A Search For An Anthem For 2020: 45 Songs To Describe This Year
If I hear one more time, I hope 2021 will be better than 2020, I may scream. Of course, 2020 sucked because of the pandemic, but a lot of things happened, it was still a very interesting year. It was actually strange because we all had the impression that nothing was happening like in the Nine Inch Nails song, ‘Every Day Is Exactly the Same,’ while a lot actually happened. This song could certainly be an anthem for 2020, no doubt about it, but it’s a year difficult to define by one single mood. This is a search for an anthem for 2020.
First, we had a lockdown, that started in March and all the different feelings associated with such a dramatic change in our lives, from Joy Division’s ‘Isolation,’ to Styx’s ‘Too Much Time on my Hands’ and to The Beatles’ ‘Help’ in the most difficult moments. But in the end, it was just ‘Lonely Day’ by System of a Down.
Then it was all this madness with this new disease, this new virus, it was mysterious and unknown, so we went from ‘Mystery Disease’ by MGMT to ‘Corona’ by Minutemen to ‘Panic’ by The Smiths. All the new protocols kept changing, new rules came and plenty of people didn’t want to follow them. But for many it was ‘Every Breath You Take’ and ‘Don’t Stand so Close to Me’ by The Police, ‘Spreading the Disease’ by Queensrÿche, ‘U Can’t Touch This’ by MC Hammer, everything was already written in the songs.
A lot of people got sick, hospitals got overwhelmed, and the soundtrack of these spring months was going from ‘Somebody Get Me a Doctor’ by Van Halen, to ‘Down with the Sickness’ by Disturbed, it even became ‘Highway to Hell’ by AC/DC for some, while, for the frontline workers, it was 24/7 ‘Under Pressure’ by David Bowie and Queen. This virus stopped the world for good and all we were trying to do is ‘Stayin’ Alive’ by Bee Gees but most of us were just staying ‘Comfortably Numb’ by Pink Floyd.
It didn’t take very long for all the conspiracy theories to start, I saw the worst of the worst, the craziest of the craziest, and soon the world around me was insane. It could have been ‘Mad World’ by Tears for Fears, ‘Silly Thing’ by the Sex Pistols, ‘Crazy’ by Gnarls Barkley, and everywhere I looked I didn’t recognize people, the soundtrack of these times was going from ‘What’s Going On’ by Marvin Gaye to ‘Government Flu’ by Dead Kennedys and definitively ‘People are Strange’ by the Doors or ‘American Idiot’ by Green Day.
The government was useless, inefficient, incompetent, their attitude was ‘Live and Let Die’ by Paul McCartney, a song that Trump actually used for one of his stunts.
Summer and fall were the seasons of protests, and the Black Lives Matter protests defined these hot months. Soon it was the revolution, the spirit you find in songs like Steve Earle’s ‘The Revolution Starts Now’ or The Beatles’ ‘Revolution.’ The soundtrack was endless, from the old classics, ‘Fight for Your Right’ by the Beastie Boys, ‘Take the Power Back’ or ‘Killing in The Name’ by Rage Against The Machine, ‘Fight The Power’ by Public Enemy and of course ‘Fuck Tha Police’ by N.W.A. Of course, we also had the new ‘This Is America’ by Childish Gambino and the very appropriate ‘Fuck Donald Trump’ by YG. The Revolution was overwhelmingly televised despite what Gil Scott-Heron’s song says.
Then came the election and time for a big change, people voted in mass, people fought for their rights and it worked with an empowering soundtrack, from ‘Campaign Speech’ by Eminem, to ‘Election Day’ by The Replacements, to ‘Power to the People’ by John Lennon, to ‘Know Your Rights’ by The Clash, to finally ‘The Times They Are a-Changin’’ by Bob Dylan.
We are back to a stay-at-home for some time until we get a vaccination, but there is hope with all these new vaccines in a near-future… but on New Year Eve, we are not celebrating together as we are used to, and the government still refuses to give any financial help. Plenty of people feel depressed, dispirited. We are back, stuck at home. Moods go from ‘All by Myself’ by Eric Carmen, ‘Dancing with Myself’ by Billy Idol, to ‘Where Have All the Good Times Gone’ by Van Halen, to ‘The Thrill is Gone’ by B.B. King… I know we are not back to normal and it might take a while. But at least, R.E.M. put it perfectly, ‘It’s the End of The World as We Know It.’