Though 2020 may be a difficult one for some to look back on, we think all of the incredible music releases, the momentous albums, the artistry we saw rise from the pandemic landscape, is worth the act of reflection. Additionally, the artists who made the most waves with their 2020 album drops are, in our opinion, the most likely to tour in 2021.
Fans, we think it’s finally time to get excited about the future of concerts and live shows. As the vaccine continues to roll out, and the Save Our Stages Act—a stimulus providing $10 billion to venue owners, promoters and other music business professionals—has been passed in the most recent relief package, the wheels have begun turning towards the rehabilitation and reopening of venues we hold near and dear. We’re closer than we’ve been all year to seeing the artists we love, the ones who gave us these albums, live in person.
Fiona Apple, BTS, Megan Thee Stallion, Taylor Swift—just to name a few. Largely, musicians were unable to see their fans in 2021, unable to tour. But the act of releasing an album remained well and alive—more than alive, actually.
These albums saved us. Now, just before the year is over, we wanted to celebrate and speculate our favorite album releases of 2020, the musicians who really came through for us, and to indulge in the zealous agony of wondering: Who Will Tour in 2021? Here, you can find the current list of Concert Tours Rescheduled for 2021, with more to be announced soon.
Taylor Swift: Evermore
Evermore, a surprise release that quickly broke down our heart’s defenses, wasn’t even the first album to come from Taylor Swift this year. Though it’s quite difficult to decide, we think Evermore is our favorite of the 2020 Taylor Swift albums. Evermore is elevated by its collection of dazzling moments, such as the true meeting and marriage of genres in “coney island,” featuring The National. Or the album’s finale, with steadiness and feeling amplified by the presence of Bon Iver as he follows the most delicate vocals and lyrics from Taylor Swift. She is stronger in the quiet place created by Evermore, an album with undeniable heart and soul.
When Taylor Swift can finally tour, it will begin with the postponed “Lover Fest West” and “Lover Fest East,” before the star inevitably tours Folklore and Evermore at the national and international scale. We can’t wait to see these albums live in concert.
Megan Thee Stallion: Good News
Pandemic and recovering from a bullet wound, Megan Thee Stallion purposefully lives her best life and truest self on the star-studded album Good News. Though it might be hard to believe, Megan Thee Stallion managed to gather Beyonce, Lil Durk, SZA, Big Sean, 2 Chainz, Popcaan, and more, to pull off the banging 17-track Good News. The Beyonce verses on “Savage” alone makes Good News some of the best news we got all year.
Phoebe Bridgers: Punisher
Some albums punctuate loneliness, while others help us understand it. Punisher, one of the best albums of the year, came from Phoebe Bridgers, an indie folk artist that many people hadn’t heard of until 2020. “Garden Song,” an opus to growing older at a time when technology aims to distract and detach us from the concept of time moving forward, and “I Know the End,” the initially solemn and eventually triumphant finale to Punisher, will always be known as great songs to come out of this bewildering year. But most of all, for Phoebe Bridgers, we are infinitely excited for what’s to come.
The Weeknd: After Hours
When we think back on the fourth studio album release from The Weeknd, it’s almost painful to remember the excitement we felt for the R&B crooner, his special brand of pop-hedonism, a persona arising from After Hours that we still hoped to see live before the end of the year. Donned the epic “post break-up self autopsy” album by Rolling Stone, or “The Ballad of Bella Hadid,” After Hours succeeds on every level imaginable. With a handful of Metro Boomin’ produced tracks, assists from Kevin Parker of Tame Impala, and being ethereally (and caustically) sexual at its core, After Hours finds Abel Tesfaye seductive and destructive, and infinitely listenable.
BTS: Map of the Soul: 7
The addictive hooks, melodic walls of sound, anthems, and impeccable vocals on BTS’ fourth Korean-language studio album Map of the Soul: 7 have doubly increased our appreciation of the pop boy band. When venues finally reopen, BTS will be among the first round of massively popular artists to begin touring—especially since they have released two big records since the start of pandemic. We can’t wait to hear Map of the Soul: 7 and BE, live in concert.
Fiona Apple: Fetch the Bolt Cutters
She beat on the fixtures of her home, stomped on the ground, banged pots and pans, harnessed chaos, to bring to life an album which will always be heard as her courageous return. This year, Fiona Apple came back with her first album since 2012’s The Idler Wheel. The album, titled Fetch the Bolt Cutters, was recorded largely in Apple’s home in Venice. The product? One of the most whimsical, playful, honest and intimate, albums of the year—in addition to being one Fiona Apple’s best. Alongside streaming services, weighted blankets, and our furry friends, Fiona Apple’s Fetch the Bolt Cutters came through as of our most vital quarantine companions.
Lil Baby: My Turn
Though Lil Baby’s 2020 offering My Turn has its fair share of ways to grow, we appreciate this album immensely for the promise it makes. A heavyweight rapper hailing in from Atlanta, adding to the city’s strong hip-hop tradition. A slate of iconic rappers serving as guests, lifting up Lil Baby, such as Lil Wayne, Young Thug, Lil Uzi Vert, and more. My Turn makes us ready to finally see Lil Baby live, in concert, to celebrate just how wild his ride to fame has been.
Jessie Ware: What’s Your Pleasure?
What’s Your Pleasure? is one of those albums that made longtime fans of the English singer-songwriter Jessie Ware turn to their friends and loved ones, texting them furiously, to say “I told you so!” The scrumptious nu disco record hails to classic funk production, paying homage to a tried and true formula for pleasurable music. From the leading track “Spotlight” to the Cher vibes in “Save A Kiss,” What’s Your Pleasure? is a record that dares you not to dance while listening.
Run the Jewels: RTJ4
Pitchfork put it best: “RTJ4 begins with war on the police.” The highly anticipated return of rappers Killer Mike and El-P, RTJ4, comes in the form of a thunderous army of sound and message. From “yankee and the brave (ep. 4)” to the Pharrell and Zac de la Rocha-assisted “JU$T,” RTJ4 commands our attention to what is drawing the bars from these rapper’s hearts. A racist police state. The destruction of communities. The responsibility we put on artists to tell us how to feel—a sentiment Killer Mike and El-P cut with signature trash-talking and punchlines (albeit less raunchy, more serious). RTJ, like several musicians, were scheduled to tour in 2020. Though they had to postpone taking RTJ4 on the road, Run the Jewels are still scheduled to tour with Rage Against the Machine as soon as venues reopen.
Bad Bunny: YHLQMDLG
YHLQMDLG—an acronym for “Yo hago lo que me da la gana” or, “I do whatever I want” in Spanish— fiercely made its way into our hearts/minds/souls/earbuds at the end of February. The second studio album from Bad Bunny, YHLQMDLG, is a work of startling genius. Composed by a rapper and thinker insistent on being himself, tracks like “Yo Perreo Sola” and “Safaera” are pulsing with intoxicating originality, flawless production, and an understanding of the genres which made him the artist he is today. Decades from now, YHLQMDLG will be considered not only one of the best of 2020, but one of the best albums of the century. It’s an honor to be alive now to witness the momentary impact of Bad Bunny’s rhythm, style, and gaze.
Miley Cyrus: Plastic Hearts
First, there was the sultry pop-disco hit single Midnight Sky, signaling the return of Miley Cyrus to the mainstream like a club spotlight cutting through its surrounding night. Later, there was the Dua Lipa collab “Prisoner,” an 80’s glam-pop banger bringing together two icons, one of many great conjunctions to occur this year. Miley Cyrus’ Plastic Hearts, her seventh studio album, is everything we want from Miley in this moment. Style, fearlessness, range. Don’t sleep on the album’s covers, which includes Miley’s rendition of The Cranberries’ “Zombie”—an homage as sublime as it sounds.
Machine Gun Kelly: Tickets to My Downfall
Of all the 2020 strangeness, the emo-rock Travis Barker-produced Tickets to My Downfall from Cleveland rapper Machine Gun Kelly cannot be overlooked. With appearances by Halsey and blackbear, Tickets to My Downfall is the album all kids who grew up leafing through Hot Topic deserve—a callback to an emo heyday with new heroes, such as Halsey, who does her best Hayley Williams in “forget me too.” For fans who grew up on Fall Out Boy, All Time Low, Paramore, Blink-182 and all emo-punk alike, Tickets to My Downfall is an album Machine Gun Kelly made for you.
Lil Uzi Vert: Eternal Atake
Eternal Atake, Lil Uzi Vert’s oft-delayed record, the second of his to debut No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200, transcends to the top of the rap releases in 2020 for its pristine production and clear show of the Philly rapper’s evolution. When so many rappers in the pop mainstream get away with such few words, Lil Uzi Vert’s verses are delirious, drill-influenced mantras. And Eternal Atake is full of them. At times sinister, his lyrics intimidating and bolstered by Philly production collective Working On Dying, Eternal Atake is a product of 2020 that cannot be missed. We can’t wait to see Lil Uzi celebrate his greatest album to date on tour and are hopeful Lil Uzi Vert announces concert dates soon.
Charli XCX: how I’m feeling now
From the very beginning, with the trap-EDM nightmare vibes of “pink diamond,” Charli XCX successfully channels all of the inner demons that were unleashed during quarantine into how I’m feeling now. Not only is how I’m feeling now bristling with bangers, Charli XCX also manages to help her fans feel less alone in the empty social landscape, in the absence of parties, when we can’t bob our heads at the bar, skirt along the backs of clubs, or dance in the neon-cut dark. If you had a deep, surprising cry to “forever” this year—er, let’s just say you were in good company.