- “Another Beginning” Joshua Radin – can he even write a bad song?
- “Kings & Queens” Ava Max – just put this baby on repeat.
- “One More Second” and “Take Me Out of Town” Matt Berninger – I was bummed to not really enjoy this album overall but loved these two.
- “Ridiin’ Solo” Jason DeRulo – I think this may have come out some other year but 2020 is the year I could not stop singing it, like, basically, ever. It’s all about the beat, baby.
- “Wasted Youth” Diana Gordon – oooooo love this draggy slow swirl.
- “Almost Home” Moby (feat Damien Jurado – OMG so Bon Iver.
- “I’m the One” DJ Khaled (feat. Justin Bieber et al) – Good grief, I like a song with Justin Beiber on it? Just bury me in shame.
- “Spiral” Pinegrove – Another Busy Phillips insta earworm. “Drink water, good morning…”
- “Video Games” and “Goodbye to All That” Sufjan Stevens – another album I found myself disappointedly uninterested in. Sigh. I love so much of Sufjan’s stuff, but somehow I never found a way in with this one.
- “Cavalry” Mashrou’ Leila – an album recommended by YA author Abdi Nazemian, thoroughly enjoyed it and this song was the real standout for me.
- “Beige” and “Goodpain” Yoke Lore – their Goodpain EP was a highlight.
- “Gone Gone/Thank You” Tyler, the Creator – probably came out in 2019 but I bought the album in January, one of my “everyone had this on last year’s list” purchases, I think.
- “Pictures” Asgeir – I buy a lot of singles when I hear them in a movie, on a TV show, or on a commercial. Presumably that’s how I found this one.
- “Lost Here” Fauntella Crow – probably same.
Favorite Covers: (in that rare year where I bought very few!):
- “Explain It to Me” Squirrel Flower – Liz Phair cover, that frankly sounds very close to the original. Heh.
- “I’m on Fire” Staves – all slowed down and glorious.
- “Put Your Records On” Ritt Momney – omg the name of this band. Smacks forehead.
What’d I miss? What song or album could YOU not stop listening to in 2020? I’d love to know…