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When I launched this progressive media newsletter in February, I knew I wanted to carve out a small section in each edition for music. On paper, it seems like an odd move, since there's very little connection between Trump media coverage and Taylor Swift's new album release. But music has always been one of my passions, and I love sharing it with friends.
In my previous life, I wrote about the music business as a reporter at Billboard, and then as staff writer at Rolling Stone and Salon. Happily, my love for new music has not waned over the years. 2020 was no exception.
In a year filled with so much pain and angst, new music helped provide the escape and comfort that was badly needed. Like lots of beloved elements that we took for granted pre-pandemic, our appreciation for music may have widened. (I cannot wait to attend live concerts.)
So for a quick look back, here were some of my favorite rock, pop, country and R&B offerings from 2020.
What musical discoveries made you smile last year?
•Alicia Keys, “Underdog”
So I sing a song for the hustlers trading at the bus stop
Single mothers waiting on a check to come
Young teachers, student doctors
Sons on the frontline knowing they don't get to run
•Sam Hunt, "Body Like a Back Road"
Had to get her number
It took me like six weeks
Now me and her go way back
Like Cadillac seats
*This song came out in 2017, but I didn’t discover it until 2020.
•Nathaniel Rateliff, "Time Stands"
What's that you used to say?
Find a love that you can wait for
Or do you feast upon the weak and
Weary of heart?
•The War and Treaty, “Jubilee”
I hear the joy bells ringing in your voice
Your kind of singing cutting through the noise
•Brandy Clark, "Who You Though I Was"
And I wanna be honest
Now I wanna be better
Now I wanna be the me
I should've been when we were together
•The Chicks, "Gaslighter"
'Cause, boy, you know exactly what you did on my boat
And, boy, that's exactly why you ain't comin' home
Save your tired stories for your new someone else
'Cause they're lie-lie-lie-lie-lies
•Old 97's "Turn off the TV"
Never thought that a girl like you would pay me no mind
But here we are in a hotbox having a hell of a time
Jim Beam and brick weed and a futon couch
And a playful smile pulling on the corner of your mouth
•Haim, "Don't Wanna"
I don't wanna give up on you
I don't wanna, don't wanna, I don't wanna have to
Well, we both had nights wakin' up in strangers' beds
But I don't wanna, don't wanna, I don't wanna give up yet
•Eric Church, "Crazyland"
That's Sad in the corner with his heart on his sleeve
Talking to Regret who's never gonna leave
Over there playing pool is Fool and Lost
And tending bar tonight that's All My Fault
•Holly Humberstone, "Overkill"
A couple more tequilas
And I'll tell you how I'm feeling
Don't wanna kill your evening
Don't wanna be a buzz kill
•Bahamas, "Not Cool Anymore"
Not cool anymore
Maybe I was when I was twenty four
Seems to me that there used to be
People to see
All around me only open doors
•Jason Isbell, "Dreamsicle"
Why can't Daddy just come home?
Forget whatever he did wrong
He's in a hotel all alone
And we need help
•Jonas Brothers, “Five More Minutes”
Right now, you just look too good to me
I cannot fathom letting you leave
You've got important places to be
Just please, not yet
Please, not yet
•Ashley McBryde, "One Night Standards"
No, I don't want a number, you ain't gonna answer
Let's just stick to the one night standards
But how it goes is, bar closes
There's no king bed covered in roses
Just a room without a view