Latin American and U.S. Latinx music is constantly evolving through migration, displacement, and globalization, and in 2020, it was clear that a catch-all term for genre and identity could never capture that multiplicity. The year gifted us Natanael Cano’s experiments in trap corrido, Dominican dembow courtesy of El Alfa and Haraca Kiko, electronic music from Arca and Lucrecia Dalt, and beyond—sounds that reflect the intricacy and creativity emerging from our complicated communities.
Singer and rapper Bad Bunny started releasing songs on SoundCloud in 2016. He has released three albums in 2020 and his latest, El Último Tour Del Mundo, is the first entirely Spanish-language record ever to hit No. 1 on the Billboard albums chart. On Spotify, Bad Bunny is the most-streamed artist of 2020.
In 2020, there were many ways to understand the year in music; this week, we're considering five. One of the most striking ways we'll remember the music of 2020 — a year of serious social reckoning, especially during the resurgence of Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May — was by the sounds of protest. Artists across styles and genres expressed rage, resolve, mourning and solidarity.
(Vivir Quintana (feat. El Palomar), "Canción sin miedo" & Ana Tijoux, "Antifa Dance")
Whether your year was more “people, I’ve been sad,” “certified freak, seven days a week,” or “fetch the bolt cutters,” the best songs of 2020 provided a brief escape from the turmoil outside our windows. They offered a comforting shoulder to cry on, a lit match to long-simmering rage, and a temporary substitute for the dancefloors and mosh pits the pandemic stole from us.
(#58: "Yo Perreo Sola," Bad Bunny)
This week we shared NPR Music's best songs and albums of 2020, lists voted on, politely argued over and presented by our staff, station partners and contributors. Today we're featuring the good stuff from the private reserves. Below you'll find lists of top 10 albums and songs from the members of NPR Music's staff.
Welcome to a whopper of a mixtape. If you've been living under the rock 2020 dropped on all of us back in March and spent the last nine months finding comfort in the sounds of your childhood (hell, even 2019), we have some good news for you: As crappy as this year has been for anyone with a shred of empathy, the jams were ample.
(#85: Rita Indiana (feat. Kiko El Crazy), "Mandinga Times," #67: La Doña, "Quién Me La Paga," #44: Chucky73 & Fetti031, "Dili," #32: Angelica Garcia, "Agua de Rosa," #5: Bad Bunny (feat. Jowell & Randy and Ñengo Flow), "Safaera")
At certain moments, 2020 felt like a year that might not ever come to an end. Now that it's mostly in our rear view, can a retrospective give a shape to that swarm of weeks and months? Can we make sense of layer upon layer of fear, anger, frustration, confusion, exhilaration and exhaustion that piled up like soil falling over our heads? Sometimes art breaks through.
(#39: Rina Sawayama, SAWAYAMA & #3: Lido Pimienta, Miss Colombia)
On this edition of All Songs Considered, we pick our favorite music released in November 2020, featuring Kali Uchis' heart-struck devotionals, Tierra Whack's playful pop, metal duo Jucifer's tribute to Arabic music and Salaam Remi's star-studded soundtrack of the Black experience.
Bad Bunny closed his second album, YHLQMDLG, with a promise to return in nine months (so right about now) with another, which he also claimed would be his last. And on Tuesday, Bad Bunny tweeted something we've seen before: a tracklist labeling each song a "TEMAZO," as he did with the "PALOS" off YHLQMDLG and his 2018 debut, X 100PRE. His third album of 2020, El Último Tour del Mundo, dropped right on time Friday night.
On this edition of All Songs Considered, we pick our favorite music released in October 2020, featuring South African jazz group SPAZA, Wendy Eisenberg's acrobatic guitar play, Jean Dawson's adventurous pop and Touché Amoré's desperate hardcore.
Follow the Press Pause playlist for the NPR Music staff's favorite new songs.
“I can see you’re dead inside,” Jean Dawson repeats in a sing-song chant to the monster under the bed. Pixel Bath , Dawson’s follow-up to 2019’s excellent Bad Sports EP, is awash in mythologies of Dawson’s own creation. The album builds on the experimental foundations of its precursor, using arcane imagery of the devil, angels, and monsters to illustrate nightmares that land as lightly as a dream.
The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.
In celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, NPR Music presents four very special Tiny Desk Home Concerts recorded especially for this week. This video from global superstar Ozuna is a world premiere.
Bonnie Bloomgarden of Death Valley Girls isn’t one for writing songs as much as accessing them. She’s fascinated by the Akashic records — the concept of a metaphysical plane that holds all information of the human experience past, present, and future. If you follow this philosophy within their latest record, all songs have already always been and will be written.