Playlist: Still Making Music in 2020

I haven’t heard of Covid-19 before 2020. Nor did I expect it to take over our lives. But the year also brought us surprises in more ways than one. Artists who were once written off, or who we haven’t heard from in a long time, came back. Here are 15 artists whose careers have spanned more than 15 years, and are still churning out music for pop culture geeks like me to consume.


Fatboy Slim

I didn’t know why I had to praise a person like a shoe. Years later, I figured out I misheard Norman Cook. He was my first exposure to EDM. And finally, I saw him live 20 years after he broke out. In 2020, I’m still grooving and dancing to his beats. “All the Ladies” sounds like a cut from the 90s. And in my playlist, that music decade is timeless.

Lindsay Lohan

There was a time when all movies starring Lindsay Lohan turned into blockbusters. She even ventured into music, and I remember jamming out to her records. Eventually, her path went astray. And after more than a decade, she’s back. I don’t think there’s interest in her narrative nowadays. Hence, I doubt “Back to Me” will do much.

John Legend

Thanks to The Voice, and a series of stay-at-home concerts, John Legend has been present in the public eye. But it’s been a long time since I first heard “Ordinary People” on the radio. The year was 2005. While he isn’t churning out hits anymore, most of his contemporaries would be envious of the high profile he still enjoys.

Pearl Jam

I first heard about Pearl Jam from the Nickelodeon series Clarissa. I didn’t grow up listening to their music. But their legacy was undeniable. It was recognized by their peers and people from that generation. What’s impressive about this early 90s band is they are still out there, creating records for their self-expression and for their fans to consume.

Fiona Apple

Fiona Apple may never match the commercial success of her hit single “Criminal.” But I’m sure she won’t mind. Her latest 2020 album Fetch the Bolt Cutters has scored 100 on Metacritic, the first record to do so since 2010. The general public may have given it little love. But the critics and music elites are showering it with all the praises it deserves.

Dixie Chicks

The Dixie Chicks are shunned by country radio after their remarks against George W. Bush. But they came out stronger and put their haters on their place with “Not Ready to Make Nice.” Now, they bring out the same spunk to the gaslighters in their personal lives. I stan their courage and angst!

Eminem

Eminem’s music didn’t age well. I can’t imagine his songwriting surviving the political correctness we have today. But his rap skills are undeniable. In “Godzilla,” he’s able to beat his own record for the most syllables uttered in 30 seconds, an accomplishment he previously held with “Majesty,” and before it, “Rap God.”

Jojo

Even though Jojo started out young, the headstart wasn’t of much use. She got screwed over one record label after the other, derailing her professional career, and leading to multiple lawsuits. To add insult to injury, she even served as an opening act to Fifth Harmony in 2016. I hope she can finally come back from the decade-old setback.

Gorillaz

How long can a virtual band last? I had my doubts, and I thought it was a fad. But 2020’s here, and the answer seems to be forever. The visuals don’t create a hindrance for art. Instead, it serves as an amplifier. I can’t put my finger on the group’s genre. The sound is so eccentric, and can only be described as a fusion of hip-hop, dance, funk, pop, and rock.

Blake Shelton

Thanks to The Voice, Blake Shelton’s career took a resurgence. And since the public’s newfound adoration, he’s been a significant force in country music. The case is different for Gwen Stefani. And the show hasn’t done much to reinvigorate her career. But I am grateful to the country superstar for still getting the goddess to record a single in 2020.

Green Day

I was supposed to see Green Day this March 2020. But given the global pandemic, they’ve had to reschedule their tour. All I’m left with is their 13th studio album. The magic isn’t as captivating as what their records possessed from the 90s and 2000s. But it’s worth noting that Green Day had impressive mainstream success for as long as they did.

Incubus

Incubus is one of the few artists I’ve seen live multiple times. And I would not hesitate to see them again if the right opportunity presents itself. This is a band that simply loves making music and never came off to me as a sellout. “Our Love” sounds like an alternative record from two or three decades back. And I am here for it.

Pussycat Dolls

The Pussycat Dolls were at the peak of their career when they decided to disband. It’s a shame considering they now realize they are better off together. “React” sounds like it could’ve been an album track in their earlier records. And the public’s reaction has been lukewarm to it. This is from a group that was once the hottest commodity in pop music.

Alicia Keys

There was a time when an audio clip of fart from Alicia Keys would’ve received a Grammy nomination. Nowadays, respect and adoration continue for her legacy. But her latest efforts have relatively less success than the one she experienced at the start. In “Underdog,” she comes off preachy. But it doesn’t mean she’s wrong.

Avril Lavigne

“Keeping Holding On” aged well. And I guess that’s what Avril Lavigne was going for in “We are Warriors.” I would say the 2020 offering is inferior. It shows minimal progress from the sound she used to make. But I’m not surprised. After all, this artist released “Girlfriend” years after “Complicated.” Talk about Benjamin Button.


Playlist

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5AoX8Dd71T7g6EuRoGIkrc?si=GQlfsX18TgG8raCUfrD80g

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