Best of 2020

Brennan Atkins – Best animated show of 2020

“Animaniacs” has always been a show that can appeal to both children and adults. You get silly songs and cartoon slapstick for the kids, but also, a satire that often mocks American politics for the parents.

There is an abundance of shows that try and deliver politically correct messages, and unfortunately, it blows up in their face when parents say that their show is becoming too “political.”

The Animaniacs genuinely do not care if you disagree with their message, and frankly, if you disagree with them, you are more than likely a character who would be goofed on by the Warner siblings.

These messages aren’t soft either – equal rights, social media, and even a clever allusion to gun violence in an episode titled “Bun Control,” are all topics tackled in a very respective manner, while also being hilarious.

The music in “Animaniacs” is almost as popular as the show itself, and the highlights of this show are most definitely the profoundly woke songs present in the episodes. My personal favorite takes place in episode one, in which Yacko, Whacko, and Dot accuse reboots of being soulless cash grabs, and calls out some of the biggest companies in the entertainment industry today.

If you are even a little bit of a fan of the original series, then I highly recommend you watch the new Hulu reboot, as the Animaniacs are crazier and zanier than ever.


Caroline Gordon – Best album of 2020

If you know me, you know I love rock music. Usually, I dig through Spotify for classics such as Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones. Recently, I started listening to AC/DC and I loved their new album, “POWER UP.”

Before listening to this album, I rarely listened to AC/DC. The only song I knew off the top of my head was “Hells Bells.”

After listening to this album, particularly the song, “Shot in the Dark,” which is my new gym jam, I consider myself an AC/DC fan.

The lyrics rhyme such as, “Yeah electric sparks / A shot in the dark / Beats a walk in the park, yeah.” I find these lines particularly enjoyable because they don’t have any deeper meaning and they added “beats a walk in the park” solely because it rhymed.

Despite the lyrics not offering much other than a crazy night, the song itself is thrilling.

Similar to other AC/DC songs, “Shot in the Dark” begins with just the sound of an electric guitar building up to the vocals.

Besides “Shot in the Dark,” another favorite from this album is “Realize.”

Similar to “Shot in the Dark” there is a lot of rhyming. But, I prefer the words used in this song such as spine, hypnotize, and paradise as they are not as bland as the lyrics in “Shot in the Dark.”

These two songs are now at the top of my playlists, and I don’t feel outdated listening to 70‘s music.

“POWER UP” is the best rock album of 2020.


Caroline Gordon – Best show

Although there were many shows released in 2020, I have to pick the Netflix thriller, “The Haunting of Bly Manor” as the best show of the year.

With only nine episodes, the season’s drama, chilling tales, and quirky characters, kept my eyes glued to the screen.

The plot focused on a young woman who is plagued by the trauma of witnessing her fiance get hit by a bus. She is an American nanny who moves to England to take care of the children whose parents are recently deceased.

During her time as a nanny, she has bizarre encounters with the children as they start to act out violently and talk about interacting with ghosts.

This series does not shy away from representing diverse kinds of romantic relationships. The nanny falls in love with the gardener, who is also a woman. Two of the other main characters working at the manor, start an interracial relationship. These different demonstrations of what love looks like makes this show relatable to all.

I enjoyed this series because it was not only scary and thrilling, but it was heartwarming as the strong relationships were central to the plot.

The acting, especially by the young children, was incredible.

Amelie Bea Smith, the actress who plays the little girl, Flora, has acting skills beyond her age group, making the show more dramatic.

Victoria Pedretti’s performance as the nanny, Dani, is realistic as she manages to cope with the death of her fiance, while also exploring her sexuality.

This is a must-see and easily the best show of 2020!


Jared Graf – Best album

If you haven’t heard of The Kid LAROI yet, you will soon enough.

With more monthly Spotify listeners than Kendrick Lamar or Jay-Z, the Australian emo-rock-pop-rapper was catapulted into the spotlight mid-2020 after the release of his debut mixtape, “F*CK LOVE (SAVAGE).”

The project is the 17-year-old’s coming-of-age story – as he spills his thoughts and emotions into lyrics you can feel.

On songs like “I WISH” and “SO DONE,” LAROI croons with conviction about failed relationships and comes to terms with heartbreak.

Although The Kid’s lyrics are often subpar and surface level, his ability to resonate with his audience through catchy melodies and infectious instrumentals compensates for any shortcomings. “NEED YOU MOST” and “NOT FAIR” are direct reflections of this.

With generally short run times, “F*CK LOVE” holds attention and retains its replay value without becoming repetitive. The project is more pop than hip-hop – but with melodies so versatile and captivating it doesn’t matter what the genre is.

Songs such as “TELL ME WHY,” “ERASE U,” and “MAYBE” show off the young artist’s impressive vocal range and should be played at full volume.

LAROI taps Lil Mosey, Juice WRLD, and Machine Gun Kelly for guest verses, while Benny Blanco, Scott Storch, Taz Taylor, and other big names handle production.

Whether you can relate to The Kid or not, one thing is for certain – you will be singing along with him.

“F*CK LOVE (SAVAGE)” solidifies a spot for LAROI in the budding world of emo-rap and serves as an integral piece of what seems to be a promising career.


Emily Rosenberg – Best show of 2020

The first season of “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” premiered on Jan. 7,  giving us a little bit of nostalgia for when we were obsessed with “Glee.”

Zoey is a programmer who, after experiencing an earthquake during an MRI, discovers she can hear people’s innermost thoughts through songs. Suddenly, her best friend, played by Skylar Astin, the “Pitch Perfect” heartthrob, is singing “Sucker” to Zoey in the middle of a department meeting, and her father, who was diagnosed with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy and cannot move or speak, is dancing around the living room singing “True Colors.”  

We’re also blessed with more silly performances when some dopey male programmers bust out “Jesus Christ SuperStar” in reaction to their Mark Zuckerburg-like CEO arriving at the office and Lauren Graham as the sassy, no-BS boss hilariously performing her rendition of “I Can’t Get No (Satisfaction).” 

Choreographed by Mandy Moore, the songs are performed with authenticity – most actors’ inner voices are raw and not broadway ready – emphasizing how music has the ability to express our most simple and intense desires. 

Throughout the show, Zoey’s gift allows her to help others and understand those around her as she navigates her father’s illness, being a woman in tech – and a frustrating love triangle. As a bonus, Alex Newell gives a glamorous performance as Zoey’s apartment neighbor and the only person who knows about her powers. 

You can stream the first season now on Hulu and there is a new episode of the second season every Tuesday on NBC. 


Cara McCarthy – Best album of 2020

While 2020 may not have been the best year for us as people, pop-punk band All Time Low brought us something to lift fans’ spirits when the COVID-19 pandemic started – “Wake Up, Sunshine.”

Alex Gazkarth, Jack Barakat, Rian Dawson, and Zack Merrick came together for their eighth studio album and once again did not disappoint their fans.

Not only was the album itself well written, carefully composed, and screamed nostalgic vibes for their older fans, it also gave them their second highest charting song of their 15-year long career as a band with the single, “Monsters” featuring blackbear.

The song showcases the band’s dynamic rhythm with Gazkarth’s powerful vocals on the chorus. “I’m wondering, why do all the monsters come out at night? / Why do we sleep where we want to hide? / Why do I run back to you, like I don’t mind if you f*** up my life?”

The band decided once the pandemic hit that they would release their album earlier and every week would hold Instagram Live sessions – called “FANDEMIC” streams – with their fans to debut each song on the album. Once the band made its way through the album, it was released to the public on April 3.

In an interview, Gazkarth said the “FANDEMIC” streams “felt like Christmas” because the band was able to witness their fans’ first impressions of the album live.


Patrick Brady – Best film of 2020

“Death to 2020” is a Netflix original film from the creators of the hit series, “Black Mirror.”

Rather than focusing on the Sci-Fi genre, the film moves into comedy territory. Led by a superb cast, the film is reminiscent of “The Onion,” which satirizes the real – and fake – events of 2020.

“Death to 2020” is a parody of modern-day politics. Most of the content covered ranges from somewhat realistic to absolutely absurd.

The film is downright hilarious and offensive at the same time. In other words, it does not take itself seriously whatsoever.

Even when covering the more serious topics, the film succeeds in being funny, but also somewhat mean-spirited. In all honesty, I could tell that “Death to 2020” would not sit well with Trump supporters after the first few minutes.

While some may find the social commentary irritating, I found it insanely hysterical.