Best things we heard in December…

Tom Burrows: Overlooked 2020 hits – December is List Season, so as usual I took the opportunity to catch up on some acclaimed songs I’d somehow missed over the previous 11 months. Here are five that I love, which you very well may already have heard:

Jayda G‘Both of Us’

Bartees Strange – ‘Mustang’

Jessy Lanza‘Lick in Heaven’

India Jordan‘For You’

Jazmine Sullivan‘Lost One’

James Spearing: Piccadilly Records don’t like to pick the same AOTY as everyone else and 2020 was no exception. For me, Rheinzand (by Rheinzand) isn’t quite AOTY good but it is very good. It’s pan-European club sound will have your ears mourning Brexit.
Feeling like I had neglected out and out pop last year, I turned to one of Sam’s personal end of year lists for inspiration. Lady Gaga you say? Ok. Why not? ‘Stupid Love’ is in no way original but it is a banger.
I also enjoyed revisiting Jessy Lanza‘s ‘Lick In Heaven’, and discovering ‘Do Too Much (Monsieur Frazier Remix)’ from boiish. Jessy’s shimmering sound will get your shoulders moving, 80s fashion, while boiish ticks all the right old skool/deep house boxes.

Fran Slater: R.A.P. Ferreira – Purple Moonlight PagesIn early December, while putting together my end of year lists, I had been bemoaning what I saw as a bit of a weak year for hip-hop music. I still stand by that. But I also acknowledge that I should have read a few other people’s lists before getting too carried away with myself on the subject.

There have been a few rap releases that have stood out to me among those I missed in 2020, but none more so than the amazing Purple Moonlight Pages. Mixing an old-school, conscious hip-hop sound, with a bang-up-to-date use of jazzy and complex instrumentation, this is one of the most exciting albums I have heard in quite some time.

Nick Parker: Massive Attack – Heligoland – In the insanely creative world of Massive Attack everything seems real and unreal. Songs are built out of impossible shapes that arch and bend around you. I’ve been in this kind of grandiose mood during December, as I’ve been returning to my obsession with their 2010 album Heligoland, which might be my personal favourite in their very, very strong back catalogue. Specifically I’ve been circling the inhumanly relentless bass part in ‘Girl I love you’, a track they demonstrate in this live version is actually capable of being played by a human being – who could have guessed?

Constantine Courtis: Steve McQueen’s Small Axe episode Lovers Rock landed on our small and medium sized- screens late last year to remind us what a good house party feels like and to resurrect a sound that had been dead and buried for a long time now.

If you have not watched it yet, go to your BBC app, pay your TV License (lols), pour a rum and coke and enjoy 70 minutes of fantastic film making. It is a great ride indeed.

The epicentre of the film is the scene with an extended version of Janet Kay’s ‘Silly Games’. The recorded version (found in all mainstream streaming engines, CD and vinyl) is great. The filmed version however is an absolute gem of high art. The impact is indelible. It is one of those times when great music is combined with film to devastating effect. Enjoy it. It’s worth every second.

Sam Atkins: Taylor Swift – Evermore – Surprise December album releases are the bane of any music site that jumps the gun with their Best of the Year lists. Taylor Swift dropping her second surprise album of 2020 was a shock even to me; another set of Aaron Dessner assisted woodland alternative pop that shows one of the best songwriters in the industry at her best. I probably prefer folklore for its gutsy immediacy, but tracks like ‘No Body, No Crime’ and ‘Ivy’ have quickly become some of my all time favourite Taylor tracks. This had to be my favourite music of December.

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