2020 certainly has been a thing but as you’ve probably been able to tell by reading my blog for the last few weeks, it’s been a GOOD thing for your humble narrator. With that said, it fills me with great joy to be bringing you my 5-5-5 lists again this year after taking a year off. This is a three-part series where I follow in the footsteps of some of my favorite music blogs and present my favorite music of the year. This is going to be broken down into three parts — 5 favorite new releases of 2020, 5 favorite NOT new releases that I rocked hard in 2020 and 5 songs I made my eardrums bleed with — both new and old — in 2020. With a few close calls worth mentioning, I’ve chosen to provide a few honorable mentions per post as well.
All three sets, as per usual, are in no particular order.
This is part 3 of 3.
TOP 5 TRACKS, NEW AND OLD, OF 2020
Lana Del Rey – Venice Bitch
Album: Normal Fucking Rockwell! – Released: 2019
It doesn’t have to be laden with overdrive or super technical … it doesn’t have to be played by a guitar virtuoso and it doesn’t even have to be a primary element of the song … but when you pair Lana’s voice with a guitar, I’m going to love it. Before Norman Fucking Rockwell! was released, she put out a couple of singles including this one and I fell in love immediately.
Give me Hallmark; One dream, one life, one lover; Paint me happy and blue; Norman Rockwell; No hype under our covers; It’s just me and you.
A normal, “boring” and domesticated life with Lana? And if that wasn’t enough, at 9:37, this is one of Lana’s longest songs and includes a beautiful instrumental closing as she repeats ecstatic, love-soaked mantras. Whoever she’s singing this to is a very lucky man.
Little Big – Skibidi
Album: Antipositive, Pt. 2 – Released: 2018
My god. These guys. This song. This video. I was showing a friend music videos by South African hip-hop powerhouse Die Antwoord when she said “This reminds me of this other group that I think you’ll like.” Now to be honest, most of the time when someone says this to me, they’re wrong. Horribly wrong. But she continued. “They’re a Russian dance group and they’re just weird.” Okay now I’m intrigued. We ended up watching about 3-5 music videos that night but this one stood out above the rest and has been in heavy rotation on my Spotify ever since! I haven’t done any research to see if Skibidi is jibberish or some kind of Russian word but I really don’t even care. The song is a dancehall banger and the music video, while absolutely RIDICULOUS is also hilarious and packed with strangely infectious choreography. Play this (watch this) and I dare you to not secretly try the dance the next time you’re alone at home.
In This Moment – Whore
Album: Blood – Released: 2012
This is another band that I was sleeping on this year. My girlfriend Katie introduced me to them on our first date, showing me music videos for Whore, As Above, So Below, Big Bad Wolf, The In-Between and Sick Like Me. I was blown away. Not only by the fact that I was watching music videos with a woman who loves metal just as much as me but also because she had shown me a band I didn’t know … AND THEY ROCK! Vocalist Maria Brink is a total bad ass — extremely talented, unbelievably creative and quite obviously beautiful. And unlike a lot of other poseurs who front heavy bands, her voice is unique and distinct. She even has a scream that just works. It was hard to pick a favorite to include on this list but Whore made the cut due largely to the underlying commentary in the lyrics that reveal a resentment toward an industry that tears women down for being exactly what said industry encourages them to be.
Billie Eilish – Bad Guy
Album: When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? – Released: 2019
On the same date I learned about In This Moment, I learned about Billie Eilish. Bad Guy was the first song that came about from this experience and I’ve been obsessed ever since. I’ve streamed it probably 100 times or more since originally listening to it, I bought the record on vinyl and I’ve learned to play the entire song on drums. I love the juxtaposition of Billie’s sleepy vocals with the subtle danceability of the verses. The instrumental breaks after the chorus are downright thrashers that make you want to do exactly what she’s doing in the music video: downright thrashing.
Morgan Wallen – 7 Summers
Album: 7 Summers – Released: 2020
Okay well this is almost embarrassing. Imagine, if you will, that it’s 10pm and you find out a friend is in Knoxville’s Old City (20 minutes from where I live) alone, intoxicated and needing a ride home. Now imagine your humble narrator pulling on his black Doc Martins, black jeans, a black Harley Davidson hat and a black demin jacked pulled over a black tank top he was already wearing to go do a stealthy late-night rescue mission to the Old City. It definitely happened. “Can I aux in your car?” I was asked after announcing that I was on my way. “Of course,” I said. Boy was I in for it. All country at top volume all the way home that night. It was torturous … except for this song. This is the first modern country song I’ve liked in a couple of years and I can’t really even point out why other than the catchy melody in the chorus and the humble Southern romance it exudes. As much as I like to present myself as a cultured, educated punker/metalhead, nothing can ever change the fact that I was born, raised and currently reside in East Tennessee. And who better to capture that than a local boy?