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While the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly impacted everyone, the music industry is one area that saw a lot of cancellations, changes and challenges. Yet, many artists released new music this year, suggesting that the periods of lockdown have been good opportunities for self-reflection and creativity.

Much like the Spotify and Apple Music year-end recaps, I always enjoy going back through my playlists to see what music I enjoyed most this year. I think that each year brings better and better music, and even with the challenges of COVID, I think 2020 still holds this conclusion true.

In my view, it was a pretty big year for music, with releases from many of my favourite artists I certainly wasn’t disappointed. I wanted to share 5 of my favourite albums (in no particular order) from this year. Some may be expected, while others may surprise you or help you find new artists to listen to in 2021. Now, onto the music!

Three.Two.One – Lennon Stella

Starting off with a debut release, three.two.one is the long-awaited (by me) debut album from Lennon Stella. If you don’t recognize the name, you may remember Lennon & Maisy – the adorable sisters whose rendition of the Cup Song from Pitch Perfect went viral. Or you may know her from the country music show Nashville. Nevertheless, this album is a stylistically diverse and amazingly mature debut from Lennon that showcases her amazing voice and songwriting mastery. Standouts from this album for me are “Save Us,” “Older Than I Am” and “Weakness,” but every song is so full of passion and love that you can feel it.

mama’s boy – LANY

Paying homage to Paul, Jake and Les’ southern roots, mama’s boy is the third album from California-based indie pop band LANY. Adding hints of country to their signature 80s-reminiscent lyrical synth-pop sound, this trio only continues to build upon their status and indie legends. Songs like “heart won’t let me” and “good guys” standing out as new additions to the LANY essentials playlist, while “you!” and “(what I wish just one person would say to me)” take the band’s production to new anthemic heights. Whether you like pop or country, or a mix of the two, there is a song on mama’s boy for you!

Manic – Halsey

I have been a fan of Halsey since her early days with her first two albums, Bandlands and hopeless fountain kingdom being two of my favourite albums ever. Her third album, Manic, came out at the very beginning of 2020, which continues her legacy in my mind and stands out as an honest and unique portrait of her as a person as well as an artist. The album’s lead single, “Without Me,” showcases Halsey’s powerful vocal abilities and emotional writing skills, as do “You should be sad” and “Finally // beautiful stranger.” Other favourites off of Manic include the beautiful confessional of “929” and the rock edges of “3am.”

Wonder – Shawn Mendes

While this album is one of the newest on the list, and I still need more time to fully analyze it, it is already clear to me that Shawn Mendes’ fourth album Wonder just might be my favourite release of his to date. Starting off with the cinematic and soft ballad of “Intro,” this album has a very mature and unique vibe that continues all the way to the 24th track of the deluxe edition. Following his documentary and concert movie releases on Netflix, 2020 has turned into a huge year for this talented Canadian. Showing such creative and emotional growth, Wonder goes beyond songs about love, tackling honest and relatable quarter-life-crisis thoughts from inside Shawn’s head. So far my favourites are “Dream,” “Always Been You” and “305.”

folklore and evermore – Taylor Swift

You knew it was coming, and I’m not sorry. Squished together as the last, but NOT least, mention on my list are Taylor Swift’s sister records – folklore and evermore. From the very first tracks, these albums bring a new vibe from Taylor after her pop-infused run of albums, with 1989, reputation and Lover. While her style strayed more into the acoustic folk (and returned to country) styles, Taylor’s signature storytelling and songwriting mastery did not fade. The same can be said for evermore. I don’t quite know how to put into words everything I want to say about these albums, but long story short, I think we needed these soothing albums more than we thought during this time, and I am so glad Taylor found inspiration in the midst of a global pandemic. Standouts from the two for me include “august,” “invisible string,” “happiness” and “marjorie.”

There you have it. 5 (well actually 6) of my favourite albums from 2020. I hope this article inspires you to look back at the albums you loved this year or find new artists during 2021. Happy holidays, and may they be filled with music!

Jonnica Hill

Laurier Brantford '21

Hey I'm Jonnica and I am passionate about writing, music, photography, fashion and so much more. I was a founding member of the Her Campus at Laurier Brantford chapter, and over my three years with the team have been a writer, editor, marketing director and co-Campus Correspondent. Digital Media and Journalism, Class of 2021
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