The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Buzz’s favorite releases of 2020

“Manic” by Halsey

The entertainment industry suffered many setbacks throughout 2020 due to the pandemic. For many, the loss of movies, concerts, and video game releases contributed to an already downcast year. In a time full of delays, cancellations, postponements, and uncertainty, it was nice to have a normal album release at the beginning of 2020. My favorite musical release is Halsey’s third full studio album, titled “Manic.” The full record was released in January, and it has been on repeat for me throughout the majority of the year, much like her previous album releases. The album, which alludes to her previous breakups, painful heartaches, the internal and external struggles that she has faced, and the more intimate emotions of her life, allowed me to feel more connected to Halsey as both a fan and as an individual. It is no secret that Halsey is actually her stage name, and on this album, she forgoes the facade and introduces herself officially through her music as her real name, Ashley. The brutal honesty she exhibits throughout every track on the album is admirable, and it is inspiring to listen to her put her true feelings on display. By allowing herself to feel the very raw emotions we normally avoid, listeners like myself can start to do the same. It is important, especially given the last several years, to express yourself because the world is already hard enough. 

  • Rukayah Hussein

“Folklore” by Taylor Swift

Despite all of the challenges 2020 brought, I think we can safely say that this year also gave us several amazing music releases. I can name several iconic releases of 2020, but my personal favorite was Taylor Swift’s release of “Folklore” in July. One of the reasons this album is so iconic is because no one saw it coming. Swift caught everyone completely off guard by abandoning the standard album promo and releasing this album without warning after tweeting “Not a lot going on at the moment” in April. 

“Folklore” is unlike anything Taylor has ever made, which made the release even more iconic, and now, having been able to soak in “folklore” for five months, Swift fans have realized that an indie folk album makes so much sense for Swift. In “folklore,” Swift makes exquisite use of her low register and effortlessly weaves a cohesive story throughout the album, giving characters their own perspectives through different songs. Though “folklore” was unexpected, fans can probably agree that the folk genre is perfect for Swift.

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Just in case Swift needed even more validation besides its record-breaking numbers and positive response from both fans and casual listeners, “Folklore” and its tracks are nominated for five Grammy Awards, including album of the year and best pop vocal album. I would not be surprised if she sweeps the Grammy’s, and it would be entirely well-deserved if she did. 

  • Carolina Garibay

“Ultra Mono” by IDLES

It’s hard to find a release this year that matches the utter ferocity, the heavy clamor, and the unapologetically progressive lyricism of Bristol’s own indie rock band IDLES’s 2020 album release, “Ultra Mono.” 

Frontman Joe Talbot shouting the lyrics above in the opening track “War” serve as a reminder that IDLES are coming back with the same hectic energy that had popularized them with their previous acclaimed releases, 2017’s “Brutalism” and 2018’s “Joy as an Act of Resistance.”

“Ultra Mono” isn’t shy about speaking out either. Again, IDLES returns to make statements about mental health, toxic masculinity, classism, and social justice. You hear this in the thunderous chanting of the word “consent” on “Ne Touche Pas Moi” and in Talbot declaring, “I’ll say what I mean, do what I love / And fucking send it” on “Grounds.” 

Of course, these weighty lyrics are supplemented by a might brought on by clashing drums and blaring guitars. Although many fans were disappointed that “Ultra Mono” wasn’t as aggressive as IDLES’s previous music, perhaps it seemed a bit oddly playful. But if anything were to be a soundtrack to the peculiarity of the year 2020, it would be the idiosyncrasy of the music on “Ultra Mono.”

I love this album, regardless of how different it sounds. IDLES keeps the spirit of punk music alive on “Ultra Mono,” and they leave statements that will reverberate for years to come.

  • Nate Sun

“Schitt’s Creek” Season 6

After a successful 6-season run, “Schitt’s Creek” said goodbye to fans this year, releasing their final and perhaps most entertaining season yet. “Schitt’s Creek”‘s newest and last season was an exceptional and perfectly satisfying ending to the well-known and hilarious show. Creators and writers and father-son duo Daniel and Eugene Levy saved their funniest jokes for the all-inclusive series finale. Season 6 focused on a new and possibly life-changing business opportunity for the Rose Bud Motel, as well as Alexis Rose’s getting in touch with her true soulmate, herself. David was finally able to receive his long-overdue happy ending, and even Stevie received a happy ending. Moira rekindled her acting flame, along with pleasuring viewers with the infamous Moira Rose one-liners. Each character was able to finalize their development, providing much-needed satisfaction for “Schitt’s Creek” fans. This season offered viewers numerous plot twists, tears, laughter, and even a New York trip. It was a pleasure watching the Rose family develop over the last six seasons. Season six offered each character an opportunity to say their final goodbyes to each other and their fans. 

  • Raina Kutliroff

“Destroy All Humans!”

In these chaotic and challenging times, many like to reminisce on the good old 1950s. The era of picket fences, green grass, vinyl records, drive-in movie theatres, mass inflation of the deficit, cultural oppression, and societal paranoia of new ideals and worker’s rights… wait…. 

“Destroy All Humans!” is a tongue-in-cheek, happy-go-lucky open-world shoot’em up created by Pandemic, the studio behind the original “Star Wars: Battlefront” titles for the Xbox and PS2. Of course, like all things certain in life, like taxes and death, the game was remade for modern audiences under another megacorporation. This time it’s a 2020 remake by THQNordic, responsible for the recent “Spongebob: Battle for Bikini Bottom” remake and the recent “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning” remake. So a third remake in the same year should be the charm. 

The game is set in a cartoonish 1950’s America and follows Crypto-137, an alien commando who answers to the alien Furon empire. Pox, this boss, sends Crypto on a mission to take over earth and harvest human brain stems to prevent their own species from going extinct. Across the 12 or so hour storyline, he’ll battle the most fearsome forces America can throw at him. Dimwitted FBI agents, redneck farmers, tin foil hat conspiracy nerds, radioactive cows, and, most feared of all, small-town pre-Nixon republicans. 

Clearly, this game has a set tone of wacky humor and runs with it. The game also makes a direct parody of the science fiction schlock of the era and even a few nods to the present. It’s a fun romp that will fill your Area 51 meme raid nostalgia needs. 

Destroy All Humans! is available on Xbox One, PS4 and PC.

  • Aidan Finn
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