It was… a weird year for music, to say the least.
2020 was, to say the very least, an interesting year to be writing about music.
Even in a world where live music became non-existent overnight, in a country where people can plan entire summers around festivals, it’s hardly surprising that our favourite music meant more to us than ever before. From artists navigating new ways to release albums, to the songs we turned to on the darkest days of the year, there was so much to listen to, watch, and write about in 2020.
With that in mind, here are some of our favourite Music Junkee stories from 2020.
“The resulting list — split into two parts, this being the first — is wildly eclectic. Old favourites and pub classics bump up against neo-jazz explosions and modern queer bops and dancefloor crushers. Some of the artists are veterans of the industry, some are at the very beginning of their careers. But all of them, in their own unique way, occupy one piece of the jigsaw of Australia — its best parts, its worst parts, its people and cultures and landscape and weather and feel.” Joseph Earp and Jules LeFevre
“Metal is so diverse — so important — that choosing the genre’s 100 “greatest” albums is a deliberately self-sabotaging exercise. It would have been easier, after all, to break metal down into its sub-genres: the 100 greatest thrash albums, the 100 greatest doom albums, and so on. Easier still would have been dividing the canon up by country, or by year.” –Joseph Earp
“Twenty five minute esoteric synth odysseys; banjo odes about entire US states; 120-track Christmas albums; and conceptual works detailing the cosmos. You could never accuse Sufjan Stevens of a lack of ambition.” –Jared Richards
“In the Australian music industry, the impact has been even less. It’s not that the stories aren’t there — they very clearly are — it’s that the tight-knit nature of the local music industry, and the defamation laws in Australia, are hamstringing any attempts to bring perpetrators to justice.” –Jules LeFevre
“While ‘The District Sleeps Alone Tonight’ reflects a lonely feeling of impermanence, ‘Recycled Air’ captures the claustrophobic feeling of suspended animation in flight. It’s not dissimilar to that common feeling in quarantine of being suspended in time — March feels, at once, like five minutes and also five years ago.” –Kaitlyn Blythe
“The music never truly stops, of course, but the absence of clubs has left a hole for many music fans. Those who would spend the early hours of their weekends discovering new music in DJ sets have been resigned to Bluetooth speakers and headphones. The communal clubbing experience — with all its euphoria and chaos — has gone into hibernation.” –Sam Murphy
“Tasked with following Aussie indie rock from the Nirvana-anointed ’90s to the progressively fragmented platforms and formats of today, we found a constant in songs that stand out (then and now) as emblems of their specific time and place. Not just great songs, but songs that speak to something wider than themselves. Using the songs as markers, we’ve attempted to map out a broader evolution.” Doug Wallen and David James Young
“For the most part, though, Minogue has remained pretty laissez-faire and unassuming with her ‘personas’: they don’t announce themselves as performance art, more a makeover with each album. Indie, Pop, Disco, Sexy, Cute, Dance, Electropop. Whatever she is, it remains reachable, even when it’s pop perfection.” –Jared Richards
“That debut record, anchored by breakout single ‘Ghosts’, combined the simple, spare folk stylings of early Bob Dylan with an emotional immediacy and fluency that was clearly Marling’s own. Raised by two musically-minded parents — she spent much of her childhood in recording studios with her father — Marling possessed a natural ease that came across on all of her work, even when singing back-up vocals in Noah and The Whale, the band she was briefly a member of.” –Joseph Earp
“While most punters might think festivals can spring up out of the ground as soon as a vaccine is found, the reality is arguably more bleaker than we’d like to consider. To most music fans across the country, the idea of a summer without sweaty crowds, sticky Smirnoff Blacks, and dusty campgrounds is almost impossible to imagine — but it’s a reality we’ll have to contend with, perhaps for longer than we’d like.” –Jules LeFevre
“It hasn’t been an easy run to the top for Grande — she’s endured her fair share of tragedy in a relatively short time and she’s continuously channelled that through her music. Grande songs flit between bursting positivity and crushing heartache.” –Sam Murphy