When I was 13 I went to my first arena concert. Justin Bieber’s My World Tour at the Target Center in Minneapolis on June 29, and I recall a lot of the details vividly. I remember where our seats were, what it felt like in the room as we walked in, the pounding of the bass as music flowed from the stage to the crowd, the dark room illuminated only by stage lights, the way my soul left my body when Justin finally performed after a few opening acts. And it was from that night on I was hooked.
Since I’ve been 16, ever since I’ve been licensed and able to drive myself, concerts have been my hobby. My way to get out and experience the world, and to even travel to new places. When I was a teenager, live shows were my literal motivation to work. I loved saving up money and buying tickets to see my favorite bands and artists in person. I’ve always been one to purchase experiences over material items, and concerts for me were a dream-like experience. I’d go with friends and family; sometimes shows were local, other times we’d travel out of state for them.
I loved seeing the way an artist would take their lyrics and melodies and translate them to the stage. Taylor Swift is one that immediately comes to mind – her shows are like Broadway! I still live for the energy that unfolds and builds between a crowd and performer. The rush of excitement that comes when you’re screaming your favorite songs at the top of your lungs and dancing until your feet ache. Those moments and emotions have shaped so many parts of my life and my music loving soul. Without them, I wouldn’t be the same person today.
I’ve gone to hundreds of shows in the last few years, so when 2020 rolled around and corona hit, I was devastated to see so many events I was going to attend and photograph become canceled/postponed. I haven’t been to a gig in 11 months, and it used to crush me when I had to go weeks without experiencing a show. While music experiences look majorly different this year and are basically nonexistent, I’ve still been listening, discovering, and a quarantine hobby: writing.
Some of my favorite albums I’ve enjoyed consuming this year:
NIGHTLY – NIGHT, LOVE YOU.
First and foremost: we have to talk about Nightly. I’ve been listening to this band since I saw them tour with NF years ago. They just dropped their debut album and it’s dreamy. My favorite kind of alternative pop that makes me want to fall in love, dance, and cry all in the same breath!
Personal favorites on the album include: summer, older, and mess in my head. It’s an album worth listening top to bottom. 38 minutes. Perfect pacing. Great interludes. I love it.
TAYLOR SWIFT – FOLKLORE
This album was a surprise release as she announced it the day of. Whenever Taylor releases something it feels like Christmas, but this time around it felt like every holiday mushed together in one. The timing was impeccable! At the height of quarantine and when music releases were dry, Miss Swift came through with an album full of story, love, and heartache! I still have it on repeat. It reminds me of her older music and writing, and I couldn’t love it more. Taylor takes musings that could be perfect for novels and turns them into the greatest of song forms.
COIN – DREAMLAND
I saw COIN last October at a music festival on the east coast and have been listening daily since. Dreamland is an out of body experience. The transitions between songs are seamless. The energy is infectious. I can’t wait to experience this in person when concerts are safe again. Personal favorites: Youuu, Never Change, Babe Ruth, and Let It All Out (10:05). The song writing is so strong.
JEREMY ZUCKER – LOVE IS NOT DYING
Jeremy Zucker is a favorite of mine because his music is so melodramatic and emotional. He’s my go-to for whenever when I want to be put into my feels and wallow in something. This album is one where if you listen, you have to hear it top to bottom. My favorite track is hell or flying.
HILLSONG Y&F – ALL OF MY BEST FRIENDS
I love how Hillsong gives us some form of new music every year – whether that’s through Hillsong Worship, United, or Young & Free. My favorite in 2020 is Y&F’s All Of My Best Friends. They recorded this album at their summer youth camp and I thoroughly appreciate the live tracks. The lyrics are great for a time such as this. The words speak to what we’re all experiencing right now in the world. Must listens: Lord Send Revival, New Thing, and As I Am.
SAM HUNT – SOUTHSIDE
I am such a sucker for Sam Hunt. The way his music romanticizes the sound of country with a touch of pop is charming. I adore his storytelling and southern flair. His album prior to this came out in 2014, so this release was something I much anticipated. It was worth the wait. Favorites on the album include: 2016, hard to forget, that ain’t beautiful, and breaking up was easy in the 90s’.
5 SECONDS OF SUMMER – CALM
5SOS has been one of my favorite bands since I was 15. CALM is their fourth studio album and showcases their growth as individuals and a band. I enjoyed the entire listening experience and fangirling over it. Top tracks are: no shame, best years, not in the same way, and lonely heart.
LAUV – ~HOW I’M FEELING~
I don’t know another artist who releases as much music as Lauv. Even this year, with everything in the music industry becoming so complicated, he has been consistently dropping new tracks. This album came out in March and has given me so many songs to enjoy throughout the year. Including: lonely eyes, mean it ft. LANY, who ft. BTS, and sad forever.
KB – HIS GLORY ALONE
KB’s latest album dropped late September and is nothing short of incredible. I love the way he put his own spin on snippets of classic worship songs and mixed them with his style of hip-hop and rap. Songs I’ve had on repeat: let it reign ft. bizzle, this is life, and armies. Absolute fire!!!
Favorite songs from 2020:
Despite the live music industry tanking this year – bands and artists have been getting creative with their music releases. Some individuals shared albums and smaller projects, while others have released singles. Here is a mix of songs, new this year, I’ve been digging:
SHAWN MENDES – WONDER
COIN – YOU ARE THE TRAFFIC
LANY – YOU!
LANY – ANYTHING 4 U
LANY – (WHAT I WISH JUST ONE PERSON WOULD SAY TO ME)
JAMES BAY – CHEW ON MY HEART
GEORGIA WEBSTER – TELL YOUR MOM
ALEXANDER 23 – BRAINSTORM
DUA LIPA, DA BABY – LEVITATING
JUSTIN BIEBER, BENNY BLANCO – LONELY
LANY – HEART WON’T LET ME
HILLSONG UNITED – FIRE FALL DOWN LIVE
CONAN GRAY – WISH YOU WERE SOBER
DRAKE, LIL DURK – LAUGH NOW CRY LATER
MORGAN WALLEN – 7 SUMMERS
DJ KHALED, DRAKE – GREECE
DOMINIC FIKE – 10X STRONGER
THE BAND CAMINO, CHELSEA CUTLER – CRYING OVER YOU
ELLIE GOULDING, LAUV – SLOW GRENADE
KANE BROWN, SWAE LEE, KHALID – BE LIKE THAT
BAZZI – CRAZY
THE VAMPS – MARRIED IN VEGAS
MEDUZA, BECKY HILL, GOODBOYS – LOSE CONTROL
MEDUZA, GOODBOYS – PIECE OF YOUR HEART
SEEB, GOODBOYS, HRVY – UNFAMILIAR
ALEXANDER 23 – IDK YOU YET
THE DRIVER ERA – FADE
CONAN GRAY, LAUV – FAKE
NIALL HORAN – EVERYWHERE
NIALL HORAN – BLACK AND WHITE
ELLIANA – NIRVANA
MGK, BLACKBEAR – MY EX’S BEST FRIEND
LOVELYTHEBAND – SILLY
2020 isn’t over yet. And Shawn Mendes is putting out a new album in December. Maybe this year hasn’t been so terrible for musicians. What have you been listening to this year? Let me know! I’d love to hear from you and connect on social media @ashleyjchiappetta on instagram and tiktok.
A playlist with my favorite songs from 2020 that will continue to be updated.