A guide to what we’re leaving in 2020 and what we’re taking into 2021

From loungewear and amazing telly, to dodgy raves and TikTok activism.

by James Anderson
04 January 2021, 8:00am

Every year has its high and low points, of course. But 2020 was especially weird, meaning life’s little perks could now create huge happiness, while everyday irritations might provoke major rage. Here, we round up some notable positives and negatives from the many months since the pandemic first swept across the world, to decide what we’re keeping and what we’re dumping. 

NO! Lose it with LIDL

An album of ‘ambient’ noises aptly titled Everything else is unbearable and recorded in a LIDL supermarket became perversely popular on Spotify this year. We like LIDL as much as anyone, but 21 tracks of tannoy announcements, checkout bleeps and the sound of shopping bags being filled with low-cost groceries pushes the boundaries ‘experimental’ too far.

YES! Naomi-a-nattering

When she wasn’t arousing tabloid flak for donning a Rona-repelling hazmat suit plus goggles on a plane journey, Naomi Campbell kept us further entertained with her No Filter series on YouTube. She chatted with a mix of high-profile mates, including Mariah CareyMary J. Blige, James Charles and Marc Jacobs, among many others, in the process showing herself to be the most endearing supermodel superstar of all.   

NO! Recalibrated bores

Even back in the early WTF? stages of the pandemic, certain smug individuals rushed to faux-philosophise about how they had ‘recalibrated’ their lives. Nice try, babes, but we all know you were slumped on the sofa, scoffing sweets, hypnotised by daytime repeats of Homes Under the Hammer and near-paralysed with uncertainty, just like the rest of us. 

YES! Easy style success

Those manky old trackies, jim-jams or onesies often worn for life-indoors became Officially Fashionable this year. Style commentators frothed about designers increasingly ‘addressing loungewear’ within their new collections, then came that widely-shared photo of Anna Wintour sporting – gasp! – sweatpants, followed by reports of rocketing sales of comfy-slouchy clothing. Meaning we could all feel good about our usual slob-gear now being hailed as tout le rage.  

NO! Deserted dancefloors

Not being able to go to nightclubs has clearly been tragic for those with a love of partying, as well as the countless disco employees whose livelihoods are screwed. As increasing numbers of venues now face closure, the artist Wolfgang Tillmans’ latest track Can’t Escape into Space and its accompanying glitterball-filled video -- shot in Fire Island several years ago -- only underlined the poignancy of what has been lost.   

YES! Show-offs

With the usual runway shows being potential super-spreader events, fashion designers faced a challenge to show their latest collections in fresh ways. Many went digital to spread their message: Dior’s Fall 2021 Men’s collection, for example, saw Kim Jones collaborating with NYC artist Kenny Scharf on the collection, presenting the results within a slick seven-minute livestream, complete with swirly psychedelic backdrops, a soundtrack c/o early-90s groovers, Deee-Lite, and a referential nod to Thierry Mugler’s legendary SS91 show. Prior to this, Jeremy Scott at Moschino blew everyone’s minds with the SS21 women’s collection, created in miniature proportions and modelled on film by dinky marionettes, which had been specially fashioned by the team behind The Muppets. Genius.  

NO! Furlough-induced alcoholism

After furlough had kicked-in for many, the potential for a lazy summer spent in the local park with similarly-at-a-loose-end friends not only felt slightly decadent, but also ripe for endless daytime boozing sessions. Fast forward six months? Your tongue feels permanently furry and your liver has filed for divorce. 

NO! Maximum minimalism 

That thing, when you were so bored and restless you went into Marie Kondo-overdrive, cleaning, tidying, decluttering and chucking tons of stuff away until there was basically nothing left. 

YES! Art became the new going out

Berlin’s iconic Berghain club adapted to its temporary closure, by reopening as an art gallery in September. An exhibition of local artists duly followed, with the usual night-time staff now multitasking as exhibition tour guides. Decibel-defying techno was notably absent, but some things never change: the customary ‘no photos’ rule was still firmly in place.   

NO! Rave to the grave?

Illegal raves during lockdown hinted at the outlaw spirit of late-80s Acid House raves – the media certainly seized on such sensationalist parallels. But, unlike in 2020, the absence of a global pandemic 30-odd years ago meant a shared love of fast BPMs in some random field didn’t pose the risk of anyone’s Nan ending her days on a hospital ventilator. 

YES! Monarchy in the UK (on TV)  

The new series of The Crown offered some trashy respite from reality, by reminding us how dysfunctional the Royal Family were/are, as well as the hyper-weirdness of former prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, back in the day. 

YES! Polo-tiks

TikTok users and K-Pop fans pranked Donald Trump’s plans for a mass re-election rally in Tulsa in the early summer, by collectively registering free ticket requests under false names, with zero intention of turning up. Result? A half-empty venue and the Orange One looking even more absurd than usual. 

NO! Zoomzzzzzzzz….

Soz, but Zoom parties and quizzes -- a novelty for about 5 minutes back in April -- soon became boring as fuck. The high factor of forced jollity, not to mention ultra-basic general knowledge questions culled from Google by a well-meaning friend, soon fell by the wayside in favour of staring at walls while listening to a tap drip.

YES! Amazing British TV

First was Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You, a serious-yet-funny millennial drama, which the insanely-talented multi-hyphenate not only wrote, but also directed, produced and starred in. Then came the artist and Oscar-winning film-maker Steve McQueen’s haunting Small Axe series of five films, based on real experiences from London’s West Indian community between the 1960s to the early 80s. Pure amazingness. 

NO! Can’t cook, won’t cook

People banging on about baking banana bread or pickling vegetables during lockdown was all very wholesome. Yet, it somehow felt judgemental to the culinarily-inept community, in and out of Tesco Metro multiple times per day to buy ourselves more crisps. 

YES! Protest is best

Like everyone else, the UK’s cooped-up students had it rough this year. So, when the University of Manchester suddenly erected intimidating-looking fences around the Fallowfield campus, enough was enough. In a fab show of fuck you-ism, the residents staged a mass kick-off, tore the fences down — forcing the college to duly apologise — and proved that taking a stance and not, er, sitting on the fence, can create real change.  

YES! Princess Julia’s roving reports

The east London nightlife icon and i-D contributor unleashed some tongue-in-cheek arts-based short films -- low on budget, high on camp -- in cahoots with The Glory and Josh Collings. Throughout, HRH works the latest looks from cult boutique, Fantastic Toiles, while her questioning of local creatives often proves particularly probing and profound: “What’s your favourite, erm, precious jewel?” being one such inquisitive gem. 

NO! Dressed to depress

Bumbling, blustering, U-turns, confusion and cronyism have all characterised the UK government’s response to the pandemic. As if that wasn’t bad enough, prime minister Boris Johnson also proved himself to be one of the most embarrassingly-unstylish political figures on the global stage. Ill-fitting suits and mop-like hair for the office were contrasted by equally bewildering attire worn for his morning jog. Can someone find him a good stylist, please?