By: Natalie Conte and Lauren Jacoby
Music plays a prominent role in the lives of many – especially in this past year. In the midst of a global pandemic, countless artists rose to the occasion and delivered quality music for our ears. Unfortunately, others fell short of their fans’ expectations in 2020.
As a long-time fan of artist Kid Cudi, his album release in late 2020 was a perfect end to the year. On December 11, Scott Mescudi completed his incredible album trilogy, which began in 2009 with debut album Man on the Moon I: The End of Day. The second album in the series, Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager, released the following year. Kid Cudi continued to release music independent of the Man on the Moon storyline, but the saga was not completed until a decade later. Fans were quick to voice their support of the latest album in the trilogy, The Chosen. The album takes listeners through his vulnerable mind, opening up about feelings of isolation in “The Void” and giving a message of hope to his supporters in “4 Da Kidz.” The Chosen had features from the rightfully worshiped Pop Smoke, popular rapper Trippie Redd, and beloved Phoebe Bridgers. Cudi’s album was a pleasant end to the trilogy, released just at the conclusion of a less-than-pleasant year.
Sadly, not every 2020 album had positive reviews, as made clear by artist Playboi Carti. After years of teasing fans, Carti finally released Whole Lotta Red on December 25. The long-awaited album held high expectations, after Carti’s infamous record titled Die Lit. Many were underwhelmed by WLR and specifically disappointed in the production quality. However, many loyal fans admitted the album just needed time to grow on them, as Carti does have a unique and distinctive style. For many, this exciting release was not seen as a total loss, with a number of redeeming tracks including “Sky.” Mixed reviews conjured up, and some fans humbly took the album as a miss, while others like Michael Agati believe that “Whole Lotta Red is over-hated.”
2020 was a year filled with lots of growth and experimentation in music. This past year, the world received albums from The Weeknd, Sleepy Hallow, Future, Ariana Grande, Aminé, Lil Durk, Sheff G, and more; most of whom did not disappoint their eager fans. Looking back at music from this past year can remind listeners of all that we’ve faced, as we look towards an exciting future. In 2021, we can hope for another great year of music, and maybe even an album from SZA, Kendrick Lamar, and Frank Ocean… if we’re lucky.
Although 2020 will probably go down in the books as one of the worst years of the 21st century, the music that came out of it is not to be understated. Early on, the year had already begun grimly, with Kobe’s death and political turmoil, all in the first two months, before the international pandemic had even arrived. When the country went into quarantine and practically everyone was locked inside, it gave people a whole lot of nothing to do. However, it did give some of our favorite artists time to whip out a new album (or two, if you’re Taylor Swift), and we couldn’t be more grateful.
It was a hot July day, when I, and hundreds of millions of other people across the world opened Instagram to find a post from Taylor Swift detailing her new album, Folklore, was to drop at midnight. Flash forward 6 months later, on a freezing December night, she did the unthinkable; dropping yet another full and stocked album – Evermore. That’s two full albums in a year, two in a 6-month period, and two in a pandemic. Both albums were smashing successes, with Folklore holding the number one album spot for 8 weeks, the longest running chart topper since 2017, and Evermore topping the Billboard Top Album list only a week after its release as well.
Songs on both albums bring in yet another era of Taylor’s music, contrasting both her country roots and her more recent pop albums. Folklore and Evermore’s vibes are shown through their smooth acoustics, uncapitalized titles, and slow, delicate stories of her life and lives she’s dreamt up in her head. Taylor now finds inspiration from books she has read, and uses this to develop characters and themes. This differs greatly from her previous “self-centered” song writing.
Evermore’s storytelling ability is apparent in many songs, such as “champagne problems,” which tells the tale of a failed engagement, and in “marjorie,” which recaps the story of Taylor’s own grandmother’s life. It’s impressive when an artist writes an album in under a year, much less two in 8 months, and Taylor did not disappoint, as these two albums arguably top her vast collection.
Moving on from Ms. Swift, in 2021, the music industry is just going to keep on pushing forward. Highly anticipated albums like Dangerous by Morgan Wallen, Chemtrails Over the Country Club by none other than Lana Del Rey, and even hints of new Cardi B and Billie Eilish albums. Fans still hold out hope for Rihanna’s next album, R9, something she’s been teasing for years. But even without that release, 2021 is still set to be a fantastic year of new music for lover of all genres to enjoy.