The Year That Was 2020
So, one of the most challenging years of recent times is coming to a close, and what better way to leave it behind than to recap all of the biggest cultural, and societal moments of 2020. It’s time to go through a chronological summary of the shit show that was 2020, discussing the biggest musical moments, monumental protests, and the life changing pandemic.
We start in January, where the signs were telling from the off. Australia was literally on fire. It looked like hell on earth. Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, was enjoying a luxury vacation in Hawaii. January went from bad to worse when basketball legend kobe Bryant, along with his daughter Gianna died in a horrific helicopter crash. RIP Black Mamba.
As January came to a close, we saw 18 year old Billie Eilish clean up at the Grammys, winning six (SIX) awards, whilst Damon Albarn announced his latest project with Gorillaz titled ‘Sound Machine’, with the first release being a collaboration with Slowthai and Slaves titled ‘Momentary Bliss’. Oh, and China reported the first death of some unknown disease, but I can’t imagine that will have too much of a bearing on 2020.
The beginning of February saw Latino superstars collaborate, performing in arguably the worlds biggest show. Jennifer Lopez and Shakira starred on the Super Bowl LIV halftime show, as Kansas City Chiefs beat San Francisco 49ers 31–20, with Patrick Mahomes being worthy winner of the 2020 MVP.
Moving on from one of the most viewed shows on earth, to one of the most prestigious awards on earth, Bong Joon-Ho’s critically acclaimed ‘Parasites’ cleaned up at the Academy Awards, winning five awards, including Best Picture, and Best Director. On the topic of awards shows, back over in Britain, Dave had just performed one of the most emotionally fuelled Brit performances ever, with his single ‘Black’.
The performance saw Dave call out the negligent behaviour of the British government, and worldwide racial tensions. Meanwhile, at the young age of 20, Bashar Barakah Jackson was shot dead in his home in California. RIP Pop Smoke. That Coronavirus thing had also claimed its first death outside of China. Perhaps a cause for concern?
March saw Bob Dylan earn his first ever №1 on the Billboard Chart’s for his single “Murder most Foul” A 17-minute track about President John F. Kennedy’s assssination. But with one legend still flourishing, the death of another was right around the corner. On the 30th March, Soul legend Bill Withers sadly passed away. Ironically, there were very few lovely days left of 2020. Meanwhile, COVID-19 was heating up, and majority of the world had gone into lockdown amidst the fury of the pandemic. However, there was one individual who took no notice of lockdown rules, and invited himself into the homes of everyone. A certain Joe Exotic. Hey all you cool cats and kittens.
April was quiet, but then, why wouldn’t it be? We had no choice, everything was quiet and shut. So no major news from April apart from Kim Jong-Un nearly dying, and his somehow even more radical sister taking over. That would’ve been too much even for 2020.
May was also relatively quiet, until the 25th May, 2020. A day that should never, ever be forgotten. In Minneapolis, Minnesota, George Floyd was brutally murdered. For seven minutes and 46 seconds, Derek Chauvin, An American police officer kept his knee on George Floyd’s neck. This was by no means the first black American to be innocently killed, and nor would it be the last, but this event sparked a catalyst for change. It opened everybody’s eyes to understand that this can not continue. Even the most ignorant began to realise the social inequality, and unfair treatment of black people all around the world, and in society. The world united in protest opposing racism worldwide, opposing police brutality, and expressing solidarity with the United States. For many, the battle has been going on for years, but it feels like progression is only just starting. This has to be remembered forever. Black Lives Matter always.
Glastonbury Festival is often the main headliner of June, although in 2020, the Eavis’ took the decision that they would have to cancel the festival’s 50th Anniversary due to the pandemic. The Premier League after a brief hiatus resumed, and whilst all of this was going on, Marcus Rashford was ensuring that children around the country would not go hungry throughout the Summer. He has since pursued this campaign, and become a national treasure.
July saw Kanye West go full Kanye West, his occasional outbursts on Twitter this time saw him go in on the Kardashians, almost causing the end of Kimye, whilst he also launched his presidential campaign. Yes, really, his presidential campaign.
In other news, in a calming reassurance that all musicians hadn’t lost their minds, over 1,500 artists including the likes of Radiohead, The Cure, Dua Lipa, Nick Cave, Dizzee Rascal, and Paul McCartney, amongst many others came together in the #LetTheMusicPlay campaign to call on the government to stop “catastrophic damage” to live music. The UK government eventually pledged a cash injection of £1.57 billion to help the arts, culture and heritage industries survive. Probably one of the only good things the government did this year.
The world began to slowly open up again in August, and so did Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion. Two women at the peak of their careers, and relishing the moment. Their single “WAP” took the world by storm, topping the Billboard hot 100, with over 93 Million U.S streams, the highest first-week total for any track.
Back in the UK, Sam Fender was also making history at Gosforth Park as he performed to 2,500 fans in the first socially-distanced gig post lockdown. Moving over to the middle east, 2020 had dealt another devastating blow. Beirut fell victim to a mass explosion of ammonium nitrate, as the capital Lebanon, exploded, causing at least 204 deaths and 6,500 injuries. During August we also had to say goodbye to Chadwick Boseman, a long term sufferer of cancer, but a man who will live long in the memories of many. A real life super hero. Whereas in the world of sports, Bayern Munich had beaten PSG one goal to nil in the Champions League final. David Alaba was there to remind us that black lives STILL matter.
September saw the death of another true musical icon. Frederick Nathaniel “Toots” Hibbert, of Toots and the Maytals, a man who is widely recognised as one of the founding fathers of Reggae sadly passed.
But with the death of one icon, another was forming. Michael Kiwanuka had won the Mercury Prize for best album of the year with his self-titled album ‘Kiwanuka’.
September saw the death of a Reggae icon, but October had claimed one of the most well-respected Rock n Roll stars of all time. On the 6th October, Eddie Van Halen lost his battle with cancer. There were things that Eddie could do with a guitar that most musicians could only ever dream of. RIP Eddie.
Moreover, November prompted the thought a new era could be on the horizon, a horizon involving a more optimistic future. A suggestion that society could start progressing once more, as opposed to regressing into a mindless state of xenophobia and racism. Trump was gone. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris had won their presidential campaign, and things finally started to feel a little bit better.
On the musical front, The Weekend had topped the charts for album of the year, with his release ‘Blinding Lights’. An album solely responsible for months and months of hugely enjoyable Tiktok dances. There was another sad goodbye for 2020, as Diego Maradona departed. A footballing legend and Argentine icon, a larger than life character. A true South American hero, in every sense.
In what has seemed like the longest year ever, we finally reach December and are greeted with news that there is light at the end of the tunnel. It may have been appropriate to discuss the British government’s mishandling of the Christmas period, but if I started calling them out in each respective month, it would leave very little room to discuss anything else. Anyway, back to the vaccine. The first COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in the UK was developed by Pfizer/BioNTech. Other vaccines are currently on the way and will ultimately put an end to the nightmare that is the coronavirus. Ironically the closing month to 2020 saw the introduction of the remedy that caused the year to be such a challenge.
So we have reached the end of 2020, and approaching a new year, and a new start that is 2021. 2020 has by far been one of the most challenging years for society in recent times. But as challenging as this year has been, hopefully for many it has been equally educational. There are many things to take away from this year that should allow society to move forward and progress in a positive way. I hope this look back at 2020 has provided a slight cathartic experience, and a sweet goodbye, as we move forward to 2021.