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This year might have been rough, with a global pandemic at the forefront of everything, but the women who have made this year better with the content they’ve put out for their loyal fans have been nothing but iconic. It is not easy releasing music during a pandemic, but while you’re stuck at home, you can’t not listen to these earworms. With many variables that add up to the dumpster fire of 2020, these women are the extinguishers that made 2020 suck less. 

1. Dua Lipa - "Future Nostalgia"

Pop songstress Dua Lipa released her sophomore album, Future Nostalgia, earlier in March. Dua Lipa brings us a disco-pop album in the earlier stages of the pandemic, bringing forth hope to what lead to the dumpster fire of 2020. The 11-track album gives us life with this set of heartbreak, romance, and friendship. Featuring hit singles, “Don’t Start Now,” “Break My Heart,” and “Physical,” this album will have you dancing alone in your kitchen with happiness rushing through your blood. This bold, fresh, and funky album will bring you sunshine on your cloudy days, (more like year) and leave you tapping your foot and jamming to each hit. 

2.  Lady Gaga - “Chromatica”

In late May, Mother Monster, a.k.a Lady Gaga, released her sixth studio album entitled, Chromatica. This album brings us to the experience of Chromatica, a 16-song journey of love, kindness, and healing. This album brings us joy and healing through this experience while showing us yet again that Gaga is truly a master at what she does, and that no one truly does it like her. Amidst a global pandemic, Gaga leaves us desperate to go to a club with these beats. These songs leave a feeling of healing, as behind these upbeat, club songs she leaves heartfelt messages of growth and leaving behind trauma. Gaga best describes the album as “dancing through the pain,” which is something we could all use with the year it has been. 

3. Taylor Swift - “Folklore”

In late July, Taylor Swift surprised fans with this 16-track album. In her eighth studio album, Swift offers us a surprise during the height of the pandemic which strays away from the poppy, upbeat title tracks that she had been releasing in the past. This time, she gives us various third-person narratives that show us post-pop, quarantine-pop (if that’s what it’s called), Swift, which can contrast with her autobiographical title tracks. Her ethereal, indie rock album could not have been possible without the efforts of producer Aaron Dessner, who played a major role in her quarantine album. Her album is detailed with callbacks, but oh-so rich with immersion and storytelling frames Swift as the songwriter she always has been. If you want calm within the chaos, this album is perfectly designed for you. 

4. Ariana Grande - “Positions”

Pop princess Ariana Grande truly switched up the positions by creating an album that is almost entirely R&B songs, including songs like “my hair” and “west side.” Being considered one of her most provocative albums yet, with songs like “34+35,” she allows herself to consistently express herself in her songs and sends a message to herself and the listener. Grande explores her vulnerability and strength in this 14-track album, which gives us more of her heart and soul. Coming off of many tragic events, she shows us growth in her terms and gives us a narrative for the album and an experience that you can’t take back. If you love R&B and want to listen to something fresh, this is definitely the album to listen to. 

5. Rina Sawayama - “SAWAYAMA”

In mid-April, British-Japanese musician Rina Sawayama released her debut studio album SAWAYAMA earlier this April through the independent record label, Dirty Hit. She’s definitely one of the largest rising acts of 2020, and has received critical acclaim for her genre-exploring music, her motifs in each song; especially in “Tokyo Love Hotel,” “Comme des Garcons (Like the Boys),” and “XS.” The album takes you into a Y2K world with each club-like beat and each personal lyric. 

6. Blackpink - “The Album”

World-class K-pop girl group Blackpink finally released their first album entitled, The Album. The powerhouse girl group of the year released their first studio album in October and needless to say, excited was an understatement. Many fans have anticipated a full-length album from the girls for years now, and this 8-track album will make you feel empowered with each song. The girls sing in both Korean and English, creating a bridge between both languages. Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé, and Lisa have killed it with this album and constantly raise the bar with each song.


Indonesian-American artist NIKI released her debut album, MOONCHILD, which brings the most ethereal vibes. NIKI shows a more reflective side to her work. As she felt that she kept herself in an “R&B box,” she definitely broke out of that box and brought us an otherworldly being. Her songs of girlhood, youth, and growth is something to reminisce over as each group of songs represent different phases of the moon. This very raw, personal album will keep you in your feels as NIKI takes us through each phase in this 10-song album.

8. Megan Thee Stallion - “Good News”

Hot newcomer rapper Megan Thee Stallion, finally released her debut album this November and had fans raving about song after song. Along with the music video release for “Body,” Megan Thee Stallion packs a punch with this 17-track album. From the first track, “Shots Fired,” which puts rapper Tory Lanez on blast, following the events in which Lanez is facing felony charges for shooting her with a concealed weapon. However, this doesn’t stop the Houston rapper from releasing her full length album that fans have been anticipating. Ms. Thee Stallion puts on various sides of herself, while releasing various messages that resonate throughout the album. In songs “Freaky Girls (feat. SZA)” and “What’s New,” she brings forth empowerment and a hair flip to her critics and haters. Following her op-ed in the New York Times and her performance on Saturday Night Live, she highlights the messages that deserve to resonate to all people, which is violence towards black women and how they are constantly disregarded and disrespected in all aspects of life. All I have to say that she is a powerful force to be reckoned with, and that anyone who crosses her way should just face defeat, because she isn’t here to play.

9. Miley Cyrus - “Plastic Hearts”

In late November, Miley Cyrus finally dived into the rock world with this album. Inspired by icons such as David Bowie, Joan Jett (who just so happens to be featured in her album), The Ramones, and Freddie Mercury, Cyrus gives us a well deserved seventh studio album, embracing heavy rock themes. Her plans had changed completely, as the 2018 Malibu wildfires completely changed her direction in music and in life. Many of her fans have found that her sound fits the rock style, diverting from her country roots, and into a new career twist. Cyrus’ album features singles “Midnight Sky,” as well as collaborations from pop songstress Dua Lipa in track “Prisoner,” Billy Idol, Joan Jett, and Stevie Nicks, who remixes her lead single in song “Edge of Midnight.” Her fans have found praise for her change in sound and how she changed up the sound in new wave song “Heart of Glass” by Blondie. 

These trailblazing women have been nothing but powerful for releasing full-length albums, especially during a global pandemic. These women show us that they are exceptionally talented, strong-willed, and insanely powerful for giving us experiences that we can’t take back.  We, as listeners are extremely lucky to have musicians release these albums for us, and the musicians are lucky to be making music during this especially unprecedented time. It is definitely not easy for a lot of us but these albums give us a healthy reminder to keep pushing, and for these artists to open up with feelings that they can’t express through words. We truly don’t deserve these women for how hard they work, regardless of the obstacles they’ve faced and shared with us. 

Angela Vashti Valero (she/her) is a freshman at FIT who's currently studying Fashion Business Management. She aspires to work in the industry, as well as writing for fashion publications and websites. Born in the Philippines and living in Long Island, she's either wearing a full beat or a simple cat eye. You can find her listening to "Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)" or lurking around on Pinterest. You can reach her on Instagram on @angelavashti.
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