The phrase “Life sucked, but great records got us through” could apply to any number of recent years. But, in 2020, music was hit especially hard, with clubs closed and tours canceled. Out of necessity, this became a year about turning inward, listening deep and looking for solace.
Our top album of the year, Taylor Swift’s Folklore, reflected that feeling in its stark, elegant intimacy. Other artists — from Run the Jewels to Lucinda Williams — came through with albums steeped in the year’s explosive political climate. At the same time, it was also fun to party vicariously with fantastic dance-pop albums by Dua Lipa, Jessie Ware, house-music producer Kareem Ali, Bad Bunny‘s expansive reggaeton blowout, and rapper Lil Uzi Vert‘s spaced-out-yet-hard-hitting opus. Meanwhile, new artists like Kelly Lee Owens, Soccer Mommy, Beach Bunny, and Fontaines D.C. pointed the way toward a future that’s going to get better.