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Music in 2020

Michael Bagley

In a year packed full of high ups and deep lows, it only made sense that music would follow suit. Sensational albums such as The Weeknd’s “After Hours” and Freddie Gibbs’ “Alfredo” were the benchmarks for music in 2020, giving us some of the most memorable and quotable songs of the year. In true Grammy fashion, though, these top albums received only one nomination combined (“Alfredo” - Rap Album of the Year).

This past year also brought back some beloved artists people may have forgotten about Artists such as Taylor Swift with “folklore,”Bob Dylan with “Rough and Rowdy Ways,”and Kid Cudi with “Man on the Moon III,” have all made a resurgence this past year, combining both a nostalgic, yet new sound to their catalogues. In addition, 2020 will be remembered for posthumous albums, most notably Pop Smoke’s “Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon,” Juice Wrld’s “Legends Never Die,” and Mac Miller’s “Circles.” Works like these were definitely emotional for their fans, but ultimately gave inspiring and touching music to get through the year.

Another big shift that the music industry saw this year was artists branching out to write songs that tackled the topic of social justice. This summer, as protests surged across the country and around the world, a wave of protest music followed. Some of these songs included Lil Baby's "The Bigger Picture," which detailed his personal experience with police and criminal justice, and J.Cole’s “Snow on Tha Bluff,” which documents the frustration, sadness, and confusion he felt in wake of George Floyd’s death. On the same topic, Tyler Childers, a country artist and Kentucky native, also voiced his support for social justice. He, similar to J.Cole and Lil Baby, called on his listeners, primarily the white working class of Appalachia, to acknowledge racial issues that the country faces, and to help be the change in their respective communities.

Finally, it would be doing a grave disservice to simply gloss over the artists that passed away in 2020. Some of the more notable names include John Prine, Little Richard, MF DOOM, Bill Withers, and Eddie Van Halen. Each of these artists changed the way music was perceived and paved the way for future artists with their inspirational work. All we can be is thankful and appreciative for their unique sounds and personas that helped change the sound and look of music forever.