Ranked! Mandatory Top 10 of 2020: Music Albums of the Year
It was a pretty good year for music but a miserable one for music lovers. While the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t exactly stop artists from releasing excellent albums, fans didn’t get to see their favorite new songs performed live. Listening to an artist’s tracks on Spotify gives us a glimpse of their sonic power, but unless we can feel the music reverberating through our bodies, it just isn’t the same experience.
We can’t change the state of the world (or make a coronavirus vaccine get distributed any faster), but we can give you a heads-up on the best music albums that dropped in 2020. Hopefully, all these artists will be able to get back on the road in 2021 and we can appreciate their songs as we were meant to — in person.
Cover Photo: Run the Jewels
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10. Bad Bunny ‘YHLQMDLG’
On Yo Hago Lo Que Me Da La Gana (translated to: I Do Whatever I Want), the 25-year-old Latin trap artist invited a slew of rappers and reggae artists to help him celebrate one of his favorite subjects: women.
9. Fiona Apple ‘Fetch the Bolt Cutters’
Say what you will about Fiona Apple's oddball lyrics and unconventional instrumentation; she still makes music like nothing you've ever heard before.
8. Sufjan Stevens ‘The Ascension’
Stevens experiments instrumentally with a drum machine and synthesizers on this album but remains lyrically focused on the Big Questions in life.
7. Bob Dylan ‘Rough and Rowdy Ways’
Bob Dylan's still got it. This, his first new collection of songs in eight years, is a testament to the musical genius of America's poet.
6. Taylor Swift ‘Folklore’
We have to give credit where credit is due. Taylor Swift created a "cottagecore" folk album that recalled the singer/songwriter's earnestness and vulnerability from before she blew up, but this time, she's more mature and has her feet firmly on the ground.
5. Run the Jewels ‘RTJ4’
Killer Mike and El-P reunited for a critically-acclaimed fourth collab that tackles racist police, capitalism, and family ties.
4. Moses Sumney ‘græ’
This ambitious double-album goes all out on emotion and melds several musical genres in the process.
3. Tame Impala ‘The Slow Rush’
Kevin Parker's solo project puts you in a chill trance and leaves you with memorable mottos that'll still be in your head long after you turn the music off.
2. Phoebe Bridgers ‘Punisher’
Though not quite as melancholy or as nuanced as her 2017 debut Stranger in the Alps, Bridgers' sophomore effort is sad, lovely, and irresistible all at once.
1. Dave Simonett 'Red Tail'
The frontman for "newgrass" band Trampled by Turtles and rock side-project Dead Man Winter finally came out with an album in his own name -- and it's a beaut, conjuring the kind of pensive loneliness a dude with only a guitar in the wilderness can evoke.
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