Arts & Culture, Music
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The highs and lows of music in 2020

Written by Georgia Hilton-Buckley

Like many of us, I passed the summer lockdown months embroiled in a melting pot of various albums to distract myself from the chaos in the world, waiting for my Spotify Wrapped to eventually bully me into having good taste.

While for some reason I cannot remember a single thing that wasn’t COVID in 2020, a lot of really important music events did actually happen and I’m here to remind you of them.

Notes On A Conditional Form by the 1975

In February, it seemed like everybody I knew had tickets to watch Matty Healy flail around the stage, while pretending to know the words to ‘Chocolate’, and this was really the peak for the band for the year.

Ever since the dark Tumblr years of 2011-2015, the 1975 has been moving strongly into the mainstream and I, like many, was excited for their new album.

‘If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)’ became a great initial entry for song of the summer with its classic feel-good sound and easy-to-boogie-to vibes, but the following album didn’t quite live up to the hype. The long, long album explored every possibly genre and very few of them worked. It felt like the band were just throwing stuff at the wall and hoping something would stick.

After spending an hour and twenty minutes listening to this album in full, I felt like I needed a detox.

Future Nostalgia by Dua Lipa

Dua Lipa was inescapable this year, something that becomes completely understandable after a listen to Future Nostalgia. I personally love it when someone adds a disco essence to their music, and makes it cool again! Whilst I’m not an avid listener of Dua Lipa – drunkenly chanting along to ‘One Kiss’ in a nightclub is as close as I usually get – I had to listen to this album for the hype.

Some songs do feel like they were written to go viral on TikTok, but this doesn’t necessarily make them bad. They simply have that irresistible earworm hook that we love. I’d recommend this album no matter what genre you are into – I can guarantee something will appeal to you.

Folklore and Evermore by Taylor Swift

Some bands leave years between albums and we all eagerly wait for that tweet telling us to pre-order. Swift however, quite frankly, spent her lockdown a lot more productively than the rest of us. Both ‘Folklore’ and ‘Evermore’ were released in 2020 and both were full studio albums.

Once again, they demonstrated Swift’s drift back to her country roots and reflected her personal life in a very real way. Honestly, it was just a good year to be a Taylor Swift fan (as long as you can ignore her appearance in Cats).

Ten years of One Direction

During lockdown, I went through my One Direction phase again, something which, as a twenty-year-old woman, I am very proud of. Harry Styles continues to dominate anything he tries his hand at, but 2020 was exciting because we could celebrate ten years of these boys.

The beginning of One Direction harks back to a simpler time, of moustaches on everything and running home from school everyday to watch YouTube. Many of the fans, including myself, stayed up all night waiting for anything from the boys to signify a reunion and, at one point, a Twitter account convinced us all they were re-branding under the name ‘Reason Being’. Obviously, this wasn’t true, and sadly there is no reunion tour. Yet.

Directioners were happy enough, however, that the boys all thanked the fans and acknowledged Zayn in their tweets. Meanwhile I anxiously await the sixth album.

Kasabian

For my sister’s birthday, I bought us tickets to Kasabian’s gig in Victoria Park in the summer. Obviously, due to COVID, it was cancelled – but a few days later lead singer Tom Meighan left the band anyway. Initially there was an outpour of sympathy from people worried for his mental health, only for us to discover that he had left by mutual agreement after abusing his fiancée.

It once again raised the question – can you separate the music from the artist? And can the band ever be the same when it loses one of its key members? It seems a bit blue to reflect upon it in this article, but it’s important to remember the bad as well as the good.

COVID and gigs

Glastonbury was cancelled. In fact, everything was cancelled.

My last gig was in February at The Cookie in the city centre, but I had so many more booked. COVID demolished the gigging industry and still casts a shadow over the future of live music. It also affected artists more than we ever thought it would.

With streaming now the most popular way to consume music, artists are receiving a smaller percentage of the money than ever before. Gigs and merchandise are the primary source of big income for smaller groups trying to make it big. It really scares me to think so many smaller bands might give up because there’s no money in the industry anymore.

Live music brings us so much joy and losing out on the sweaty, deafening euphoric experience of going to concert would leave a hole in our lives.

Quick Fire Album Rating

Foolish Loving Spaces by Blossoms – 5/10 – Sounds like every other Blossoms album.

After Hours by The Weekend- 8/10 – Does this man ever drop the ball?

The New Abnormal by The Strokes- 10/10 – *chefs kiss*

Miss Anthropocene by Grimes- 7/10 – I can’t forgive her for that baby name.

Good News by Megan Thee Stallion- – 8/10 Simply yes.

Women in Music Pt. III by HAIM – 9/10 – They never let me down.

I am not a dog on a chain by Morrissey – 0/10 – He is a racist.

Artists to watch out for

  • Thomas Headon
  • Weird Milk
  • Fatherson
  • Gaffa tape sandy
  • Zuzu
  • Dream nails

I cannot cover everything in this short round up, so I apologise if I missed your favourite album from the year, but to summarise – music is still our saviour and Rihanna still won’t release a new album.


Georgia is a Third-year Politics student at the University of Leicester with an infatuation for books, particularly the classics. She is interested in feminism, philosophy, and music.

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