The Best Albums of 2020: 50 – 41

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We Present To You… We Plug Good Music’s Best Albums of 2020

Finally, we kissed 2020 goodbye and we have the chance to wish it never comes back. Just like a Hollywood action movie, this year had it all. The global pandemic put the world on hold and united us in a unique way. Each one of you deserves an applause for staying strong and going through one of the most difficult times the modern age history of the planet has ever seen.

Even if your plans did not turn out as expected, we hope that your dreams still stand strong and you are prepared to make them true as we feel the 2021 breeze. From the bottom of our hearts, we send all our positive energy to our readers in the prospect of good health, endless growth and unconditional love.

It is true that Covid-19 affected tremendously the creative industries, resulting in the cancellations of live performances and closing down of venues for many months. Luckily, creators garnered support from fans and did not postpone their projects. In fact, many successful works based their inspiration on the occurring circumstances.

As far as the music industry is concerned, the idea of public events was enormously altered as well as most fresh tracks had a sensation of maturity and exploration of inner thoughts. You already know we are music nerds, so believe us when we say that we spent loads of free time listening to new releases and we narrowed them down to our annual ‘Albums Of The Year’ list.

Afrobeats and grime were at the core of the widespread hip hop genre when indie and electronic pop conquered the hit charts. Furthermore, K-pop bands managed to break the barriers of the countries left for them to become a phenomenon not only sonically. Latest technologies transformed fan experiences to connect instantly with their favourites from their homes.

Brace yourselves for a wide range of different genres and never heard before names. From the greats such as The Weeknd, Dua Lipa and, once again, Taylor Swift to the unexpected additions of progressive artists like SAULT and Perfume Genius, this is a master class of meaningful lyrics and quality instrumentation.

We appreciate Tereza Bittnerova and Zoe Eskitzopoulou who are back as the writers of our list again this year and brought all the details of each piece. The first part of our ‘Albums of 2020’ list highlights the best albums of the year, from #50 to #41.

50. KeiyaA – Forever, Ya Girl

The countdown kickstarts with a multifunctional newcomer who sings, produces and has mastered various instruments. The word is for the Chicago born, KeiyaA, who has launched her debut album Forever, Ya Girl from the city where great things happen, New York.

As if a spiritual transcendence is taking place, the listeners ground themselves with familiar R&B tempos and rise above while funky and psych embellishments light up each track. The elegant singer is often accompanied by either distorted dialogues or supporting vocals, resembling the thought process of any human being in a state of loneliness and self-affirmation.

49. Giveon – Take Time

Giveon is radiating those old school R&B superstar vibes with his first ever project titled Take Time. At the age of 25 years old, he has finally shown confidence to his unique, deep voice, which, actually, has made him feel quite insecure regarding his genre’s leading performers such as Miguel and Frank Ocean.

While listening to this, surprisingly there is more than the typical romance that led to a heartbreak. The baritone blissfully states his feelings during every stage of a relationship, with the use of storytelling. In eight songs’ time, two people are depicted interacting from their first date on “THE BEACH” till the final collapse, when the one wishes the other to “VANISH”.

48. Tems – For Broken Ears

The Nigerian singer-songwriter Tems has more than impressed us with her 7-track debut EP named For Broken Ears. Fighting for her dreams while in an office job, she learned to produce and started making music, and after her breakthrough year, the rest will definitely be history.

As the only songwriter and lead producer of the record, Tems introduces great lyrical themes led by her amazingly textured voice. Exploring heartbreak and darkness surrounding her, she carries the stories with her beautiful voice accompanied by minimalistic instrumentals that result in a great mix of R&B and Afrobeats.

Although less than twenty minutes long, this collection of music proves that Tems is an artist to look out for in 2021, a fact that she has continued to show even at the turn of the year by stealing the show on Afrobeats legend Wizkid’s Made In Lagos album.

47. Waxahatchee – Saint Cloud

In March, Katie Crutchfield released her fifth full length album as Waxahatchee, her indie – alternative project. Anyone who has become familiar with her previous work can recognize the songwriter’s emerging personal view of life events, just like an open diary.

However, this time in Saint Cloud, Katie’s usual calm nature is replaced by courageous vocals showcasing her sense of self-accomplishment. Full of reassuring wisdom, Dylan-like passionate sharp lines and Parton’s warm glory, this recording may be a widespread step closer to the respected legends of country music.

46. Norah Jones – Pick Me Off The Floor

The nine-time Grammy Award winner Norah Jones has made 2020 better by releasing her seventh solo studio album Pick Me Off The Floor. It is clear that the record doesn’t fall under one genre, spanning from the beautiful rich sound of strings on the opening How I Weep through the country infused jazz song Heartbroken Day After to a collaboration with Mavis Staples on I’ll Be Gone. 

Jones has proven herself to be a great artist already, having her 2002 debut go Diamond and working with big names of rock music such as Foo Fighters or Billie Joe Armstrong. Collaborating with St Vincent among others, Pick Me Off The Floor has the potential to be her best album yet.

45. Mosaic MSC – HUMAN

In a period that social distancing has forced everyone to reflect on their everyday lives and observe how uncontrollable changes can affect them, Mosaic MSC reminded us that it is about time to be HUMAN, with the Los Angeles based worship music band releasing their critically acclaimed third live album, kicking off their collaboration with Capitol CMG label.

The full band is beautifully synchronized with a 40-person choir, while the present audience of thousands sings along with the culturally diverse mix of band members. Their album not only succeeds in making worship music more accessible and more human, but it also delivers a much-needed message of belonging and unity in a year that needed it more than ever.

When we spoke to Mosaic MSC about HUMAN in December, they said, “It is our privilege and an endless source of thankfulness that we get to make music together that brings us and others closer to Jesus and the future he wants to create through us. We love that no matter what we face as a community, a country, or a planet, that when it comes down to it, we all have one thing in common: we are loved and designed by God. Beautifully and wonderfully human“.

44. Nadia Reid – Out Of My Province

Nadia Reid is a young singer-songwriter from New Zealand with an extraordinary voice and brutal and intimate honesty surrounding her lyrics. In 2020, she has released her third album named Out of My Province.

Clearly influenced by folk and country music, she paints a picture of her state of mind. Inspired by her travel, written on tour and recorded far away from her home, in the United States, Out of My Province is full of road tales that explore love, connection and personal growth.

Writing these travelling songs Nadia felt alive as she stepped out of her comfort zone. Staying true to herself and her music, but aiming to push her own boundaries she has created something that has definitely caught our attention.

43. Rico Nasty – Nightmare Vacation

In case of concern, Rico Nasty has surpassed her “Anger Management” in 2019 and comes even stronger with this year’s Nightmare Vacation. She thrives in punk-ish screams, biting lines and combative tone to persuade even the most sceptical that female rappers are perfectly capable of “burning” their challengers.

The Sugar Trap Records owner displays effortless empowerment while she playfully performs next to her appearing guests. Aminé and Trippie Redd are introduced with 00s flowing R&B tunes while she teams up with Ruby Rose, Sukihana and popcaine in a crazy badass showdown.

42. Halsey – Manic

At 26 years of age, Halsey has already been an established name in the music industry for a few years. After the success of her debut album Badlands and the tragic love story of Romeo and Juliet inspired follow-up hopeless fountain kingdom, on Manic she has given us her most personal and vulnerable piece of work yet.

Guests such as Dominic Fike, Alanis Morrisette or BTS’ Suga only prove that this records cannot be categorized into one genre. However, it manages to create a cohesive and honest confession spanning from the massive heartbreak hit “Without Me” through the country-influenced “You” should be sad to the emotional life story of her anxiety and fear of abandonment and being a role-model on “929”.

We are not afraid to say this is Halsey’s best album to date.

41. The Weeknd – After Hours

What more can be said about The Weeknd? His growing career has expanded his discography towards all corners of the world with hits after hits. Since his 2018 extended play “My Dear Melancholy”, it has been impossible to imagine the next musical universe he would land on. Then, the After Hours came, and an icon was born.

The concept of letting emotional urgency and beauty stem from the total madness and confusion of a breakup, is what made people relate to Abel’s tracks like never before. The addicting experimental beats perfectly matched timeless rhythmic patterns and his sincere confessions came along to result in an one piece, whole record.

Click HERE for a full list of our Top 50 Albums of 2020!

Words by Tereza Bittnerova and Zoe Eskitzopoulou // List curated by Ayo Adepoju

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