On The Record: The music that shaped our 2020

On The Record: The music that shaped our 2020

2020 has been a special year (a.k.a a hellish pit of wildfire).

To commemorate how amazing (but really—unbelievably bad) it was, we're throwing a different spin to our annual roundup of our favorite releases from the past 12 months. For this edition of On The Record, we gathered our team of plucky writers to share the music they jammed hard to while trapped in the confines of their bedrooms.

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What kind of tunes did they raise the roof with at their solo dance parties? What 2020 songs got them feeling nostalgic for the pre-pandemic life? What artists did they discover while scouring the deepest depths of the internet?

Well, with their 2020 diary of music, you can soon find out how much in common you have with them.

2020’s most read stories on Bandwagon

Here are the albums, songs, and music videos that soundtracked our Editorial Team's 2020:


Folklore - Taylor Swift

My all-time favourite Taylor Swift album is RED and Folklore comes in at second (tied with the long pond sessions version tbh). I found myself listening to it while cooking, working, cleaning my room, playing with my dog, doing grocery runs, etc. “She had a marvelous time ruining everything” pretty much summed up how I felt about 2020. –C.C.

Special shout-out: The New Abnormal - The Strokes, BE - BTS, Dedicated Side B - Carly Rae Jepsen, pop songs 2020 - BUMPER

aIMless - rum.gold

I found aIMless randomly one day on Spotify and it's just so beautifully sad and somber. For the first half of quarantine, this EP soundtracked a lot of the days where I was just lazing around and wanting to have a meal outside the confines of my home. –F.J.B.

?despacse ohw - Seori

?despacse ohw was the perfect middle ground for all the polarizing music I listened to this year. After playing a ton of BLACKPINK, Lamb of God, and Niccolò Paganini recordings, I constantly found myself landing back on Seori's music, especially 'Fairy Tale,' by the end of the day.  –K.B.

ena mori - ena mori

Earlier this year, I’d spoken about how this album, in many ways, has blown my mind; I’ve listened to it countless times since then, and the writing and production still has that same effect on me. If there’s one word I’d use to describe this album, it’d be: moving. The sincerity of ena mori’s music, her words steady with impact and the hooks dripping with energy, is very much so, that I can’t help but sing and dance my heart along each time. –G.P.


Club Future Nostalgia - Dua Lipa

Future Nostalgia was already a dance party on its own, but she took it to the (indoor) club when she released the remix versions for Club Future Nostalgia. I’m not particularly fond of clubbing, but the original album (plus two remix versions) made for fun house parties since we all had to stay home during this time. –C.C.

Special shout-out: Sayaw - Pamcy, ‘Levitating’ - Dua Lipa feat. DaBaby, ‘Welcome Home [Swimful Remix] - Charlie Lim feat. Bibi

ALL OUT EP - K/DA

K/DA came into my life a little later than they should have (most likely because I don't play League of Legends), but when they did, they hit me hard as if they were on a rampage on the Murder Bridge. When I first heard 'THE BADDEST,' I felt like I respawned from feeling completely "meh" about the world and began to see color again. –K.B.

Special shout-out: Future Nostalgia - Dua Lipa, Positions - Ariana Grande, THE ALBUM - BLACKPINK

dancefloor - marcos g

Contrary to the title, dancefloor didn't have the type of music you dance to at a party or raging nightclub. When I listen to this, I think of a lowkey beach party during a serene summer night with a couple of friends, which was always the type of parties I prefered anyway. It's basically just a feel-good record that, despite being chill and laidback, gets your body moving. -F.J.B.

PREP PREP

I don’t even go to many parties, but I could use a silly dancing moment by myself to relieve stress and let loose. PREP gave me the soundtrack I needed, delivering a self-titled piece that encapsulated their groovy, electro-pop sound. Without thinking much about the lyrics of 'Carrie,' I’ve memorized it enough to mindlessly sing when I’m cooking or brewing coffee. –P.H.

Future Nostalgia - Dua Lipa

I imagine this would be on rotation at Today x Future in an alternate timeline where the pandemic didn’t hold the planet hostage – and where it would still be, well, open. –P.A.


Remote EP - Wallows

Remote is an EP revolves around the theme of distance and heartache soundtracked by upbeat guitars and unusual synths, which just perfectly describes the chaos that is this year. Plus, it was created entirely in the peak of quarantine so I think it just encapsulates all the highs and lows we’ve felt during the first half of the year. –F.J.B.

‘Memento Mori’ - Lamb of God

Lamb of God's 'Memento Mori' opens with an ominous cloud of smoke. It pulls you in, letting you walk blindly through the darkness until you find yourself at the edge of the cliff—and it's too late. Geez, the uncertainty 2020 brought sure has been "fun." –K.B.


'Dynamite' - BTS

I’ve been working from home for almost five years now, so having a WFH playlist wasn’t entirely new for me (Criteria is simple. Sounds fun. Doesn’t make me wanna cry, makes me wanna be a better me, that sort of thing.)

I added ‘Dynamite’ to this playlist last August and thanks to Apple Music, I found out that I’ve played it 136 times since then (as of writing at least. By the time this gets published, it might be 200. Who knows?) It’s such a bop and the candy-coloured music video was a treat to watch too.

Thanks to this song, I’ve gotten to know BTS(alongside the rest of the world). I’ve dived into their discography (BE is on my top 10 most-played albums for 2020), formed a BTS-specific group chat with my cousins, and followed a Seokjin fridge account on Twitter. –C.C.

Special shout-out: ‘Big Chance’ - SuperM, ‘Identical’ - Phoenix, ‘Overlord’ - Dirty Projectors, ‘Rooftop Dancing’ - Sylvan Esso

bandaids - keshi

keshi's bandaids came out around the last month of my last semester of college and at the time, there was a lot of confusion and disbelief concerning the pandemic. So, this EP was what I finished my last my essay and studied for my last exam while simultaneously processing the pandemic to. I played 'blue' non-stop, even tried learning it on the guitar until I eventually gave up (laughs). –F.J.B.

THE ALBUM - BLACKPINK

BLACKPINK's THE ALBUM is literally the album I worked from home with because I was working on its coverage while this dropped. I signed up for all the media platforms they were promoting the album on during its release and it was super exhilirating to have all these screens in front of me playing BLACKPINK in all their glory. After that, it felt like THE ALBUM was the only important thing in the world (even if it's super bitin). –K.B.

The Ascension - Sufjan Stevens

In his first studio album in five years, Sufjan Stevens abandons familiar folk sounds that most identify him by for a poppier and more experimental edge, signalling a new era for his country, and possibly himself. Timely released on my birthday, I’ve also personally taken The Ascension as a new beginning for me – adding to my mount of sentimental reasons to listen to Sufjan Stevens. –C.L.

Live Vol. 1 - Parcels

The fan experience that came with the release of this record was comforting, given the challenges we faced this year and timing of its released. Parcels shared more than a live recording of their tracks; they prepared a Zoom hangout with fans, Spotify listening party, and YouTube watch party. They made their studio feel like home for the community. It didn’t feel as if we were all chatting from different parts of the world. –P.H.

Fetch the Bolt Cutters - Fiona Apple

This album shows that maturity is not necessarily about becoming more refined — sometimes, and arguably more importantly, it’s about embracing all your complexities (the “mess”) and being at peace with doing things the way that works for you, even if it doesn’t fit the mold society prescribes. There’s a reason why Fiona Apple will always be one of my music queens. I also finally watched The Fall this year and understood the album title’s reference. –G.P.


Chilombo - Jhene Aiko

Chilombo came out right before the lockdown happened and I was wholeheartedly expecting to play this album during the summer as I celebrated graduating from college. Since that didn’t happen, I spent many nights dancing and singing to this album trying to recreate whatever celebration I could in my tiny apartment. –F.J.B.

‘Betty’ - Taylor Swift

Okay, so I don't drink wine but I can easily drown in my emotions. Taylor Swift's 'Betty' is the YA novel in song form I never knew I wanted. –K.B.

To S. / To R. - Father John Misty

Father John Misty has always been a source of comfort for me, and ‘To S.’ and ‘To R.’ became songs I turned to when I’m dealing with varying degrees of doubt and sadness. Interpret them how you wish, I’m sure they will find a way to resonate with anyone somehow. –C.L.


‘Sardinas’ - Pinkmen

It’s a meet-cute at a terminal! You’re stuck in hellish traffic, late for work, but there’s this cute guy you just met. It has everything you used to have pre-veerus: crowded places, chatting up random strangers without wearing a mask, a beso as a greeting, etc. –C.C.

Special shout-out: ‘Safe Zone’ - Ena Mori, ‘Don’t Start Now’ - Dua Lipa, ‘Real Groove’ - Kylie Minogue

Heartwork - The Used

Heartwork brought me back to the days when all my heart pounded for was emo. This album combines sweet teenage angst with that not-too-distant memory of that not-so-fresh breath of Saguijo after a Typecast set. –K.B.

'You Been On My Mind' - Public Library Commute

This song just emulates a ray of sunshine and lovely walk at the park! Also, the music video shows someone in a dark room thinking back on good days and good times, which pretty much sums up what we've all been doing during quarantine. –F.J.B.

Shore - Fleet Foxes

I could have gone stir-crazy with months of sheltering in place. But Robin Pecknold and company’s new, adventurous record is as airy and bright, as it is introspective. –P.A.


'It just is' - eaJ feat. Seori (feat. Keshi's Strat)

I discovered Seori through this song and I’ve been listening to her music since then (Thanks, Day6’s Jae!). I love everything about this track (including the music video, which we discovered was illustrated by Filipino visual artist Deisuh), from Seori’s vocals to Jae’s crooning to “Keshi’s strat”. I wish it had an official release so I can loop it without having to hit rewind over and over again. –C.C.

Special shout-out: BTS’ Jin’s Abyss

'How You Like That' - BLACKPINK

At this point, I've memorized all the steps, but I still can't dance to save my life. –K.B.

'5 Stars' - CL

It's too cute to watch just once! Also, the video has CL and DPR IAN, what else do you need? –F.J.B.


LØREN

There's something incredibly intriguing about LØREN. He's this super mysterious multi-instrumentalist/producer/model who works behind the scenes under THE BLACK LABEL and occassionally in front of the camera when BLACKPINK's Rosé needed a guitarist to jam with. Now that he's finally made his solo debut, I can't wait to see what else he's got coming.

Top all that with his token emo boy demeanor and you get the ideal love interest for your teen flick protagonist. –K.B.

Peach Tree Rascals

 

Much like a lot of people this year, I'd fallen into the hole of TikTok and for a while, the song 'Mariposa' by Peach Tree Rascals was everywhere! I'm pretty sure at one point, every other video I scrolled pass had that song playing. It was a little annoying but I decided to check the song out and what other songs the band had. I found 'Mango' and 'I'm Sorry', and they're now some of my favourite songs of the year so I guess, thanks TikTok! –F.J.B.

Oklou 

A friend recommended Oklou's music to me sometime during the holidays last year, but she released her first mixtape, galore, last September. I enjoyed getting to know her style and music more with the new release - I have 'another night' and 'girl on my throne' on constant loop, along with her earlier single, 'entertnmnt'. She also came out with a bunch of remixes for some of my faves, Dua Lipa and Caroline Polachek. –C.C.


'Armoured Core' - Hacktivist + Kid Bookie

I first heard Kid Bookie on Corey Taylor's 'CMFT Must Be Stopped,' but honestly, that song is quite a lot to take. Then I saw Hacktivist drop 'Armoured Core' in November and found that sweet spot that got me playing it over and over again until I broke my neck from all that headbanging. –K.B.

'過 Should’ve Let Go' - Jackson Wang, JJ Lin

It’s hard not to feel pride at the mention of national treasure JJ Lin, who’s risen to be one of the most prominent Mandopop acts from Singapore. While he’s known to have collaborated with other big names such as Yonghwa, Jason Mraz, Ayumi Hamasaki, and more, his appearance in Jackson Wang’s track definitely took me by surprise! –C.L.


'Bubblegum KK' - Sho Hikino

Animal Crossing is life. This game helped me stay sane through our days trapped indoors. It was the perfect getaway and it couldn't have come at a more perfect time. 'Bubblegum KK' is my favorite jam by my island's resident guitar-wielding dog K.K. Slider, so I made my fiancé cover it. –K.B.

‘Breathless’ - Caroline Polachek

Caroline Polachek owned this cover of The Corrs’ classic. It’s so familiar, yet so new at the same time. –C.C.

'Da Coconut Nut' - BINI

I don’t usually follow girl groups, or listen to P-pop for that matter, but BINI’s rendition of ‘Da Coconut Nut’ has got me hooked, making me play it more times than I can count. Even if I don’t, I can hear it unabashedly replaying in my head, and YouTube knows too – before I know it, I’m watching performances of them on ASAP, It’s Showtime, and pretty much every show they’ve been on. –C.L.


'Animals' - Architects

There's something about Architects and their timing when they release new music. Back in 2016, when they released 'A Match Made In Heaven,' I was in a really terrible place, feeling absolutely bored and confused about where my life was going. It really picked me up and pushed me to find myself.

Four years later, they dropped 'Animals' in the middle of a life-sucking pandemic. It was my emotional defibrillator. –K.B.

Special shout-out: 'my future' - Billie Eilish, 'WANNABE' - ITZY

'Dopamine' - Fingerfunk

Plain and simple, this song is just so fun. There's something about the juxtaposition of punchy raps and smooth and soulful vocals that just always work! True to the title, the song's an instant mood lifter, especially during those times where I just wanted to waste the whole day in bed. –F.J.B.

Sawayama - Rina Sawayama

I just love how unapologetic this album is, as Sawayama explores themes that surround her identity as a queer woman of colour and confronts issues dealt to us by the world at large, all while reinventing the wide array of genres she’d consumed in her formative years into something so explosively new and infectious. Her technique is simply astounding and her honesty, especially to herself, incredibly motivational. She’s exactly the kind of artist I wish had been around during my own formative years. I’m glad she’s here now. –G.P.

Special shoutout: Ohms - Deftones

Neo Zone - NCT 127

The boys returned with a game-changing comeback as they covered hip-hop, ballad, and a wide range of genres in a full-length album. The transition between tracks was smooth and arranged to curate an experience for the listener. It’s an emotional rollercoaster from beginning to end, showcasing each member’s talent and how it builds the group’s sound. P.H.


Homework Machine - ZILD

"Dear Zild—Please share your divine productivity powers. I am in dire need of them. Thank you." –K.B.

'Mission' - Qveen Herby

There's something so motivating about treating everything you do as a "mission". The song also just lists down how to keep productive, so it really helped me get my work done. –F.J.B.

WOODZ - EQUAL & WOOPS! 

I discovered Cho Seungyoun aka WOODZ last year, and instantly fell in love, so to have been blessed with two mini albums from him in 2020 has been a real delight. Lauded in the K-Pop world as an all-rounder (he is chiefly involved in the songwriting and production of each track) and an artist who never does the same thing twice, WOODZ is someone who’s never backed down from hardships, and he showcases so strongly in EQUAL & WOOPS! what he’s capable of and just how passionate he is about his craft. –G.P.

Special shoutout: Awaken the World - WayV, Dedicated Side B - Carly Rae Jepsen

Chromatica - Lady Gaga

During the summer, I started watching RuPaul’s Drag Race and was organizing new workout playlists (so I would have a break between episodes/seasons). It was timely for Lady Gaga to release an album that reflected strong, carefree energy. The flow of 'Chromatica II' to '911' motivates anyone to walk, rather strut, their way towards anything. –P.H.

KiCk i - Arca

Boundary-pushing as ever in her latest full-length effort, Arca sounds self-assured as she shatters expectations – or in her words: ripping the slit. –P.A.


BE - BTS

The ongoing theme of my playlists this year range from warm to energetic – that’s exactly what this album feels like. We’ve published a whole piece that summarizes how I went through the whole album. It has a special place in my heart as a BTS album that travelled back in time and embraced me in the present (and hopefully, future.) –P.H.

August Rush - Sonny Zero

There was a lot of sad vibes this year, for obvious reasons, but also a lot of self-growth. The entirety of the first half of quarantine saw me go from a college student to an adult trying to figure out what they wanted to do in life. So, for a good portion of the year, I was purposely seeking out sad, lo-fi tracks to really feed the "existential crisis" moment I was having. I remember specifically listening to the song 'Looking For' and the lyrics "Who have I become?" kept ringing in my head (which probably is the root cause of the many crises I went through this year). F.J.B.

Special shout-out: 'Where Am I At' - MAX

'This Too Shall Pass' - Rico Blanco

Last April, I did an interview with Rico Blanco and it was the most intense, vulnerable, and emotional one I'd ever done. I'm 100% sure I'd never interviewed anyone where I was close to tears. We talked about the pandemic and how he was surviving alone at home with one functioning hand. 'This Too Shall Pass' was the song he wrote while he was going through all of that and it got me thinking a lot about how we're all going to make it through these trying times. –K.B.

Never Gonna Dance Again: Act 2 - Taemin

Lee Taemin is an idol whom I’ve always known to be iconic, but had never really given myself a chance to get to know — until this year, when he released this album. The effect was hard and fast, I found myself emotional over an album in a language and by an artist I barely understood. It’s mostly because I’m a sucker for heavily layered productions, but after immediately giving it another go, this time right after listening to Act 1 prior, and then reading up on both releases (particularly “Pansy” from Act 2), the effect had become tenfold. Now, every chance I get to witness Taemin perform, I expect to be awed. I haven’t been disappointed yet. –G.P.