Music is not about one emotion – it is happiness and sadness and rage and fear. We consciously choose to play music that compliments the way we want to feel. Even if it is just momentary, music lets us take control of our emotions.
In a year dominated by isolation, loss and immense change, music was one of the few means that allowed us to escape from reality. I curated a playlist of 20 songs – of various genres – that helped me power through this historical year; operating under one rule: the songs had to be released during 2020.
- Guilty Conscience
Guilty Conscience – Single
Infidelity is a pretty tough subject to talk about but the old school 80’s pop sound on this track was a vibe.
- Beautiful Stranger
El Dorado – Album
Combination of Blues, Rock and Country
There is something unbelievably refreshing in meeting someone for the first time. And there is nothing more beautiful than loving someone who once didn’t even know your name. In the words of the soulful vocalist himself, “Beautiful Stranger is a story about longing– searching for love. We tried to paint a picture of a dim-lit bar, lost souls finding one another before last call.”
Circles – Album
In this song, Miller clutches on the concepts of life, death and making the most out of our human experience. Long Live Mac Miller.
Easy Money Baby – Album
A Spanish rendition of 50 Cent’s “21 Questions.” The song of the summer in my opinion.
- Rehab (Winter in Paris)
Fuck The World – EP
Imagine a cold hearted future track sung with an angelic voice. Brent Faiyaz did an excellent job of making the “give and take” of a relationship seem beautiful without forgetting just how ugly it can get. He was her drug the same way she was his, and they both couldn’t stop their addiction.
Punisher – Album
This track is about forgiveness and letting go. “‘Kyoto’ is kind of like that sequel feeling, where I’m mad at my dad,” Bridgers said, “but then, kind of realizing that I’m also kind of over it. Forgiveness is a gift to yourself, and I totally feel like that. It sucks to walk around angry all the time.”
René – Single
In this song, Residente revisits his roots in Puerto Rico and reflects on his childhood, mental health, the music/entertainment industry, politics and relationships. I recommend watching the music video, it was very intimate and nostalgic.
Bad Bunny, Ñengo Flow, Jowell & Randy
YHLQMDLG – Album
Bad Bunny released three incredible albums in 2020 and perhaps had the biggest year out of all the artists mentioned in this list. In my opinion, Safaera was the best song on YHLQMDLG. It is the perfect turn up song. What makes it so incredible is that it had a perfect mix of new and old school reggaeton. There were over 10 years worth of references, eight beat changes and five different rap flows. AMAZING.
- Too Late
After Hours – Album
A heartbreak that is too difficult to shake. In this song, The Weeknd acknowledges his wrongdoings, and is heard apologizing to his former lover for their unfortunate ending.
Don Toliver (feat. Travis Scott & Kaash Paige)
Heaven or Hell – Album
If you are in the mood for melodic hip-hop, this is the song for you. The song lives up to its name – it will definitely take you on a euphoric trip.
- Up the River
High off life – Album
A heartfelt reflection. Although Future has amassed success and financial prosperity, he is still struggling with his inner demons. This track is definitely underrated and personally it is one of my favorites. He was speaking from his heart and you could feel his pain.
Rasharn Powell & AB001
Smithereens – Single
A song about heartbreak with an R&B, funk and soulful sound that sets the uplifting mood perfectly.
- Something to Rap About
Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist (feat. Tyler, The Creator)
Alfredo – Album
A full circle moment. This track makes light of Gibbs’ experience being a drug dealer and how it ultimately led him to have something to rap about and amass success.
- Starting Over
Starting over – Album
This song is refreshing and motivating. It’s about taking chances, new beginnings and starting over.
- Hit Different
SZA (feat. Ty Dolla $ign)
Hit Different – Single
Loving someone you can’t have can lead to a rollercoaster of emotions. With her sweet melodies and angelic vocals, SZA tells us all about her no-strings attached situationship.
- Rich N***a Shit
21 Savage & Metro Boomin (feat. Young Thug)
Savage Mode II – Album
This track is all about living a lavish lifestyle. Knowing the hard work these artists have put into turning this lifestyle into reality makes this track that much more special. It’s inspiring to say the least.
SN: This album was definitely at the top on my favorites list. In addition to Young Thug, it featured Drake, Yung Nudy and to my surprise, Morgan Freeman.
- Lost One
Lost One – Single
The worst type of heartbreak is losing one of the good ones. With it comes immense regret – wishing you would have done things differently, and selfishly hoping the “lost one” won’t move on.
- Back in Blood
Pooh Shiesty (feat. Lil Durk)
Back in Blood – Single
“Back in Blood”, set to appear on Pooh Shiesty’s upcoming mixtape, “Shiesty Season,” is a grimy, menacing banger. Though Lil Durk is known for his melodic, bluesy singsong approach, he raps aggressively and with authority. Shiesty Season will be released tomorrow, make sure to check it out.
The Lo-Fis – Album
With luring harmonies and a slow tempo, Lacy sings a somber love song begging for his former lover to come back.
- Good Days
Good Days – Single
“Good Days” was originally teased towards the end of the music video for “Hit Different,” and when I heard it, I instantly fell in love. This song is about moving past the negativity and looking toward a better future. Her voice is magic, and in combination with its lifting message, this song is chef’s kiss.
In a year that a lot of us were restricted to many things, music was a constant we could rely to escape. Music is universal – there is a song for anytime, anywhere, and anyone. These songs brought me happiness and hope, and sometimes allowed me to dwell on my emotions and reflect. If you want to listen to this playlist click this link – it also includes songs from 2020 that did not make it on the list.