Updated: Feb 4
When a calendar year comes to an end, you can be sure to find album reviews and rankings aplenty in most music magazines and online blogs. However, they are usually heavily influenced (or biased) by the outlet's musical alliances and tendencies. We deliver you something a little different! In this particular case, part of the music is her passion team has chosen their most relevant releases of this peculiar year in a totally free opinion - and it's a wild ride of genres and countries. Enjoy our musical highlights of 2020.
album: Martini Sprite
favorite song: Es könnte grad nicht schöner sein
The year began with an endless list of things to do, of projects to develop in festivals, concerts, and all those shows that we had in our agendas, and much of the sound of the whole process (in my case) was set to music by the band from Chemnitz and their debut album Martini Sprite released on January 31st, an album that to this day is still my favorite release of 2020. From the first time I listened to it (and without German being my native language) I fell in love with the album completely, that musical mix between the hip hop of the '90s and the pop of the 2000s captivated me immediately. The love was reinforced even more after seeing them live during the "Martini Sprite Tour" at the Lido in Berlin (the only concert I saw live this year). Both lyrically and musically, it is a versatile album, extraordinary humor, unconventional topics, much of the Martini Sprite concept makes BLOND a powerful example of what an egalitarian world could be. In our review, you will know and understand why.
artist: Alicia Keys
audiobook: More Myself
In this book, Alicia Keys tells her life story in the most personal way. She takes the reader on a journey from her childhood to the release of her album "Alicia" this year. In the process, the singer speaks openly about her family and shows herself from a very close side in every respect. But also her side as an activist is not neglected in this book. For a long time, she has been campaigning for more equal rights in music and has launched an initiative called "She Is The Music", which stands up for and connects women in the music industry. "Together we are creating opportunities for women at every level of the music world." as she describes it in her book. In addition, Alicia Keys tells the reader why she eventually reached the point that she no longer wanted to have tons of makeup applied to her face, but would rather stand for it and also show herself exactly as she is. This being herself and the eternal journey in search of herself has been put on paper here in a very emotional way - and in the shape of a declaration of love for music. And the best part is: you can not only read the book but also listen to it. The audiobook, too, was recorded completely and in full length by the singer, and surprises again and again with great acapella singing parts, which portray the genesis of many a hit.
artist: Qveen Herby
album: EP 9
favorite song: Chakras
Grimes' 2020 release - the infamous Miss Anthropocene concept album - probably tops the list of my most listened to albums this year. However, despite its frighteningly accurate description of the dystopian future scenario we lived in, my (much more uplifting) musical highlight of 2020 is Qveen Herby's EP 9. The EP, following within just a few months of its predecessor, is a mix of expertly crafted hip hop and R&B tracks from the living of the Qveen Amy Noonan and her husband Nick's living room. Between waving goodbye to toxic energy, celebrating personal growth, criticizing capitalist culture, and fabulously feminist messages, this last EP before the arrival of the Nebraska-born artist's debut album provided much needed positive vibes in the darkest moments of 2020. Herby hit the indie scene in 2017 after shedding her skin off Karmin (her previous project with husband Nick Noonan). After the viral success of Karmin, Amy Noonan reinvented herself as her own biggest fan and every woman and girl's biggest cheerleader, exuding confidence and authenticity. Free of the big-label music industry's pressures and schedules, she releases whatever she wants whenever she wants, sometimes dropping multiple unannounced singles in a week. When 2020 hit the hardest, so did Qveen Herby. "Want you to win, be the GOAT, hypin' you up with the flows; All of my life, I devote, doin' my thing for the girls", she raps on the EP's final track "Pre Roll. With her verses in my ear, I felt encouraged to not skip that workout, not engage in a toxic friendship anymore and focus on my mental health. If a self-made business owner from Nebraska can write, record, and produce an album, shoot music videos and run a cosmetics company from her own home - why shouldn't I be able to be my best self, too? I'd recommend a daily dose of her flows, in 2020 and beyond.
artist: Hayley Williams
album: Petals for Armor
favorite song: Simmer
My album of the year is definitely Hayley William's 'Petals for Armor'. Hayley lays her soul bare on 'Petals For Armor', opened up her entire heart, and got out all the emotions that she has long kept to herself. The lyrics sound very thoughtful and testify to sadness, graduations, and new beginnings. Hayley has managed to make every song sound harmonious and absolutely intentional. It's an album that fits every situation in life. Every song feels so right and perfect for this shitty year.
Be it Alicia Keys's warm voice, the witty lyrics to Martini Sprite or the carefully constructed Hayley Williams debut album - 2020 has brought us great musical treasures of all kinds. Throughout the lockdowns and breakdowns of these troublesome past 12 months, these four releases have kept our editorial team going. Which album or artist made your 2020 worth hanging in there? Let us know!