Year end lists are always divisive, but perhaps no more so than in 2020: a year that has seen us cling to our favourite records like Rose clings to that bit of wood in Titanic. We’ve all had different experiences this year; many have lost loved ones or seen relationships break down under the strain of spending every day indoors with their partners. People have lost their jobs, and parents have struggled to feed their children. Healthcare workers have witnessed some horrific things, and people of colour around the world have been hurt time and time again by the racial injustices that continue to pervade society.
Music helps us articulate difficult feelings and allows us to come to terms with experiences that words don’t quite seem to do justice. It is deeply personal, which is why rather than rank the albums of the year and ask people to vote on a singular winner, we asked The Indiependent team to share one album that got them through this weird old year. Here are 20 of the best albums from 2020, featured in order of their release date.
Walls // Louis Tomlinson – Grace Nicholls
Released: 31 January 2020
Despite being a member of the biggest boyband of our generation, Louis Tomlinson broke away from the manufactured stereotype of pop this year, releasing his debut album Walls. The album itself is far closer to his indie influences and music taste, the title track ‘Walls’ is a fan favourite with the lyric “for every question why, you were my because” being a message that the fans like to shout back at Tomlinson the handful of times he’s performed it live.
During his time in One Direction he wrote more songs than anyone else in the band, meaning it’s no surprise that he’s written every song on his album, adding to the authenticity of this record. ‘Two of Us’ is the most poignant track on the album, written about his late mother Johannah who sadly passed away in 2016. It’s the most vulnerable Tomlinson has been in his songwriting, and it has helped many of his fans – myself included – come to terms with the grief that follows losing a loved one. The lyrics are raw and verbalise the effect grief has: “The day that they took you, I wish it was me instead.” This album is a turning point for him, he’s become more confident in himself, his music and his performance. In many ways the pop star became an indie kid.