If I were to summarize the 2020 albums as I heard them, as I did in 2018, even though everything went to shit, at least we got some good music in many genres. The year started off like any other, with my earlier meandry reviews implying a mindset of getting out in life more to random concerts and such, but after COVID closed concerts and my health problems, well, at least I heard 193 good albums released in 2020.
I don’t have the energy to list those 193 albums at length, unfortunately.
Fortunately, between that RYM link and this archived ZIP file, you can browse through all of my opinions at length. I’d like to use this essay instead to write about my thoughts about music as they changed throughout 2020. I’ve nearly stopped buying CDs entirely, unless I find them in supermarkets, and whenever I drive anywhere now, I don’t listen to CDs. I prefer listening to the radio or turning off the music so I can think clearer as I drive. Eventually, I’d like to even set up a recorder and talk through some thoughts as I drive, when I return to work and take in the glorious daily commutes that suck up hours of time each week.
My work-from-home situation wouldn’t be good, ergonomically, for working.
My writing desk is ergonomically fine for me, but working for hours a day on phone calls here wouldn’t be good. This desk is only fine because I’m frequently able to stand and walk elsewhere. I suppose that meandry went away from music, but that’s the thing, too. 2020 was the year where my relationship to albums changed. When I first started rating albums in 2008, I started with the intention of learning more about music. That’s brought me to the point where we are now, where I’m listening to my 8,000th rated album. Honestly, I no longer have the sort of vigorous energy to propel me through these years of listening to an average of 615 new albums per year -8000 albums, divided by 13 years on January 26  – but I do still enjoy hearing new music.
My relationship with albums is more casual now.
This 2020 Album Review Game was an important step for me toward writing more frequently. I used each review as space to casually write about my thoughts on each album, whether it reminded me of a concert I went to, other albums, or even unrelated things. I was having fun with the process until one person recommended I listen to their album, and when I didn’t write positive thoughts, they wrote three weird personal messages to me. I reported them because the content was borderline harassing, but the moderator and I agreed the best route was to block that person and move on.
That event made me think about my reviewing perspective.
I love listening to music, and some albums like my favorite two of the year – DESIRE by Desire Marea and Symphony and Metallica 2 – are certainly ones I’ll return to in the future. The thing about participating in such a game, where you listen to as many albums as you can, is that you lose your relationship to the albums themselves. Everything becomes overly-saturated as you struggle to widdle down the list of albums you have left to hear before next week’s list of albums you also want to hear are released.
I’d rather slowly meander through albums, and, I am now.
I would also say the effort was not worth the reward.
Although the list received over 2,000 views this year, and that’s even before the year’s end views happen where people seek out these sorts of lists to fill in any gaps in their own lists, what does that funny number of 2,000 do for me other than present me as a writer of reviews about music? I prefer writing fiction. These meandry reviews served an important purpose of removing some of the inhibition of thought I had when it came to reviewing things.
It’s easier for me to write my critical thoughts now than it was in 2019.
At the same time, though, that doesn’t serve me too much of a value outside of practicing a writing skill unrelated to fiction. Writing reviews can get my name out there more, and could even get me work or free media, but, I would have to focus more of my time on the review-writing skill than the fiction-writing skill. There is room for overlap, since writing is writing, but the primary difference is that when I’m writing a review, I’m thinking more of my experience with the media and trying to write some sort of fair and nuanced consideration that could help others with their relationship to that media.
Fiction writing, comparatively, is more of a sort of recollection of fictional events.
Just like reviews versus fiction, there is overlap between nonfiction writing, like if I were to write about going to a concert, and fiction writing, where I might write about some fictional characters going to a concert, but I have to be honest with myself and my priorities. I do still enjoy listening to music, but I need to take a step back from the amount of music I hear. I’ve already reached my goal with listening to as many albums as I have, which was to get a good sense of what I like in music. Throughout 2020, those 193 albums I gave 4-star ratings to are albums I enjoyed revisiting and would want to continue listening to, and part of that is admitting that I can’t listen to everything.
My Catcher-thoughts regard the novel’s etymology, where Holden can’t catch all of the kids in the rye. My FOMO-thoughts, similarly, are about how although I’ve heard 8,000 albums now, and currently 698 albums released in 2020, yet there are thousands more 2020 albums I missed, if not millions. I’m no longer concerned about listening to “everything.”
I’ll listen to my favorites, thanks.
|Sources: My personal experiences.|
|Inspirations: I dedicated the last week of 2020 to writing about my thoughts of media in 2020. I want to do this in future years, since I think these sorts of milestones can be interesting, even if I often forget about these milestones because they are only somewhat interesting.|
|Related: Other Media Meandry essays.|
|Screenshot: Edited heavily from RYM, but that’s fine with me. Here’s the ZIP file again with all of the details. I include a ZIP file because RYM may eventually delete that list because although I linked to all legal listings of albums, there are links to albums, which could eventually break some as-of-yet-unknown terms of service update. This way my year of writing reviews won’t go to waste, but, I also didn’t feel like translating that list here for easy reading.|
|Written On: 2020 December 20 [2:53pm to 3:28pm]|
|Last Edited: 2020 December 20 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]|