The Year the Earth Stood Still: A to Z of 2020

Photo by Anna Shvets on

Normally around this time, I would be mining through a year’s worth of concerts in search of what I consider to be the purest gems of the bunch, but, instead, I’m peering out the window at a minacious sky that is emblematic of just how unforgiving 2020 has been. Western New York had shows with Tool, Rage Against the Machine, The Rolling Stones, Billy Joel, King Crimson etc. taken away just as swiftly as they were announced and a return to normalcy still feels far off given the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

Some want it, some don’t, and some want more information regarding side effects before making their decision. I can respect the latter, but, based on the various musicians I’ve spoken with this year, how soon they get back on the road again in 2021 is likely tied to how quickly the vaccine circulates through the population.

As bad as our live music withdrawal has been, I think we can all agree that safety should be the top priority moving forward.

In lieu of a standard year-end recap, I’ve decided to churn out a half-serious, half-facetious list of words, people, and phrases that, for better or worse, will be eternally linked with the year that was.


Asymptomatic – I don’t think it’s ever been used as much in conversation as it was this year.

Bubble – The smaller yours was, the better.

Cuomo – His obsession with power skyrocketed this year as he became New York State’s self-proclaimed lord and savior.

Death – Whether or it was a result of COVID-19 or otherwise, the number of people we lost this year stings.

Elon Musk – Space exploration doesn’t capture the country’s imagination as much as it once did, but the intrigue associated with his SpaceX developments can’t be denied.

Frontline Worker – Time Magazine further solidified its irrelevancy by not naming them as its “Person of the Year.”

Google Meet – If you’ve never seen a video chat in which 12 kindergartners are all competing for the teacher’s attention at the same time, you haven’t really lived.

Hot Spot – The reason why so many people put the kibosh on traveling this year.

Isolation – After almost a full year of not being able to see certain loved ones in person, I’d like to think that we’ll never take our time on this planet for granted again.

Joe Biden – Despite running one of the least energetic campaigns I’ve ever seen, he’s our guy and I can only hope that he has enough left to get the country to where it needs to be.

Kobe Bryant – Jordan is the greatest player I’ve ever seen, but Kobe was right there with him and it pains me to think about what his post-NBA career could have been.

Loss of Smell – One of the many frightening symptoms we heard about this year.

Murder Hornets – They gave people quite the scare back in the spring, but eventually faded into the background given everything else that went wrong.

Non-Essential – What nobody wanted to be considered this year.

Online – Work, school, shopping etc. It was all done online this year.

Parasite – The first foreign-language film to win Best Picture and it was well-deserved.

Quarantine – Another word that can’t disappear from conversation quickly enough.

Records – I only went to two concerts before everything came to a halt, so my record collection was vital.

Side Effects – With the vaccine starting to make the rounds, only time will tell if there are any unintended consequences.

Tiger King – Early on in the pandemic, you either watched it or you lied about not watching it.

Unemployment – According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, April led the way with a 14.7% unemployment rate in the United States, which was the highest since the Great Depression.

Vaccine – The future of our economy depends on it.

World Health Organization – Trump’s withdrawal was one of his many questionable decisions this year.

Xi Jinping – From suppressing data on the origins of COVID-19 to not warning people about the severity of the virus until it was too late, the President of the People’s Republic of China came off as an even greater threat this year.

YMCA – It doesn’t get more 2020 than paying for a gym membership that you haven’t used since the pandemic began just so you can get a discount on child care for three days a week that your son isn’t in school.

Zoom – In-person meetings have been replaced by video chats that allow you to mute people and essentially wear whatever you want during the call.

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