Marking the end of a decade, 2020 has brought to light a variety of new music, and has simultaneously reminded us why music from previous decades has remained classic. The music industry is filled with endless genres and subgenres, however, a handful of records have seen an unmatched level of success, even moving in 2020. These records stand out amongst the rest and have continued to unify the world despite differences in musical preference. Without further adieu, here are the top vinyl records you should have in 2020 when listening to music at home:
Pet Sounds - The Beach Boys (1966)
“Wouldn’t it be nice” to start the list of top vinyl records with a timeless and classic album from the mid 60’s? This album is considered one of the most progressive, especially at the time of its release. Over the years, Pet Sounds has proven this progressiveness by remaining a top vinyl record even in 2020. Brian Wilson, the producer and writer of the album, used Pet Sounds to help shape the future of music by influencing other major bands to follow. In addition to this, the album also remains a classic emblem of pop music, representing the youthful culture of adolescents. Pet Sounds is timeless in the sense that it reinstills feelings of youth and the process of growth, as the soundtrack is laid out to depict the transition from adolescence to adulthood.
Blonde on Blonde - Bob Dylan (1966)
In the same year that Pet Sounds was released, Bob Dylan released Blonde on Blonde. Dylan began working on the album in New York City but struggled to find success in the composition of the album. After many failed attempts, Dylan and his band members headed down to Nashville, Tennessee, otherwise known as the Music City, and completed the album in just seven days. This change of scenery provided Dylan with the missing, core piece of the album, country blues, which tied the legendary lyricism to the sound it needed. With this change, Dylan pushed beyond the genre of folk rock music in a way that the music industry had never seen before. Through this album, Dylan mastered the art of communicating with his audience through his powerful lyrics that continuously resonate with the public today.
Abbey Road - The Beatles (1969)
A masterpiece that you may recognize from its notorious and iconic cover art is Abbey Road by The Beatles. As this album was created shortly after Pet Sounds was released, there was a direct influence that the Beach Boys and The Beatles had on one another. At the time Abbey Road was released, The Beatles were on the verge of splitting up and this album was the final work of art recorded by all four members of the band. With that said, the album has been deemed a staple among the Beatles’ many successes as a group. Still to this day, the album remains a top charting vinyl record as it embodies the Beatles’ unique influence on the rock genre.
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars - David Bowie (1972)
One of the most progressive albums for it’s time was The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. This album not only introduced the Woodstock era, but it also captured the essence of David Bowie and the fluidity of his artistry through his radical alter ego, Ziggy Stardust. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars portrays the transition from the classic rock genre to the new age rock of the early 70’s and the Woodstock era. David Bowie’s longevity was an outcome of this album, where his innovation pushed the boundaries of rock music and shaped the future of every genre thereafter.
Rumours - Fleetwood Mac (1977)
The rumours are true, this album by Fleetwood Mac is a momentous piece that remains spinning on turntables even 40 years after its release. Filled with soothing, warm sounds that are best experienced through a vinyl record player, Rumours, Fleetwood Mac’s eleventh album, rose to the top charts quickly. Filled with expressions of love and loss, this album continues to be relatable, allowing listeners to resonate with universal feelings of love and heartbreak. The chemistry shared between the band members during the composition of this album has led to great successes over the years, with Rumours being one of the most monumental in Fleetwood Mac’s career.
Graceland - Paul Simon (1986)
If you want to start a record collection, this next one is a must-have. More of a theatrical and abstract album, Graceland plays with South African sounds to create an upbeat and lighthearted piece. Recorded in South Africa, this album brought new sounds to American music and revolutionized pop music in the mid 80’s. With that said, Graceland sparked controversy due to claims of cultural appropriation through the use of South African sounds. Perhaps partially due to the mixed opinions regarding the album, it succeeded nonetheless and acted as an innovative approach when it came to intertwining sounds from across the globe. As this type of music was unheard of at the time, it’s creativity stood out among the rest and continues to be an influential piece of work, popularizing the integration of unique sounds.
Nevermind - Nirvana (1991)
One of the most famous alternative vinyl records well known for its iconic artwork is Nirvana’s album Nevermind. Not only did this album heavily influence alternative rock and grunge music of the 90’s, it also acted as a means of self-expression relatable to rebellious youth. Despite branching out and taking an innovative turn on grunge rock music, Nevermind broke the mold imposed by mainstream media at the time and gave a voice to those who were not as widely represented in pop culture. Even in 2020, Nevermind remains a top charting album appreciated by music lovers of all genres.
The Chronic - Dr. Dre (1992)
As for hip hop music, Dr. Dre’s The Chronic album was highly influential when released in the early 90’s, contributing to the overall progression of this type of music at the time. In the same year as the LA riots, The Chronic topped the charts, addressing many politically charged issues while simultaneously giving a voice to those who resonated with the heightened tensions at the time. Dr. Dre’s use of instrumental sampling and soulful lyricism transformed gangster rap into a genre that soon became appreciated by a large audience. To this day, The Chronic is considered one of hip hop’s highest ranking albums due to its everlasting relevance and exciting composition.
The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill - Lauryn Hill (1998)
In seeking a solo career, Lauryn Hill released The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, a neo soul and R&B album in the late 90’s. This work of art is a lyrical demonstration of various life lessons and experiences that had inspired Hill over the years. This album is notable for many reasons, but especially monumental in the aspect that it paved the way for female artists, specifically in the world of hip hop. Breaking records and setting the bar high for existing artists and those to follow soon after, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill stands as a legendary masterpiece that has withstood the test of time.
Back to Black - Amy Winehouse (2006)
Amy Winehouse released her final studio album Back to Black in the early 2000’s expanding the genre of neo soul immensely. What brought this album to fame was the depth, honesty, and rawness of the lyrics along with the powerful embodiment of soul. In Back to Black, Winehouse opens up about her life struggles in a way that moves listeners even if they can’t fully relate. Although Winehouse was ultimately unable to overcome these demons that she wrote about, she lives on to this day through the emotions of this powerfully beautiful album.
Currents - Tame Impala (2015)
More contemporarily, Tame Impala, otherwise known as Kevin Parker, has made a recent rise to fame, and for good reason. Dissimilar to any specific genre, Currents was curated as an album that dives deeper than lyricism alone. The album plays with psychedelic pop sounds that allow the listener to get lost in the depth of each song. As a breakup album that sheds light on self-discovery rather than heartbreak, it’s no wonder why this Coachella headlining artist has made an album worthy of a top vinyl record title.
Billie Eilish - When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? (2019)
Finally, and perhaps most relevant regarding top vinyl records in 2020, we present Billie Eilish’s debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? Written and produced in her bedroom alongside her brother Finneas, seventeen year old Billie Eilish created an award-winning album that has been at the forefront of the music scene since it’s release. Expanding upon the electropop genre, Eilish has consistently broken records over the past year solely as a result of the albums debut. With that said, many see the same innovation and talent that Eilish possesses in comparison to the groundbreaking artists that came before her time. In this album, Eilish highlights her vulnerable yet emotionally intense voice through powerful lyricism and original beats.
Listening to These Top Vinyl Records
Each of these musical masterpieces may differ in genre, sound, and composition, however, they all have one thing in common - they sound best when listened to on a vinyl record player. Victrola offers a wide range of vinyl record players that offer superior sound quality and timeless aesthetic. From modern to vintage styles, Victrola provides a record player for every music enthusiast out there, no matter how diverse their musical preference and record collection may be.
Not only do vinyl record players give you an aesthetically pleasing way in which to showcase your record collection, they also provide the utmost quality when it comes to sound. Vinyl records accompany timeless sound with that of warmth and depth. So gather the top vinyl records and sit back and enjoy!