The Farr Side column: Pop music highlights of 2020
Mariah Carey rang in 2020 last January when her holiday smash, “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” was spending its third week atop Billboard’s Hot 100.
It was the first time the song hit the top of the chart, 25 years after its release.
“All I Want For Christmas Is You” is Carey’s most popular and best-selling song, which says a lot. Look at her impressive list of singles and you’ll understand what I mean.
It’s not the norm to see a song like that return to that kind of chart action year after year, but c’mon, it is a great Christmas motivator.
What I find even more cool about Carey and her novelty masterpiece is she almost ended 2020 at No. 1, again, until Taylor Swift dropped her second smash album, seemingly out of nowhere.
Carey’s song was fortunate enough to regain its No. 1 status for the week leading up to Christmas, but Swift got to close 2020 at No. 1 in a big way.
First, let’s give kudos to Carey for recording one of the greatest holiday tracks of all time. “All I Want For Christmas Is You” is as much a part of our holiday music heritage as is Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” and Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree.”
Now, on to Swift. Is there anything she can’t do? I’m guessing no. When many artists were struggling and trying to come to terms with how the pandemic would halt aspirations to tour, she went to work writing. Mind you, Swift also saw her “Lover Tour” canceled.
Swift is a true artist, though. I highly respect her for that. In lockdown, she put pen to paper and cranked out some amazing lyrics, which turned into songs we love her to create. In August, Swift released “Folklore,” which debuted at No. 1, as well as that album’s first single, “Cardigan.”
“Folklore” became the biggest-selling album of the year in only two days. It also earned her a slew of Grammy nominations, including Song Of The Year for “Cardigan.”
Swift is known for unique timing and hints for new music, but “Evermore” was a total surprise. Her second album of the year dropped right at Christmas. It also debuted at No. 1, as did its first single, “Willow.” Swift becomes the first artist in history to debut two albums at No. 1 in the same year with each first single also debuting at No. 1.
“Evermore” is her eighth No. 1 album, putting her in contention with Barbra Streisand as the leading female artist with the most No. 1 LPs. Swift toppled Whitney Houston’s longstanding record for most weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 200. Impressive.
Other notable chart distinctions in 2020 belong to Post Malone with his No. 2 song, “Circles.” The song first topped the Hot 100 for two weeks in November 2019, then returned to No. 1 the second week of January.
“Blinding Lights” by The Weeknd topped the Hot 100 twice in April. DaBaby’s “Rockstar” did so in June and July as did Cardi B’s “WAP” in August and September.
Ariana Grande topped the Hot 100 three times in 2020, twice in duet and once on her own. Her hits “Stuck With You” (feat. Justin Beiber), “Rain On Me” (with Lady Gaga) and “Positions” each was at No. 1 during the pandemic. Why is this a big deal? Grande became the first artist to debut three songs at No. 1 in the same calendar year.
David T. Farr is a Sturgis, Michigan, Journal correspondent. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.