Tuesday, 12 January 2021

2020 Music Edit: The Top 10 Albums

During a time where falling into the sound of music was one of our greatest escapes, I make a bid to continue yet another stupidly long Year End list in order to throw you into a world of music courtesy of some wonderful albums in all of their glory.

It is time to embrace the albums and truly immerse ourselves in the sound of 2020.


Though I question why I create these lists at times thanks to the stress they cause me, I am happy to finally deliver my third and penultimate list for the music of 2020, yet again filled with nonsense and words that you will likely skip over in favour of finding out how poor my taste is in my #1 choice.

Now, before I get into the nitty-gritty of this list, I do want to point out that this is my first dedicated album year end list, mostly because I had an inability to acknowledge albums in the past. Now, after the ass-kicking of a year we've had, I finally took the time to fully understand and appreciate the merits that an album has, and thanks to finally listening to quite a few of them - maybe around 30? - from beginning to end, I was able to come up with Top 10 Albums of the year, thus allowing its own dedicated list, finally.

Granted, I still think some albums are pointless - I mean, look at Houkago Princess My Princess II, an album that serves no other purpose than to just exist for the sake of sales. Yeah, I bought it just because, but I'm a sucker for anything HouPri at this point, and despite some albums serving the purpose of only making ¥¥¥, a lot of the albums I listened to served the purpose of either introducing me to the singer, group or act in question, as well as entertaining me with new, album-exclusive songs alongside those familiar tunes from previous releases.

In one way or another, these albums have offered all who listen to them a sense of escapism and happiness, and in the year of 2020 that has been sorely needed, and with that all said and done, I am here to talk about the Top 10 album releases of the year gone by that allowed me to enter a new world and escape the reality we are experiencing for a little while.

Before we get into the list however, let's check my annoyingly present criteria that you can easily ignore:

⮞ Albums that I enjoy either in their entirety, or most of
⮞ Replay it til the CD breaks-factor
⮞ The time and emotional investment I throw into that album
⮞ How memorable the release is as a whole
⮞ Nostalgia, mate
⮞ Mini-Albums included. We don't discriminate here, loves.
⮞ It can be as recent as December 2020
⮞ It can be a physical or digital album release.

Criteria~

As per, just because an album ranks high on this list or not at all, does not mean the albums songs will be featured higher up or lower on my final Master List of songs. How I feel about the individual tracks is a whole different kettle of fish, to put it simply. Whether they appear on the final list or not though, it does not matter; in one way or another, these albums and the songs featured within them have brought me some form of joy throughout the year.

Of course I hope that you find a new album or something interested to delve into from this list, or perhaps a rediscovery that you will happily fall into once again. I also implore you to think of your own favourite album from 2020, and hope that you enjoy this list of album releases that I enjoyed from yester-year.

Turn up the volume for the 2020 Music Edit: Albums Edition. Where will the music take you today?

2020 Music Edit:
The Top 10 Albums

⮜ 10

Konya ga Atashi Naitemo by Ueno Yuka
(March 17th, 2020)

Despite being an undeniably beautiful release from the early days of 2020, Ueno Yuka's Konya ga Atashi Naitemo is one of a few that fell under my radar with the release of other albums. Thankfully I have returned to this mini-album every now and again because - to put it bluntly - I love Yuka's voice and the music that she produces, and though I have ranked Konya ga Atashi Naitemo pretty low on this list, that number does not reflect the quality of this mini-album and the sheer beauty it holds.

With her inviting, warm voice, Yuka brings you into her world once again with mellow and bright tones ringing throughout, and I am once again reminded why I enjoy Yuka's music so much. There is a reason I continue to listen to her releases without fail, and despite not being an avid follow of Yuka's activities like I once was, I am still mesmerised by her voice and the music that is typically paired with it. This young woman is simply amazing and her music only gets better with each passing year.

Konya ga Atashi Naitemo is simply beautiful and definitely worth your time, and despite it being one of those releases that I neglected, it is a mini-album that I will happily sit through once again in order to experience the beauty of Ueno Yuka's voice.

In A Nutshell: Fall into Ueno Yuka's world of beautiful vocals and gorgeous music with Konya ga Atashi Naitemo, a release that may have fallen under the radar throughout the year but still managed to be a memorable experience that I will happily relive again and again.

⮜ 9 ⮞

HRGN by Hiragana KAMIYADO
(August 12th, 2020)

Though it is by no means a perfect release, HRGN by the wonderful group that is Hiragana KAMIYADO is a fun and entertaining release from beginning to end, as well as a perfect introduction to the group and their journey as idols. Made up of both original and cover tracks, HRGN showcases the groups sound and style perfectly whilst honouring their roots as idols who sang covers of popular anime tracks in their early days as performers.

I absolutely adore cute, orthodox groups with bright energy and energetic songs, and whilst there are a few moments in this release that are a little more toned down, I feel like HRGN has fulfilled that desire for songs that simply make me happy and energised when I listen to them. Bright, colourful in sound and delightful from beginning to end, HRGN is something that I want everyone to enjoy if they love idols. As a debut it feels perfect for this group, and I believe that the build-up for this release via various digital song releases really paid off in the end, because my anticipation for HRGN was through the roof by the time this mini-album dropped. In fact, I think that the digital releases truly allowed me to appreciate HRGN and the effort thrown into it even more.

In A Nutshell: Catchy, memorable, bright and cute, Hiragana KAMIYADO's first official release is a joy to sit through and one that I have entertained myself with on so many occasions since its official release. I adore it, and I hope that you will enjoy it as well!

⮜ 8 ⮞

BLOOM*IZ by IZ*ONE
(February 17th, 2020)

In what has to be one of the catchiest releases IZ*ONE have graced us with since their debut, BLOOM*IZ has also become one of my favourite releases from the group thanks to how memorable and fun each of the songs are, and for managing to stick with me throughout the year despite listening to a variety of other releases. Sure, there may be a track or two that I was not as keen on at first - looking at you, Fiesta - but in true IZ*ONE fashion, I continued to think about it and eventually came to enjoy the song more than anticipated.

Of all the albums I have listened to and enjoyed, I can say with certainty that BLOOM*IZ is one I never anticipated returning to as much as I did. Somehow however, this became one of my most replayed album releases of the year thanks to how well these songs flow into one another, the colour and warmth it delivers, and the fact that is stupidly catchy and unforgettable. It might not be the greatest release of all time in terms of K-pop or J-pop releases - there is way better out there, believe me - but IZ*ONE certainly know how to create catchy, cute K-pop fuel to keep us coming back for more, even when we don't want to.

It's incredibly catchy and infectious as a release, and it works. I've come to love the generic and predictable nature of IZ*ONE's songs, and whilst I internally hate myself for finally giving in to the group I aimed to avoid, I am certainly loving every damn moment of this release from beginning to end.

In A Nutshell: Can I still call this shit my guilty pleasure, when there is 0 guilt attached to it? Oh, I can't? Okay, then. Let's just enjoy the cuteness of BLOOM*IZ together, shall we?

⮜ 7 ⮞

Shall We☆Carnival by i☆Ris
(March 13th, 2020)

Acting as the sole release of 2020 from one of my favourite groups, Shall We☆Carnival is a bright, catchy release that will sweep away your worries and drag you into a world filled with colour and happiness. With their energetic vocals full of personality and life, this 11-song track list has been a great source of entertainment for me throughout the year, especially during some hefty Sims 4 sessions during the first lockdown period.

This release makes me happy and... well, that's it. It makes me happy, and that's why it's here. Does there need to be any other reason, really? The fact that it creates such joy for me as a listener and can bring me into a world of sparkles and bright vocals is honestly enough reason for me as a listener to add it to this list because that's what counts for me. Yeah, there are far better albums out there in terms of quality, but the personality that is imbued in Shall We☆Carnival is undeniably wonderful for me, and I can't help but enjoy it to the fullest.

It makes me smile, it makes me sing along and dance, and it helped me to feel hope and delight during the lockdown. I could not be any more in love with this album than I already am, and I am so happy that the simple delight of listening to Shall We☆Carnival was able to offer me escapism for its entire duration, or depending on how many times I looped the hell out of it.

In A Nutshell: Shall We☆Carnival is mindless escapism at its best and I freakin' love it!

⮜ 6 ⮞

Dystopia: The Tree of Language by Dreamcatcher
(February 18th, 2020)

Going hard for the sake of their fans in their first album, Dreamcatcher's Dystopia: The Tree of Language creates drama and atmosphere from the onset in this beautifully crafted release that can only be described as a treat for the ears. Made up of 14 tracks, Dreamcatcher will drag you into their world of variety, power and keep you coming back for more even after you have finished the album. It's definitely been one of my frequent returns in terms of music this year gone by, and I doubt I will forget to loop it any time soon because it is simply incredible.

What can I say about Dystopia: The Tree of Language, because it goes beyond the realms of beautiful. This is such an incredible release, one that exceeded my own expectations for Dreamcatcher, a group that I already consider amazing in every sense of the word. The songs are varied in terms of their sound, and though I may not enjoy all of them equally, I am simply in awe of how diverse the genres are in this release. I love how we are given familiarity in Tension, which feels reminiscent of an earlier Dreamcatcher song, Good Night, as well as something fresh and unexpected like Jazz Bar. I especially love how this album plays with texture in its sound, as well songs that feel full, empty, hot or cold. To say this is an intriguing release is an understatement, and I am so happy that I could entertain myself with Dystopia: The Tree of Language throughout 2020 at my leisure.

This is such a great album and I am so freakin' glad it could make my 2020 that little bit better.

In A Nutshell: Beautiful, varied and delightful, Dreamcatcher deliver atmosphere and more in Dystopia: The Tree of Language. If you are going to listen to any K-pop album, then definitely check this one out and fall into the nightmare world that is inhabited by Dreamcatcher.

⮜ 5 ⮞

Passion by Ohara Sakurako
(February 5th, 2020)

If there is one album that I regret neglecting to buy this year, it's my beloved Ohara Sakurako's Passion. True to its name, this is a passionate and spirited release that truly showcases the power of Sakurako's voice and range in both fun, upbeat tracks and songs that are a little more sentimental and mellow, and it has become one of my favourite releases not only from the year gone by, but one of my favourite releases by Sakurako in general thanks to the variety it offers and the beauty of her voice.

Speaking as a fan of the singer, I hope that you all listen to this release and find something to enjoy from her music. I want to discuss Sakurako more with others at the end of the day, because she is an incredible artist who deserves to be loved, and I think that Passion will be a great starting point for many thanks to the songs that are included here. From songs that fit her usual style of music - Mikansei no StoryI am I - to tracks that feel unique to Sakurako - Amazing!, Special Lovers - this is a great release to fall into and one that I have happily replayed over and over again throughout the year.

I did not expect to fall this hard for Sakurako's latest album, but I did and there are no regrets on my end. It is an incredibly beautiful release that serves the best of Sakurako in both old and new sounds, and it definitely entertains from beginning to end. I just hope that you all enjoy Passion as much as I did.

In A Nutshell: A release that fits its name to a T, Passion is one of my favourite album releases from soloist Ohara Sakurako thanks to its diverse range of songs and the energy that exudes from it. Loop-worthy and wonderful, Passion is bloody wonderful and deserves to be hear, along with all of Sakurako's other songs.

⮜ 4 ⮞

Assortrip by halca
(February 12th, 2020)

I have a strong belief that, if I had listened to it more and was introduced to Assortrip around the time the album was actually released, this album would have made it as my #1 for 2020. Hell, I was pretty certain it would be the winner in a tie breaker, but after revisiting my favourite albums from the year that was, I have come to realise that whilst I do love Assortrip, it's not my favourite album of the year gone by.

Anyway, please remember that I still adore the fuck out of it and think that halca is an absolute wonder bean, and I am glad that I was able to discover her in 2020 and loop the heck out of her music.

As a release Assortrip is all kinds of happy and cute and a great introduction to her music. As it is her first album release, Assortrip include her first four singles, minus a few coupling tracks, and is filled to the brim with charm and adorable vocals. It's such a pleasure to listen to, a real treat for my ears and I can't help but smile whenever I listen to it! I am just so in love with halca and this album, and I am beyond delighted that I could enjoy it in its entirety even if I did find it a little later than I would have liked.

In A Nutshell: I'm biased towards halca now, so it makes sense that she would feature on this list. Assortrip is simply a joyful, loop-worthy album and I have loved every freakin' moment of it.

⮜ 3 ⮞

rainy by Kimura Yuka
(June 25th, 2020)

I do not think that I can express enough how much I love rainy as a release, and how thankful I am that I could learn about Kimura Yuka and her incredible voice in 2020. I mean, this is an incredible release, one that I have been absolutely besotted by since buying it off of iTunes back in June of 2020. From the atmosphere it brings to the peace that it delivers me as a listener, rainy is a release that I will continue to return to again and again because it is beautiful in every sense of the word.

This is a pretty visual release for me as a listener, because much like the title would suggest, with most of the instrumentals from this track list seems to be sprinkled with sounds similar to that of rain, which ultimately creates a visual experience that feels nothing short of refreshing. For the songs that do not include sounds reflecting the rain, such as Life, these tracks instead feel like the bursting sunshine that comes after the rain ends, and it is wonderful to visualise such a thing when listening to a release like this.

To reiterate: I love this mini-album so much, hell I am pretty sure I will have future regrets in not placing at #1, but right now I am certain another album is more deserving of a higher spot. My love for rainy is currently unwavering, however.

In A Nutshell: A beautiful crafted mini-album that creates an experience for the listener, rainy is a release that will conjure wonderful images of the rain in your mind and put you at ease when you are at your weariest. It is a wonderful, fulfilling release and one of my absolute favourites from the year 2020, and I honestly can not get enough of it.

⮜ 2 ⮞

Unknown by ReoNa
(October 7th, 2020)

Similar to both halca and Kimura Yuka, ReoNa is a solo singer that I latched onto in 2020 and have been obsessed with since. How long this love with last for, I don't know, but let it be known that Unknown is one of the most beautiful album releases I have heard this year, hands down. Heck, I think so highly of it that I was certain it would hit that #1 spot either by itself or alongside halca's Assortrip, I'm that besotted with it.

I love this album partly because of ReoNa's vocals. With a raspy voice that contrasts the albums instrumentals at times, this album often gives me a sense of being whispered a secret, or told an enchanting story in a breathy voice. It's simply intriguing to me as a listener, and though I do enjoy the instrumentals alongside her voice, it's undeniable that ReoNa's music feels so much more unique thanks to her voice. It is incredibly enriching and enhances my experience when listening to Unknown in it entirety.

Also, this album speaks to me on an emotional level. I have cried to some of the songs within Unknown, I have felt pure joy and more. What this album makes me feel is incredible, and I am so thankful that I could experience something this wonderful in 2020 in terms of music.

Much like a few other releases from 2020, I do believe that Uknown would have made it to my #1 spot if it had been released earlier and I had a little longer to digest it. With that said, this is a divine release and one of my absolute favourites in all that it delivers, to the point where it became my October, November and December obsession without question. I have adored this release from beginning to end and consider it to be un-skippable, it's that great. I freakin' love Unknown, and whilst it could have become my #1, I do not think it stood a chance against the album that did win my Album of the year for 2020.

Rest assured, this is a beautiful album and one that you should definitely check out.

In A Nutshell: ReoNa's unique vocals draw you into a beautiful world in her album, Unknown. As a release this is un-skippable, because each and every song holds its own charm and beauty that you will not want to miss.



Okay, so if ReoNa made me feel things in her album release from the year that was, what in the heck is #1 doing to top the list? Well after going through all of the albums I loved from 2020 and re-living the music, experiencing nostalgia and more, it was not until I began writing for this specific album and exposing my love for it that I realised this was the one, even when I thought that it would stand in the lower ranks because I had not looped it for a few months, yet when I heard it again in preparation for this list I knew that was not meant to be: This is my #1 because not only does it make me smile and feel joy, but also makes me sing, dance and cry without fail whenever I listen to it.

It can not be skipped, nor can it be surpassed. To put it simply, this is the Album that defined 2020. Are you ready to listen?

·
·


⤝ 
The 2020 Album Edit

Bright New World by Little Glee Monster
(February 12th, 2020)

Acting as one of the earliest album releases I heard in 2020 and the entire reason that I now follow Little Glee Monster's music releases, Bright New World is an electrifying album filled with some amazing tracks that will undoubtedly impress you no matter how seasoned of a listener you are to this group. With 13 studio tracks and 4 live recordings to enjoy at your leisure, there is sure to be something on offer in this beautifully put together album.

Of all the albums I have listened to this year alone, I believe Bright New World to be one of the most diverse when it comes to its sound. With a range of genres and tempos played throughout, Little Glee Monster are able to showcase their range and create various atmospheres for the listeners. It is simply impressive, and whilst I think I took too long in finally understanding just how powerful Little Glee Monster are as a group - because I was aware of their existence before this, but never looked out for their music until now - I believe that Bright New World is a wonderful introduction to the group for beginners looking to get into their music.

As an album Bright New World goes beyond delighting me as a listener and mesmerises me instead. I have fallen head over heels in love with this release and all of the songs encased in it, and whilst I certainly have favourite songs - Love yourself is one such song - it is an album I will happily throw myself into from beginning to end, no skipping necessary. I absolutely adore this album and everything contained within it, and upon hearing it for the first time in the early days of 2020 I knew that it would make its way onto this list thanks to the sheer power of its music. Thing is, after hearing other albums, I genuinely believed that Bright New World would take a back seat and just hit the Top 5, at the highest.

But I love this album and all that it offers. It brings out so many of my emotions whenever I listen to it, and without fail this release will have me smiling, crying, singing, clapping and dancing along to it because it is such a powerful release. It truly is a bright release that brings you into a new world, one that is filled to the brim with beautiful music and gorgeous vocals. I am captivated by Bright New World and all that it offers, and I am beyond thankful that I could finally understand the charm of Little Glee Monster through this release alone.

How many times can I say I love this album? Is there a limit to how much time I want to invest into this release alone? I just love it, and whilst it might not be perfect - what album is? - I think that Bright New World is remarkable in its own right, and I am glad that I had the chance to fall in love with it. Hopefully, if you find the chance as well, I hope that you all check this release out and fall into a world of breathtaking vocals and beautiful sounds.

Little Glee Monster is beyond talented, so I look forward to following them into 2021 and discovering even more of their incredible music along the way. This was such a wonderful release and worthy of being an album that defined my 2020 in sound.

The Honourable Edit
Album Edition

Freedom is within your grasp, but not just yet, young one. Before we leave this post it is time to honour that age-old tradition of The Honourable Edit, where we look at the releases that were great in their own right, but simply missed the mark with me as a listener. Though they have not made the final list, there is definitely something to enjoy here, so please check each release out and hopefully you will find something new and interesting to listen to. Enjoy!

Orion Blue by Uru (March 18th, 2020)

20204 by tiny little charm (April 18th, 2020)

So Sweet Dolce by Suwa Nanaka (May 13th, 2020)

Oneiric Diary by IZ*ONE (June 15th, 2020)

Tragicomedy by SHE'S (July 1st, 2020)

Rose Quartz by CHIHIRO (July 8th, 2020)

First Paradigm Shift by Menipara (August 1st, 2020)

ClariS 10th Anniversary BEST - Green Star by ClariS (October 21st, 2020)



Winding down from my words, I have truly enjoyed listening to albums this past year. Though I held some form of dislike for albums before now, I have come to understand their value and truly appreciate how these very albums have introduced me to a variety of new artists and groups, and the vibrant sounds each album has provided me during a rather trying year. Without any of the albums listed above, my year may have been a little more grey and a great deal quieter.

Of course all of the releases mentioned are amazing in their own right, as are the ones I neglected to mention, but at the end of the day this is a subjective list that I make both for the fun of it, and to share with others what I enjoy. Of course I want these lists to serve as a form of introduction to you guys as well, because sharing music with one another and finding something new to love is an incredible part of this fandom, and something I cherish. So, I hope that you can find something new within this list and in turn, I hope you guys can introduce me to your own favourites somehow.

Anyway, this is the penultimate release all, so that means we have one more list to go: The Master Song List. I have no clue when that will be finished because - good grief - it's going to be a difficult list to finish. I am honestly excited for it, and fearful of it, because that will stress me the heck out, dearest Readers of mine.

Until the next post everyone, please take care, stay safe and happy, be healthy and love your idols, family, friends, pets... you know, the ones that matter most to you. I look forward to meeting you all again soon in the next post but until then, take care and peace out.

Much love and kindness,
Chiima~

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