Look, I am not saying 2020 was full of sparkles and butterflies and dreamy things. However, I also am fully aware that art is healing, at least for me. Ever since I was a toddler art has been a massive part of my life and a lifeline I held onto during any dark phase I went through. 2020 was a chaotic year, to say the least. Dealing with loss and trauma is never easy, but art was there for me during quarantine and helped me manage my mental health the best I could. Many artists inspired me and motivated me to get better, be better, and do better as a person, but I wanted to write about the 20 that were the most significant for me this year. I don’t know whether or not I will ever be able to thank these artists for what they have done for me, so here is this article as my thank you note.
Please keep it in mind that these are based on my opinions and feelings so don’t come for me 🙂
1. BILLIE EILISH
I discovered Billie a little over 3 years ago at a time I felt lonely and she has been there for me ever since. Her releases this year like ‘My Future’ or ‘Therefore I Am’ were like a long-awaited hug and made me feel safe, causing me to go on streaming loops. As a long-time supporter it made me incredibly proud to see how far she has come and her accomplishments like winning 5 Grammy awards, or being the youngest person to sing the James Bond theme song. Seeing her advocate for issues like BlackLivesMatter, climate change and political injustices so openly inspired me to keep posting about these issues. Watching her grow as a person and artist helped me grow this year and I could not be more grateful.
2. HARRY STYLES
There is much to say about this beautiful person but I could sum it up as an artistic masterpiece. His album Fine Line executed his vision and artistry perfectly and was full of songs me and my friends bonded over. I can’t count the times I played Golden and danced in my room but that is not the point :). Harry ended his year with an ICONIC moment in history, being the first solo male to appear on the cover of Vogue, with a gender-bending photoshoot that I know for a fact, will be talked about for many years into the future.
Oh, what a surprise to see Finneas on this list! Well, it is safe to say Finneas is one of my favorite people ever and keeps amazing me with every song he puts out and made me fall in love with songwriting. I talked about him all the time in 2020, whether it be about his joint podcast with his girlfriend Claudia Sulewski or about songs he wrote through the eyes of families who lost their loved ones due to COVID (What They’ll Say About Us). Everything he did was heartbreakingly beautiful and I grateful I was surrounded by his artistry in 2020.
Emmy award winner actress Zendaya, to be exact, made me fall in love with her acting in Euphoria. The show quickly became another obsession of mine and inspired me to play with makeup and fashion during these hard times. Seeing my childhood idol win an Emmy was touching and beautiful and made my whole year.
5. ALEXA DEMIE
If you know me, you have heard me talk about Alexa before, God knows I didn’t shut up about her this year because she felt like a breath of fresh air in the acting scene for me. Her role in Euphoria was very well articulated. I watched all her interviews and the way she designed Maddy’s (her character) makeup and outfits inspired me to unleash my creativity in those ways. She was that character that inspired my personality for the rest of 2020.
Kalben is an artist that my aunt introduced to me. As lockdown separated us to two different continents, I listened to Kalben during times I missed her and my grandparents. Kalben also advocated strongly for Women being continuously murdered in Turkey, as well as LGBTQ rights.
I am honestly sad I didn’t discover this band before but I fell in love with their lyrics and songs immediately. Going to one of their concerts after everything settles down is now on my bucket list of things to do with people who are special to me.
Another great artist who inspired me greatly was Labrinth. His Euphoria soundtrack showcased a whole new perspective I had on production and layering and harmonies and was truly healing.
9. NUR GÜZELDERE
Surprise sister 🙂 In all honesty, my friend Nur (also one of the co-founders of 9 Magazine, check out her work here) was one of the artists who kept me inspired and on my feet throughout 2020 with her never-ending passion for photography and cinema even during quarantine. I’m honestly grateful and honored I was a part of many creative brainstorms she had and our many discussions on all things art-related. (Follow her on @nursphotodiary now!)
10. JAMES CHARLES
As someone who is in love with makeup as an art form, James Charles creating artistic content throughout 2020 was *chef’s kiss* for me. I found myself inspired and alive watching him unleash his inner artist, and hope I did so too.
11. ALIYA JANELL
The dancer who inspired me to use the bulk time I had in my hands and turn it into art, Aliya. She helped me as a dancer to build confidence and strength during quarantine and I choreographer every day I could.
12. MEGAN THEE STALLION
I would be lying if I said I didn’t stream WAP every single day for months after its release and I loved to see two strong women rap about subjects that are relatively taboo for women. Meg became me and my mother’s favorite person to jam to in 2020 and made us feel badass every single time we played her music.
The queen Bey came in hot with her award-winning docu-film Homecoming and showed me how a little girl from Houston turned into one of the biggest sensations of our generation. The film was touching but inspiring and perfectly depicted the effort this incredible artist put in everything she was a part of.
14. TRAVIS SCOTT
Another docu-film that inspired me was Look Mom I Can Fly by Travis Scott. His approach to his art was creative, different, and passionate and increased the love I had towards Rap music.
Rosalia’s music was healing for me and anyone I recommended her to this year. Her music mixes classic Latin music with her own style so tastefully that it is impossible to not be mesmerized by her artistry and songwriting.
16. LIL NAS X
Lil Nas coming out in 2020 was a highlight for the industry this year. To see him come out as gay at the top of his success while having the most streamed song in history inspired so many closeted young people through his social media, which I think was really brave of him to do.
17. AUDREY MIKA
Audrey Mika was someone I started watching covers of early 2020 and I was able to see her grow as an artist who filmed covers with a plastic mic in her bedroom, to sell-out shows and tours.
18. MELANIE MARTINEZ
Melanie Martinez was a huge part of my childhood and her album K-12 releasing was one of few gifts 2020 brought. Her movie that had the concept of the album also touched on sexism and societal constructs and I loved that she used her art, dance, and fashion to do so.
19. CONAN GRAY
Just like Audrey Mika, I have been a fan of Conan for the past couple of years so it was incredibly inspiring to see his album blow up this year. I felt like a proud mother and am pretty sure I covered all his songs from the album.
20. DURUNAVY (ME)
This may have too much Aries energy but my own self also inspired me during these hard times who I had to spend A LOT of time with. I am usually too hard on myself with everything I do, and quarantine was a great opportunity for my self-esteem to break down. However, halfway through quarantine, I came to the realization that the only person who could truly help me step out of my bubble of stress and anxiety was myself. I used songwriting, composing, and dance to express my emotion and anger and boy did I hold back on commenting on world issues. I kinda like myself now, I guess.
2020 was honestly one to remember for not the best reasons but I feel like one can always find a small thing to hold onto and be grateful for. I also wanted to include some artists my friends mentioned like BTS, Taylor Swift (with her two surprise albums), Chellaman Art, Synarte, Yorgos Lanthimos, Doja Cat, Ariana Grande since they were the main reason 2020 was bearable.
I am honestly curious to learn the artists that made your year a little better and would love to discuss them over @9magazine_ and even my personal @durunavy.
Know you are loved, here’s to 2021!