Taylor Swift’s surprise album “folklore” acts as a sister record for her more recent album “evermore”. (Photo courtsey of Wikipedia )
Taylor Swift’s surprise album “folklore” acts as a sister record for her more recent album “evermore”.

Photo courtsey of Wikipedia

This Is York staff recommdends their top pop culture releases of 2020

December 21, 2020

While COVID-19 made seeing concerts or going to movie theaters nearly impossible, plenty of movies, albums, songs and TV shows made their digital debut in 2020. The ThisIsYork staff chose their favorite pop culture releases of the year, and the music industry dominated the recommendations. Four responses selected Taylor Swift’s new alternative pop era as their favorite release of 2020. Although  “folklore” fever hit the virtual newsroom this year, the staff chose a diverse set of music genres, movies and TV shows to brighten York’s holiday season.

“Folklore”/”Evermore” (Taylor Swift)

Best of 2020 - Abby and Olivia
Album cover for Swift’s “folklore” courtesy of variety.com.


“Taylor embraces indie-folk and alternative rock for one of her newest and most critically acclaimed albums, ‘folklore.’ Each of the nearly 20 songs is a story told through lyrics, and the listener will have fun figuring out which of the stories are interconnected. It’s a fresh, calming take, and, despite her immense popularity, it has an intimate feel. Taylor knocks it out of the park with every album, but ‘folklore’ is just like 2020–unprecedented.” – Janine Ruszkowski

“My favorite pop culture moment of 2020 has to be the two surprise album drops from Taylor Swift. Halfway through what seemed like the toughest year yet, Swift dropped her eighth studio, ‘folklore,’ out of the blue. Then, a few months later, she dropped its sister album, ‘evermore.” I love these new records because they are a unique sound for Swift. Because I am a big fan, it is refreshing to hear.” – Olivia Rosenberg
“Taylor Swift released two albums this year, ‘folklore’ and ‘evermore.’ It was so surprising because she is an artist who usually releases albums at least year or two apart. Not to mention, the topic and genre of the albums differed from her regular type of music. There were very few songs on the album that were actually about her, but, instead, they were about people she talked to during quarantine.” – Hannah Brody
“My favorite pop culture experience of 2020 was definitely Taylor Swift’s release of her album ‘folklore.’ Each song is about a certain story, and they are filled to the brink with hidden Easter eggs and surprises. ‘Folklore’ really helped me during quarantine when I was feeling down about the pandemic, and I was so glad to hear some parts of the old Taylor Swift in her country music-like melodies and stories.” – Abby Conners
“I’m Allergic To Dogs” (Remi Wolf)
Album cover for Remi Wolf’s EP “I’m Allergic to Dogs” courtesy of Island Records.
“My favorite pop culture experience of 2020 was by far ‘I’m Allergic to Dogs’ by Remi Wolf. This EP came out at the end of June, and I’ve had it on repeat ever since. Not one of the five songs on the EP is bad, and I’ve added each of the songs to multiple playlists on my Spotify. Her music is poppy, lively and edgy with catchy, well-phrased lyrics and good vibes for days. If you’re looking for your next music obsession, this one is certainly a good place to start.” – Kathryn King
“Lil Boat 3” (Lil Yahty)
Album cover of Lil Yachty’s “Lil Boat 3” courtesy of complex.com.

“My favorite pop culture experience of 2020 was the release of the album ‘Lil Boat 3.’It had been a hyped-up album release for quite a while, and it did not disappoint whatsoever. It has to be your style of music, but if you like Lil Yachty, or rap/R&B in general, it is certainly at least worth giving it a listen. A lot of other hyped albums this year either did not drop or were disappointing, so I was very happy with this outcome.” –  AJ Swiatek

“Still Goin Down” (Morgan Wallen)

Album cover for country artist Morgan Waller’s “Dangerous” courtesy of Genius.com.

“‘Still Goin Down’ by Morgan Wallen is a great song that has come out of 2020. If you love country music, you have probably heard of the new rising star Morgan Wallen who just came out with a double album. His new song, ‘Still Goin Down,’ is all about being from a small country town and living their best life. It is on the slower side of country but is worth the listen.” – Danielle Stockwell

“JAGUAR” (Victoria Monét)

Album cover of Victoria Monét’s “JAGUAR” courtesy of PitchFork.
“Monét’s 2020 album, ‘JAGUAR,’ is a modern-day R&B masterpiece. The Sacramento singer uses her music to challenge societal norms but also creates an enjoyable listening experience for all. The title song of the album, ‘Jaguar,’ features a powerful, slow beginning, which soon transforms into an upbeat melody, featuring horns and strings. Monét’s music empowers women, BIPOC and anyone else who is willing to give it a listen. ‘I want to do it a million more times,’ Monét said in reference to her album.'” – CeCe Lampa
“Surface Sounds” (KALEO)
Album cover of KALEO’s “Surface Sounds”courtesy of KALEO official website.
“One of my favorite albums to be released this year is ‘Surface Sounds’ by KALEO, an alternative album, for a multitude of reasons. Now only four songs from their album are out, and those four are amazing. I don’t think I can choose a favorite because they all compliment each other so well. But what I really love is this album has been serving as a New Years countdown for me ever since March. The rest of their awesome album is rumored to drop on New Years Eve this year! It’s an incredible idea to begin the new year with new music, and I am so here for it; I’m sure it will be on repeat the minute the clock strikes twelve. Definitely check out Surface Sounds wherever you listen to music, as well as their previous album ‘A/B.'” – Jackie Cimino
“The Junkyard 2” (Penelope Scott)
Album cover of “The Junkyard 2” by Penelope Scott courtesy of genius.com.
“My favorite pop culture experience from 2020 is definitely Penelope Scott’s album ‘The Junkyard 2.’ This album has been on repeat on my phone since it came out. It has great music to play for whenever you want to have a dance party alone in your room if you’re, I don’t know, stuck in quarantine or something. It’s full of angsty and angry at the world songs, which at least for me, were very fitting throughout 2020.” – Milan Sasaki
“Punisher” (Phoebe Bridgers)
Album cover of Phoebe Bridger’s sophomore album “Punisher” courtesy of Pitchfork.

“‘Punisher’ is one of those rare albums that demands to be listened to over and over again. Bridgers’ soft and earnest lyrics propel the album forward from the very beginning through themes of love and loss with refreshing honesty. Standout tracks like ‘Savior Complex’ and ‘Halloween’ beg the listener to question their intentions and who they are in a world full of people wearing masks. And in a year full of chaos and uncertainty, Bridgers’ singing on the climactic final track ‘I Know the End’ feels almost prophetic.” – Lucas Freitag

“Bridgers’ music, from her first solo album ‘Stranger In The Alps’ to her group endeavor boy genius, has a optimistic nihilism; her songs are saturated with a feeling that life will never get better but a hope that it just might. However, ‘Garden Song’ follows the growth and beauty that can come out of intolerance and hardship, a sentiment we can all appreciate after a difficult year. Admittedly, Taylor Swift’s ‘betty’ holds the title for my top song of the year, but it feels misguided to not recommend Bridger’s philosophically personal ‘Garden Song’ in 2020.” – Lucy Valeski
“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” (Larry Charles)
Promotional image for the acclaimed “Borat” sequel, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” courtesy of BroBible.com.

“My favorite pop culture experience this year was probably Sacha Baron Cohen’s ‘Borat Subsequent Moviefilm’, the sequel to his first Borat film from 2006. Cohen not only found a new actor, Maria Bakalova, to match his wild energy but also really exposed some of the craziest and sometimes uncomfortable parts of our country. His movie, a sort of mockumentary, involves Cohen traveling around the country in character as Borat, meeting real people and getting into all sorts of really crazy situations. His second movie especially took on a more serious tone in showing a lot of the turmoil in America this year, so I recommend watching the first movie before getting to the second one.” – Mustafa Valika

“The Mandalorian Season Two” (Disney)

Poster for season two of Disney’s “The Mandalorian” courtesy of  thedirect.com.

“My favorite pop culture experience of 2020 was the hit TV show ‘The Mandalorian,” Season Two. ‘The Mandalorian’ is a bounty hunter who goes from planet to planet protecting this ‘child’ from the remnants of the Empire. ‘The Mandalorian’ is full of action, insane references to the Star Wars legends and canon, and has a lot of emotional value to it. The acting is top-notch as we see actors such as Pedro Pascal, Giancarlo Esposito, and others; the show doesn’t produce anything other than perfection each and every time.” – Justin Tait

“EMMA” (Autumn de Wilde)

Poster of Autumn de Wilde’s adaptation of “Emma” courtesy of fandangonow.com.

“‘EMMA’ is adapted from Jane Austen’s ‘Emma.’ It came out earlier this year, with main actors including Anya-Taylor Joy, Miranda Hart and Bill Nighy. The movie portrays many young, and old, actors who are relatively knew in the film industry. The setting and costume design in the movie is beautiful, and the writers didn’t veer too far from the original book, so the story is good; it’s both witty and thoughtful, all while the main character, Emma Woodhouse, learns an important lesson not to meddle in other people’s affairs.” – Phoebe Stergios

“Indian Matchmaking” (Netflix)

Promotional cover for Netflix series “Indian Matchmaking” courtesy of noborders.in.

“Netflix series ‘Indian Matchmaking’ gives you an inside look on arranged marriages in India with a glamorous touch. The show spotlights different Indian clients who are assisted by Sima Taparia, India’s top matchmaker, to find a suitable spouse. The series, although cringeworthy at times, is entertaining and full of culture. The matchmaker uses astrology, fate and a little luck to find the perfect matches.” – Isabel Kachappilly

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