It is once again time for my annual ode to self-importance – listing my favorite music of the past year. And what does “favorite” mean? What I listened to the most? (Yes) What I anxiously waited for? (Yes) What had great videos I couldn’t get enough of? (Yes) What was unique? (Yes) What was by somebody I already really like? (Yes) What absolutely blew my mind? (Yes)
But this year favorite took on an even greater meaning. I cannot think of a year of music I have ever enjoyed more. It’s as if the collective unconscious of all musicians directed its energy to make sure their best work arrived in this awfullest of times.
The Year of Disco
Apparently, a significant portion of the collective unconscious of all musicians directed its energy to bringing disco back. Disco music in a number of variants was a major theme in pop music and even rock in 2020 and I was so here for it. These six disco-styled albums were in my favorites for the year.
Dua Lipa Future Nostalgia. This perfectly named album is Grammy-nominated for Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album. It’s a modern sounding disco throwback with one solid get-your-booty-on-the-dance-floor jam after another. And in true, old school fashion, its 11 songs clock in at a total of 37 minutes. All are bops but Hallucinate makes a dancing fool out of me.
Lady Gaga Chromatica Grammy-nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album, Rolling Stone called Chromatica “a love letter to disco and house music.” I call it an icon returning to her 2010 dance-pop roots with 2020 production. Among the many big – Lady Gaga BIG – bangers, I love Enigma; and the duo with Elton John Sine From Above is delightful.
Jessie Ware What’s Your Pleasure As compared to Dua Lipa and Lady Gaga’s big beats, this album is the music playing in that not quite downtown club, late at night, with that in-the-know DJ playing that smooth, sexy, body-to-body, nobody goes home alone stuff. The song The Kill does, indeed, slay me. So sultry. So hypnotic. Donna Summer could have made this song.
Kylie Minogue Disco It’s Kylie Minogue. Making a disco album. What else is there to explain here? Hit play and get your life, says My Daughter Diandra.
Roisin Machine Electronica This one is the most sonically eclectic of my disco favorites. It’s like a random collection of cool house and disco 12-inch sides.
Melanie C Melanie C The one-time Sporty Spice of the Spice Girls created a deeply revealing celebration of self-acceptance propelled by dance floor ready beats. I am addicted to the extraordinarily personal video of the opening song Who I Am.
Hayley Williams Petals for Armor This solo project from Paramore’s charismatic lead singer is remarkable for its pop music experimentation that is both emotionally vulnerable and musically ambitious.
Niia II: La Bella Vita Showing off her influences ranging from Mariah Carey to Nina Simone to Ella Fitzgerald to Sarah Vaughn, it’s no wonder Wikipedia calls her genre “sophisti-pop” which I didn’t know was a thing. It’s a really good thing, though, or what My Daughter Diandra would call a “vibe.”
The War and Treaty Hearts Town With deep feeling and contagious energy, the Americana/soul/gospel husband-wife team of Michael and Tanya-Blount-Trotter sing from a place where urban meets rural, country meets soul, Saturday night secular meets Sunday morning sacred and Appalachia meets the Mississippi Delta.
Beyond the Black Horizons On their fourth album, BTB has mastered their symphonic pop metal sound and the maturing vocalist Jennifer Haber has never sounded better – kinda Pat Benatar-ish. Coming Home with its massive chorus is my jam on this album.
SAULT Untitled (Rise) and Untitled (Black Is) Mixing funk, Afrobeat, jazz, soul, R&B, hip hop, and whatever, these two albums from a mysterious UK collective are the soundtrack of Blackness.