Best Albums of 2020: Rina Sawayama’s “SAWAYAMA”

Best Albums of 2020: Rina Sawayama’s “SAWAYAMA”

Rina Sawayama / Greg Lin Jiajie


In 2020, British pop singer Rina Sawayama released her critically acclaimed album entitled “SAWAYAMA.” It is pop in a way you have never seen before.

Sawayama was snubbed at the grammy’s but earned praise and attention by listeners and music critics alike. Many people expected her to be up for Best New Artist. Her album earned top spots in many “Best Albums of 2020” lists, like NPR’s, The Guardian’s, and Billboard’s. She performed song “XS” on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon in October.


“SAWAYAMA” album cover

“SAWAYAMA” is unique mash up of pop and nu-metal. It’s catchy and occasionally upbeat, but also harsh. It’s angry. The best-selling single “XS” is about overconsumption under capitalism, but is so catchy, you might miss the message. Sawayama grew up in the 1990s and the early 2000s. It’s easy to see the inspirations from her childhood, like Britney Spears.

“When all that’s left is immaterial/And the price we paid is unbelievable/And I’m taking in as much as I can hold,” sings Sawayama.

She grew up in Britain but was born in Japan. Culture, family trauma, and racism are significant themes in this album. It is a very personal body of work that deals with many hardships from her. life. Her parents’ painful divorce from childhood plays a huge part in “SAWAYAMA.” In an interview with NPR, she references her experiences dealing with racism.


Rina Sawayama / Greg Lin Jiajie

“Making the album so dramatic helped satirize the whole thing and make it feel a little bit lighter, in a weird way,” said Sawayama to Pitchfork. This album allowed her to turn painful things to something artistic, and even funny.

The deluxe version of “SAWAYAMA” came out recently and includes new tracks “We Out Here,” “Bees & Honey,” and many remixes.


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