The Top Ten Albums of 2020
Reviewed by Craig Hoffman
This year has seen fewer releases and no live concerts. Still, in 2020, several artists made worthy efforts in creating good to great albums. The full reviews for each release on this list are found in the links to the (Ada) Icon.
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Folklore- Taylor Swift
Swift’s new direction is a good one for this album. Folklore is a commercial and critical success. While unlikely to go down as the artist’s best album, there is more than enough creativity, artistry, and variety to keep the Swifties happy.
Gaslighter- The Chicks
The Chicks, under any moniker, still know how to put out a quality album. There is no doubt more music awards are in their future for this one. Gaslighter is a must-buy for even the most novice fans of The Chicks and lovers of music with a profound sense of purpose.
Chromatica- Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga finds moments of deep connection to the lyrics. This is heard in a spirited performance of “Sine from Above” with Sir Elton John, which is probably the best composition on Chromatica.
Letter To You- Bruce Springsteen
The songs are solid, and The Boss and his band are clearly having fun. 2020 is a strange year for music, but Bruce still makes you feel like it’s the 1980s. This is such a great Springsteen recording and a much welcomed gift from the legend.
The Rarities- Mariah Carey
The Rarities is a fantastic music history lesson in 1990s love ballads and amazing pop music. The album is can’t-miss listening for Mariah Carey fans and even casual lovers of great music.
Such Pretty Forks In The Road- Alanis Morissette
This Alanis Morissette album is a masterpiece, beautiful and surprising. Such Pretty Forks in the Road is a can’t-miss buy for fans of heartfelt music done with artistic flair.
Positions- Ariana Grande
Positions is a solid effort for Ariana Grande, although there is nothing new here. The artist would be wise to consider slowing down to create more complete and complex albums in the future. She’s too talented to spend 41 minutes sounding like a love-struck teenager.
Alicia- Alicia Keys
Alicia (stylized and capped) is not Keys’ finest work by any stretch of the imagination. Still, there are enough good tunes and her smooth vocals to recommend it.
Brazil305- Gloria Estefan
Brazil305 is a nostalgic ride back to Estefan’s glory days. The “Queen of Latin Pop” is not as good as she once was, but as they say, “She’s as good she ever was.” That’s more than enough to recommend Brazil305 and keep her fans around the globe in the conga line.
Pick Me Up Off The Floor- Norah Jones
Pick Me Up Off The Floor is unlikely to reach the music chart or commercial success of Jones’ previous outings. But the album is a testament to the creativity, style, and musicianship that have made Norah Jones a household name while selling 50 million copies. Buy it; you won’t be disappointed.
Final Take: Hopefully, these and other great artists can get back out on their concert tours in 2021. On a personal note, this reviewer appreciates the loyal readers who took the time in 2020 to enjoy this column. Onwards and upwards in 2021! Icon Fans: 5/5
Craig Hoffman is a music graduate of Ohio Northern University and The University of Akron School of Music. He also serves as the Icon’s Japan correspondent.