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Five on it: some hidden music gems from 2020

In our final Five on it of the year, our music editor rounds up releases of the week as well as hidden gems we missed during the year.

18 Dec 2020

Five on it image: Canva composite of album artwork

It feels hard to believe in the concept of  time when it has stretched out and sped up simultaneously, but it’s arriving at that weird part of the year where, in the UK at least, things are starting to wind down.

All of which is to say, there’s unlikely to be that much new music the rest of the year (and if Rihanna, Beyoncé, Kendrick and more decide to drop new albums to spite me on this take, I truly won’t mind).

So, unusually, as well as shouting out some great music that was released this week here, I wanted to take the opportunity to spotlight some 2020 releases that were sorta hidden gems (aka: we did not cover them at the time – for everything else, do sift through the whole Five on it playlist, there is some real gold in there).

I missed KeiyaA’s Forever Ya Girl when it landed, but it’s magic – listen to the New York-based artist’s debut and luxuriate in her warm, stark intimacy. Desire Marea’s Desire was a fascinating, glimmering take on electronic sounds. Other genuinely incredible albums and mixtapes that slipped through our radar in the weeks they came out were those by Ego Ella May, Cleo Sol, Liv.e, Denise Chaila, a gorgeous EP from Yazmin Lacey, plus a new collection from our beloved past interviewee, Beverly Glenn-Copeland. There’s probably loads more – I guess this period of the year is one I enjoy for being able to delve into all the lists and discover the things I missed out on. There’s pressure sometimes to understand new music immediately, but I love being able to sit with something and to suddenly “get it”, maybe months or years after the first time you listened. So I’d recommend taking the time to do that as a wholesome tiered-system solo activity. 

And now, here’s 2020’s final Five on it:

Elheist – ‘No Delay Freestyle’

Produced by HLMNSRA this new joint from one of our faves is lithe and bouncy, perfectly marrying old school R&B sonics with future-facing DIY pop. So good.

Fehdah – Kinematics

The latest EP from the Irish-Sierra Leonean astrophysicist is as glossy and lush as we’ve come to expect, full of a glorious melismatic, shuffling, sparkling kineticism and spiritualism that seems to meld her cultures.

Midas the Jagaban – The Midas Touch 

It’s actually not funny how much this makes me want to be at a party. The debut EP from the South Londoner, stick this on for humid dancefloor sounds that are fully irresistible.

Samantha Mumba – ‘Process’

New Samantha Mumba! This is not a drill! Or, alternatively, you are much younger than I am and you have no idea who Samantha Mumba is – for the uninitiated, a pop legend is returning. This is a swelling schmaltzy ballad that sounds like it could be on a Bridget Jones soundtrack.

Ivorian Doll – ‘Clout’

Ivorian Doll has had a huge year and this latest seething track shows she’s not here to play. Incidentally, Lady Leshurr also dropped a phenomenal diss of Ivorian Doll in the past 24 hours – ‘D.I.V.’ is fiercely caustic. If, like me, you have no favourites in this fight, get excited for 2021 and all the searing possibilities by playing both these LOUD.

The 2020 Five on it playlist is on Spotify: