by Josh Vantino
2020 has certainly been a year we won’t ever forget. From the wildfires in Australia and California, to the COVID-19 pandemic and an upcoming election, this year has been one whirlwind after another. One thing that has always brought people together is music. Music has a major impact on our culture and is something that we are surrounded by all of the time, even when we aren’t thinking about it. Think about your last trip to the grocery store. Was there music in the background? The answer is probably yes, which goes to show that music is a part of our daily lives. Music has had a big impact this year, specifically in the realm of pop music. During unprecedented times, artists have put out albums and songs to give people some joy and something to distract them from the COVID-19 world we live in.
Two of the most popular pop albums of the year came out right when the pandemic started, After Hours by The Weeknd, and Future Nostalgia by Dua Lipa. Both albums took a spin on disco and 80’s music and made it their own, with songs from The Weeknd like “Blinding Lights” and “Heartless” and from Dua Lipa, “Don’t Start Now” and “Physical.” Both artists planned to tour this year, however with the state of the world in this seemingly everlasting pandemic, they have both postponed their tours until 2021.
In May of this year, the collaboration lots of fans had been waiting for happened. Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber came together to make a song called “Stuck With U,” and all of the money made from the song was donated to the First Responders Children’s Foundation and many other organizations to help frontline workers who were affected by COVID-19. The song featured a music video with clips fans sent in of them dancing and holding signs, which was a very unified and heartwarming moment during the initial peak of the virus.
Lady Gaga released her sixth studio album, Chromatica at the end of May, which was her first visit back to pop and dance music since Artpop, as she had spent the past few years releasing a more acoustic Joanne and working on the movie A Star is Born. Chromatica was an album about Gaga overcoming her struggles with herself, something she had been dealing with for a very long time but wasn’t vocal about until now. She collaborated with Ariana Grande for their mega hit song “Rain on Me” which was about acknowledging your struggles, specifically with the lyrics “I’d rather be dry but at least I’m alive.” The album was a hit, with other collaborations from BLACKPINK and Elton John, with dance hits left and right.
In August, MTV did something nobody has done before, which was a virtual award show. The show was originally supposed to be held at Barclays Center in New York, but since it was deemed unsafe due to the pandemic, MTV said “The VMAs will highlight the boroughs in an exciting show and return to Barclays Center in 2021.” The award show had prerecorded performances and social distancing was practiced ensuring a safe show. Lady Gaga swept five of the awards that night with Ariana Grande, including Song of the Year and Best Collaboration. Performances came from Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, The Weeknd, Doja Cat and more. This set the stage for what is possible with virtual events going forward, whether it is needed again later this year with the AMAs or Grammys.
2020 has been extremely unpredictable. Music has allowed us to come together, fans and artists alike. What else does music have in store for us this year? Ariana Grande’s album comes by the end of October, and Little Mix has an album coming out in November. There is so much potential for more iconic albums to come out before the end of the year.