Musical Musings 2020: Kristin Smith’s Year-End Picks

Ah, 2020. What. A. Year. But while COVID-19 may have squelched a lot of things, it certainly hasn’t put a stop to music. Movie theaters may be shutting down left and right, but artists are still putting out just as many tunes as ever. And this year, we here at Plugged In are offering your family the music that has made the top of our list. (With all the caveats, of course. Check out our full reviews for the whole scoop.)

Lecrae, Restoration: Lecrae dropped his 10th studio album called Restoration in August of 2020. All 14 tracks offer a vulnerable, honest work that transparently confesses Lecrae’s transgressions, including past references of smoking, promiscuity and violence. And twice he abbreviates profanities without actually saying them. But the beauty here doesn’t just lie in that confession. It lies in each verse that’s crafted to reach out to fellow strugglers with broken hopes in order that they, too, might know the only Savior who can make them whole again.

NEEDTOBREATHE, Out of Body: This well-known Christian rock band released their seventh studio album this year and, man, was it good. A collection of 11 songs, Out of Body is a blend of rock and folk, laced with other musical hints. It looks introspectively at purpose and passion and examines a desperate need for God and the intricates of family and friendship. It also encourages us to reach for hope amidst the hardships of life as we’re taken on a journey that proclaims that healing and wonder are found in the arms of a Savior.

Billie Eilish, “My Future”: Before you freak out, I know what you’re thinking: Why is Billie Eilish on this list? It’s a reasonable question. As talented as she is, Eilish has put out a ton of questionable, cautionary music. But this song stood out in a positive way. “My Future” is a step in a lyrically positive direction. With vibes of R&B and jazz, this song is all about checking a dysfunctional relationship at the door as Eilish learns to love herself while looking forward to her future.

Justin Bieber, Changes: Topping the charts from the moment of its release, Justin’s first album in five years is composed of 17 R&B infused songs. As the title suggests, these songs talk in depth about Justin’s positive, personal changes, including his marriage to Hailey Baldwin and his deepened relationship with God. But it’s not all squeaky clean. There are a few profanities and references to drinking. And there’s a whole lotta discussion about what goes on behind closed doors between Justin and his new bride. Still, this album shows that the star has made some changes for the better.

Jason Mraz, Look for the Good: Jason Mraz is no stranger to optimism. And his latest album proves just that. This singer-songwriter’s unabashed commitment to positivity shines throughout his groove-filled tracks. Steeped in a smooth reggae vibe, his songs center on messages of love and kindness. There are a few light profanities and a few references to mother nature, physical intimacy, and illicit substances. But those aspects aside, this effort is really a reminder for listeners to pay attention to all the positive things happening around them. And that’s a message we could all use this year.

Kristin Smith

Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).

2 Responses

  1. -I’ve barely bought any brand new releases this year but out of the few CDs I actually did get this year Derek Webb’s Targets is my favorite with Stone Temple Pilots Perdida and Neil Young’s Return to Greendale coming in close behind. I also got Garth Brooks Fun which is pretty good in my opinion and I definitely look forward to hearing Miley’s plastic hearts cd as soon as I get it from Amazon.

    1. -I got Miley’s album today, only heard it once but can already tell it’s a worthwhile album. Part 80s rocker chick part emotionally vulnerable it’s a really nice listen and having her best song in years on it midnight sky certainly helps things. All in all another home run from Miley. 😄

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