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The worst albums of 2020

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Many unsuccessful albums in 2020 attempted to flood albums by commandeering a trending sound-- to diminishing returns. Graphic by Braeden Bowen ('21).

Albums are like years: not every one of them can be a winner. Some are disastrously conceived and end up leaving audiences worse having experienced them. 2020, for all its faults, hatched some pretty terrible albums for listeners to slog through. True to its form, these are the worst albums that 2020 had to offer.

5. NAV- “Good Intentions,” “Brown Boy 2 Deluxe” and “Emergency Tsunami”

NAV’s trio of 2020 records, one of which only appeared as a “deluxe” edition of another, made it onto this list not because they are gratingly miserable to hear, but because they are so relentlessly devoid of any identifying qualities that the Toronto rapper’s whiny, auto-tuned voice would be nearly impossible to pick out of a lineup. Across these three records and their 48 tracks, NAV adds nothing of note to the trap catalogue. He does nothing to distinguish himself from the already crowded lineup. Any number of the four dozen tracks he offered this year could be understandably mistaken for another. In short, NAV’s three albums were so unwaveringly boring and meaningless that their biggest sin was wasting my time.

4. Justin Bieber- “Changes”  

Five years after the “Purpose” LP, the fourth studio project by Canadian pop sensation Justin Bieber that promised a new life amongst pop’s realists for the teenage star, Bieber returned to the spotlight with “Changes,” one of the worst-produced, least-interesting pop records of the year. It is hard to point to one thing that makes this album so bad– it is the lead single, “Yummy,” where Bieber seems only to be able to conjure the eponymous adjective to describe his wife? Is it the Lil Dicky feature that lays out some of the most sickening singing of any record this year? Or is it the bland, emotionless tinge of autotune slathered over each track? Whatever it is, the lighting Bieber bottled on 2015’s “Purpose” is long gone now.

3. Trippie Redd- “Pegasus”

Ohio native Trippie Redd, one of the biggest faces to emerge from the Soundcloud trap scene of 2016 and 2017, has largely left his trap and punk roots behind this year, opting to create a hideous, monstrously bloated blend of pop and emo trap on “Pegasus.” Across 26 tracks and 74 minutes, Trippie tries to wail over soaring piano ballads and ten-cent trap beats, discarding the sparse, dark and punk ethos that gave him his edge in the first place. What is left in that style’s place is an uncoordinated nonsense album of flavorless, auto-crooned ballads, bizarre features and countless bad decisions.

2. 6ix9ine- “TattleTales” 

Until he was arrested and sentenced to two years on racketeering charges, internet troll 6ix9ine was on top of the world, trending on social media almost weekly for his wild, aggressive and obscene antics. As soon as the Brooklyn native was released from his sentence, he returned to his eye-catching antics, this time to diminishing returns. His sophomore project, “TattleTales,” dropped, not long after, to abysmal sales and public reception, so much so that the rapper was spotted in Brooklyn handing out free CD copies on the sidewalk just days after its release. 6ix9ine’s signature screaming style was never appetizing, but after months of not having to see or hear it, his return to the same gimmick didn’t conjure the same magic it once had. This is at least partly because “TattleTales” is an unbelievably bad album. It is not even an album that’s so bad it’s good– there’s nothing funny about 6ix9ine’s attempts at Latin dance and emo trap crooning, and there’s certainly nothing funny about his near-constant use of racial slurs. The screaming, the unbearable autotuned singing, the boring beats and the rainbow-haired attention sponge behind them are beyond washed up and won’t soon reclaim the spotlight.

1. Machine Gun Kelly- “Tickets to my Downfall”

After several years on the Cleveland trap music scene, Ohio native Machine Gun Kelly switched up his playbook and dipped his toes into the early 2000’s pop-punk revival that artists like YUNGBLUD and iann dior have ridden to fame this year. “Tickets to my Downfall,” the deluxe edition of which features both aforementioned artists, is a far cry from the heights reached by pop punk pioneers like Green Day and Blink-182, whose lead drummer, Travis Barker, produced the LP. “Tickets” is a cringey, whiny nightmare of hackneyed and hijacked sounds from a dated style blended with dull trap beats and nasally, forced vocals from Kelly. It is unabashedly rough around the edges, to a painful, eye-rolling fault. 30-year-old Kelly spends the majority of the record either pretending he’s still in high school or trying his hardest to audition for the sequel to Disney Channel’s “Lemonade Mouth.” Bizarrely, the album is intensely popular in its circles and has spawned a dedicated following. Despite their insistence that the album is a true-to-form, modern-day pop-punk masterpiece, it remains one of the most auditorily offensive things I’ve ever listened to and is without question the worst project I had the misfortune of experiencing this year.

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