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The top 20 Canadian albums of 2020 | CBC Music

Including the Weeknd, Lido Pimienta, Tobi, William Prince, Grimes and more

Albums from Carly Rae Jepsen, Lido Pimienta, Backxwash, Tobi, the Weeknd, Tenille Townes and others stood out in 2020. (Supplied by the artists; design by Myles Chiu/CBC Music)

It’s no secret that this year challenged the music industry in many ways. The COVID-19 pandemic forced musicians to hit pause on world tours; ongoing discussions around racism and underrepresentation made record labels and award shows rethink their use of language and categorization (to varying levels of success); and social media apps like TikTok continued to break down and rebuild the ways in which the industry operates.

But unlike people working in the film or TV industries, which have been hit hard with production and release struggles, musicians were able to continue making and putting out albums with relative ease. 

With the exception of some delays, streaming new music every week remained a stable, unchanged part of our 2020 existence. And as in previous years, there has been no shortage of great Canadian music to bring us joy, comfort and excitement in what has otherwise been an emotionally challenging time.

From chart-toppers to radical newcomers, here are CBC Music’s top 20 albums of the year. 

What were your favourite Canadian albums of 2020? Share with us @CBCMusic

Dedicated Side B, Carly Rae Jepsen

Carly Rae Jepsen belongs in a rare group of artists whose B-sides are just as revered and anticipated as her proper releases. Following up on her 2019 release, Dedicated, Jepsen surprised fans this year with the 12-track Dedicated Side B. (Jepsen is quite a prolific writer, having penned more than 200 songs for both Dedicated and 2015’s Emotion, so the B-sides are plentiful.) The results further illustrate the difficult process Jepsen must go through every time she puts together an album, showing an immense overflow of ace singles, from the Bleachers collaboration “Comeback” to the two different takes on the same set of lyrics (the one-two punch of “Felt This Way” and “Stay Away”). Jepsen’s keen observations of love, lust and heartbreak are as sharp as ever, encased in foolproof hooks and melodies. With such a creative drive — she has already admitted to writing an entire album in quarantine — Jepsen continues to prove that she is one of pop’s great songwriters. But by indulging fans’ demands for B-sides, our hunger for more Jepsen tunes only grows stronger. Here’s hoping she has another treat in store for us in 2021. — ML