HINDSIGHT 2020: Music Highs & Lows

2020

“Lowkey f**k 2020 / I don't know about everybody else / but I think that I am kinda done / Can we just get to 2021?” - Avenue Beat

Let’s all agree that 2020 was a terrible year, a fuoco nel cassonetto, a gigantskiy besporyadok, a sådan skitshow… well, you get the idea.

The global pandemic claimed far too many lives, crushed the economy and forever changed the way we live.

This time last year, butter knives were the only super spreaders; wearing a mask inside a bank would trigger a silent alarm; and banging pots on your balcony would get you a reprimand from the condo association.

MORE: Full Coverage Of COVID-19's Impact On Music

But, no matter how much of a seau de merde this year turned out to be, we did our best to cope.

We started new hobbies (baking bread, knitting, stockpiling toilet paper) and kicked pointless habits (blowing out candles on a cake, wearing pants).

We discovered things we took for granted (teachers, hugs, Dolly Parton), things we never knew we needed (food couriers, Zoom, boxed wine) and things we now know we never needed (handshakes, buffets, Quibi).

We identified the things we’re going to want less of going forward (cruises, drinking fountains, Donald Trump) and the things we’re going to want a lot more of (dinner parties, casual sex, hand sanitizers that don’t smell like a dog's breath).

More importantly, we rightfully elevated essential workers and health care providers to superhero status. We were reminded of the value of empathy as we reached out to help people. We experienced how much better it feels to do nice things than to collect nice things.

Though 2020 was undeniably a lío caliente, music kept us going. It was an escape from reality when we needed it most. It was the soundtrack to our isolation and grief. It brought us together when we had no choice but to be apart.

Since we couldn’t pack into arenas and fields with strangers to experience the power of live music, we stayed connected with virtual concerts and livestreams – which made us realize how much we miss packing into arenas and fields with strangers to experience the power of live music.

MORE: Bookmark iHeartRadio Music News

Music was so much more than a distraction in 2020. It was a salve. For so many, it was a saviour.

Dua Lipa gave us an excuse to dance like no one was watching at a time when we wished someone was watching. The Weeknd took us for a thrill ride with “Blinding Lights" (which came out in late 2019). Taylor Swift warmed our hearts with a comforting “Cardigan.” Justin Bieber reminded us that we were not alone in feeling “Lonely.” With “Rain on Me,” Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande had us shouting “bring it on, 2020!” Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion, in “WAP,” got us thinking about cats left out in the rain (that’s so not what the song is about - ed.).

As this annus horribilis comes to an end, may we remember the words of Friedrich Nietzsche in 1888’s Twilight of the Idols and Kelly Clarkson from 2002’s American Idol: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

So, to you, 2020, we say: “You think you got the best of me / Think you had the last laugh / Bet you think that everything good is gone / Think you left me broken down … Baby you don't know me, 'cause you're dead wrong.”

HIGHS & LOWS

The year started with so much promise.

We learned that Jann Arden was going to be inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame; Joni Mitchell’s 1969 album Clouds was headed for the Grammy Hall of Fame; Mariah Carey was being added to the Songwriters Hall of Fame; and the late Whitney Houston was being inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Tour announcements flooded in and there was something for everyone: Halsey, Janet Jackson, Rage Against the Machine, Backstreet Boys, Alanis Morissette, Korn, The Weeknd, Kesha, Tim McGraw, Bon Jovi, Nickelback, Rascal Flatts, Pearl Jam, Black Keys, My Chemical Romance, Matchbox Twenty, Foreigner and many more. The Jonas Brothers shared news of a Las Vegas residency.

Billie Eilish confirmed rumours that she recorded the theme to the new Bond flick No Time To Die (making her the youngest artist to sing a 007 theme) and announced she’d be performing at the Oscars.

Eilish also dominated the Grammy Awards, where Demi Lovato earned raves for an emotional performance.

There was a sizzling performance by Jennifer Lopez and Shakira at the Super Bowl halftime show.

And then it was March and everything we know started to change.

JP Saxe and Julia Michaels asked: “If the world was ending you'd come over, right?” But it only felt like the world was ending (and no one could come over anyway).

Grab a box of wine and reflect on some of the highs and lows in the world of music in 2020:

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

It was a year for rethinking the names of certain music acts (no, not the Trans-Siberian Orchestra).

The summer spotlight on racism in America convinced two country groups to rebrand: In June, Lady Antebellum became Lady A and the Dixie Chicks became The Chicks.

“Antebellum” comes from the Latin phrase ante bellum, meaning “before the war” – but in the U.S. south, the word conjures up a time when Black people were enslaved.

“We are regretful and embarrassed to say that we did not take into account the associations that weigh down this word referring to the period of history before the Civil War, which includes slavery,” admitted Lady A, in a statement announcing the rebrand.

(Of course, the “A” in Lady A still represents “Antebellum” so it’s a bit like not having a 13th floor in a high-rise – everyone knows what the 14th floor really is.)

The Lady A name change had Anita White singing the blues, though. She’s been performing as Lady A for two decades.

In mid-June, White met with Lady A, who later issued a statement claiming the two sides “are moving forward with positive solutions and common ground.” White, though, said she did not trust Lady A.

In a lawsuit Lady A (the band) later filed against Lady A (the singer), the country group alleged that White made “an exorbitant monetary demand.”

The Dixie Chicks, who reportedly took their name from the 1973 Little Feat album Dixie Chicken more than three decades ago, made less of a splash with their decision to drop the word that evokes a time when Black slaves were forced to toil on plantations.

Upon nixing Dixie to become The Chicks, the trio released Gaslighter, their first album in 14 years.

 

Eddie Van Halen, pictured in 2012. Kevin Winter / Getty Images

LIFE & DEATH

In 2020, we mourned the loss of far too many music artists – but also celebrated with artists who welcomed new additions to their families.

Rush drummer Neil Peart, Little Richard and Eddie Van Halen are among the greats who succumbed to cancer. COVID-19 complications claimed talents like Alan Merrill, Adam Schlesinger, John Prine, Charley Pride and Toots Hibbert. And, we lost Kenny Rogers, Bill Withers, Bonnie Pointer, Salome Bey, K.T. Oslin and Helen Reddy.

We mourned with Canadian singers Céline Dion and Gino Vanelli, who said “goodbye” to their mothers, and we felt the pain of Chrissy Teigen and John Legend when they shared heartbreaking news about losing their baby.

In November, Megan Trainor opened up to iHeartRadio about her pregnancy concerns.

Among those welcoming little ones this year were Ed Sheeran, Katy Perry, Zayn Malik, Benji Madden, Ciara, Robin Thicke, Thomas Rhett, Enrique Iglesias, Shay Mooney (of Dan + Shay), Morgan Wallen, Gucci Mane, Tyler Hubbard, Maren Morris, Nicki Minaj, Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino), Usher, Bow Wow, Kelis, Dwight Yoakam, Lea Michele, Logic, Joe Jonas, Dallas Smith and Justin Timberlake.

 

Roberta Battaglia YouTube / America's Got Talent

CANADA, EH

Canadians are no strangers to the global music scene, of course. This year, in fact, some of the biggest hits came from homegrown talent like Justin Bieber, The Weeknd and Drake.

In 2020, we also saw the next generation of Canadian music stars make their mark south of the border.

Lauren Spencer-Smith of Nanaimo, B.C. became the first Canadian to make it to the Top 20 on American Idol and Toronto’s Roberta Battaglia finished in fourth place on America’s Got Talent.

Vancouver’s Victoria Anthony was showcased as part of the Recording Academy’s Press Play At Home series.

 

WHAT A BLAST

In January, high-pitched screams were heard across Canada when it was announced that BTS was going to do two concerts at Toronto’s Rogers Centre as part of the Map of the Soul Tour in May.

Tickets were quickly scooped up when they went on sale in February, meaning the K-pop group was just three months away from playing in front of a combined 96,000 fans. The double-header put BTS in the same league as Madonna, Bon Jovi, U2 and The Rolling Stones.

BTS released Map of the Soul: 7 with a video for “ON” following several teasers and a video for “Black Swan” that featured dancers from Slovenia’s MN Dance Company.

On March 13, iHeartRadio.ca reported that the BTS concerts in Toronto would be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic – which the group confirmed nearly two weeks later.

Jimin, J-Hope, Jin, Jungkook, RM, Suga and V went on a promotional blitz for the album, which included a few days in New York City to tape segments for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon – they performed inside an empty Grand Central Terminal and chowed down at Katz’s Delicatessen – and a ride through L.A. for a Carpool Karaoke segment on The Late Late Show with James Corden in which they jammed to Bruno Mars and admitted they learned most of their English from watching Friends.

BTS kept the energy high during the early days of the pandemic with performances on a number of livestreams and awards shows.

In August, BTS blasted onto radio stations around the world with “Dynamite,” their first all-English single, which racked up the most views in 24 hours of a music video on YouTube (101.1 million) and went on to get about 600 million more by Christmas. The song also debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, making BTS the first fully South Korean act to have a song top the U.S. pop music chart.

BTS released its second album of 2020 in November: BE (Deluxe Edition) and had a little festive fun by performing “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” on The Disney Holiday Singalong, which aired just as they got news that Jin, 28, will be allowed to postpone his mandatory military service.

Oh, and did we mention that in June, BTS donated $1 million U.S. to the Black Lives Matter movement – which was quickly matched by its ARMY. "We stand against racial discrimination. We condemn violence," read a tweet from the group. "You, I and we all have the right to be respected. We will stand together."

 

Dolly Parton, pictured in 2019. Terry Wyatt / Getty Images

WELL HELLO, DOLLY!

Country music icon Dolly Parton started 2020 by sparking a viral meme challenge on Instagram. It began with a post featuring images of Parton representing four social media platforms: LinkedIn (Parton as a schoolteacher on an episode of her 1987 variety series Dolly); Facebook (Parton modelling a “Hello Dolly” Christmas sweater in 2016); Instagram (Parton in a throwback pic used on the cover of the 2017 book Not Dumb, Not Blonde: Dolly In Conversation); and Tinder (Parton in a pic from a Playboy shoot in 1978). “Get a woman who can do it all,” read the caption.

Parton’s year ended with some of the credit for a COVID-19 vaccine. Moderna developed its vaccine with Nashville’s Vanderbilt University Medical Center, which received a $1 million U.S. donation from the country star. “My longtime friend Dr Naji Abumrad, who’s been involved in research at Vanderbilt for many years, informed me that they were making some exciting advancements towards that research of the coronavirus for a cure,” Parton wrote on Instagram earlier in the year. A footnote in the New England Journal of Medicine report credits “the Dolly Parton COVID-19 Research Fund.”

In between, Parton released A Holly Dolly Christmas – her first holiday album in 20 years – and admitted she’d love to return to the cover of Playboy. She may have also saved a little girl from getting hit on the set of a TV movie.

So beloved was Parton in 2020, there was even a petition to replace Confederate statues with those of the country icon.

 

Tyler Mitchell for Vogue

WHOA, MAN!

Harry Styles caused a stir in March when he posed for British fashion magazine Beauty Papers in nothing but fishnet stockings and loafers.

The publication said its website crashed shortly after it posted sample images of Styles, who was photographed wearing the stockings while sitting on a chair as well as wearing a three-piece flare-legged suit with gloves and heavy makeup.

Styles drew the ire of conservative commentators Candace Owens and Ben Shapiro in November when he appeared on the cover of Vogue wearing a dress.

“There is no society that can survive without strong men,” Owens sniffed. “The East knows this. In the west, the steady feminization of our men at the same time that Marxism is being taught to our children is not a coincidence. It is an outright attack.

“Bring back manly men.”

Shapiro tweeted his support for Owens. “Anyone who pretends that it is not a referendum on masculinity for men to don floofy dresses is treating you as a full-on idiot," he wrote. "Masculinity and femininity exist. Outward indicators of masculinity and femininity exist in nearly every human culture. Boys are taught to be more masculine in virtually every human culture because the role of men is not always the same as the role of women.

"The Left knows this, of course. The POINT of Styles doing this photo shoot is to feminize masculinity. Otherwise why would it be headline-worthy for Styles to don a dress?”

Shapiro added: "Pretending that men dressing like women does not feminize men is ridiculous, particularly coming from the same people who are celebrating Styles BECAUSE he is feminizing masculinity."

Styles later clapped back on Instagram, where he posted a photo in which he is eating a banana while wearing a pink satin blouse under a powder-blue suit. He captioned it: “Bring back manly men.”

In an interview with Variety, Styles said “to not wear [something] because it’s females’ clothing, you shut out a whole world of great clothes. And I think what’s exciting about right now is you can wear what you like. It doesn’t have to be X or Y. Those lines are becoming more and more blurred.”

Also challenging masculine stereotypes in 2020 was Cody Simpson.

In May, Simpson donned drag in the video for his song “Captain’s Dance with the Devil.” In a reply to a comment on Instagram, the singer explained the video depicts “the captain/sailor’s struggle with personal freedom at a time long ago in which this wasn’t accepted, and you would in turn be vilified or condemned (often killed) for breaking apart from societal convention and proposed expectations or standards of ‘masculinity.’ In this case the Captain’s (and my own personal) affinity for drag.”

Simpson added: “This message is intended to inspire others to be, act and dress however they please.”

Two Canadian artists sent a message this year that it is OK to be emotional.

Drake is seen with tears streaming down his face in the video for “Laugh Now Cry Later,” which he debuted in August – and there’s nothing wrong with that, according to Mendes.

Appearing on Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard, Mendes said guys should not be shamed for being vulnerable.

"We need to cry. Stop thinking this is being brave and strong and start thinking it's the opposite, actually," he said. "We're holding in these emotions and not crying – and being a**holes. Nothing about that is nice."

 

Charlotte Awbery YouTube / TheEllenShow

FAKE NEWS?

Days before Valentine’s Day, the Backstreet Boys interrupted an appearance on GMA to help Adam Diamond propose to Priscilla Consolo. But, the couple may have been playing games with our hearts because it turned out they got engaged in 2017. Consolo insisted on social media that they broke up in May 2019 but a Dec. 3, 2019 Facebook post by Diamond (which he later deleted) noted “we have less than a year until our wedding.”

Nearly eight months after the GMA proposal, Consolo hired a lawyer to try to scrub certain stories about it from the internet.

Also in February,  the world went nuts when a clip of Charlotte Awbery belting out part of “Shallow” in a London subway station went viral. She was one of two professional singers among several other people who were asked to “finish the lyrics” by Kevin Freshwater, a self-described “social media prankster, entertainer and purveyor of comic content” who had previously been commissioned by big brands like Sony and Lipton to create viral content.

Awbery and Stephen Barry (who sang a verse from Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”) were the only ones in the video who were stopped at the bottom of a set of stairs in the subway station. Appearing caught off-guard, each started singing tentatively before perfectly delivering a verse and walking away. (Barry declined to respond when asked by iHeartRadio.ca to confirm that the video was staged. A scheduled interview with Awbery was then cancelled by her publicist.)

By the time Awbery debuted a video for her “Shallow” cover in September, people had evidently moved on – it has had less than 145,000 views.

 

Kelly Clarkson Kevin Winter / Getty Images

LOVE LOST & FOUND

Like the rest of us, music stars discovered that quarantine was a good time to make a commitment… or walk away from one.

In June, Kelly Clarkson filed for divorce from Brandon Blackstock, her husband of nearly seven years. Things got a little ugly. By September, the singer admitted: “It’s no secret, my life has been a little bit of a dumpster. Personally, it’s been a little hard.” Clarkson said divorce “is the worst thing ever, you know, for everyone involved.”

Cardi B filed for divorce from Migos rapper Offset in September after nearly three years of marriage – but to absolutely no one’s surprise, the couple reconciled a short time later and, in November, she withdrew her divorce papers.

“I’m just a crazy b**ch,” the rap star explained, in an Instagram Live. “One day I’m happy, the next day I wanna beat a n***a up. I just be starting to miss [him]… It’s hard not to talk to your best friend. It’s really hard not to talk to your best friend. And it’s really hard to have no d**k.”

In September, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke tied the knot with Italian actress Dajana Roncione and British singer Lily Allen wed actor David Harbour with an Elvis impersonator officiating in Las Vegas.

Country star Luke Combs made it official in August with longtime fiancée Nicole Hocking. "Yesterday was the best day of my life,” Combs shared on Instagram. “I got to marry my best friend.”

That same month, reports surfaced that Liam Payne popped the question to model Maya Henry (and she said “yes”).

In October, Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton announced that they finally got engaged.

Ariana Grande shared news in December that she is engaged to Dalton Gomez, her boyfriend of less than a year.

Other young artists took different positions on relationships.

In September, Demi Lovato and her actor-musician fiancé Max Ehrich ended their engagement – only two months after Lovato gushed on Instagram: “I love you more than a caption could express but I’m ecstatic to start a family and life with you. I love you forever my baby. My partner. Here’s to our future!!!!”

Singers Miley Cyrus and Cody Simpson called it quits in August after less than a year of dating. “For right now, two halves can't make a whole and we're individually just working on ourselves to become the people that we wanna be,” Cyrus explained.

Cyrus went on to release the banger “Midnight Sky,” in which she sings: “Forever and ever, no more.” Simpson channeled his energy into training to qualify for Olympic swimming trials.

 

David Desrosiers, pictured in 2013. Victor Chavez / Getty Images

BAD BOYS, BAD BOYS

In 2020, several music artists got reminders about the importance of behaving.

In July, David Desrosiers of Canadian band Simple Plan announced he was leaving the band due to allegations against him from several women.

“Recent public statements have led me to acknowledge that some of the interactions I have had with women have caused them harm,” he wrote in a message on Instagram. “I have decided to withdraw from the band and seek professional help to educate myself and act appropriately in the future.

“I am truly sorry for the harm I have caused to these women.”

Only days before his announcement, an unidentified woman accused Desrosiers, 39, of making inappropriate jokes with her when she was a minor and then pursuing a sexual relationship as soon as she was legal age. (The age of consent in Canada is 16.) She said Desrosiers invited his friends to have group sex with them and repeatedly threatened her if she did not participate.

In a Reddit thread, another female claims she had “a sexual experience” with Desrosiers “when i was VERY young.”

In a statement of its own, Simple Plan said: "Following recent public statements, David Desrosiers is withdrawing from the band in order to work on his personal issues. We offer our deepest apologies to the women who were hurt by his actions. We are also sorry for all our fans who are disappointed by this regretful situation. We will, as a band, take time to pause, reflect and put in place guidelines to prevent similar situations from happening."

Weeks later, an online petition demanding that Sony Music Canada dump up-and-coming singer Langston Francis from its roster sparked an investigation by iHeartRadio.ca in which several young women opened up about alleged sexual assaults by Francis.

A little more than five hours after the report was published, the “FCKD It Up” singer took to social media to acknowledge “a number of accusations … about my past conduct with women.” Francis wrote: “To anyone who I may have hurt with my behaviour, I’m sorry.”

The singer said he is “pressing pause” on his music career and taking “an indefinite break from social media in order to reflect and consider what further actions I need to take to work on these personal issues.”

Then, just before the end of the business day, Sony Music Canada told iHeartRadio.ca that it had dropped Francis from the label.

Fast forward to December, when U.S. rock band Walk The Moon announced that it parted ways with bassist Kevin Ray.

Frontman Nicholas Petricca explained: “It has been this band’s lifelong commitment to create a safe and welcoming place for our audience, always. And if anything ever comes to our attention that contradicts that, we take action and do something about it. Unfortunately, now is one of those moments.

“We’ve received some firsthand information that leads us to conclude that Kevin Ray has acted out of alignment with our values … it’s become clear that we must part ways.”

Petricca said no further details about the reason for Ray’s departure will be forthcoming “at the request of those involved.”

In June, Canadian country singer Chad Brownlee was dumped by Universal Music Canada after he promoted a right-wing conspiracy theory on social media that was seen as racist and anti-Semitic.  Shortly after iHeartRadio.ca first reported on criticism of Brownlee’s tweet, the singer posted an apology.

“I sincerely apologize for sharing an image last night on social media that was wrong, inappropriate and could be perceived as racist," he wrote. "While my intention in posting the image was nothing of the sort, I acknowledge how people could easily have seen it that way.

Brownlee added: "I abhor racism, certainly including anti-Semitism. Sadly, I didn't spur the conversation I wanted to. My effort was clumsy and wrong-headed. For all those I hurt or offended I am deeply sorry.”

In a follow-up message, Brownlee called his original tweet “a life altering mistake” and confessed he “messed up big time.”

 

Tory Lanez, pictured in 2019. Manny Carabel / Getty Images

RAP BATTLE

Who could have guessed that a Canadian artist would be a suspect in the shooting of a rap artist? In 2020, all things were possible.

Brampton, Ont. native Tory Lanez was charged in October with assault with a firearm after an investigation into the shooting of Megan Thee Stallion in the summer.

“On July 12, [Lanez] and [Stallion] got into an argument while riding in an SUV in the Hollywood Hills,” read a release. “The victim exited the vehicle and [Lanez] is accused of shooting several times at her feet and wounding her.”

Megan Thee Stallion waited until August to point the finger at Lanez. “Yes … Tory shot me. You shot me and you got your publicist and your people going to these blogs lying and s**t,” she said during an Instagram Live.

In September, Lanez addressed the incident in a track titled “Money Over Fallouts.”

He raps: “Megan people trying to frame me for a shooting / But them boys ain’t clean enough / I see how they teaming up, watching and I’m calculating / Gotta keep it quiet, I can’t jeopardize the outcome waiting.” Later, he raps: “I would never put you in no danger / and if I did you would have said it when you seen the cops.”

Lanez also casts doubt on Megan’s injury. “How the f**k you get shot in your foot / don’t hit no bones or tendons?”

Stallion fired back on “Shots Fired,” a track from her November album Good News. “Imagine n***as lyin’ ’bout shootin’ a real b**ch just to save face for rapper n****s you chill with,” Megan raps on the track, which samples 1995’s “Who Shot Ya?” by The Notorious B.I.G. and does not mention Lanez by name.

“You shot a 5’10” b**ch, with a .22 / Talkin’ ’bout bones and tendons like them bullets weren’t pellets.”

Lanez, who pleaded not guilty in November, is due back in court Jan. 20.

 

CANADIAN ARTIST OF THE YEAR: JUSTIN BIEBER

The Weeknd dominated the charts in 2020 with “Blinding Lights” and his album After Hours – only to be snubbed by the Grammys. Shawn Mendes returned with the new album Wonder, the documentary In Wonder and a concert film.

But, the Canadian artist who owned 2020 was Justin Bieber.

In January, a better-behaved Biebs bounded back into our hearts with the infectious “Yummy” – his first solo music since he released Purpose in 2015 – as well as announcements about his new album Changes.

It topped the Billboard 200, making Bieber the youngest artist to earn seven No. 1 albums, breaking a record set nearly 60 years ago by Elvis Presley.

Then came “Intentions” ft. Quavo, the timely Ariana Grande collaboration “Stuck with U,” the gospel-tinged “Holy” ft. Chance the Rapper and the autobiographical “Lonely” with Benny Blanco and “Monster” with Shawn Mendes.

With his Changes tour scrapped due to the pandemic, Bieber remained in the spotlight with appearances on livestream specials and TV talk shows.

He also launched the YouTube series Seasons (and set another YouTube record) – in which he opened up about his past drug use – and showed off his Canadian home on The Biebers On Watch.

Bieber also took his third ride with James Corden for “Carpool Karaoke” (where it was revealed Corden wasn’t really driving) and performed on the American Music Awards (where he was named Favourite Male Artist - Pop/Rock).

Biebs also performed on the E! People’s Choice Awards, where he was voted Male Artist of 2020.

He returned to SNL in February for the first time in seven years (and two years after being called out as the show’s worst-behaved guest) and then went back again in October.

In February, Bieber was back in his Calvins and in June he proved that he was in fighting shape when he sued a pair of women who publicly accused him of sexual assault. The filings claimed Danielle’s allegation of sexual assault in 2014 and Kadi’s allegation of one in 2015 are “outrageous, fabricated lies.”

He even launched custom Crocs in October.

In November, he earned Grammy nominations for Best Pop Vocal Album (for Changes), Pop Solo Performance (“Yummy”) and Pop Duo/Group Performance (“Intentions” ft. Quavo) and his collaboration with Dan + Shay is up for Best Country Duo/Group Performance.

But, he spoke out about being left out of R&B categories. “I set out to make an R&B album. Changes was and is an R&B album,” he wrote in a message on Instagram. “It is not being acknowledged as an R&B album which is very strange to me. For this not to be put into that category feels weird considering from the chords to the melodies to the vocal style all the way down to the hip hop drums that were chosen it is undeniably, unmistakably an R&B album!”

Bieber will top off a busy 2020 with a virtual New Year’s Eve show.

Most noteworthy, Bieber showed himself in 2020 to be a role model for young men – specifically when it comes to respect for women.

During an appearance on Ellen, Bieber deferred to his wife Hailey when asked about starting a family. “It’s her body and whatever she wants to do,” he said. “Hailey still has some things she wants to accomplish as a woman … she’s just not ready yet. And that’s OK.”

The singer later called out a “sad excuse of a human” who urged others to “literally go after” Hailey. Bieber said: “I think about how miserable she must be to want to spend her life trying to make others feel small.”

 

CANADIAN ARTIST TO WATCH: MAX PARKER

Pay attention: Max Parker is going to be the next big thing to spring from the loins of Canada.

Parker’s “Out Of The Blue, with its singalong chorus, came… well, out of the blue in 2018 and the Toronto teen followed up with unapologetically pop songs like “I’m All Yours” and “Out Of Love.”

He’s not just pumping out sugary confections, though. His track “Something About You” is delightfully salty (“Everything you touch tends to die,” he sings. Oh snap!).

In November, Parker brought a long hard year to an end by gifting us with a timely cover of Queen’s 1984 holiday track “Thank God It’s Christmas.” On his version – of which Freddie Mercury would likely approve – he lures us in with soft vocals but then growls the first “Thank” to let you know he’s only getting started.

Same can be said for Parker’s music career.

Comparisons to a certain singer named Shawn are inevitable (and fuelled by missteps like the video for “Right Back Where We Started,” which gave us too many “Something Big” vibes) but there’s no reason Parker can’t reach the same heights.

Sure, he’s cute AF and doesn’t come across as a d**k on social media, but the biggest reason to pay attention to Parker is he’s insanely talented. He’s got the pipes, he plays instruments, he’s got a hand in crafting his songs and videos, and he’s got the support of some industry pros.

If Parker can find a stylist (and lose the miniature ponytail), well… there’s nothing holding him back.

 

BYE, BYE, BYE

Let’s wrap up this wrap-up with the words of Canada’s Shania Twain, who 18 years ago declared: “Up, up, up, can only go up from here … Up, up, up, there's no way but up from here.”

Hang in there, you got this.

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If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health this season, click here to find resources.

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