Despite the tumultuous nature of 2020, a diverse array of recording artists released new projects. Now that the platform has released its annual wrapped celebrations and statistics, it’s time to check out the best albums of 2020, according to Spotify users.
Note: two of these projects, Post Malone’s Hollywood’s Bleeding and Harry Styles’s Fine Line, were released in 2019, but received most of their streams in 2020.
- After Hours
- Hollywood’s Bleeding
- Fine Line
- Future Nostalgia
- The Allegory
- Ugly is Beautiful
- In Sickness & In Flames
Released: February 29, 2020
Bad Bunny’s latest album release is an abbreviation of the phrase “Yo hago lo que me de la gana,” which translates to “I do what I want.”
And, with the success of this release, it appears Bad Bunny truly does do what he wants…on the Spotify charts, that is.
Overall, the album draws upon a majority of influences, such as reggaeton music and culture. Additionally, the album features appearances from Daddy Yankee, Sech, and Nengo Flow.
The lead single from the album, “Vete,” has been praised as having a sticky rhythm, and a set of catchy, emo-laden lyrics.
Throughout the year, Bad Bunny and his team released several music videos to promote the album. The singer also appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, and several other talk shows.
Released: March 20, 2020
After Hours is the fourth studio album from Canadian-born singer The Weekend.
Released in the first quarter of 2020, the project saw immediate success as it worked to satisfy the singer’s hungry fanbase.
However, the project continued to gain steam throughout the year, as the singer performed several songs from the project on Saturday Night Live and the American Music Awards. At the latter, the project received an award for Favorite Album in the Soul and R&B category.
Not all of the major awards shows were quick to honor The Weekend’s success, though. Fans, music critics, and The Weekend himself were outraged that After Hours received no nominations at the 63rd annual Grammys.
Released: September 6, 2019
Hollywood’s Bleeding just couldn’t fail. The project was promoted through the use of three ubiquitous, addictive lead singles, most notably “Wow,” which was released all the way back in December of 2018.
In its entirety, the project sees Post Malone debating the purpose and influence of his success. At times on the album, the lead singer broods over trap beats. Other times, like on the album’s title track, Malone searches for answers about the life he is now living through vocal melodies.
Released: December 12, 2019
Fine Line is the former One Direction star’s second studio album.
Across the album, Styles explores thoughts of blossoming romance and the initial excitement produced by meeting someone new.
The project was released with a number of singles, including “Golden” and “Watermelon Sugar,” which are continually played on radio stations across the country.
Fine Line received considerable praise upon its release, and continues to do so. The album was nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album at the 2021 Grammy Awards, and Best Album of the Year at the 2020 Brit Awards.
Billboard also placed the album on its Top 500 albums of All Time List, at the low (but hey, still included) spot of 491.
Released: April 27, 2020
Praised heavily for its dance-pop and disco-themed production and cohesion, Future Nostalgia quickly propelled Dua Lipa into a household name.
The promotion of her second studio album featured the rollout of five separate singles, including the project’s title track.
With this album, the singer looks to merge memories and feelings from her childhood with her goals for the future.
Future Nostalgia wasn’t just ranked as one of the best albums of 2020 by Spotify users (evidenced by its 4.5 billion streams, and counting), but saw critical acclaim as well: it was nominated for Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album at the 63rd Grammy Awards.
Released: January 17, 2020
The posthumous release of Circles sent a hush throughout the world. It was as if Miller returned to provide the world with one last embrace.
At the same time, the content on Circles provided an eerie look into Miller’s final days. The beginning lyrics of the album, “Well, this is what it looks like right before you fall,” seem to sum up his situation and provide haunting depth to every line and track that follows.
Overall, Circles is a cohesive and well-organized album that portrays a somber perspective on life.
Released as a follow-up to Miller’s 2018 project Swimming, Circles seems to be the foil to the confident, energetic, and scattered self that completed Miller’s personality.
Lastly, the fact that this album trended in 2020 just goes to show how much of an impact Mac Miller had on music, similar to other artist even after his death.
Royce Da 5’9”
Released: February 21, 2020
Royce Da 5’9” has had an impressive 20-year rap career. With the release of The Allegory slated for mid-2020, many were wondering what was next from the Detroit-based rapper.
In its entirety, the album presents 22 tracks that call upon philosophy, poetry, and life lessons to shed light on the inequality of the United States.
Eminem, Benny the Butcher, Conway the Machine, and Dj Premier also make appearances, but Royce’s lyrical ability shines brightest in the album. His writing is dense, thoughtful, and novel, but presented in a digestible package.
Ugly is Beautiful
Released: July 17, 2020
At various points before Ugly is Beautiful was released, it was hard to know how much faith to place in Oliver Tree. Were all of his tantrums and outrageous interviews a ploy to troll the world? Or was he a serious musician?
With the release of this project, Tree answered those questions.
Across the project, Tree discusses depression, loneliness, relationships, and commercialism. The album is a unique and heartfelt experience.
In Sickness & In Flames
The Front Bottoms
Released: August 21, 2020
In Sickness & In Flames sees the American folk punk band group growing, while sticking to their unique—and slightly indiscernible—sound. A perfect album to add to your pop-punk playlist for the next time you’re out skating trying to imitate the all-time greats.
Its lyrics portray anxiety and turmoil, touching upon the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, “Everybody Blooms,” the project’s opening track, seems to offer the band and its fans means of comfort: “You’re gonna be fine, fine, fine/ ‘Cause everyone blooms in their own time.”
Released: August 21, 2020
Best known for his band Surfaces, Forrest Frank released his first solo project Warm in 2019. The album immediately saw considerable success across all streaming platforms.
In 2020, Effortless experienced a similar rollout.
Frank reportedly wrote the album while on a beach vacation with his friends. The lyrics are clever and personal, providing a fresh yet relatable perspective.
If there was ever a year to remind the world how powerful music can be, this was it. The best albums of 2020 aren’t just a Spotify statistic. Arguably, they provide invaluable insight into the fear, loneliness, grief—as well as the hope and search for connectedness—everyone experienced during 2020.
After you’ve checked out all the hits from above, and you’re feeling nostalgic, add the best rap albums of the 2000s, Eminem and Lil Wayne alongside your Spotify playlists. Or, if you’re looking for something a little more upbeat and poppy, K-pop stars the likes of MAMAMOO, BLACKPINK, Jessi, and BTS will surely catch your attention.