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2020 has been a year of opposites: ups and downs, joy and sadness, growth and loss, love and loneliness, and my Spotify Wrapped for the year definitely reflected that. One thing that’s developed, shifted and grown is my music taste. Here are some old favourites and recent finds that I shared with friends, danced around the kitchen, or played through headphones at 2 am. All day, all year.


Peripheral Vision, Turnover


This is probably my favourite album, full stop. I won’t take credit for finding this band myself, a friend introduced Turnover to me over the summer and ever since I’ve been obsessed. All of their albums have a different sound but are equally incredible. Peripheral Vision is best listened to in order as the album has a narrative that runs across each song. Loss, love, new discoveries and experiences characterise the eleven tracks, making it a poetic dive into some of our most inner and personal thoughts. My favourites? ‘Like Slow Disappearing’, ‘Hello Euphoria’ and ‘Dizzy on the Comedown’, but honestly, every song has a special place in my heart.



Proper Dose, The Story So Far


Who knew it would take an unprecedented pandemic to bring back the pop-punk/alt phase of my teens. I can hear my mother shouting to put the eyeliner down from here. All jokes aside, sad rock is how I’d classify this album. ‘If I Fall’ and ‘Keep This Up’ strike a chord with me every time. It’s one of those albums you can bop to if you block out the lyrics, but I don’t think that’s the intention behind it. This is definitely one to listen to in a good headspace due to the heavy-hitting lyrics, or if you’re trying to get over something or someone, this album can equally help in that department. Even if it’s just to hear your feelings being felt by someone else, or to shout them over your headphones. 



No One Else Can Wear Your Crown, Oh Wonder


The only album on this list that was actually released this year, No One Else Can Wear Your Crown comes from the power duo (and couple) that is Oh Wonder. Slow, chill vibes, notes about heartbreak, romance and moving on fill each line of each song. ‘Nebraska’ has to be my favourite as when I heard it, the lyrics resonated with my current situation. I was supposed to be seeing them this year, but of course, it’s been postponed. Fingers crossed I can cry every lyric out with my friends when we finally see them next year.



Hypersonic Missiles, Sam Fender 


Sam Fender, my example of ‘I listened to that before it was mainstream.’ You’ll recognise that phrase as it’s thrown around Indie Wednesdays (Oh how I miss you). Whatever mood I’m in, the intro to ‘Play God’ will always get me on the dance floor – or jumping around my bedroom. Same difference. My Geordie roots make my love affair with Sam a loyal one. The songs are gritty in their themes – violence, male suicide rates and toxic masculinity. So amidst the guitar solos and saxophone riffs, the lyrics hit hard. When I saw him at Rock City, it was an out-of-body experience. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the full pint of beer thrown over my head as Sam riled up the crowd during ‘Millenial’, which for some reason didn’t make the cut for the album. Check that song out if you like Hypersonic Missiles.



Four Year Strong, Four Year Strong


This self-titled album from the pop-punk band has a very busy cover, to say the least. ‘We All Float Down Here’ that features on the album was the first song of theirs I heard. Somehow the songs are aggressive and heavy, and melodic and singable at the same time. It’s quite an eclectic mix. You’ll find this on repeat on my walks to uni and it has become essential for the weekly food shop. Cue stomping up and down the aisles, while trying to style out the headphones, mask and hoop earring tangle situation that is inevitable at this point. ‘I Hold Myself in Contempt’, ‘Go Down in History’ and ‘Gravity’ are my favourites. Four Year Strong is the ‘heavy stuff you listen to in the kitchen Emma’ as my housemates describe them. Sorry guys. 



My music taste varied so much this year – the array of genres I apparently streamed (lo-fi beats I’m looking at you) does the talking. There were so many other bands, songs and albums that could have made the cut, but these five were heavily featured on my most-listened playlist for the year. Here’s to the music I’ll listen to and love in 2021.


Emma Stirland

Nottingham '21

Editor-in-Chief for Nottingham 20/21 3rd Year English Language and Literature student A bit of a coffee addict, lover of cats and candles and modernist literature
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