10. Magic Oneohtrix Point Never - Oneohtrix Point Never
It is always a given for OPN to appear on my year end lists in some sort of manner; I almost feel as though I owe it to my favorite musician of all time to do so. But even though that sounds pretty presumptuous, my excuse has always come down to the fact that Daniel Lopatin seriously never misses with anything he comes through with in my eyes. That’s just as honest as I can put it, really.
Even with that being said, Magic Oneohtrix Point Never ended up dropping in my rankings after more and more listens. I think its novelty wore off for me after giving it some more thought, but that does not mean this isn’t still an absolute masterclass of production work from someone who has no right whatsoever to keep topping himself time and time again. Each full track here is still mind-blowing in its own right, and I honestly feel as though “Lost But Never Alone” speaks for itself as a sole culmination of the reasons as to why I adore this man as much as I do.
9. Gatcha - Nanoray
Nanoray’s ever-so-authentic take on the worlds of breakbeat and d&b has truly impressed me to no end throughout this year. They are making some of the most addictive and fully reminiscent tracks to grace both subgenres -- all with a keen sense of nostalgia and all-around talent from a production standpoint.
Though more than a few releases from them this year stayed in my rotation, none were quite as prevalent as Gatcha was in its entirety. Some of my most listened to songs of the entire year appear throughout the tracklisting, and that is due in large part to how memorable nearly every single one of these atmospheric and detailed tracks are in their own respective manners.
8. Slasher - Kid Trash
Experience and influence are two traits that are at times difficult to adequately pin down in a certain artist, especially when they are making music that is still young in its own right. But to say that a figure like Kid Trash flaunts those two facets at the most vivid level imaginable in regards to the rest of the contemporary online music scene is just a given at this point.
Claims like these do not come from a naive or out of touch perspective; they come from sheer quality and reason alike. That is why an album like Slasher proves these claims in regards to Kid Trash so effectively. This album took risks that - at least at the time - were completely unfounded in regards to that aforementioned landscape as a whole. It was one of the first full-length offerings to make a splash amongst these acts, and it did so with a nearly-spotless set of songs that ranged from dark and gloomy to delirious and manic. But they all contributed equally to an album that will soon be hailed as one of the most classic pieces of this ever-growing scene as we move forward.
7. Ana Kennedy - Riley The Musician
If we’re talking sheer potential among anything else, not one act in the entire world - let alone this list by itself - exudes as much starpower as Riley the Musician does through his artistry alone. There exists not a single soul that is more bursting with creativity and artistic fortitude than Riley as we currently stand, and that is truly saying something considering the fact that we’re only experiencing this talent’s prelude period.
“Ana Kennedy” is essentially the stairway to what will end up being an era-defining career that could very well last a lifetime and beyond. This project’s cinematic, conceptual, and emotionally-dense demeanor teases towards a future that is only reminiscent of such figures like Kanye or Pharrell. Each track here stands alone in its thematic status; it’s music that is meant for feelings in the moment, and analysis once it settles in. No one is making art at this level and with this type of approach, and it is genuinely insane to think this is only the most miniscule of beginnings for this future icon.
6. Talk - Twikipedia
As arguable as a claim like this is, there may just be no single artist within the Internet-based pop scene that symbolizes the entire landscape as a whole better than Twikipedia. Embracing anonymity in this “online” (no pun intended) age with a surplus of talent to go with it, their 2020 was full of impressive offerings one after another, each being nearly as great as each other as the year rounded out.
But nothing quite encompasses all that this talent has in store better than their now-signature EP “Talk” -- a three-song offering that features just as many star-making moments from Twikipedia themselves as it does from the bevvy of features amongst the tracklisting. Each track is maddeningly catchy and gripping in its own right, and the off-the-wall, yet completely controlled chaos that this prodigy always brings serves as the culminating factor in this incredible project.
5. #USNOTTHEM - Zee! and Stef
It was truly fascinating to see two acts who are far more known for their brief offerings to come through with such a cohesive and enjoyable project like Zee! and Stef did with “#USNOTTHEM.” These two both had their fair share of outstanding singles this year, but this EP may just be their best offering between the two.
Zee!’s infectious and sweetly-delivered vocals align in perfect correspondence with Stef’s blissful and upbeat production here, with each song flowing into each other seamlessly as though this project was just one extended song. No other act that makes up the growing online scene that they both find themselves in had even attempted such an artful approach, but these two saw some amazing results from doing what others simply couldn’t do at the time.
4. COA - ericdoa
Full disclosure -- this album is only this low due to some heavy insecurities I have with recency bias, but let me just be the one to say the following right now: there is not a single soul making modern pop music as flawlessly as ericdoa is at this very moment.
COA is his grand entrance into widespread prominence, and it is also the ideal way to wrap up every single inch of pop prowess that courses through this phenom’s veins. Each song here could be talked about for hours by themselves just based on how well they nail down the essence of contemporary pop as it stands, and no other artist could have pulled such a feat off quite like Eric ended up doing here.
3. More Than Friends - Himera
The slow and steady resurgence of trance music in the popular lexicon - though still in progress - truly hit a high point this year with a variety of acts making sure that this rise happened as adequately as it could. Among the best of these acts is the absolutely amazing Himera, who is essentially the face of the most youthful of these producers working today.
Their signature EP this year “More Than Friends” is arguably the greatest representation of where this subgenre stands at this very moment -- taking the ideals of the past and incorporating them with a modern mindset and heightened sense of storytelling to create something completely unheard of until it’s fully realized. That is exactly what this EP comes to do over its admittedly short runtime, taking the awe-inspiring sounds and structure that define Himera’s full artistry and placing them under the conceptual themes of friendship, platonic bonding, and the emotions and experiences alike that arise from both of those ideas.
2. Stone Ocean - Blackwinterwells
Watching the rising next wave of pop music materialize and develop over the entire course of 2020 was easily the most fascinating thing to occur for me personally throughout this year. As sounds continued to arise, and artists began to either crop up or cement their status as the “future” by themselves, the progress that this scene made over just 12 months of time was just as unprecedented as it was wholly outstanding.
No album symbolizes what this entire year has meant for this scene better than Blackwinterwells’s Stone Ocean -- and it is so easy to see why. Wells herself has proven to be this scene’s most masterful and in-demand force on both production and as a front-end performer all the same, practically placing her name and corresponding influence upon each and every defining artist within this scene as a whole. Arguably the best of these names appear across this album’s 11-track runtime, but it is Wells alone that obviously stands out in the construction of this momentous, reflective, and all-around astonishing ambient-tinged experience throughout its entirety.
1. Malware - Dirty Bird
Stone Ocean and Malware essentially go hand-in-hand in this ranking to a large extent; these two projects are equally deserving of my top spot, but for quite the different underlying reasons. Whereas the former album acted as a culmination of an entire scene’s work and beyond in the best package imaginable, the latter album is... well... just blatantly flawless to me in nearly every single aspect there is.
If nothing else can be said about Dirty Bird’s outstanding artistry, maybe the fact that it was slightly difficult to even choose this album in particular for this list among his plethora of other house endeavors that he came to release this year. But Malware is more than just an incredible group of house tracks like his other releases were -- this is an album that takes those baseline facets and translates them into the modern landscape better than any single act could have ever dreamed of doing. It flawlessly executes the unimaginable, the untapped, and certainly the unignorable in one fell swoop, and no collection of tracks has impressed me more than the 10 that grace this otherworldly experience.