At the beginning of the year, I had a gut feeling that 2020 would be an amazing year for music, and I have not been disappointed. Since it was the start of the decade, there are so many paths that artists and groups could’ve taken. The album releases this year have been creative and it seems that the most successful albums have been rooted in nostalgia, minimalism and pop-R&B genre-bending.
In this post, I will be sharing my top ten albums of the year. However, I realize that it is early in the year, so this list will definitely change by December. I love albums and these are 10 projects that I adored listening to. I didn’t include EP’s but there have been some excellent ones as well.
10. Dreaming of David – Ryan Beatty
When listening to Dreaming of David, it’s almost as if I levitate. This album is blurry as the cover art suggests, yet crystal clear all at the same time. It’s a fantastic follow-up to Beatty’s 2018 release, Boy in Jeans, and this project takes on a more abstract tone. He does a great job of combining indie pop and R&B and this album takes on a sleepier more relaxed aura. It’s a great album to fall asleep to and the production is just as beautiful as the lyrics.
Highlights include: In The End, Patchwork, Evergreen, Casino.
9. Chromatica by Lady Gaga
One of my most anticipated albums of the year was Chromatica. I was so excited for a new Lady Gaga era and after the release of singles, Stupid Love and Rain On Me, I knew that this album would be a triumph. There are no ballads on Chromatica, which reminded me of Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia. While I love this album and it is one of my favorites of the year, there are definitely a couple skips in my opinion. However, it’s cohesive, fun and makes me want to dance. And maybe that’s exactly what the world needs right now.
Highlights include: Alice, Rain On Me, Free Woman, Enigma, Babylon.
8. Three. Two. One. by Lennon Stella
Three. Two. One. is the exceptional debut album from Lennon Stella. It’s almost addictive in the way that it captured me as a listener and the replay value is insane. I can’t tell you how many times I felt compelled to turn it on. It’s just easy to listen to and brings me so much joy. The production is beautiful and there are no skips on this album. I enjoyed listening to this project on my first listen and still enjoy it to this day. It feels so sincere and Lennon’s voice powers through in a way that seems personal and meaningful.
Highlights include: Much Too Much, Golf On TV, Save Us, Goodnight.
7. Kid Krow by Conan Gray
I’m going to be honest, I’m glad that Conan Gray wasn’t releasing albums when I was in high school because my sixteen-year-old self would’ve been absolutely obsessed. I was a huge fan of his Sunset Season EP and was anticipating Kid Krow. The album did not disappoint and the only reason why it isn’t higher on this list is because there two songs that I skip almost every listen (Fight or Flight and Affluenza). The album perfectly captures being a young adult, in my opinion, and I love how there are such highs and lows.
Highlights include: Wish You Were Sober, The Cut That Always Bleeds, Heather, Little League.
6. Women In Music Pt. III by Haim
This album is such a summer album, in my opinion. Women In Music Pt. III (or wimpiii) is such a step up for Haim. I loved their last album, Something to Tell You, but you can tell that they were deliberately more experimental with this album and it definitely paid off. Their music is so relaxing yet makes me want to get up and dance. Some of the songs sound a bit similar, but I think there is also enough variety as to where everyone can find a song they enjoy on the album. It’s cohesive and definitely a beautiful third album.
Highlights include: I Know Alone, Gasoline, 3 AM, Don’t Wanna, Now I’m In It.
5. Sleepyhead by Cavetown
I am a big advocate of judging books (or albums) by their covers and this album cover totally drew me to it. Sleepyhead is a soft indie rock album that is so charming that it’s addictive. This album makes me feel like a happy little kid who’s about to fall asleep and I love it. I love the flow and cohesiveness of it and it’s just easy and nice to listen to. If you’re looking for a cute album to cozy up with on a rainy day, this is it. I love the song progression and it just makes me smile, which is sometimes all that I need. Good vibes all around.
Highlights include: Sweet Tooth, Telescope, Pyjama Pants, Things That Make It Warm, I Miss My Mum.
4. Punisher by Phoebe Bridgers
Phoebe Bridgers’ first album, Stranger in the Alps, is a classic. I was hoping I could say the same about her sophomore release, Punisher, and luckily, I can. The album is sonically beautiful and just as sad as I needed it to be. This is the project that will get you in your feels, which is sometimes needed. I love her attention to detail when songwriting and it’s clear that she pours her heart and soul into the lyrics. I definitely have to be in a certain mood to listen to this album, but its amazing nonetheless.
Highlights include: Garden Song, Kyoto, Halloween, Chinese Satellite, Graceland Too.
This list was unbelievable difficult to make because 2020 has been an AMAZING year for music. I want to recognize albums that didn’t make the list but are still incredible. And who knows! This list could easily change by the end of the year. Here are some honorable mentions:
color theory by Soccer Mommy – Beautiful songwriting and a perfect nighttime album. Listen to circle the drain and night swimming.
Notes On A Conditional Form by The 1975 – I love The 1975, and their new album is great. However, it’s a bit clunky and the amount of interludes totally weighs it down. Listen to Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America and Nothing Revealed/Everything Denied.
Set My Heart On Fire Immediately by Perfume Genius – This album is so beautiful and cohesive but I have to be in a very particular mood to listen to it. Listen to Jason and Nothing at All.
After Hours by The Weeknd – This project is so cohesive but didn’t have the replay value that I hoped it would. Listen to In Your Eyes and Final Lullaby.
It Was Good Until It Wasn’t by Kehlani – This album is definitely Kehlani’s best and I really love the production. The only issue is that all the songs kind of blend together. Listen to Toxic and Water.
Before I share my top three albums of the year so far, I wanted to acknowledge that it was so difficult to place these albums. They are all amazing and my opinion of this ranking changes so often. It truly just depends on my mood. However, this is a reflection of how I feel about these albums at the end of June. Please keep this in mind.
3. Future Nostalgia – Dua Lipa
In a time of chaos and an international pandemic, nothing has brought me more joy and happiness than Dua Lipa’s sophomore album, Future Nostalgia. From the moment that Don’t Start Now dropped, this era has been amazing to be watch. The album did not disappoint and it has amazing replay value. The production is clean and beautiful and the only flaw of the album is that there isn’t a ballad. However, in a time of panic and loss, the electricity of this album is a perfect remedy. This album has shown us that Dua has grown and is ready to dominate the pop music industry.
Highlights include: Don’t Start Now, Cool, Physical, Pretty Please, Hallucinate.
2. SAWAYAMA by Rina Sawayama
SAWAYAMA is an album that I wish I could go back and listen to again for the first time. This project is chaotic, messy and beautiful all at the same time. From the guitar riffs to the sleek production, Rina Sawayama is able to cover almost every genre (except for country) in the 43 minutes of this album. There is truly a song for everyone on this album. The storytelling is poignant and this album is like a euphoric rollercoaster of emotions. I can’t recommend it enough. SAWAYAMA is an explosion of love and has truly changed my life.
Highlights include: Dynasty, Comme Des Garçons (Like The Boys), Love Me 4 Me, Bad Friend, Tokyo Love Hotel.
1. Ungodly Hour by Chloe X Halle
We’ve arrived at my top spot. Ungodly Hour is an album that I could listen to a million times…and I probably have. Chloe and Halle Bailey are so talented and this album shows their genius. This project has everything that I want in an album. Storytelling, softer moments and it makes me feel like I can do anything. The fact that Chloe did all of the production on certain tracks and that both sisters wrote every song shows their talent level. The harmonies are out of this world and literally cause me to levitate. They are truly amazing and I love this album with my whole heart. Welcome to the ungodly hour.
Highlights include: Ungodly Hour, Lonely, Don’t Make It Harder On Me, Wonder What She Thinks of Me, ROYL.
Thank you so much for reading my ranking! I’m curious to see how these albums age throughout the year and I’ll try to make another ranking at the end of the year. Get going and listen to these projects!