Best albums of 2020: 15th anniversary edition!

I’ve lost count how many of these I have put together in my life, but on this blog, it’s gone back with only two interruptions since 2005 — that’s 15 years! To commemorate the occasion, I’m expanding the lists to last a whole week of musical celebration. Much of that music might have been delayed, shifted, or experienced in ways that no one could have expected or preferred, but despite everything, it’s nice to see that those on the home front of entertainment never stopped producing music to soothe, delight, confuse, disappoint, and distract. I loved it all, spending free time, and time I was supposed to be doing other things, immersed in great, good, bad, and mostly average music, reporting back on the first Monday of each month to share highlights with all of you. Now it’s time for the final sweep: a round-up of the best, the worst, and the most disappointing music of the year.

I have added two categories to this year’s list, in lieu of getting rid of one, the top ten metal/hard rock list. (I simply don’t feel I listened to enough music from this genre to make enough of an informed, fair decision of what the year had to offer. I know when I’ve been bested, and I encourage everyone to check out Angry Metal Guy‘s or Heavy Blog is Heavy‘s many wonderful lists if you’re interested in this genre and are looking for great music from experts in the style.) The first of the two lists I’ve added is a 2019-misses list, which highlights albums I either missed entirely or didn’t get a chance to hear until 2020. The possibility that my lists are never truly complete because of these types of situations makes me quite happy: true, complete satisfaction is anathema to an appetite for music as big as mine. I can’t wait to hear everything I missed from 2020 in 2021! The second list contains the top ten most disappointing albums of the year, a brief moment to let loose and whine during a year when we had more than ample reason to do so, but chose not to (mostly).

The rest of the five categories follows the usual pattern: ten of my favorite albums in each category, followed by five honorable mentions where applicable. The complete list, posting schedule, and further information are as follows (note: this list will be updated with links as the posts go live):

(12/26) Top ten 2019-misses: Any album, in any genre, released in 2019 that I didn’t hear until this year.
(12/27) Top ten most disappointing: Any album, in any genre, that failed to meet expectations.
(12/28) Top ten remasters/reissues: Any remastered or reissued album from anywhere in the world, whether CD, vinyl, box set, etc.
(12/29) Top ten debut albums: Any artist who released an original studio album, or comparable EP, for the first time in 2020 from anywhere in the world.
(12/30) Top ten original soundtracks/original scores: Any original soundtrack or score composed exclusively for film, television, or video game from anywhere in the world.
(12/31) Top ten pop/electronic: Any pop or electronic album released by an English-speaking and/or Western band/artist.
(01/01) Top ten East Asian pop/rock (i.e. J-pop/K-pop): Any pop or rock album released in East Asia (especially Japan and South Korea).

Once again, these lists are not meant to be exhaustive, nor absolute: they are simply a reflection of the genres I listened to the most in 2020. In addition, a lot of great songs that never appeared on albums were released this year, or were featured on just-okay albums, and I won’t be getting the chance to discuss them in this year’s lists (although I did get the opportunity to contribute ten of my favorite J-pop songs of the year over at Ryo’s Friend’s List). I hope you enjoy the lists I’ve put together, and discover some amazing music you might have missed.

Thank you to everyone who continues to visit this tiny corner of the Internet, leaves a comment, sends a message, or connects in some way. I look forward to spending a week looking back with you all, and wish everyone the best in what will hopefully be a better year for all of us. Happy listening!


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