EPs in quarantine

Artists release new music

2020 has been a year many wish would start over. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has forced many people to adopt a new lifestyle, with millions quarantined in their homes to avoid its spread. 

Many naturally sought comfort during such strange times, and music became an outlet for people all over the world to unite and feel close to each other again. While families tried to remain calm, many artists took advantage of the situation and released music for their fans to enjoy.

 Artists like The Weeknd, Taylor Swift and even the late Juice Wrld all had huge albums that made a splash during quarantine. Those released when people were forced to stay home turned out to be some of the best albums of the year, shattering records along the way. 

The Weeknd – After Hours (No Features. Released on March 20th, 2020)

The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye) released his 4th studio album at the very start of quarantine. His fourteen-song R&B album dropped while tons of people were trying to navigate a changing world, and it granted them a distraction during all the madness. The album garnered a lot of attention and reached the top spot on the Billboard 200, an album-ranking service in the US; it has been in the top 20 on the chart for 23 weeks straight. “Blinding Lights” was by far his most successful song, hitting over a billion listens on Spotify and leading Tesfaye to break a record and earn two awards. The song peaked at number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart on April 3rd (it is still in the top 5 even today) and also hit number 1 on their Hip-Hop and R&B chart, according to Billboard’s website. 

The music video won 2 MTV VMAs, for Album of the Year and R&B Video of the Year. This year’s show also saw The Weeknd open with a live version of “Blinding Lights.” Billboard states that “The Weeknd’s ‘Blinding Lights’ breaks the record for the most weeks spent atop Billboard‘s all-format Radio Songs airplay chart, logging a 19th frame at No. 1 on the survey dated Aug. 22. The song eclipses Goo Goo Dolls’ ‘Iris,’ which led for 18 weeks in 1998 and held the record all to itself for nearly 22 years” (Billboard). 

With an album that released at the start of a new way of life for millions of people, The Weeknd definitely owned the first half of 2020, and his work will likely go down in history. 

Taylor Swift – Folklore (1 Feature. Released on July 24th, 2020)

Perhaps the biggest surprise album of the year, Folklore was released seemingly overnight. Not many fans expected to wake up to Taylor Swift’s 8th studio album, but they took it and ran with it. The indie-folk album was much different than what fans had expected and heard in her previous 7 albums: this one was much more personal. 

Swift shattered a Guinness World Record, prompting the company to release the following statement: “Just a few days after its release, we’re pleased to confirm that her 8th album has achieved the most day-one streams of an album on Spotify (female) after being streamed an impressive 80.6 million times” (Guinness World Records). Swift’s album has also been number one on the Billboard 200 for 5 weeks straight and, when released, all 16 songs debuted on the Billboard Hot 100.  “Cardigan”, which is by far the most popular song, stats-wise, debuted number one on the chart and has been in the top 40 for five weeks straight as well. 

When it comes to sales, Taylor Swift has dominated headlines since the release. According to the New York Times, Swift’s album had a “whopping 846,000 sales in the United States, according to Nielsen Music. That’s the third-highest weekly total for any album in four years, beaten only by Swift’s last two albums: ‘Reputation’ (1.2 million in 2017) and ‘Lover’ (867,000 a year ago)” (NY Times). In the blink of an eye, this overnight album release has blossomed into one of Taylor Swift’s biggest success stories.  

Juice Wrld – Legends Never Die (6 Features. Released on July 10th, 2020)

In the first album released since the death of Jarad A. Higgins (professionally known as Juice Wrld), the hip-hop album Legends Never Die was a light amidst dark times for Juice Wrld fans. His early death had impacted millions of fans and affected many fellow artists. When the album was released, it was received with many mixed emotions. Like any artist who has passed, many devoted fans were upset that the record label would try to make money off of Juice Wrld’s death. However, the album debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and has been in the top 5 for seven weeks in a row. 

The most popular song on the album has to be “Come and Go”, featuring Marhsmello. It peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 at number 2 and has stayed on the top 20 for 7 weeks now—a testimony to the loyalty and supportiveness of Juice Wrld’s fan base. According to the New York Times, “‘Legends Never Die,’ compiled from unreleased recordings and featuring guest appearances by Trippie Redd, Marshmello, the pop singer Halsey and others, opened at No. 1 with the equivalent of 497,000 album sales in the United States, according to Nielsen Music. According to Juice WRLD’s record label, Interscope, that is the best opening for a posthumous album since 2Pac’s ‘R U Still Down? (Remember Me)’ in 1997, which the label said started with 549,000” (New York Times). Even after his tragic death, Juice Wrld’s music continues to touch many and change the game. 

Authors: Julian Alcaraz | Staff Writer

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