As long as I can remember, people in alternative or underground scenes have always ranted for hours about how nothing is as good as it used to be. Punk has sold out, Emo lost its edge, and Indie is over commercialized. There is no good alternative music.
I used to agree with this point of view, but as the years passed , I grew to appreciate the experimentation of groups like Death Grips and their fusing of hardcore and rap, or Algernon Cadwallader’s early 90’s Midwest Emo Revival. I firmly believed underground music was its best in the 2010s, but the 2020s are giving it a run for its money, despite the pandemic.
Most people have shared the opinion that despite 2020 being a miserable year for humanity, the music industry was creating some of its best music ever. Big releases were celebrated from artists like Taylor Swift who most thought was on her way out after her last two albums were poorly received. But the biggest advances were below the surface.
Singers and songwriters also made a big comeback, with Fiona Apple and Bob Dylan releasing spectacular works that took years to perfect. The Weekend released arguably his best work to date, and the genre of Emo had it’s renaissance.
Now most people get chills down their spine thinking about “emo” music, reminded of their most embarrassing years of fake rebellion and listening to some nasally voiced adult who used their fame to manipulate their fans, but luckily that’s not Emo and it hasn’t been for a long time.
Emo is derived from DC Emotional Hardcore scene, a less sarcastic, more brutal form of early hardcore punk. Later, Emo was transformed by the Midwest, where vocals became less harsh and less present, so the instruments could have more room to make improvised riffs and intricate solos. From there, Emo evolved in every direction, including some new places in 2020.
Artist and songwriter Your Arms Are My Cocoon has been a great example of this. The Chicago native has taken harsh vocals common in Skramz or Emoviolence and paired it up with lo-fi instrumentals reminiscent of Teen Suicide.
Touche Amore is a widely beloved Emotional Hardcore band that finally broke through into mainstream rock with one of their best works to date, Lament. Vocalist Jeremy Bolm continues his personal and almost uncomfortably real lyricism, with this album having a focus on addiction and the fallout.
The Front Bottoms made headlines about being the first of the 4th wave Emo bands to reach over 1,000,000 listeners on Spotify, recovering from some weak releases with Montgomery Forever, an album that shows why emotional doesn’t have to mean depressing.
There’s a lot more to mention, but there isn’t nearly enough space for me to list all the good releases of 2020. For such a horrible year, music truly was a silver lining.