Published Jan 22, 2021Last year was a weird one for music lovers and movie watchers. Lockdown meant that we had more time than ever for entertainment — but the many delays and cancellations meant that there was less new content than usual.
Still, audiences found plenty of great new releases to enjoy in 2020, including politically charged albums that spoke to social upheaval, fantasy TV shows that offered escape from reality, and a Hollywood action epic that stood as one of the year's only blockbuster movies. Plus, with live shows on hold, audiences tuned in to artists' online livestreams.
Here are the highlights from Exclaim!'s 2020 Readers Poll — and be sure to scroll to the end to find out which old albums and movies our readers were revisiting this year.
What was your favourite album of 2020?
1. Run the Jewels – RTJ4
2. The Weeknd – After Hours
3. Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher
4. AC/DC – POWER UP
5. Taylor Swift – folklore
Which Canadian act had the best 2020?
1. The Weeknd
What was your favourite film of 2020?
2. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
3. Palm Springs
4. i'm thinking of ending things
5. Da 5 Bloods
What was your favourite TV series of 2020?
1. The Mandalorian
2. The Queen's Gambit
2. Schitt's Creek
4. The Boys
5. The Crown
Who was your favourite comedian of 2020?
1. Dave Chappelle
2. John Mulaney
3. Bill Burr
4. Kevin Hart
5. Jim Gaffigan
Who did your favourite livestream performance of 2020?
3. Dan Mangan
4. The Dirty Nil
5. Phoebe Bridgers
8. What's an old album or movie you found yourself going back to in 2020, and why?
"AC/DC's Back in Black....lost my virginity to that album...still get turned on when I listen to it."
"[Public Enemy's] Fear of a Black Planet — as BLM was occurring (and still is), I needed music that shared my anger and frustration."
"Rewatched Community now that it's on Netflix. Super interesting to see what has aged well (the high-concept comedy) and not so much (the 'ironic' racist jokes and Blackberry phones)."
"Raffi on vinyl from my childhood — my 3-year-old is spinning some vinyl now."
"Danny Michel's Feather, Fur & Fin. Not for any particular reason, but I was sorting my CD discography and threw this album on. It has some of his most underrated songs. The title track has the line 'I swam the ocean reef but the coral all was grey.' It just breaks my heart."
"The Weakerthans' Left and Leaving... the surprise end of a 15-year relationship sent me back to this classic album of sorrow and Canadiana."
"High School Musical because i missed out on the last moments of high school due to COVID-19."
"Modest Mouse's The Lonesome Crowded West. I found myself coming back to this album because the premise of the album rang true in 2020, particularly as a Westerner (Saskatchewan). Lonesome in lockdown, crowded when attempting to socially distance, even claustrophobic in situations where I typically wasn't in years past. Several lyrics on the album became more relatable than ever 23 years later. 'Do you need a lot of what you got to survive?' — do you have enough toilet paper?? 'The malls are soon to be ghost towns' — true for several years now, even truer in 2020. The relatability goes on and on: finding rare and sought-after convenient parking in the ghostly Saskatoon downtown, finding myself a long-distance drunk from my friends on Zoom parties, the shit luck we were all blessed with to struggle through this pandemic year, and I think many of us found ourselves tryin' to drink away the part of the day that we could not sleep away in lockdown. 2020 was a year where God took care of himself, and you of you. The Lonesome Crowded West was a 2020 anthem. All that, and I just like 'Doin' the Cockroach.'"