Reflecting On a Year In Music Like No Other

Music was no stranger to the horrors of 2020. As March lockdowns rolled around and COVID cases soared, it became evident that tours would, at least temporarily, become a thing of the past. Our favourite artists were forced to go back home and twiddle their thumbs whilst we were forced to stay at home and...twiddle our thumbs. In the modern age, where record companies take the vast majority of earnings from record sales, it is from tours that artists now make their money, so let's not underestimate the financial hit that many of them, particularly smaller artists, took on behalf of our health.

But it hasn't all been doom and gloom. By their very nature, musicians are creative people and if they can't go on tour, you can bet they'll compose instead. The combination of lockdown and home studios has seen a torrent of new music that otherwise wouldn't have existed, including efforts from the likes of Charli XCX and Corey Taylor, not to mention the TWO albums from Taylor Swift, with Folklore sequel Evermore coming out of absolutely nowhere to be released today.

Indeed, adversity fuels creativity. Aside from new music, artists tried a few other ways of entertaining both themselves and us too. Many artists, including Chris Martin, John Legend and Lady Gaga performed virtual concerts from their homes, often raising money for charity in the process. Others, like Goldfinger, remade old songs and released them as home studio videos. And then there were the actors who decided that singing John Lennon's 'Imagine' in an attempt to show solidarity would be a good idea...

Yeah, we'll gloss over that.

Iron Maiden were also active, though not always musically. Guitarist Adrian Smith has certainly been busy, having written a part-autobiography, part-fishing book Monsters of River and Rock, recorded a new project with fellow guitar legend Ritchie Kotzen and has also just started a new series in which he tries - not altogether successfully - to remember how to play some of the more obscure tracks of Maiden's catalogue. Bruce Dickinson, meanwhile, once again showed that he is just a child in an adult body by putting himself inside a full-size Dalek for a parody sketch. Glorious.

It wasn't just the professionals, either. Who could forget the earliest days of Italy's particularly brutal lockdown, in which many amateur - but very talented - musicians played on the balconies of their flats, giving their entire neighbourhood a local concert. Some were guitarists, others were DJs, but all spread joy to their neighbours in a beautiful way. It was yet another example of music's natural ability to unite people even in the most torrid of circumstances.

It may have been a year in music like no other but that doesn't necessarily mean it was bad. Yes, we all miss live shows and no doubt that tours will sell out faster than ever as they make their way back. But 2020's unique nature also allowed us to get some fantastic content that otherwise wouldn't have been made. Artists were able to take a moment and find themselves again, whilst much of the general public rediscovered the album. With nothing else to do in lockdown, people found themselves listening not just to shuffle and playlists, but actual, proper albums. They saw a revival this year and the stellar efforts of the likes of Swift, Hayley Williams and Miley Cyrus did nothing to harm that rise at all.

Now we await what 2021 has in-store. With vaccines on the horizon for most of the world - and already here in the UK - it does seem like there is light at the end of the tunnel. But make no mistake, this tunnel had its own lights built-in and has been lit all the way. Music has always held a special place in society but it was reinvigorated this year. We're now embarking on a whole new era for music and it's a very exciting time indeed.

Here's to 2021.


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