Despite all the chaos that’s ensued over the last few months, 2020 has actually been the year of good tunes. We might’ve been robbed of an entire summer’s worth of fezzies, award shows, and tours to enjoy them at – but that’s life, right? Instead of dwelling on those losses, we thought we’d pay tribute to some of this year’s best and ballsiest musical offerings so far, in no particular order… here we go!
THE BEST ALBUMS OF 2020 (PART 1)
Dua Lipa, Lady Gaga, Headie One and more comprise our favourite albums of 2020 list… so far!
Jessie Ware – What’s Your Pleasure?
Ware puts fun to the forefront on her latest, unskippable, Disco-inspired album. A skim through What’s Your Pleasure is like watching the seventies whizz by at twice the speed, conjuring visions of shimmering disco balls, billowing bell bottoms and Farrah Fawcett’s hair. The album is rich in layers of orchestral funk, nostalgia-inducing synths and Ware’s own alluring vocal prowess, with Ware blending each song seamlessly into the next. Taking you on several different journeys throughout the album’s duration, they all somehow end up in a sweaty climax on the dancefloor.
BEST TRACKS: All of them really, but if we had to pick – “Step Into Your Life, “Spotlight”, “Remember You Are”
Headie One – GANG
We were beyond thrilled when revered UK Drill artist Headie One announced his Sampha and FKA Twigs featuring mixtape, GANG, back in April. The rapper said at the time this project would be something wholly more raw and emotive than his previous work, and he did not disappoint. Made in collaboration with Fred Again (Charli XCX, Rita Ora, Stormzy), the duo created GANG after just six studio sessions together, spinning a tale that cherishes brotherhood, loyalty and friendship. Our only critique? We wanted MORE!
BEST TRACKS: “GANG”, “Smoke (feat. Jamie XX)”, “Judge Me Interlude (feat. FKA Twigs)”
Charli XCX – How I’m Feeling Now
In a move that did more for the country than our government during lockdown, pop pioneer Charli XCX put together the quarantine album to end all quarantine albums. Giving herself a month *yes, that’s one entire month, and not 3 years*, she came out the other side a totally changed artist (and a tired one too). AG Cook, 100 gecs’ Dylan Brady and BJ Burton are amongst some of the talents she singer brought on board the crazy project, with Aitchison even penning some tunes on live streams with her fans, turning the most nonsensical of lyrics into 11 tracks of pure glitch-pop genius.
BEST TUNES: “pink diamond”, “c2.0” & “visions”
Lianne La Havas – Lianna La Havas
This gorgeous cut from the angelic singer-songwriting talent known to us as Lianne La Havas is perhaps the most sublime record on this list. The self-titled project is Havas’ third studio album, blending alternative folk with rich vocal-led soul, and even includes a cover of Radiohead’s “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi” – which fans may recognise from her live performances. Here Havas explores a whirlwind romance with a fellow musician that happened whilst she lived in LA – and the subsequent breakup of this partnership, which saw her return to London to piece together all that had happened. The result is beyond heartfelt, and a testament to Havas’ artistry.
BEST TUNES: “Read My Mind”, “Weird Fishes” & “Sour Flower”
ARCA – KiCK i
Having been at the forefront of the very best experimental dance music for the past decade, ARCA’s latest industrial masterpiece, titled KiCK i, is no exception. Providing salvation for many of us desperately missing the dancefloor, or the back-room of a sweaty warehouse in North London, KiCK i dares us to dream of a world lit only by strobes and scored by deep, pulsating bass. It’s sweaty and sexy in nature, and totally sincere in its delivery. Our other favourite boundary breakers – SOPHIE, Shy Girl, ROSALIA and Björk, also feature throughout, as if things couldn’t possibly be more perfect. We dare say this might be our favourite ARCA record of all time, until the next one anyway…
BEST TRACKS: “Rip The Slit”, “No Queda Nada” & “Watch”
Chloe x Halle – Ungodly Hour
If you were to look up the dictionary definition of transcendent, chances are you’d find Chloe X Halle’s Ungodly Hour right there underneath it. With echoing melodies and heavenly harmonies aplenty, this absolutely magical redefining of R&B had the Internet hooked for weeks. The album marks three years since the pair’s debut, a maturing of not only themselves but also their sound. Clad in chrome dipped angel wings and latex LBD’s, the duo take us on a journey of ecstatic high’s and pensive lows – the agony and ecstasy of life in a realm more blissful than this one. We haven’t stopped listening since it dropped, and we probably won’t be able to either.
BEST TRACKS: “Ungodly Hour”, “Don’t Make It Harder On Me”, “Do It”
Lady Gaga – Chromatica
Gaga’s ode to 80’s house and disco should have had us serving on the dancefloor months ago, but an untimely pandemic had other plans for this album rollout. Still, she pulled through and saved a pretty disastrous year, though collectively we’re still not over having to wait another year for her Tottenham Stadium show. Introducing the sound of this body of work through a (since-deleted) playlist of jaw-dropping floorfillers and school disco classics, our reigning Pop Princess proceeded to join Elton John on a song with jungle breaks; Ariana Grande in an electrifying Tricon VMA performance, collaborate with BLACKPINK(!!!) on the “Swish Swish” nodding earworm “Sour Candy”; and even made Chromatica branded thongs and jockstraps. She gave the gays and the girls everything they could’ve wanted.
BEST SONGS: “Replay”, “Alice”, “Fun Tonight”
Flo Milli – Ho, why is you here ?
It was her remixing of Playboi Carti & Ethereal’s “Beef” that cemented her place as an internet-breaking icon, and now a year on our favourite rapper finally dropped her debut. Ho, why is you here ? – the existential question we ask ourselves at work at least three times a day – is a total dream. It’s Milli at her most fun and free, with no inhibitions, peppering hard-trap beats with her playful flow and brazen lyrics. Whatever she does next, we’ll always be listening.
BEST TRACKS: “Pussycat Doll”, “Beef (Flo Mix)”, “Not Friendly”
Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia
It feels like only yesterday that our favourite pop mainstay was teasing her return via snippets of the retro-tinged “Don’t Start Now”. It was a pinch-me moment felt across the globe, and a precursor to her most dazzling era yet. Future Nostalgia does exactly what it says on the tin, giving us a euphoric longing for a time that hasn’t even happened yet, a reimagining of Disco for the Tik Tok generation. This is feel-good music times 100, tackling romance, misogyny and dangerous liaisons. As if we hadn’t been treated enough, Lipa then enlisted The Blessed Madonna to help remix the entire album, making us long for an opportunity to experience the album on the dancefloor all the much more.
BEST TRACKS: “Cool”, “Hallucinate”, “Don’t Start Now”
Rina Sawayama – SAWAYAMA
SAWAYAMA, the natural descendant of 2017’s RINA, is everything and more that we expected from the twisted pop-star. In her sophomore offering, Sawayama has beaten genre to a bloody pulp, whether it be taming heavy metal into ballads about escaping the expectations of your ancestors or creating rage-anthems about those people who just need to keep schtum. With further nods to the funkiest of 80’s house and chilled Eurodance, the album has more than solidified Sawayama’s position atop the pyramid of pop, a sentiment even Elton John would attest to.
BEST SONGS: “Tokyo Love Hotel”, “STFU!”, “Comme Des Garçons (Like The Boys)”