Now a few months into the 2020s, the promise of new music to come leaves open millions of possibilities. How will the music of the new decade sound? What is it going to say? Who are its stars going to be? Will we see any big movements the equivalent of, say, 90’s Britpop or 80’s new wave?
One thing that is more certain, however, is the need for musicians to innovate. In a saturated musical climate, it is vital for them to stand apart from both their contemporaries and their predecessors so that the sound of this decade is different from decades gone by. What a waste it would be, if we were to be stuck in the past, lost in nostalgia instead of focusing on the present and future of music.
So, who is going to be leading the charge? Who will be kick-starting the innovation? Here are a few names who are pushing music forward right now, and will continue to do so in the months or even years to come.
The 2020s will mark the moment when Generation Z comes of age and matures into adults. Our generation will soon rule the airwaves, so what will we use our platform for?
23-year-old Yungblud has a few ideas. This guy is a figurehead for the youth who have something to say and demand to be listened to: his lyrics delve into topics like gun violence, mental health and date rape as well as more personal matters of the heart. All of this is paired with a sound that dips its toes into rock, pop and rap in equal measure, baiting the mainstream while also drawing interest from alternative circles.
Nobody has an aesthetic quite like his either, characterised by pink socks and makeup, he even played the main stage at Reading Festival last year wearing a dress to give the gender binary a kicking while he was starting mosh pits in the crowds. He’s rubbed shoulders with the likes of Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds, blackbear and one-time girlfriend Halsey, and was shortlisted for BBC Sound of 2020. The future, it seems, is Yungblud’s for the taking.
less influence from the bosses in suits could improve the authenticity of modern music
Music has often been interwoven with other forms of art – films, for example, and particularly in recent years, video games. One combination we haven’t really seen, however, is music and comic books, and that’s where the incredible artistic endeavours of Lights comes in.
The Canadian singer-songwriter released a series of comic books to accompany her most recent album Skin and Earth, which are set in a dystopian future rife with inequality and environmental destruction. The music and comics communicate with each other in a way art forms have never done before: each song on the album corresponds with one of the six issues of the comic.
What is even more impressive is that Lights did everything in the comics – writing the stories, creating the drawings and lettering – herself, alongside writing and performing the accompanying music. Her work beckons a new lease of creativity within the music industry that is a shining example for others to follow – perhaps this is what we can expect to see more of in 2020, especially when she releases new music.
WHILE SHE SLEEPS
Innovation within the world of music might not necessarily just come from the evolution of its sound but in its distribution. This decade might be the decade where more bands follow the path of Sheffield metallers While She Sleeps, who left their record label and released their third record You Are We as a completely independent band.
This bold move allowed them to take back complete control of their music, which was funded through a PledgeMusic campaign and recorded in a warehouse the band built themselves. You Are We hit the Top 10 – impressive for a metal band, let alone an independent one – bringing them a new level of success that only continued with the release of last year’s follow up So What?
From this, it appears that a major label’s backing might not be necessary anymore for bands to make it big, and you might even argue that less influence from the bosses in suits could improve the authenticity of modern music. Perhaps this decade marks the moment where the DIY ethos of the punk and metal scenes will go mainstream, and in a big way.