The Platform Playlist: AOTY 2020 edition

We’ve all needed company this year. A family member. A friend. A partner. Sometimes it can be as simple as a piece of music, and in these times where the simpler things have struck great resonance with us all, the committee and writing crew here at Platform Magazine have put together a list of the 2020 companions that got them through these tumultuous times…

Kelsea Ballerini – Kelsea

Image Credit: Black River Entertainment

My personal album of the year is Kelsea Ballerini’s Kelsea. This ended up being my saving grace this year, being released in March, right after the UK’s nationwide lockdown was called. I was a fairly new Kelsea fan when the album dropped so experiencing the album release was one thing, but being blessed with her new music over lockdown whilst finishing my undergraduate degree was a whole other experience.

This album got me through those six weeks and saw me smiling for the first time in a while after hearing my graduation ceremony was postponed. Bragger and Club are two of my favourite songs, perfect for uplifting my spirits, but half of my hometown and homecoming queen are my go-to choices for the more emotional of moments. There’s honestly something for everyone on this album and I couldn’t recommend it more. To make things better, this album ended up being a two-parter, with Kelsea releasing a more stripped-back and acoustic version of the record entitled Ballerini. Although it was all the same songs, giving the record a brand new vibe was a perfect edition and it got me through lockdown number two!

Rating: 10/10

By Faith Pring (Editor-in-Chief)

Niall Horan – Heartbreak Weather

Image Credit: Capitol Records

My Spotify 2020 wrapped exposed me for my obsession with Niall Horan. As predicted, my top artist, top album and top five hits were taken over by Heartbreak Weather.

After its release in March, the album seemed to be a part of my everyday listening. The album had a mix of everything which I think I loved most about it. My top hit Everywhere was one of the more fast-paced hits on the album, and at the time the lyrics were something I could relate to (something I only realised now). Then you had the slower hits like Still, which wasn’t one of my top picks at the start, became a favourite after seeing Mr Horan perform it in his live-streamed performance at the Royal Albert Hall.

After a hectic year, it was Niall and Heartbreak Weather that helped me get through it.

Rating: 10/10

By Katie Green (Culture and Entertainment editor)

The Neighbourhood – Chip Chrome & The Mono-Tones

Image Credit: Columbia Records

My favourite album of 2020 has to be my favourite band’s last drop Chip Chrome & The Mono-tones (Deluxe). Jesse Rutherford, the lead singer of The Neighbourhood, has explored new music and styles, leaving us – his loyal fans – wondering whether we approve his drastic changes or not.

From the black and white music videos to the dark sound line, The Neighbourhood seemed to have left that phase behind. The star of the show is Chip Chrome, Jesse’s silver and holographic alter ego. In an interview for Genius, the lead voice said: “The truth is that I’m always trying, but I want that thing where it’s just effortlessness.”

“I don’t know if that’s naturally who I am but it’s especially with Chip.

“For Chip I wanted to design something that has more of a chill.”

It’s fair to say that The Neighbourhood and Jesse Rutherford entered a new era and are growing. The question is – would their fans happy to grow with them and embrace the change?

Rating: 7.5/10

By Olimpia Zagnat (News Editor)

Childish Gambino – 3.15.2

Image Credit: mcDJ Recording

Excitement for Donald Glover’s fourth studio album has been building since he released his now-iconic protest anthem This Is America back in 2018. Yet surprisingly, Glover’s latest release seemed to go intentionally under the radar, dropping online unannounced and lacking any cover art or even song titles. But those that seek this album out will find a wealth of great music to enjoy.

3.15.20 brings an end to Glover’s music career (or at least its first phase) by marrying his experience as a rapper with the psychedelic soul/funk flavours of his previous album Awaken, My Love!. Drawing from the likes of Michael Jackson, Kanye West and Frank Ocean, whilst also being boosted by features from Ariana Grande and 21 Savage, Glover’s latest project is certainly the product of its influences – but it’s still distinctly Gambino, and a wonderful example of his immense, wide-ranging talent.

Rating: 8.5/10

By Jamie Morris (Deputy Editor)

Taylor Swift – Evermore

Image Credit: Taylor Swift

I’d originally written my piece of Chloe x Halle’s Ungodly Hour, but then Taylor Swift dropped another surprise album and I haven’t listened to much else since. The album has taken over all my playlists. I just cannot get enough of this new indie/folk and chamber-pop sounding Taylor Swift. It’s more experimental than its predecessor Folklore, and the risk of that pays off. Swift has never sounded better both vocally and sonically. I can’t wait to see where she goes after this career-high.

Rating: 9/10

By Robbie Nichols (Creative Corner editor)

Gerry Cinnamon – The Bonny

Image Credit: Little Runaway Records

My favourite album on the year was The Bonny by Gerry Cinnamon. Released in April mid-pandemic whilst many releases were delayed to increase sales, Cinnamon wrote he “never gave a fuck about numbers anyway” and released the follow up to his debut album.

The album moves between uplifting energy of festival-ready tracks such as Canter and Where We’re Going and more melancholy lyrics tackling topics such as trying not to sell out to the music industry and his own personal battles. Overall the album was an exciting release in an otherwise hard time and I for one can’t wait to be able to experience The Bonny live someday.

Rating: 9/10

By Kyran Wood

Moses Sumney – Græ

Image Credit: Jagjaguwar

Moses Sumney has always rejected music’s rigid categorisations, embracing the fluidity afforded by his lack of boundaries. Græ is the embodiment of this multiplicity. In the 20-track double LP, Sumney explores seemingly every aspect of his identity with enough raw passion to leave his words echoing and resonating within. The overarching theme of isolation proved, with perfect timeliness, that the human mind is a work of art in itself.

The boundless ambition of his creativity – drawing from art-pop, psychedelia, neo-soul, hip-hop, jazz and folk – creates a cinematic journey where Sumney transforms his emotive introspection into the most colourful scenes imaginable.

Rating: 9/10

By Dan Fauzi

The Weeknd – After Hours

Image Credit: Republic Records

This “brain melting, psychotic” chapter, as Abel himself named it, will take you through all kinds of feelings and emotions, making you feel like an actual A-lister who’s had enough of the stardom dream.

The first single to be released off the featureless album was Heartless, a song that perfectly describes the party-laden lifestyle of a celebrity, which would have definitely been a club banger, had we not been in a pandemic.

By far the most streamed song on the album, Blinding Lights is an up-beat, 80’s like tune that’s been featured in a Mercedes Benz advertisement back in November 2019 and topping the charts ever since.

The euphoric, high-paced beats of songs like Too Late and Faith, and the melancholy and loneliness of Escape from LA and Until I Bleed Out, make After Hours a perfect album for many occasions, capturing both the highs and the lows that we all go through.

Rating: 9.5/10

By Rucsandra Moldoveanu

Hinds – The Prettiest Curse

Image Credit: Lucky Number Music

In a year where escapism has been more important than ever before, we have been truly fortunate with how much excellent music 2020 has produced.

From so many highlights for me, such as the breakthrough release of Sports Team to superb LPs from Dream Wife, Lianne La Havas, and Fontaines D.C., ultimately, I’ve decided that it was Hinds who made my record of the year.

With an excellent eye for succinctness, while being tender and energetic in equal parts, The Prettiest Curse sees the Madrid-based quartet at the crest of a wave of superb European indie rock this year.

Tracks such as the vociferous Burn and anthemic Good Bad Times would’ve set the festival scene alight this summer – here’s hoping the conditions allow for even a little bit of that in 2021.

Rating: 9/10

By Will Hugall

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