Well hello again readers, it’s been a while hasn’t it? 2020 has been a rocky year with many ups and downs, something you’ll be able to read about in due course. One constant that has gotten me through almost every hardship however, is music. I dare say music has saved my life more times than I can remember, as without it I may very well not be here anymore.
As you might expect, 2020 has been no different. You could argue I’ve needed it more than ever, as have most of us. Whether it be to cure unimaginable boredom, to aid in massive depression spells or simply to bop, jive and have a good time, music has made this year far more bearable.
I don’t remember if I did this last year, but I want to make a habit of paying homage to the music I’ve listened to during the year. Next week you’ll be able to read through all the old songs I’ve discovered during this year, but what about the now? What about all the artists who released music during 2020?
And so that brings us to this blog post. A look back at my Top 10 2020 Song Releases. By no means is this a hierarchy of worst to best, these are the elite of the elite. I’m ranking the BEST of 2020. Give each of them a listen and maybe a social follow. Support your artists. With that in mind, let’s get to it…
10. Black Sky Research – Light Up The Sky
My later teen years and early adulthood saw me obsessed with the band Mallory Knox, a band I still love, no matter the frontman. I would be lying however, if I said a lot of the charm didn’t come from the incredible vocals of Mikey Chapman.
When I discovered that he had started a new group called Black Sky Research, I was intrigued but nervous. Could it really live up to the hype I’d placed upon it myself? I was pleasantly surprised to learn that yes, it was even better than I’d hoped. It is a true anthem and very well deserving of being in my Top 10. I can’t praise the band enough.
9. Madina Lake – Love is War
Growing up, I was a massive Madina Lake fan. From Them, Through Us, To You was one hell of an album and only furthered my descent into the genre. They’re one of those bands that no matter what phase I’m going through, no matter which band or artist I find myself obsessed with, I’ll always end up falling back down the rabbit hole. That band where you just sit back and go man, their music just doesn’t age, it’s timeless.
I found myself pleasantly surprised this year when reflecting on my friendship with Vicky of Actually Aspling, when we met through the FTTUTY listening party on Twitter for the 10 year anniversary in 2017. I went back onto their Twitter as it had been a while, only to discover they were releasing new music after ending the band years prior.
Of course I pre-ordered everything immediately and fell in love. It was old but yet new, familiar and yet not. After my bundle arrived and I put on the record, I found myself drawn to Love is War, a true masterpiece from the band. Very deserving of a place on my list.
8. Janet Devlin – Away With The Fairies
Speaking of familiar and things I’ve grown up with, let’s take a gander at Janet Devlin. It’s no secret I have both love and admiration for Janet, who was the subject of my first ever blog post back when I was A Wild Mikey Appeared. I’ve been following Janet since 2011, back when she appeared on that rather naff TV Show The X Factor.
Since then Janet has come on leaps and bounds, showcasing her first album Running With Scissors, various EPs, covers and Christmas songs. A full album however, hadn’t been seen for quite a long time, with many of us wondering when it would be coming. That is, until Janet finally revealed it with Confessional.
Fast forward to the singles released throughout the year and we come to Away With The Fairies. The album itself is a masterpiece, detailing her demons and hardships in both musical form, as well as the accompanying book. To me, Away With The Fairies stands out above the rest as a truly marvelous piece from Gortin’s biggest export.
7. Framing Hanley – Forgiveness Is An Art
Not a lot can be said about this one. Framing Hanley are a band I’ve only ever known through their infamous cover of Lollipop, of which I just assumed was their normal sound. With that thought in mind, I wasn’t massively bothered about delving into their discography.
That wasn’t until my long time friend and top 2020 parent (congratulations by the way, you’re doing a great job), Stephanie, recommended I listen to the new album. Open-minded and in need of new music, I said sure, why not. That’s when I found myself pleasantly surprised. Forgiveness Is An Art is the stand out track for me on the album, and an absolute banger. I highly suggest giving it a listen.
6. Lady Gaga – Stupid Love
Let’s be honest, it was going to be on here wasn’t it? WHAT A TUNE. I’ve been a low-key Gaga fan for years, going back as far as Just Dance. Both a fan of her music and having a massive crush on her, I found myself very excited to hear her newest song when I saw it released online.
I, as most of the world did too, found it to be incredible. Not only one of the best songs of this year, but arguably one of the best of Gaga’s entire career. You can’t listen to this song and not be happy, it’s just not possible. This song single handedly aided almost all of the worlds depression and made 2020 so much more bearable.
Okay, maybe an exaggeration there, but this song is SO GOOD. Give it a listen and try to tell me it doesn’t at least make you smile – I bet you can’t.
5. HEY LIFE – Blue
Very rarely do I pay attention to bands on Twitter. Maybe I should, but often I get a follow and a generic DM about their new single that is ‘out now’ or some nonsense. When you take the time to reply after listening, they either give a generic response or not at all. As such, I’ve taken to ignoring them and only listening to bands I’ve found myself.
Something was different though when it came to one particular little French band, by the name of HEY LIFE. Followers of me on Instagram will be all too familiar with them at this point, but until this past year or so, I had no clue who they were.
Approached in a tweet, the guy whom I later learned was called Florian, responded to a tweet I’d sent to Don Broco, asking if I would like to listen to their music, as it was inspired by DB. Something felt different and intrigued by the prospect of finding music similar to such a unique band, I went for it.
I’m pleased to say they were fantastic, and we’ve since formed a great friendship too. Their single, Blue, is an instant classic and has stayed in my playlist all year round. It may possibly even be my top played song of 2020 on phone’s music player. The band continues to grow and are definitely one to watch out for going forward, especially now signed to a label.
4. Normandie – Jericho
Few bands have surprised me as much as Normandie. Their versatility and constant growth is a true testament to the talent of this band. Hailing from Sweden and singing with hard hitting and raw English vocals, this group are a true force to be reckoned with in the music and metal world.
If you go back and listen to their earlier work, you’ll find that almost all of their songs are hits. You’d be hard pressed to find one you didn’t like at all, even in their heavier EP days (you’ll find out more about that one next week). With more and more songs being released that just don’t fail to disappoint, I would be very surprised if Normandie don’t shoot to superstardom within the next few years, as they are that damn good. One of their newest songs from this year, Jericho, is proof of that.
3. While She Sleeps – Sleeps Society
Hailing from Sheffield, England, While She Sleeps have been a staple of the UK Metal scene for years now. Whilst music of this nature is a lot heavier than the rest of my list and requires a certain mood to be in for any kind of listening, it’s hard to deny that they are one of the greatest bands to ever come out of this country.
After 2020 saw a lot of bands and musicians having to call it quits due to events being cancelled, it once again brought forward the question of how artists can make a living. With a vendetta against the streaming services that seemingly killed off the CD and don’t pay the artists what they deserve, While She Sleeps came forward with a new initiative, where the fans support the band directly. This song, Sleeps Society, is about that very cause and as is expected from the South Yorkshire lads, a very heavy song indeed.
2. Good Charlotte – Last December
If you didn’t grow up knowing all the words to Good Charlotte’s The Anthem, you don’t know what you missed. Along with Lifestyles of The Rich & The Famous, Girls & Boys and The Chronicles of Life & Death, Good Charlotte gave a lot of us weird emo kids so absolute bangers to grow up with.
Admittedly I fell off the Good Charlotte wagon, only listening to the odd song every now and again. I thought my days of being mad for them were behind me. That is until today, the day of writing this, I came across Last December. Shocked to see a new song released by them this year, I jumped right into it and oh my, what a song. Not only making a late entry into my list, it has jumped right into the number 2 spot, throwing a wrench in all my plans for this post. Embrace nostalgia and enjoy this fantastic song, from an old favourite.
1. Starset – TRIALS (Reimagine)
This may be cheating as it’s a new version of a song from their last album, but my God, what a beautiful piece. Joining together with a composer and orchestra, the band Starset have solidified themselves as one of the greatest bands of all time, bringing forth the masterpiece that is TRIALS (Reimagine).
It’s hard to top songs that already exist, even more so when you are the original artist and it’s already one of your most popular songs. Well, when you’re as talented as the guys in Starset, it doesn’t matter what initial thoughts anyone has, as you’ll blow them out of the water no matter what you do anyway.
Expanding on their already movie like sound, TRIALS (Reimagine), in my opinion, should go down in music history as one of the all time greats. No matter what this year produced, it was always going to be my number one song released this year. It will make you smile, cry and anything in-between. There really isn’t anything better.
Thank you all for reading and listening, it’s been a pleasure to share this all with you. You can find a playlist of all 10 songs below, starting with number 10, down to number one. Please enjoy and remember to support artists everywhere.
Post by Michael Sallabank