Music was what the world needed to keep us alive and hopeful. From the return of Disclosure and Tame Impala after their five year breaks, to Dua Lipa and Rina Sawayama rewriting the rules of pop music, music was as lively as ever and needed clubs, festivals, and parties the most.
Members of Griselda impressed, Freddie Gibbs and The Alchemist became the threading duo, meanwhile Lil Baby celebrated his crowning moment as rapper of the year.
25 Moments, 25 Artists, and 25 Bodies of work: CTRL 25 Best Albums of 2020:
25. Rina Sawayama: SAWAYAMA
Rina Sawayama shifts the focus of bubblegum pop as she tackles the darkest moments that were never told. From the tiring battle with mental health to desperately fighting for representation, Rina plays mind-tricks with pop music fans as she gives a big f**k you to all expectation of what it should be, and instead proves exactly what pop music should’ve been all along.
24. Run The Jewels: RTJ4
Released at the center of the protests for George Floyd, Run The Jewels curated their most protest-like body of work to date. Killer Mike and El-P raise awareness in their own way, not in a cliché way for the sake of “wokeness”. The duo doesn’t play it safe with their approach to calling out every sides that fuels this politically correct agenda that they don’t obey by.
23. Glass Animals: Dreamland
The studio album by Glass Animals is an autobiographical tale that is narrated by shimmering pop hits. On the last project, frontman Dave Bayley created a fictional character to tell a story on humanity, and now he rewrites history to turn fiction into facts.
22. Benny The Butcher: Burden of Proof
Benny The Butcher is the boss on this no holds barred hip-hop album. In charge and living by his own rules, Benny keeps it classic with a slight glimpse of futuristic production.
21: Headie One: EDNA
Expanding on the scene that he is most familiar with, Headie One transcends and challenges himself on a record that shines from front to back. Utilizing gang like slang throughout the project, Headie prioritizes on crime and trying to survive through grimness.
20: Ty Dolla $ign: Featuring Ty Dolla $ign
19. Yves Tumor: Heaven To a Tortured Mind
Reinventing the expectations of a rockstar, Yves Tumor showcases his growth amidst all the chaos that surrounds him and paints an expansive and challenging sonic body of work.
18. Tom Misch & Yussef Dayes: What Kinda Music
The genius masterminds behind the new school wave of a soulful, electronic, and jazzy fusion have joined forces for a head inducing musical experience. Tom Misch, and Yussef Dayes two promising young stars already impressive on their own, prove that they’re even better together on the explosive album.
17. Thundercat: It Is What It Is
Allow Thundercat to guide you into his world of comfort and escapism as he volunteers to be the philosopher on this groovy album filled with wisdom.
16. The Avalanches: We Will Always Love You
Keeping hope in your dreaming, and finding sanity amidst the madness, The Avalanches reassure there’s light at the end of the tunnel. ‘We Will Always Love You’ is a grand moment to end this year in music, much like when the big apple drops at midnight on New Years, this album is a beacon of hope and new beginnings.
15. Lil Baby: My Turn
It's Lil Baby's world and we're just living in it. Rapper of the year, 'Baby crafts an album that is strictly hits, and is everything that it doesn't try to be.
14. Yellow Days: A Day in a Yellow Beat
Upbeat and funky, Yellow Days puts the bedroom pop artists that Spotify tries to push to shame with this bright album that just hits the spot.
13. Westside Gunn: Pray For Paris
Gunn is deeply in rooted into the designers that he becomes a brand himself. Unhinged, ruthless, but while stylish doing so, Gunn is cocky and confident on a high-class selection of beats that are the star of the show.
12. Giveon: Take Time
With his deep and heavy hitting vocals, Giveon sticks out like a sore thumb in the era of repetitive trap-soul as a breath of fresh air. Maybe he's what the genre needs to move past being stuck in the post-Bryson Tiller world.
11. Tame Impala: The Slow Rush
Exploring the territories of the fear of losing grip of time, Kevin Parker takes a deep dive in hopes to turn back the clock, and revisit the opportunities he’s been deprived of, and thus finds himself wondering what he’s done in such years. The Slow Rush is just that, the oh so frightening reality of coming to terms of the uncertainty of the future, while continuously living in the past.
10. Mac Miller: Circles
Swimming was a tragic, heartbreaking, yet extraordinary grand finale to the life and times of Mac Miller, but Circles was the true curtain call for the artistry of one of the most beloved musicians in music.
9. Dua Lipa: Future Nostalgia + Club Future Nostalgia
Declaring herself as the female alpha, Dua Lipa is bringing sexy back, but on her own terms. On her sophomore effort, Future Nostalgia, the songstress rewrites a new standard for pop music. Commanding listeners with a promise that shines in each song, the new pop icon presents a full dedication to the dance floor. In an era of pop music that is too cliché, and unconvincing, Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia is exquisite, a new standard for her peers, and exactly what the genre should sound like.
8. The Strokes: The New Abnormal
The New Abnormal is everything but abnormal, but instead it’s the new normal for a revived band that is celebrating their return to glory.
7. Lil Uzi Vert: Eternal Atake
Lil Uzi Vert proves he isn't just a one-era wonder as he defeats the odds and lives up to the hype. Celebrating a lively personality filled with charm and charisma, Uzi is confidently in charge of making everyone who wrote him off, eat their words up.
6. Disclosure: ENERGY
ENERGY is a glimpse of a duo who have matured and have passed the time of creating massive festival ready bangers and reinvent into a new style of sound.
Disclosure maintain the spark of euphoria that made what they do so special, but all grown up.
5. The 1975: Notes On A Conditional Form
22 tracks seems like a chore to get through, but The 1975 master an experience that is split into two. Reviving 80's like sounding production and a blast-from-the-past outlook into a modern soundscape, the band are as ambitious as ever and they continue to prove why they are much more than just a 2000s pop-rock band tribute act.
4. Pop Smoke: Meet The Woo 2 + Shoot For The Stars, Aim For The Moon
A grand look at the potential of the late rapper that ushered in a fresh, new sound into a bloated genre. Pop Smoke approaches each beat on both projects with a distinctive vocal effect that provides another layer to what was his exciting style. Ruthlessly in charged, the rapper remains commanding with a delivery that in such a short time, has become his signature.
3. Freddie Gibbs and The Alchemist: Alfredo
Building a brotherhood with one another, both acts owe a sense of loyalty to each other, and they never forget that. Alfredo is a modernized reboot of every great mafia film, but instead, the Black man is finally the lead character.
2. 21 Savage and Metro Boomin: Savage Mode II
Indebted into the culture of crunk music and rap music from the 00s, 21 Savage and Metro Boomin pay homage in a modernized way that mark an important transition in their career.
The two aren’t the two that you thought you were, instead they’re pioneers of the game, and as screenwriters of this action-packed thriller, it’s safe to say ‘Savage Mode II’ deserves an Academy Award.
1. The Weeknd: After Hours
Inviting listeners into the headspace that occurs once the after party is over, The Weeknd creates a melancholic, futuristic experience this is advanced for the time, but is still commercially expansive. After Hours explores the territories that are unusual, some that are nightmare inducing, but he continues to seek inspiration from his most frightening surroundings. The Weeknd challenges his contemporaries, and redefines the status quo on a complex, forward sounding record at the height of a new decade.