My Favorite Albums of 2020

Happy New Year! For my first post of 2021, I want to reflect back on some of my favorite albums of the previous year. 2020 was without a doubt a pretty bad year for everyone, but at least the music wasn't! During such isolating times, music connected us all more than ever before. Listed below is the music that became the soundtrack of 2020 for me! 

folklore // Taylor Swift

Without a doubt, my favorite album of 2020 is Taylor Swift's Folklore. This album was surprise released in the summer and was made in just a few months at the beginning of the pandemic. In so many ways, it reinvented not only Taylor as an artist, but also the way music is created and released in the time of a worldwide pandemic. She provided a sense of escapism in the music she released this year through her storytelling approach to the writing. Folklore is the defining sound of very strange times we are all living through right now. This album has meant so much to so many in the past year, myself included. I wrote a dedicated blog post of my review and analysis of Folklore, so I won't say too much more about it here - but out of every album on this list, this is my absolute favorite! 

My Favorite Songs:
the last great american dynasty
this is me trying

evermore // Taylor Swift

Midway through December, Taylor released yet another surprise album, intended to be the follow-up to Folklore. Just like Folklore, Evermore is an absolute masterpiece and one of the greatest albums Taylor has ever released. Both of these albums compliment each other so perfectly and in many ways are connected so intricately. Just like Taylor did with Folklore, many of the songs aren't directly about her life, but are more so written from the perspective of or about fictional characters that may in some way correlate to her life, some being more abstract than others. This new songwriting approach she has taken with the music released last year is hopefully the path she continues to take with her work in the future. It's a fresh style of music for her that I think re-established her as an artist and a songwriter. I also wrote an entire blog post dedicated to my review and analysis of this album, which I would love for you to read if you want to know more of my thoughts on it!

My Favorite Songs:
champagne problems
gold rush
no body, no crime
coney island
cowboy like me

Future Nostalgia // Dua Lipa

Dua starts this album with the line, "You want a timeless song, I want to change the game," which is exactly what she did with
Future Nostalgia. This is one of the best pop albums I have heard in a long time and is just a preview of what I hope is to come for Dua as an artist. She brought back the disco sound in such a fun and modern way, one that will likely become the new trend in music for this new decade. I absolutely love her self-titled debut album, but Future Nostalgia really solidified her spot as one of the best artists out right now. It's a shame that such a fun dance album like this was released right at the beginning of the lockdown and never really got it's chance to shine in a live setting, but when we're able to, I'm so excited to experience Future Nostalgia live one day! 

My Favorite Songs:
Future Nostalgia
Love Again
Break My Heart

Manic // Halsey

I have always loved Halsey's songwriting and the way she is so honest and vulnerable through her music. With Manic, her talents have reached new heights. This album is a perfect representation of not only who Halsey the persona is, but also who Ashley the real person behind the persona is. Some have said that this is her least cohesive album - however I believe that was the intention with it all along, given the title ManicIf you listen to this album in it's entirety it really is like taking a deeper look into all of the different sides of her, that flow in such a complex way. This album explores many personal topics that she hasn't opened up about in the past, and that others would never be so open to share. Conceptually there is so much depth to this album and is truly her most personal work yet. She also published her first collection of poetry in 2020 titled "I Would Leave Me If I Could" which is the companion to Manic in many ways - if you're a fan of this album, I would highly recommend checking out her new book because it includes many early/alternate versions of songs on this album in the form of poetry. Her book of poetry compliments this album in such a beautiful way!

My Favorite Songs:
Forever... (is a long time)

Plastic Hearts // Miley Cyrus

Plastic Hearts is the album Miley was born to make! This is her first rock album, which is something I have been anticipating from her for years because everything about her style and her voice fits this genre so perfectly! She has reinvented herself with every album and has proven time and time again that she is one of the most versatile artists of this generation. There isn't a single skip on this album, every song is absolutely incredible! 

My Favorite Songs:
WTF Do I Know?
Plastic Hearts
Angels Like You
Night Crawling (feat. Billy Idol)
Midnight Sky
Hate Me

Rare // Selena Gomez

Early in 2020, Selena had a true revival with her release of Rare! She stayed true to herself on this album and ended up making the absolute best work of her career. This album has such an uplifting energy, which was crucial for 2020. Selena has overcome a lot since the release of her last album five years ago and the strength her journey brought her shines through in every song on this album!

My Favorite Songs:
Dance Again
Lose You To Love Me
Kinda Crazy
A Sweeter Place (feat. Kid Cudi)

Smile // Katy Perry

Katy Perry is in full bloom with her newest album Smile! I have always been a fan of Katy's music, but as a whole Smile is by far her most cohesive project yet, and possibly even her best! There are so many incredible pop songs from this album that I've had on repeat constantly since they were released. I also love that did a lot of really great at-home performances and music videos leading up to the album's release, even when she was eight months pregnant and despite the pandemic. Her dedication to bringing her music to life in a visual way is what has always set her a part from many other artists in my opinion. I will always love her classic hits, but her new releases are incredible! 

My Favorite Songs:
Cry About It Later
Teary Eyes
Harleys In Hawaii

Positions // Ariana Grande

As a follow up to her iconic 2019 album, Thank U, Next, Positions shows a different side of Ariana and her personal growth over the past year. Her vocals are better than ever before on this album (which I didn't even think was possible! lol) and is very reminiscent of 90's R&B music, like Mariah Carey, Aaliyah, etc. The album's track list flows in such a beautiful way, telling the story of her finding true happiness again and falling in love after going through deep heartbreak. After all that she's been through, I'm always so happy to see her evolution shine through in her music.

My Favorite Songs:
just like magic
safety net (featuring Ty Dolla $ign)
my hair
love language

Sawayama // Rina Sawayama

Rina is my favorite new artist that I discovered in 2020! This album is pure pop perfection, with a sound reminiscent of early 2000's classics from Britney Spears, Gwen Stefani, and Christina Aguilera, but with a modern twist. She is such a unique and visionary artist and I'm so excited to hear what comes next! 

My Favorite Songs:
Comme Des Garcons (Like The Boys)
Who's Gonna Save You Now? 

The End of Everything // Noah Cyrus

Noah is one of my favorite up and coming artists who is such a talented and heartfelt songwriter. With this release, she is very candid about her path to self discovery, while expressing the fears and feelings that many will be able to connect with, especially throughout the last year. I have loved every song Noah has released over the past few years, but this EP features her absolute best work yet. I'm very excited to hear what she releases next, because she is definitely one of the most promising voices for this generation! 

My Favorite Songs:
I Got So High That I Saw Jesus
Young & Sad
The End of Everything

CALM // 5 Seconds of Summer

5 Seconds of Summer has been my favorite band for years and is constantly outdoing themselves with each album release! With CALM (fittingly an acronym for the band's members, Calum, Ashton, Luke, & Michael), they have continued to perfect their more mature rock sound that they introduced on their 2018 release of Youngblood. I look forward to the day they perform this album on tour because their music always sounds even better live - I know CALM will be no different! I have seen them in concert several times through the years and have the best memories of those shows! 

My Favorite Songs:
Red Desert
No Shame
Best Years
Not In The Same Way

Superbloom // Ashton Irwin

One of the most unexpected releases of the year is Ashton Irwin's debut solo album, Superbloom! Ashton is the incredible drummer of my favorite band, 5 Seconds of Summer, and I was so surprised to hear that he was releasing his own collection of solo music for the first time. After being a fan for so long, I loved hearing a different side of him through this album. He opens up about many of the personal hardships he has gone through in his life and provides a message of hope for those going through the same struggles. I don't know if he will, but I hope he continues to release solo music alongside working with 5SOS in the future! 

My Favorite Songs:
Have You Found What You're Looking For?
I'm To Blame

Kid Krow // Conan Gray

I have been a fan of Conan Gray since he started on YouTube years ago uploading cover songs and making videos about his high school and college experience, and it has been so amazing to get to see him become such a big artist over the past couple of years. I loved Sunset Season, his 2018 EP, ever since it was released and have been looking forward to his debut album ever since. When Kid Krow was released in March at the beginning of the lockdown, this was all I listened to on repeat for at least three months. His songwriting style is heavily inspired by Taylor Swift and Lorde, who also happen to be my two all-time favorite artists, so that definitely plays a plays a part in how much I love his music too. Conan has found so much success in the Tik Tok era of music, and I'm very excited to hear what comes next for him. 

My Favorite Songs:
Comfort Crowd 
Wish You Were Sober
The Cut That Always Bleeds

Changes // Justin Bieber

Marking Justin's return to music after five years, Changes is a beautiful ode to his wife and his growth as a person over the past few years. This album showcases a much happier and drama-free side of Justin, while also being one of his most personal releases yet. This album is primarily R&B (or R&Bieber as he calls it), with elements of pop mixed in - his talents really shine in this genre and is something I hope he continues to experiment with more in the future. I'm (hopefully) going to see him in New York City this July, which is so exciting! One of the best days of my life was when I saw him for the first time back in 2013 on the Believe Tour and I'm so excited to be seeing him again eight years later! 

My Favorite Songs:
Come Around Me
Intentions (feat. Quavo)
Forever (feat. Post Malone & Clever)

Wonder // Shawn Mendes

I have always loved Shawn's music, but for so long I've been anticipating the time where he tries something completely different with his music from what we're used to hearing from him. The production of Wonder shows a more experimental side of Shawn that we haven't heard from him before, especially in terms of the production. I hope he continues in this direction with his future releases, and hopefully even takes it a few steps further!

My Favorite Songs:
Intro + Wonder
Teach Me How To Love
Monster (featuring Justin Bieber)

Notes On A Conditional Form // The 1975

Notes On A Conditional Form is The 1975's fourth album release and is the companion album to their 2018 release of A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships. Matty Healy, the lead singer, has mentioned a few times that this may be their last album as The 1975 before they rebrand as Drive Like I Do. The 1975 has been one of my favorite bands for years and has played a big part in my life and musical taste during that time, so naturally I had high expectations going into this album, especially since it may be their last for a while. 
Notes on A Conditional Form is 22 songs long and honestly there are quite a few skips on it. However, I don't want the filler to take away from the quality tracks on this album - because when it's good, it's really good. I especially loved the several singles they released before the full album came out, which are definitely some of the best of their discography. Whether they stay The 1975, or transition to Drive Like I Do, I'm always looking forward to seeing what comes next for them.

My Favorite Songs:
The Birthday Party
Me & You Together Song
If You're Too Shy (Let Me Know)
What Should I Say

Chromatica // Lady Gaga

Chromatica is Gaga's big return to pop/dance music, her first in almost seven years. Although it isn't particularly groundbreaking in the way I would consider a lot of her other albums to be, I still love this album and think that Chromatica has a few of the best songs she ever released - some that have become instant classics. Like I said earlier about Dua Lipa's Future Nostalgia, it's a shame that an album like this didn't get it's time to shine in a live setting because it has so much potential visually that just wasn't able to happen in 2020. I'm excited to see the ways she will continue to bring Chromatica to life in 2021, because the few music videos and the VMA's performance been incredible and added so much to this era of her music. 

My Favorite Songs:
Rain On Me (featuring Ariana Grande)
Chromatica II + 911
Sine From Above (featuring Elton John)

Love Goes // Sam Smith

Sam has always had such an incredible talent for songwriting, and on Love Goes their talent is shining through in such a beautiful way. While a lot of Sam's releases in the past have consisted mostly of melancholy ballads, they went a new route for the majority of Love Goes and incorporated a fun dance sound with their usual heart wrenching songwriting - I love the new direction Sam is going with this new music and hope they continue with it in the future! 

My Favorite Songs:
Dance ('Til You Love Someone Else)
For The Lover That I Lost
Forgive Myself
Kids Again

Thanks for reading! I would love to hear what some of your favorite albums of 2020 were and what you thought of mine! I hope you all have a happy and healthy new year! 

-Melissa ♡

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