*Part 0: Introduction*
Welcome to my 2020 wrap-up write-up. It consists of 4 parts: part 1 is a huge thank-you to all of you, part 2 is a recap of some of my favorite music of this year, and part 3 is a small excerpt of some of the stuff I'm hoping for next year.
This is easily one of the longest things I’ve ever written, so if you want to read it in a easier-to-read, formatted format, please check out this Google Doc here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1oX8St1cAy0iRrIMcGYVY42kvRKbBFNf-zdPXOsrfFK0/edit?usp=sharing
Now, let’s get into it!
*Part 1: Recap of the year + thanks!*
I started consistently reviewing on AOTY in mid-late August, after finding the site a few months earlier on Wikipedia. Way back then, when I was putting out horribly-written, stream-of-consciousness reviews on random albums I happened to catch wind of, I never thought that I would hit such a milestone as 300 followers or improve my writing and music taste so much just by being here, and for that, I cannot thank everyone here enough. I would like to specifically thank some of the people that have made my time here so far amazing (in alphabetical order):
@Basic_Garci: One of the funniest and best writers on this site, you also helped inspire me to start up an Instagram account of my own. Thanks to you, I am slowly learning how to hack the Instagram algorithm, and will likely start doing so in the new year. You’ve definitely made me funnier, and you’ve also made me tense up a few times (especially with that My Play review).
@Chode: Among the greatest reviewers on the site, you greatly helped me improve my own reviews. Thank you so much.
@Dombot: I still will never be able to repay you for informing me that 75 is not, in fact, a quarter of 100 followers. Besides that, though, celebrating with you over Biden’s victory, telling you about the Nuraphones, and just talking with you in general has always been amazing.
@MattsReviews: One of my greatest encouragements, both in conversation and in writing. Your reviews are among the most fun and engaging to read- your writing is absolutely top-notch, and your meteoric growth is more than well-deserved. I also love conversing with you- you’re one of the coolest people I’ve met here. Genuinely proud to call you a friend.
@Nico: Incredibly cool and fun to talk to; also an Andrew Yang fan and non-AJR hater which immediately catapults you to the highest ranks of based-ness.
@ParthanyJobtano: You’ve made me so much better at writing haikus, and like I told you before, the fact that you can literally convey your thoughts about an album in a haiku is ridiculous. Besides that, though, you’re one of my greatest friends here. You’re ridiculously fun to talk to, even when it’s in haiku format (or especially), and you’ve made my time on this site so, so much better. Love you.
@Riskr: My very first friend on this site, and fellow Porter Robinson stan, I cannot thank you enough for always being here for me as I journeyed from having 50 followers to over 300. Talking to you about Nurture and other random music has been so fun, and I genuinely can’t thank you enough for everything. <333 (Also, your dog is really cute).
@TomBejoy: One of my first and best friends on this site, you are easily one of the funniest people I know, and, like Garci, I believe you have made me a funnier human in turn. I’ve had so much fun talking with you (or having one-way conversations with you, when you were banned). Love you, man.
Finally, I would like to shoutout @redbded @MikeOwen @Toasterqueen12 @DoubleZ @reaIreaIweaseI @eliiscool5 @wless @Rater @kengoji @Metrik_System @elitimesfour @Cry @Quet for being awesome.
I know that I missed some of you while writing this, and if I left you out, I swear I didn’t do it intentionally- I wrote this somewhat late at night and I’m bound to have missed someone. Please know that all of you, mentioned or not, have made my time here more enjoyable, and I hope I’ve done the same for you. <3
*Part 2: Music Recap of 2020*
Dang, 2020 has been ridiculous, but there’s also been some pretty great music this year. I’d like to share my top 10 singles and albums of 2020. I’ll list numbers 10-5 with quick descriptions, then give slightly longer blurbs for numbers 5-1 of each respective list. Let’s go!
- Part 2a: Best Albums of 2020
#10: The Avalanches - We Will Always Love You. A beautiful, celestial trip through The Avalanches’ world. More single-centric than their previous projects, but the singles slap, so it’s no issue.
#9: Run The Jewels - RTJ4. A politically conscious, incredibly well-produced and well-made hardcore hip-hop project. One of the most essential projects of 2020.
#8: food house - food house. A stupid fun hyperpop project with some of the greatest bars I’ve heard in any album this year. Fraxiom’s vocals and Gupi’s production are amazing on this project, and this collection of tracks never fails to put a grin on my face.
#7: Charli XCX - how i’m feeling now. Made in just 6 weeks, Charli’s newest LP is introspective, intimate, and consistently features some of the hardest bangers of any album this year with amazing production from some of the most forward-thinking pop producers of our era.
#6: The Microphones - Microphones in 2020. For fans of any of Elverlum’s past work, Microphones in 2020 is an essential musical autobiography, dealing closely in the life of Elverlum in a single, emotional 45-minute track that nearly made me cry.
#5: Dorian Electra - My Agenda. My Agenda is a concept album about incel culture, internet culture, and toxic masculinity, featuring everything from references to Alex Jones to an off-key verse from the Village People to a performance from a Russian protest group to a dubstep drop laden with airhorns. Oh yeah, that’s only one song. It’s way too much, but in the best way. You’re either going to hate Dorian Electra or love them, but dang it, I love this project, and I can’t wait to see what’s next for them.
#4: 100 gecs - 1000 gecs and the Tree of Clues. Tree of Clues is chock-full of top-notch remixes of one of my favorite pop records of all time. From the grand, distorted opener, a remix of money machine by PC Music’s A.G. Cook, to the closer, a high-energy, fun live performance of 800db cloud, this project pulls no punches, with every genre from Eurodance to hip-hop to speedcore featured. And it’s just so, so much fun.
#3: Ichiko Aoba - Windswept Adan. Windswept Adan is a magical Japanese folk record that represents a major shift in Aoba’s sound- whereas her music was incredibly minimal in the past, featuring very few instruments, Windswept Adan features beautiful arrangements of instrumentation in much greater amounts than her previous records. This also made her already exceptional music standout, and nearly brought me to tears on first listen.
#2: IDLES - Ultra Mono. IDLES’ brand of punk is overflowing with energy and political themes, and Ultra Mono takes it to the next level. Despite taking a lyrical hit from their previous album, the British band’s most recent is still some of their greatest material, smartly and sleekly employing political themes, catchy songwriting, and impressive instrumentation to create an exceptional album. Ultra Mono is 42 straight minutes of getting brutally murdered by kindness, and I love every second of it.
#1: Black Dresses - Peaceful as Hell. Black Dresses’ newest (and possibly their last) project, Peaceful as Hell, is my favorite album of 2020, and for good reason. The production on this project absolutely pops- Black Dresses’ heavily distorted, noise-pop beats are top-notch, and despite being somewhat abrasive, they’re still fun and creative, and don’t feel harsh to the ears (at least for me). The vocals and writing are also amazing, even if the singing feels a bit lethargic at times. Black Dresses’ songwriting talent shines through on this album in full force- this project features some of the greatest and stickiest hooks of any track this year, like on “PLEASE BE NICE” and “DAMAGE SUPPRESSOR”, among many, many others. Their singing also grew on me immensely, and it highlights the great chemistry between Ada and Devi, especially on the closer track to this album. I truly hope these two come back and keep making music as a duo, under the Black Dresses label or not, because this album is an absolute gem.
- Part 2b: Best Songs of 2020
#10: Clams Casino & Imogen Heap - I’m God. An indescribably beautiful instrumental hip-hop beat that almost transcends music itself.
#9: Madeon - The Prince. One of the greatest tracks from Madeon’s Good Faith era, “The Prince'' is an electropop banger that I can’t get enough of. It probably deserves to be higher on this list.
#8: Kero Kero Bonito - It’s Bugsnax! On this incredibly fun banger created to promote the brand-new PS5 game Bugsnax, KKB go back to their Bonito Generation roots, but with a more Civilisation 1-twinged sound that I love.
#7: Charli XCX - forever. The lead single from her newest LP, “forever” is a catchy, well-produced, and sweet ballad with incredibly beautiful vocals from Charli and a somewhat muted but extremely creative instrumental.
#6: food house - mos thoser. This track is the standout of Gupi and Fraxiom’s newest project, with a Crazy Frog sample, an excerpt of a call from college police, and some of the most hilarious bars of any song, ever.
#5: Idles - War. One of the most hype tracks off of one of the most hype albums of 2020, “War” may be lyrically simple, but it does not pull any punches in instrumentation or vocals. This song features Joe Talbot making weaponry noises and manically screaming, and it also features one of the greatest Idles drum solos of all time. This song makes me want to take 5-Hour Energy and run straight into a brick wall, and I love it.
#4: Gupi & Fraxiom (food house) - thos moser. Easily one of the greatest hyperpop tracks ever conceived. This track is unlike much of anything ever thought up, even in one’s wildest dreams. In fact, this track feels like it was created in a dream and immediately transferred into a DAW. This song’s absurdist humor, ridiculous lyrics, and jittery, hyper beat are near perfect. This is my most-listened Spotify track of the year, and Gupi & Frax more than deserve it.
#3: Porter Robinson - Get your Wish. You are now entering Porter Robinson Stan Territory, be warned. Anyway, now time for me to start obsessing.
“Get your Wish” is a sweet electropop track, and as Porter’s comeback song, despite this being the worst of the 3 singles released so far, this serves as a perfect intro to his new sound. It’s also a great introduction to the themes discussed on his newest material. Whereas his previous works on his first LP focused on getting away from life and moving into a fantasy world of your own, his newest stuff is much more centered around the artistic struggle and being happy with yourself despite everything going wrong, and it shows. “Get your Wish” is a song about moving forward, even if it’s not for your own sake. “Don’t say you lose just yet, get up and move ahead, and not only for yourself. Cause that’s your role- the work that stirred your soul, you can make for someone else.”
#2: Porter Robinson - Mirror. “Mirror” is another introspective track about, in Porter’s words, “the costs of being hard on yourself.” The track deals in Porter’s creative struggle, and his critical “inner voices”. “An inch from my ears again: ‘You should be sorry’, A solemn man: ‘A better song could fix my problems’”. I’m sure that many of us have had to deal with these voices- those thoughts telling us that we’re not good enough, that somebody is always better. This song is about not letting those feelings defeat you, and Porter’s newest material, being so high-quality, is a perfect depiction of why to not do so. Moreover, this track is possibly the most creative instrumentally of the three Nurture singles that are out so far. It opens with a 1-minute instrumental intro, which is heavily glitchy and slightly experimental, before opening into Porter’s vocals, and the track features an absolutely gorgeous instrumental bridge around 3 minutes. I feel like I’m talking too much, though- let’s move into #1.
#1: Porter Robinson - Something Comforting. This song is possibly Porter’s best work of all time, and emotionally, it sorta wrecks me. This song came out the week before lockdowns started, when I had to go into my house for months of unsupervised, unproductive learning. I didn’t really connect with the track’s meaning until months later, when everything started to crash down on me personally. The song is about Porter’s creativity to make new music drying up, and his emotions and ability to hope taking a hit because of it. Porter stated that he was working hundreds of hours a week to make something new, but just couldn’t make anything that he was happy with, and he wasn’t sure if he’d ever be able to release music again. However, at the peak of his creative struggle, he wrote the instrumental hook for “Something Comforting”, and it was the very first thing he knew he was going to keep for an upcoming work. To keep himself hopeful, he would listen to the hook repeatedly, and although he didn’t finish the song until 5 years after that hook was written, it inspired him to create the rest of the album’s tracks. The chorus of this song, "Cause getting made you want more, and hoping made you hurt more / Oh, there must be something wrong with me / Cause getting made you want more, and hoping made you hurt more / Someone tell me something comforting”, represents not only his feelings during writing his album but my feelings about quarantine. It was a bit of a tough time for me personally, and thinking about better times, whether in the future or past, hurt a little. This song helped me through it, as did the rest of Porter’s music and music in general. A truly perfect track.
*Part 3: Music Hopes for 2021*
I have no idea if 2020 was a relatively good or bad year for music, since I have nothing to judge it against except for 2019 which was absolutely insane (at least for me personally). Although I’m incredibly hyped for new material from a plethora of artists, I’d like to highlight a few:
Porter Robinson - Nurture. I’ve been waiting for years and years for new Porter, and now that it’s coming, I can barely keep my crap together, as you can probably tell by my single reviews. The singles are my favorite tracks of the year and I have no doubt that Nurture will be a near-perfect, if not a perfect album.
New Kero Kero Bonito. I have this gut feeling that new KKB is coming soon, but one can only hope. Considering that both of their studio albums are in my top 10 of all time, one being a 100, I am truly hyped for a new album or new material of any sort.
AJR - OK Orchestra. Despite nearly everyone on this website hating AJR, I just can’t, and the singles have been at least decent for this upcoming album! I am waiting for the day when everyone on this site sees whatever I’ve been seeing in AJR (unless it never happens and I’m just stupid), and I’m hoping it’s in this album. It probably won’t be, but I won’t care if I enjoy it, which I think I will.
Kanye West - Donda. Despite Ye being one of the most volatile rappers of recent years, he’s made some of my favorite hip-hop material of all time, and I hope Donda lives up to some of his greatest material.
New 100 gecs. I am hoping for a new gecs LP, considering that 1000 gecs opened the door for my love of PC Music and hyperpop. They’re one of the greatest new music acts in my opinion, and I think that a new album may be able to cement them in the mainstream as much as an act like 100 gecs can be cemented in the mainstream. I truly hope that many others can find new music from 100 gecs in the way I did. Plus, I just want new gecs.
New San Holo. San Holo’s music helped me get through a lot this year, and considering that he just announced a new era and came back with a pretty great track, I think that a new LP from him could be amazing.
*Part 4: Thank You!*
Everyone- thank you so, so, so much. I love you all so much, and I cannot express my gratitude for all of you. You not only helped me with my writing skills and to waste a bit of time, but personally, and again, I cannot thank you enough for all you’ve done. Let’s hope that 2021 is a better year than this year, and let’s hope I can spend it with all of you. <3