There are many things that, in years to come, we’ll associate with 2020’s lockdown. For some of us, it’ll be binge-watching Tiger King, for others, it’ll be endless Zoom quizzes with the family. While many will have enjoyed smashing through their Netflix watchlist or that stack of books that’s barely been touched, others will have been turning to music. While countless musical events were all postponed/cancelled, it meant many of us were delving into our Spotify playlists to get a fix of our favourite artists. In some cases, it may have even meant discovering someone new, or spending a little extra time to discover some hidden gems in our favourite artist’s back catalogues. Many of us have been kicking back and enjoying some of the hottest artists on the music scene, so today we’ve put together an ode to some of our favourites this year – here are the artists that got us through lockdown.
Scottish singer-songwriter Gerry Cinnamon released his second album, The Bonny, in April this year – the peak of lockdown. Not only did the album shoot straight up to number one in the UK and Ireland charts, it also became the fastest-selling vinyl of the year. There’s plenty to love about Cinnamon’s sound – including his brutally honest lyrics and singing in his local accent – but he’s also been known for his refreshing take on the music scene, encouraging working-class artists to believe in themselves and expressing a dislike of the industry pushing inferior “imposter” acts.
Styles has certainly come a long way from his One Direction days and we definitely appreciate this new mature side of him. Gone are the sickly sweet boyband vibes and it has been replaced with a modern British rocker image – earning him fourth place in British GQ’s 50 Best Dressed list of 2018. His second album, Fine Line landed in December 2019, and Styles has cited artists such as David Bowie, Joni Mitchell and Van Morrison as the inspiration behind it. The album has something for everyone – while it mainly takes on a pop-rock style, there’s also elements of soul, funk and folk thrown in there too, with plenty of catchy tracks including Watermelon Sugar and Adore You. This new vibe is definitely a guilty pleasure.
Canadian rapper Drake has been one of those artists that has dominated the charts this year, with many of his tracks taking up residence in our playlists. His songs have been associated with numerous viral internet trends including the #KikiChallenge and the #InMyFeelingsChallenge, but with numerous awards under his belt including four Grammys and six American Music Awards, he stands among some of the world’s best selling artists. His upcoming album Certified Lover Boy is due to drop this year, and we were recently given a taste with Laugh Now Cry Later entering the charts. We think it’s going to be a huge hit – but don’t take our word for it, listen to it yourself.
Over the years, The 1975 had brought out some incredible tunes including Chocolate, Love It If We Made It and Sex, and in May 2020 they hit us with some brand new stuff in the form of their fourth album, Notes on a Conditional Form. While it received mixed reviews from critics, we for one think that the interchanging of different genres across the album just goes to show the diversity of their talent. Love it or hate it, you have to admire their risk-taking in jumping from genre to genre, and this was certainly one album we had on repeat through lockdown.
It was hard to escape The Weeknd’s incredible number one hit Blinding Lights, and his 2020 album After Hours just keeps on giving. We’ve been loving his work ever since Can’t Feel My Face and over the years he’s just gotten better and better. He’s cited Michael Jackson and Prince as some of his inspirations and that’s present throughout his music, and the result is a slick, modern form of alternative R&B which you’ll want to listen to again and again.
Any fan of grime will tell you that Stormzy is one of the most iconic grime artists of our time. While his career officially began in 2014, over the last couple of years he’s officially become one of the UK’s biggest stars. Who can forget that iconic Glastonbury performance last year? Both of his albums, Gang Signs and Prayer and Heavy is the Head have gifted us with some of the most iconic tunes of the last few years including Vossi Bop, Crown and Blinded by Your Grace. The BBC blessed us with a replay of the historic Glasto performance as this year’s was canceled.
Is there anyone who didn’t fall for the raw and emotional lyrics of Lewis Capaldi back in 2019? Upon the release of Someone You Loved in early 2019, he became one of the hottest artists on the music scene. His debut album Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent spent five weeks at number one and was a key feature in all of our lockdown playlists. His incredible songwriting talent is showcased in every track on his album with his unique, soulful voice, and it will certainly resonate with anyone who has ever gone through a breakup. Not only did Capaldi’s album get us through lockdown, but his social media presence did too – his hilarious Tweets and Instagram stories have certainly given us a few laughs, and he’s definitely someone we’d want to spend a day at the pub with.
While it may be a while longer before we can have that epic festival weekend we’ve all been longing for, there’s no denying that there’s plenty of incredible musicians out there to get us through. What artists did you spend lockdown listening to?
Written by Amy Jackson – 31st August 2020