Beck’s Picks: the best of 2020

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Beck Iannucci

By now we all know 2020 was a disaster. But there were some moments worth celebrating. Here are mine.

Music

New YUNGBLUD songs

The artist, YUNGBLUD, has started to release a new album, titled weird!, that will be available on December 4th. For now you can enjoy the four songs and music videos. I also loved his online concerts that were available for free through YouTube. Those are still up if you’re interested and we might have more in our future. It’s worth looking out for. The celebrity guests and Dom talking to the audience made the experience memorable. Ngl, I was jumping up and down and dancing like a maniac during the live stream concerts.

As for the album, my favorite song so far is weird!. The song albums are named after are not always the best, but there’s something so perfect about this one. The song is about Dom’s experience at university and how he felt isolated. This song, however, also works as a quarantine song. Having to distance ourselves from others can lead to a lonely feeling. The line “I feel anxious all the time” hits home too. We’re dealing with a virus that could hurt our loved ones and it can make you feel powerless. I also love the lyric about Jesus. There are religious people who have claimed Jesus will protect them from the virus or will send us the cure. They use religion as a way to take away the severity of the situation in a dangerous way. Religious or not, we all have to quarantine and wear a mask.

I would also like to call attention to the album cover which is Dom in a bunch of different outfits photoshopped together. It’s fabulous! And I love the promo pics of Dom as an angel. (I included one above.)

PALAYE ROYALE new album

The rock band, Palaye Royale, released a new album on May 29th this year. The album titled The Bastards has music about mental health and living in America. If you do decide to listen, please be aware that there is talk of guns, death, medication, depression, self h*rm, and murder. Please be aware of these and stay safe! The rest of this section will discuss these so if you want to skip that, you can read the Dua Lipa section next instead.

My favorite song is definitely Massacre, The New American Dream. America has a huge problem with gun violence and it’s often up for debate. Many want to be able to carry guns while others think the weapons shouldn’t be so accessible. No matter what side you stand on, you have to recognize the issue and how prevalent it is.

The music video is intense and has flashing images that can trigger seizures. I don’t get seizures, but after watching the video twice I started to get a headache. The video being so obnoxious complements the topic well. Violence can be confusing. Groups of people can be targeted at random and it can be hard to determine why the perpetrator(s) have acted in such a way. Do they have conditions that they need to receive help for? Are they connected to this place or these people? What’s happening?

Dua Lipa’s new album

Her album, Future Nostalgia, is truly her best. I’ve been a fan of her since her first album, Dua Lipa. Future Nostalgia has an overall chill vibe. All the songs are easy to sing along and dance to. My favorite songs are Levitating, Cool, and Future Nostalgia. The song, Future Nostalgia, sets a nice tone for the album and I can’t explain why. Maybe it’s the whispering at the start and how it’s sprinkled throughout. Or maybe it’s the instrumentals. Quite honestly, I think that’s part of what draws me to her. Dua has a beautiful voice and the background music is funky and upbeat. I can’t seem to have enough of this album. It might just be me, but I think it’s so replayable that you won’t ever get bored of it.

Agust D and BTS

It’s been a great year for the BTS ARMY. One of the band’s rappers, Agust D, released a solo album titled D-2 with a total of ten songs. Agust D hasn’t had solo music since his first album in 2016. Having a chance to hear more of his talent has been thrilling. For non-kpop fans, when the members do solo projects, they aren’t covered under the group contracts. This gives the artist more freedom for solo pieces and means they pay for the album themselves. Agust D’s concepts for the album were unique and different. BTS has colorful and soft visuals with dances. Agust D, however, uses darker colors and more angst. This is a nice contrast with Agust D as Suga in BTS.

As for the band as a whole, BTS released a single called Dynamite and an album titled MAP OF THE SOUL:7. Dynamite was described as a song to cheer up their fans during these difficult times and they succeeded. I can’t help but smile when I hear Dynamite on the radio or it surprises me with my playlist on shuffle. The upbeat instrumental and soothing vocals make it a must listen!

As for the album, ON is my favorite. I recommend you watch the music video and listen to both versions — they made one with Sia too!

Danny Gonzalez’s new music

Danny Gonzalez is a commentary YouTuber who writes comedy songs. I’ve enjoyed all his content this year, but the songs have been the best. He released his third Halloween song, Spooky Man, a song about his favorite drink, La Croix, and a parody about bizarre POV TikToks, called My Dad Is Rich.

By now we should all know about the bizarre TikTok point of view videos that were circulating. They seem to have died down for now, but so many of them leave me concerned. The ones Danny mentions in My Dad Is Rich is a POV about a rich vampire dad that threatens people. This is supposed to be to protect his kid — who is supposed to be the viewer. 

Look, if you don’t listen to comedy music you’re missing out. Danny isn’t the only one that makes such. There are so many comedy songs out there so if Danny’s isn’t for you, keep looking. There have been quite a few times when I’m having an awful day and I put on my comedy playlist to make me laugh. I would also like to point out that if you buy these songs you can listen without wifi. Then, if you ever need cheering up, you don’t have to worry about connection.

I DON’T KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME

IDK How has finished their first album this year! Since their debut in 2018, fans have been waiting for a full album. The patient wait is finally over as of October 23rd. The alternative band with an 80s vibe, titled their album RAZZMATAZZ and have released quite a few music videos so far.

I have yet to pick a favorite — like with the EPs. There’s something about IDK How’s music that makes it an impossible feat. If I listen to one song then I have to listen to all of them. Seriously, go check out this band!

AJR’s new song

Though there was only one song this year, it isn’t one to be missed. Their single “Bang!” has taken over the internet, amassing 866.8 million TikTok views. This catchy tune will have you singing all day. I also have to point out that AJR did another version with the queen, Hayley Kiyoko.

You can also enjoy their music video for Bummerland — another must listen. Look, I know Bummerland is from last year’s album, but since we’re talking about the music video, I can get away with it. This isn’t just me swooning over the singer’s beautiful voice — I’m a sucker for sad songs that sound happy.

TV Shows and Movies

“Umbrella Academy” season 2

As a longtime fan of the show’s co-creator, Gerard Way, I’ve been following the series for awhile. The comics are definitely worth a read as the show and comics are different.

In this season, the group get split up in the past and Allison gets caught up in the fight for racial equality, fighting for her rights along with everyone else’s. Meanwhile, Klaus gets to meet his now dead boyfriend as a teenager and Vanya finds a girlfriend in an unaccepting environment. Five is fighting with the Handler yet again and meeting his past self while Luther does some more sulking. The strangest is Diego who tries to stop the JFK assassination. I won’t say anything about Ben — you’ll have to see for yourself. I will conclude by saying this season was so much better than season one and met my high expectations.

“Miraculous Ladybug New York Special”

This short film gave me so much serotonin. It may not have any effect on the series plot, but meeting some new characters and having some more adrienette brightened my day.

This is another thing I’m crazy about. I could talk forever about Black Butler season 2. There’s just something I love so much about separate movies and seasons that don’t have any effect. We get some new characters and scenes that we would have never seen otherwise. Black Butler would have never given us Alois and Miraculous would have never given us Aeon.

Getting to see another side of already existing characters is fun too. I honestly don’t get why people hate these mini stories.

“She-ra and the Princess of Power” season 5

Don’t get me wrong, I’m bummed to see She-ra end, but it’s hard to be sad with such an amazing ending. Seeing Glimmer and Catra grow as characters while seeing more of Scorpia was well deserved. To see Scorpia as more than Catra’s friend let the viewer see her as her own person.

“Impractical Jokers Dinner Party” + Movie

COVID has stopped the group from filming their regular episodes, but with the movie ready, content was still planned. Then, the idea of informal Impractical Jokers was presented. Thus, Impractical Jokers Dinner Party was formed. The four friends eat dinner, with a different theme each week, and chat. If you want to hear more about filming episodes and the men’s lives, I recommend it. The episodes are hysterical and they have celebrity guests each week.

Enola Holmes

Being a Sherlock Holmes fan means you don’t get much content. I personally have high standards for this series and a lot of the movies have let me down. The Holmes and Watson 2018 movie with Will Ferrell and John Reilly was a huge disappointment. Honestly, I thought nothing was going to come close to BBC’s Sherlock. I’m pleasantly surprised at how well this movie was produced. I had even higher expectations when I heard Millie Bobby Brown was playing Enola. You may remember her as El from Stranger Things. She fit the role of Enola perfectly and the writing was amazing. This movie is a masterpiece. 

Graphic Novels

Displacement by Kiku Huges

Stories about immigrants, whether fiction or nonfiction, are so important. We have to see the experiences of others and understand their feelings to become better people.

In this story, Kiku is pulled back in time with her grandmother and stuck in a Japanese-American internment camp. Though the going back in time part is fictional, the pain of the past and fear of history repeating itself is real. Kiku also uses her own family and herself as the main character, bringing the realness to life. This story is beautifully written and illustrated. You don’t want to miss this read!

Almost American Girl: An Illustrated Memoir by Robin Ha

This graphic novel is also about being an immigrant, but touches upon other issues. This novel touches upon being homesick, being bullied in school, and having trouble making friends. At the end of the novel, it also touches upon how Robin’s life has become drastically different compared to her friends. Having different worries splits them apart, teaching her more about relationships.