The Best Albums of 2020
Metro’s favorite albums of the year, from Selena Gomez’s “Rare” to “Wildest Dreams” by Nadine Lustre
2020 has been a year of what-ifs and could’ve-beens. The lockdowns brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic forced the entire world to pivot and adapt to a new life, a new world: one without physical touch, without large, sprawling crowds or tightly-packed bodies swaying to the same beat. It’s an understatement to say that 2020 was a year none of us saw coming—and yet, it very much is.
2020, in music and concerts, was to be the year of Billie Eilish in Manila, Taylor Swift at Glastonbury, Harry Styles on tour, and more. Instead, like everyone else, musicians found themselves in isolation, and many of them turned to what they do best: express their experiences and emotions through song. Below, we round up our favorite albums of the year, from pre-pandemic gems like Selena Gomez’s Rare to lockdown releases like BE by BTS and Wildest Dreams by Nadine Lustre.
folklore, Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift surprised us all by announcing her eighth studio album, folklore, less than a day before its release. We dare say it’s her magnum opus—yes, even after the release of her ninth studio album, evermore. folklore is a sonically stunning record that encouraged us to listen to Swift anew, to go beyond just identifying which of her ex-lovers made it to which track. In folklore, Swift distills ache and longing into seventeen extraordinary songs that perfectly showcase her artistry and her masterful word-weaving.
Plastic Hearts, Miley Cyrus
This might surprise some of you, but Miley Cyrus is a really good musician. Her public persona may not be for everyone, but as she reinvents herself and her image with each new album, one thing remains consistent: her artistry and her knack for making music that sounds—and feels—good. This year, Cyrus channeled her inner Debbie Harry to give us Plastic Hearts, a phenomenal, ’80s-inspired record featuring Dua Lipa, Stevie Nicks, and Joan Jett.
The Album, Blackpink
In what has been a fantastic year for K-pop, BLACKPINK released their highly-anticipated studio album: eight exuberant songs that exemplify the group’s musical style, from the hit banger “How You Like That,” sugary sweet bubblegum pop song “Ice Cream” with Selena Gomez, to rousing pop ballad “You Never Know”—all of which exhibit the group’s range.
One of the biggest and most awaited releases this year came in the form of BE, BTS’s ninth studio album. Featuring eight tracks characterized by lockdown blues and mellow vibes, BE became the group’s lockdown project—an opportunity for them to really focus on themselves and their music, as Jimin had told Rolling Stone India.
Dedicated Side B, Carly Rae Jepsen
Early last year, Carly Rae Jepsen released Dedicated, an ’80s- and ’90s-inspired pop album featuring thirteen tracks about infatuation, relationship anxieties, break-ups, and “finally coming to terms about being alone”—just the usual CRJ topics, you know? This year, Jepsen released outtakes from the album, creating a record just as strong—if not stronger—than the original, thanks to its bright, escapist sound.
Fetch the Bolt Cutters, Fiona Apple
Fiona Apple came back strong with one of the most sublime albums of the year. Fetch the Bolt Cutters is a thirteen-track masterpiece on childhood bullies, unlikely platonic soulmates, imaginary lovers, sexual assault, and confinement—perfect for its release. But, pandemic or not, Fetch the Bolt Cutters stands as Apple’s most compelling work to date.
Women in Music Pt. III, Haim
In Haim’s third studio album, Women in Music Pt. III, the sisters explore new sounds, genres, and moods, resulting in pop rock perfection. From “Los Angeles” to “3am” to the record’s bonus tracks “Now I’m In It,” “Hallelujah,” and “Summer Girl,” it’s easy to get lost in the music and be enveloped in it—and Haim makes sure all throughout that it’s a journey worth-taking.
Gaslighter, The Chicks
Gaslighter, the first album released by the Chicks under their new name, is a fiery and emotional country record on the ways women process grief, stemming from lead vocalist Natalie Maines’ personal experience with divorce. Gaslighter is shrewd, angry, and vulnerable, and each track—and drag—better than the last.
Punisher, Phoebe Bridgers
After 2017’s Stranger in the Alps comes Punisher, an indie rock record from Phoebe Bridgers: eleven extremely vivid songs about heartbreak, loss, and life. It’s sullen yet full, and can take a while to get through—the pain is overwhelming but never overbearing.
Sawayama, Rina Sawayama
Rina Sawayama’s self-titled debut album explores the identities we inherit or find ourselves born with, and it’s one of the things that kept us calm (and sane!) this year. Influenced by dance-pop, R&B, and rock, Sawayama features ruminations on female empowerment, gender roles, and the harmful, lasting effects of capitalism on our society, all perfectly packaged in thirteen futuristic songs.
Chromatica, Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga’s much-awaited Chromatica was a trip—and it’s one we’d like to come back to over and over. Featuring singles like “Rain On Me” with Ariana Grande and “Sour Candy” with BLACKPINK, Chromatica is a bright, glossy return to Gaga’s dance-pop era—and an album we can’t stop putting on repeat.
Rare, Selena Gomez
One of the earlier releases in this list, Selena Gomez’s Rare is her best album to date. It’s a record that doesn’t hold back, a record dripping with honesty and emotion, and exhibits Gomez’s talent and artistry through all thirteen songs.
Wildest Dreams, Nadine Lustre
Nadine Lustre’s musical debut was among the most anticipated local releases of the year, and in Wildest Dreams, she dared to go where she had never been: songwriting. “One of the things I really wanted to do was to write,” Nadine said in our digital cover with her. “I didn’t get lucky. That’s actually one of the reasons why I started getting scared of words.” But in Wildest Dreams, she conquered that fear, and mightily so, resulting in a lush, no-skips album, accompanied by a stunning visual film.
Listen to our favorite tracks below:
Lead photos from @nadine @taylorswift @ladygaga