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Best of 2020
Albums, songs, movies, books, and more
Here’s my favorite music, movies, shows, books, and more from 2020. If you enjoy this, be sure to share it out — it helps.
10. Anchor & Braille - Tension
9. Dua Lipa - Future Nostalgia
8. COIN - Dreamland
7. Phoebe Bridgers - Punisher
6. Novo Amor - Cannot Be, Whatsoever
5. Marc Scibilia - Seed of Joy
4. Yumi Zouma - Truth or Consequences
3. Dinner Party - Dinner Party
2. Taylor Swift - Folklore
1. Denison Witmer - American Foursquare
There are probably plenty of familiar albums here, but I suspect also some less common ones too. I’ve long been a fan of Denison Witmer and would have enjoyed American Foursquare regardless. The album came at the perfect moment, however. Its rich melodies and calming presence went a lot way throughout the beginning and middle of 2020. I was also not expecting to enjoy Folklore as much as I have, but it’s catchy and imaginative.
Coin is producing some of the slickest pop-rock around right now. Novo Amor has intricate melodies that weave in and out of ears with ease. Dinner Party’s EP is full of whiplash. It has smooth music, but provoking lyrics.
Haim - “Gasoline”
Leon Bridges - “Sweeter”
Taylor Swift - “August”
Novo Amor - “Opaline”
Halsey - “Finally // Beautiful Stranger”
Denison Witmer - “Catalina Love”
The Lone Bellow - “Count On Me”
Childish Gambino - “19.10”
Dinner Party - “Freeze Tag”
Anderson .Paak - “Lockdown”
Vistas - “Teenage Blues”
Mura Masa - “Live Like We’re Dancing”
MyKey - “Hand Me Down”
5. Schitt’s Creek (Season 6)
4. Ted Lasso
2. Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet
1. The Queen’s Gambit
I almost didn’t watch The Queen’s Gambit because Netflix’s trailer for it was pretty bad. I didn’t want to leave its world when it was finished. It’s good. Tehran is on Apple TV Plus and was an unexpected delight. I especially loved the look at a different culture.
The Trial of The Chicago 7
On The Rocks
John Lewis: Good Trouble
Sound Of Metal
The movie industry was disrupted quite a bit this year. Maybe that’s why I feel like it was lacking overall. Maybe I just didn’t watch enough movies. Still, I found some gems. Sound Of Metal was just released, but it’s a remarkable look at sound. Similarly, while Vinyl Nation might look like an obvious record documentary, it isn’t. It’s full of heart and just a little about vinyl.
The Cactus League - Emily Nemens
No Filter - Sarah Frier
Phreaks - Matthew Derby (Audible exclusive)
Ready Player Two - Ernest Cline
Our Time Is Now - Stacey Abrams
I read a lot of books that were released in prior years, but these were my favorites to be released in 2020. Each of these is pretty unique in scope and tone. I try and switch back and forth between fiction and nonfiction for needed variety.
On the fiction side, baseball fans should enjoy The Cactus League. Ready Play Two may be considered a guilty pleasure by some, but its pop culture, treasure hunt narrative is hard to resist.
Our Time Is Now is both heartbreaking and energizing. It really lays out what voter suppression looks like in 2020, but also provides ways to overcome it. No Filter provides a deep dive on Instagram and can really help you understand where it’s going based on where it’s been.
Favorite gadget: Bose Tempo Frames
These sunglasses with speakers built-in fill a very specific need, primarily for people running or cycling. In this regard, they are loud, keep ears free for surroundings, and have very usable touch controls. Again, these aren’t for everyone, they aren’t especially attractive, but for a narrow niche, they are great.
Favorite app: Music Harbor
This app will scan your music library and then let you know when artists you’ve added release new music. I use it all the time and this year it continued to get better. I still regularly use Musicbutler.io, but having an app with widgets and other native features is nice.
Favorite headphones: Sony 1000MX4
My favorite headphones are Sony’s 1000MX4. Not too much has changed from the 1000MX3 on paper, but they are nicer in small, subtle ways. The earcups and headband are both a little comfier, plus, the multiple Bluetooth connections is a nice addition. We’ll see how Apple’s AirPods Max compare if I ever get to try a pair, but still, these MX4 wireless headphones are fantastic.
In a bid for self-promotion, here are a few stories I did this year I’m particularly proud of.
How to make the perfect playlist for The New York Times
The case of the missing royalties for Water & Music
Essay on Bruce Springsteen’s Born To Run for Library Of Congress
Poolside FM keeps the summer vibes alive for PCMag
The science behind Endel's AI-powered soundscapes for Amazon’s Science blog