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Safer At Home Listening – An extensive review of popular music released during quarantine




After Hours

Genre: R&B/Pop

Artist: The Weeknd

Best Songs: Blinding Lights, In Your Eyes, Heartless, Too Late

Review: The Weeknd’s new album, “After Hours”, debuted March 20, 2020, and became an instant hit across the globe making him the #1 ranked artist on Spotify today. Abel Tesfaye (The Weeknd) includes many 80’s vibe synth pop hits everyone loves such as “Blinding Lights”, “In Your Eyes”, and “Save Your Tears”, while also including melodramatic R&B into his album balancing it out with his darker more moody side, thus making it the perfect album to satisfy your music needs as well as a strong contender for album of the year.


Future Nostalgia

Genre: Pop/Dance-Pop

Artist: Dua Lipa

Best Songs: Don’t Start Now, Physical, Levitating, Love Again

Review: On March 27, 2020, the self-deemed “Female Alpha” of the Pop world, Dua Lipa, premiered her second complete album. This disco inspired album with hits like “Don’t Start Now” urges listeners to, as RollingStones said in their review of the album, “Commence your self-isolation dance party immediately.”


The New Abnormal

Genre: Indie Rock

Artist: The Strokes

Best Songs: The Adults Are Talking, Brooklyn Bridge To Chorus, Eternal Summer

Review: “The New Abnormal”, released April 10, 2020, by a band called The Strokes, contains Indie Rock songs many can enjoy. With keyboard sounds and a classic acoustic guitar, The Strokes are able to create instrumentally full songs listeners enjoy.



Genre: HipHop/Rap/Soul

Artist: Childish Gambino

Best Songs: Time, 12.38, 19.10

Review: 3.15.20 is an album where we can see Gambino’s creativity. With features such as 21 Savage on “12.38” and Ariana Grande on “Time”, we get both soulful singing and hip hop lyricism that is present throughout the entire album making for an interesting yet enjoyable experience.



Genre: Pop/R&B

Artist: Rina Sawayama

Best Songs: Bad Friend, XS, Love Me 4 Me

Review: SAWAYAMA, released April 17, 2020, is a unique pop album that separates it from the rest of the pop world. On “XS”, Rina Sawayama includes short heavy rock instrumental breaks providing a different yet satisfying experience that adds to the dramatization of the song. Combined with other R&B/pop songs such as “Bad Friend”, SAWAYAMA provides a pleasantly unique experience for listeners.


A Written Testimony

Genre: HipHop/Rap

Artist: Jay Electronica

Best Songs: Universal Soldier, Shiny Suit Theory

Review: On March 13, 2020, Jay Electronica released his 1st album, “A Written Testimony”, after 10 years of a solo absence in the music industry. This album with classic hip hop sounds and lyricism shows that Jay Electronica could have become a successful hip hop artist had he continued his music career and gives listeners a chance to enjoy what they wanted from him a decade ago.


It Is What It Is

Genre: Funk/R&B/Jazz/Soul

Artist: Thundercat

Best Songs: Funny Thing, Black Qualls, Dragonball Durag

Review: Thundercat’s new album, “It Is What It Is”, released April 3, 2020, features many Funk/R&B tracks such as “Funny Thing”, with Thundercat playing his favorite instrument, the Bass Guitar, throughout the album. The record “It Is What It Is” arrives at a challenging point in Thundercat’s life as according to NME, “In making this ‘sombre record’ his collaborator ‘took the darker path’, referring to the tragic death of Thundercat’s close friend Mac Miller in 2018. “I think the existential dread set in when Mac disappeared,” he told The New York Times recently. “I was faced with a choice — to either follow suit or figure it out. And I guess this is me trying to figure it out.” 


Dark Lane Demo Tapes

Genre: HipHop/R&B

Artist: Drake

Best Songs: Time Flies, Chicago Freestyle, When To Say When, D4L, War

Review: World-known Canadian rapper Drake, released his latest album, “Dark Lane Demo Tapes” on May 1, 2020. This album features classic “Drake Style” rap songs such as “When To Say When” and his previous hit single “Toosie Slide”. Another song,“Time Flies”, is very similar to a past hit of his, “In My Feelings”, but is a lot more reserved and lowkey, just as the rest of the album is altogether. Furthermore, Drake includes a UK drill inspired track called “War”. Although it doesn’t really match the rest of the album, “War” gives Drake a new sound we haven’t seen from him before. It also addresses the strife between him and another Toronto artist, The Weeknd, and that it has since been resolved.


Eternal Atake (Deluxe) – LUV vs. The World 2

Genre: HipHop/TrapRap

Artist: Lil Uzi Vert

Best Songs: P2, Myron, That Way, Baby Pluto, Yessirskiii

Review: On March 13, 2020, Lil Uzi took the world by storm releasing over 30 songs on his “Eternal Atake Deluxe” album. This album features many upbeat hip hop/trap beats with Uzi rapping heavily on all of them. By flooding the industry with 30+ songs like “P2” being the second part of his hit from 2017, XO Tour Life, as well as containing features such as 21 Savage on “Yessirskiii”, Lil Uzi ensures lots of plays, spiking his popularity among listeners worldwide.



Genre: Hardcore HipHop/Rap

Artist: DaBaby

Best Songs: ROCKSTAR

Review: After DaBaby’s widespread popularity after his album release, “KIRK”, in 2019, DaBaby attempts to continue his vision with his new album “BLAME IT ON BABY”. Although this new album isn’t anywhere near as good or as successful as his previous one, we do get to see a different side of DaBaby on his song “ROCKSTAR”. With less hard rap and more singing combined with a lighthearted guitar and his signature heavy beat, we see a side of DaBaby that hasn’t been produced in his music before providing a satisfying change.


Heaven or Hell

Genre: HipHop/R&B

Artist: Don Toliver

Best Songs: Cardigan, No Idea, Can’t Feel My Legs, After Party

Review: Travis Scott’s protegee, Don Toliver, seems to be following in his footsteps on the path to stardom with the release of his new album, “Heaven or Hell”. Don Toliver’s similar sound to Travis Scott featuring heavy synths and misty beats allowed him to catch a lot of praise with his new album. Not only does the album have excellent party songs such as “Cardigan”, or “After Party”, but Don Toliver’s catchy song, “No Idea” spawned millions of videos on TikTok skyrocketing his popularity and making him an artist to watch out for in the coming years.

Empress Of

I’m Your Empress Of

Genre: R&B/Pop

Artist: Empress Of

Best Songs: Give Me Another Chance, Bit Of Rain, U Give It Up

Review: Under the name, Empress Of, Honduran-American vocalist Lorely Rodriguez creates self-empowering electro pop songs centered around her impressive vocals. With fun electro pop beats under her vocals as seen on “Bit Of Rain”, Rodriguez shows that she has a lot of potential to become an impressive voice in the world of Pop music on this new album.


Kid Krow

Genre: Pop

Artist: Conan Grey

Best Songs: Wish You Were Sober, Maniac, Fight or Flight

Review: On Conan Grey’s first full album, “Kid Krow”, he expresses frustrated and confused feelings of love after a breakup with the production of excellent pop songs such as “Wish You Were Sober”, and “Maniac”. With soaring pop anthems and catchy choruses, “Kid Krow” is a must listen and a promising start to what could become a full career for this early popstar.



Genre: R&B



Review: Producer and singer PARTYNEXTDOOR continues his blend of minimal hip hop and R&B on his album PARTYMOBILE, containing many lowkey hip hop songs such as “TRAUMA” and “SAVAGE ANTHEM”. Although PARTYMOBILE lacks variability and a climax, it still has a song for any chill vibe you want to enjoy.


Sweet Action

Genre: HipHop

Artist: Jack Harlow


Review: Jack Harlow’s 7 song EP “Sweet Action” features a few good hip hop tracks starting with his super catchy head boppin’ Hot 100 breakout song, “WHATS POPPIN”.



Genre: R&B

Artist: Jessie Reyez


Review: Post breakup Jessie Reyez’s album “BEFORE LOVE CAME TO KILL US” is full of beautiful vocals and heartfelt instrumentals throughout the entire album that listeners are sure to enjoy. With songs such as “DO YOU LOVE HER” and “FIGURES”, we can experience an emotional journey of Reyez’s feelings throughout the album.



Genre: HipHop/Rap

Artist: Comethazine

Best Songs: LEAD THE RACE, No Front

Review: 21 year old rapper Comethazine continues his trap inspired bass heavy party vision with his new album “Pandemic”. Although it’s not very unique and a bit bland, as almost every song’s beat is the same, but if you’re looking for standard bass heavy rap, look no further. 


The New Toronto 3

Genre: HipHop/Rap

Artist: Torey Lanez

Best Songs: Broke In A Minute, Who Needs Love, Letter To The City 2

Review: Canadian rapper Torey Lanez’s new album “New Toronto 3” features lots of introspective songs where Lanez talks about the problems and challenges he’s faced on songs such as “Letter To The City 2”. By also including other hard rap songs such as “Broke In A Minute”, we get a nice variety of Lanez’s sound as he puts a fresh spin on his classic material in this new album.


Dream Awake

Genre: R&B

Artist: Black Atlass

Best Songs: Do For Love, Night After Night, Sin City

Review: R&B artist Black Atlass shows his incredible sound with the release of his album Dream Awake. With pop style tracks like “Do For Love” and smooth R&B tracks similar to The Weeknd on “Night After Night”, or “Sin City”, Black Atlass shows his variability to go either direction. With more of a specific focus, Black Atlass has great potential to become a breakout star in the music industry.


love is not dying

Genre: Pop

Artist: Jeremy Zucker

Best Songs: comethru, not ur friend, always i’ll care

Review: After settling down in Brooklyn, Jeremy Zucker’s album “love is not dying” is a soft poetic tale that narrates his life-altering decisions in his search for love. With calming melodies and catchy choruses on tracks such as “comethru”, Zucker has created an emotional discography of his pop music with this new album.



Genre: R&B/Soul

Artist: Giveon


Review: Giveon’s first album, “TAKE TIME”, delivers a sensational moment of reflection on love. With his angelic voice singing across tracks such as “LIKE I WANT YOU” as well as being featured on tracks such as Drake’s “Chicago Freestyle”, Giveon is sure to become a popular voice of the music industry in the near future.


A Muse In Her Feelings

Genre: R&B

Artist: dvsn

Best Songs: Friends, Keep It Going, No Good

Review: Produced under Drake’s label, OVO Sound, R&B duo dvsn breath new life into R&B music with the release of their new album, “A Muse In Her Feelings”. With emphatic beats and features such as Jessie Reyez, Future, and Ty Dolla $ign, the duo has created a quality R&B album.




Genre: HipHop/Rap

Artist: THE SCOTTS, Travis Scott, Kid Cudi

Review: After teasing the release of his new song at a live in game Fortnite concert, Travis Scott and Kid Cudi released their single, “THE SCOTTS”, on Friday April 24, 2020. The song is similar to projects on his 2018 “ASTROWORLD” album featuring heavy synths and a futuristic feeling as if you were going to space.



Genre: HipHop/Rap

Artist: G-Eazy, Jack Harlow

Review: After releasing his breakout song “WHATS POPPIN”, Jack Harlow collaborated with G-Eazy to create another song “Moana”. Featuring a similar type of beat to ‘“WHATS POPPIN”, “Moana” is very similar but a bit more lowkey with more melodic rapping than his previous hit single.


Leader Of The Delinquents

Genre: HipHop

Artist: Kid Cudi

Review: Kid Cudi goes back to basic HipHop style with his signature twist on his single “Leader Of The Delinquents”. With bar focused rapping and a classic beat, Cudi raps about his psychological turmoil while flexing his status as the “leader of the delinquents” among the rap world.



Genre: HipHop/Rap

Artist: Juice WRLD

Review: Juice WRLD’s first posthumous single, “Righteous”, was released by his family April 24, 2020. The song was recorded in Juice WRLD’s home studio in LA. It addresses his anxiety and trying to suppress it by self-medicating while also acknowledging the recurring addictions that follow and the problems they cause.


Level of Concern

Genre: Alternative/Indie

Artist: Twenty One Pilots

Review: “Level of Concern” by Twenty One Pilots is a song where Tyler Joseph shares his thoughts on the state of the world during the coronavirus pandemic and the anxiety he is experiencing as a result of it. With a catchy rhythm and chorus, the song serves as a motivational anthem for everyone to get through the pandemic together and that it is ok to worry.


Dear April (Side A – Acoustic)

Genre: R&B

Artist: Frank Ocean

Review: “Dear April” is a lovestruck acoustic melody by Frank Ocean released April 3, 2020. Released alongside another single, “Cayendo”, the two singles may be teases to a third Frank Ocean album that could come later in 2020 which would follow a four year pattern as his other albums, “channel ORANGE” and “Blonde” were released in 2012 and 2016 respectively.



Genre: HipHop/Rap

Artist: NAV, Gunna, Travis Scott

Review: On NAV’s single “Turks”,released March 27, 2020, he collaborates with rap artists Gunna and Travis Scott to create a flowy single with a lot of energy and heavy beats that makes for a great hip hop song.


Take Yourself Home

Genre: Pop

Artist: Troye Sivan

Review: Released April 1, 2020, Troye Sivan went against his label, leaking the single “Take Yourself Home” bringing a more moody, darker tone to synthpop with his mystical chorus.


The Other Side – Ovy On The Drums Remix

Genre: Pop/Dance-Pop

Artist: SZA, Justin Timberlake, Ovy On The Drums

Review: From the “Trolls World Tour Soundtrack”, “The Other Side” is an energetic pop song written by Justin Timberlake. With multiple remixes available, you can find your favorite version of this lively single to enjoy.


Be Kind

Genre: Pop

Artist: Marshmello, Halsey

Review: Released May 1, 2020, Marshmello collaborates with singer Halsey on the track “Be Kind” to deliver an emotional pop song for many to enjoy. 

Samuel Hilsden, Staff Reporter

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Safer At Home Listening – An extensive review of popular music released during quarantine