2020: A Year of Arts in Review

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Through the devastating hardships and pandemonium of 2020, the world embraced the dawn of the new year. For the many trials and unexpected events that took the world by storm, 2020 will be remembered as a year of mass isolation and uncertainty. However, in spite of the tragedies of this past year, a plethora of new music, art, and other artistic mediums had a strong impact.

Music

Mac Miller’s “Circles” reached number 3 on the Billboard top 200. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The year started with the studio album release of “Circles” by the late Mac Miller on Jan. 17, 2020. This album immediately garnered widespread praise and was a special moment for fans to hear the music of the deceased rapper. “Circles” reached number 3 on the US Billboard 200, surpassing Miller’s previous album “Self Care,” which reached number 33 in 2018. This stardom, even after Miller’s early death in 2018, is true evidence that his music career has left an indelible mark for many years to come. 

Following the success of Mac Miller’s album, rapper Lil Baby released his second studio album, “My Turn” on Feb. 28, 2020. With features from Gunna, Future, Lil Uzi Vert, Young Thug, and other prominent artists, “My Turn” surfaced as a huge success and placed Lil Baby in the spotlight. Adding to this praise, Lil Baby’s single “The Bigger Picture,” which appeared on the album, received two Grammy nominations at the 2021 Grammy Awards, and the project held the number one spot on the US Billboard 200 for five weeks. The album gained much renown and became one of the most successful LPs of the year. Moreover, “My Turn” received certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, or RIAA. On May 1, 2020, the deluxe edition of the album was released with six more tracks. On an Instagram live stream, Lil Baby explained the album’s name, saying “I called it ‘My Turn’ cause I feel like everybody else had a lil’ turn. It’s my turn now.” It’s safe to say that Lil Baby lived up to this notion, and it was his turn to shine.

At the beginning of March, there was a mass explosion in new music being released, including “Eternal Atake” by Lil Uzi Vert, “Suga” by Megan Thee Stallion, “3.15.20” by Childish Gambino and “After Hours” by The Weekend, among many others. Each of these albums was greatly anticipated by each of the artist’s respective fanbase, and they lived up to the expectations that said fans held. “Eternal Atake”, which was released on Mar. 6, 2020, had been teased since 2018 as Lil Uzi Vert released short clips of his new music, cryptic messages on Twitter, and different cover art for his fans to vote on. “Eternal Atake” debuted at the US Billboard 200, becoming his second US number-one album. Donald “Childish Gambino” Glover officially released “3.15.20” on Mar. 22, 2020, with the project being available on a website referred to as “Donald Glover Presents”; however, the website was taken down around 12 hours after it was initially uploaded. The single “Feels Like Summer,” which was released in 2018, appeared on the album with the title “42.26,” stressing global warming as a rising issue around the world. In the music video for the song, Glover incorporated imagery of celebrities in a neighborhood interacting with each other, symbolizing public distraction from the true environmental issues of the world. As climate change and issues of racial injustice become more prevalent globally, Childish Gambino utilizes his platform to bring light to these pressing issues, detailing them in his hit song “This Is America.” 

Along with these notable moments in 2020, there were other significant events in the world of music. Billie Eilish won five of the six Grammy Awards she was nominated for, including “best new artist” and “song of the year.” The most number of Grammys won in one night was eight for Michael Jackson in 1984, making Eilish just three or more awards away from a world record.

Although many new artists were able to find a platform this year, it is important to recognize the influence of many well-known artists that passed away in 2020, including Pop Smoke, MF DOOM, Little Richard, and Bill Withers. All of these musical artists left behind their music and legacy for all of us to share. 

Visual Arts

Although the music industry was heavily impacted by the pandemic, many prominent visual artists were affected as well. Famous English street artist Banksy released a new painting in the subway of London, England, emphasizing the dangers of not wearing a face mask to prevent yourself and others from the virus. 

Banksy’s mural about the importance of mask-wearing. Photo courtesy of BBC.

Apart from Banksy’s artwork, other murals and art pieces were created and inspired by the effects of COVID-19 on the general public. Additionally, many artists were influenced by the Black Lives Matter movement and the call for political justice against politicians who ignored the public’s request for affordable health and medicare. Many notable artists spread messages of inclusivity and safety through their artwork, such as Zanele Muholi, Cao Fei, Deana Lawson, Kadir Nelson and Tyler Mitchell.

Social Media, TV, and Theater

Video was another important medium that was used to inform and entertain the public. The rise of TikTok influencers, Twitch streamers, and Youtubers allowed for many new content creators to flourish and gain online platforms. Some notable content creators that have helped me escape boredom through quarantine are Hasan Abi (Twitch), Vinesauce (Twitch), Anthpo (Youtube and TikTok), Brian David Gilbert (Youtube), theneedledrop (Youtube and Twitch), Quinton Reviews (Youtube) and countless other content creators who manage to produce entertaining content during harsh times. 

In the realm of television and theater, the Broadway plays “Hamilton” and “The Prom” made their debuts as movies on Disney Plus and Netflix, respectively. The implementation of these plays on mass media websites was a huge endeavor for the theater industry. Although “Hamilton” could only be previously viewed in a live setting for $500, the public can now view this amazing play for $7 in the comfort of their own home. This change would not have been possible without the influence of COVID-19, which caused live performances to be rescheduled and cancelled; however, when these productions became movies, they gained both success and popularity on their online platforms. 

Even with this success of the industry, the world lost a notable figure in the world of acting, Chadwick Boseman. Originally starring in Marvel’s Black Panther movie in 2018, Boseman’s presence as a black superhero touched the hearts of many. Especially considering the importance of his role in Black Panther, the protests and the strong influences of the Black Lives Matter movement, his career had a strong effect on the world. Rest in peace.

Overall, despite the many shortcomings that the world had to offer as 2020 continued to bring new challenges and difficulties to people around the globe, 2020 prevailed in the world of music and art. Ultimately, I would say that music and art 2020 was a strong 8 out of 10, and I hope that in the following years we can have new advancements in the world of art and music.  

References:

https://www.nytimes.com/topic/subject/art
https://pitchfork.com/features/lists-and-guides/best-albums-2020/
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