Noah Cyrus’ 10 Best Songs: Critics’ Picks

Happy birthday, Noah Cyrus!

Since her musical debut in 2016, the youngest Cyrus has developed her own sound and style, distinguishing herself as an artist separate from her famous family, and a rising pop force to be reckoned with.

In honor of her 21st birthday today (Jan. 8), Billboard has compiled 10 of Noah Cyrus’ best songs — from solo tracks to collaborations. See them below.

10. “fuckyounoah” 

Why We Love It: In one of Cyrus’ most candid tracks yet, the star gave fans a peek into her self-doubt and anxiety-ridden mind. “No one f–ks with me / ‘Cause no one ever f–king loves a b—h,” she proclaims on top of a stirring, London On Da Track-produced beat, making it a perfect, almost therapeutic song for scream-singing your insecurities away.

9. “All Falls Down” (with Alan Walker)

Why We Love It: “If it just ain’t right, and it’s time to say goodbye / When it all falls down, when it all falls down / I’ll be fine,” Cyrus sings in the glimmery dance track, marking one of the singer’s more hopeful perspectives on love. She assures herself that she’ll overcome any heartbreak, “and that’s that.”

8. “Young & Sad”

Why We Love It: Cyrus’ vulnerability shines through in this The End of Everything cut, in which she highlights her challenging upbringing as the little sister of superstar Miley Cyrus. “My sister’s like sunshine / Always bringing good light /Wherever she will go / And I was born to rain clouds,” she opens up in the second verse.”

Another member of her family, her father Billy Ray Cyrus, encourages her that “everything’s gonna be fine” in a touching voice memo that opens the track, showcasing how much Noah’s family is in her mind day-to-day.

7. “Mad at You” (with Gallant)

Why We Love It: Young love can be tough and highly passionate, and Cyrus encapsulates the whirlwind of emotions in her Good Cry highlight. The lead single from her 2018 EP featured soaring gospel-inspired harmonies and a heartfelt chorus, introducing a new, more mature side to the then-18-year-old.

6. “Again” (feat. XXXTentacion)

Why We Love It: Cyrus unveiled her collaboration with her friend XXXTentacion less than a year before his death in June 2018. The fiery track pairs Cyrus’ breathy vocals with XXX’s slurred, slow-burning verse about being “somewhere in between in love and broken.” Despite the controversy to include the embattled late rapper on her track, “Again” is one of Cyrus’ most notable turns away from her previously poppier tracks onto a darker path.

5. “Dunno”

Why We Love It: Noah took on the late Mac Miller’s sweet homage to staying in the moment with the one you love, in an effort to raise awareness for the Grammy-nominated MC’s Mac Miller Fund, which provides opportunities for youth in underserved communities through the arts. A good song for a good cause is a win-win in our book.

4. “Lonely”

Why We Love It: Cyrus’ heart-wrenching song about her struggles with depression is bolstered by an even more devastating music video directed by Symone Ridgell and the singer herself. In the clip, a chorus continually reaches out to try and help Cyrus, but she doesn’t seem to understand that they’re there — accurately portraying the feeling of being alone even when surrounded by people. “Help me, oh, please, someone help me,” her emotions shine through in the grand chorus. “I don’t care, anyone, anything/ ‘Cause I’m so sick of being so lonely.”

3. “I Got So High That I Saw Jesus”

Why We Love It: Cyrus’ country-infused voice is a perfect match for the folky nature of her The End of Everything standout. “I got so high that I saw Jesus / He said it’s all gonna be okay / You just need me in your heart / Tennessee Whiskey and love,” she assures in the soothing chorus. She later teamed up with Miley for a stunning duet version of the song at the latter’s MTV Unplugged performance.

2. “Make Me (Cry)” (with Labrinth)

Why We Love It: The 2016 collaboration with Labrinth introduced the world to Cyrus’ musical talents in a big way, showing off her impressive vocals at just 16 years old by belting about a love that’s toxic, but one that she can’t walk away from.

1. “July”

Why We Love It: “July” is a song so natural to Cyrus, it feels like it has always been a part of her. Like “Make Me (Cry),” the folk-infused ballad also showcases a toxic relationship — but this time more reflective and self-aware. “You remind me every day/ I’m not enough but I still stay,” she sings in the contemplative track.

Harry Styles’ ‘Fine Line’ Leads 2020’s Record-Breaking Year for Vinyl Album Sales in U.S.

Harry StylesFine Line helped U.S. vinyl album sales achieve yet another banner year — their highest total in 30 years of tracking — as the set closed 2020 as the top-selling vinyl album, according to MRC Data. The set sold 232,000 copies on vinyl during the tracking year (Jan. 3 through Dec. 31, 2020).

Vinyl album sales totaled 27.54 million in 2020, up 46.2% compared to 2019. 2020 marked the 15th consecutive year vinyl album sales grew, and the largest year for vinyl album sales since MRC Data began tracking sales in 1991. Vinyl LP sales also saw their best sales week ever in the MRC Data era, when 1.84 million vinyl albums were sold in the week ending Dec. 24, 2020.

Vinyl LP sales were the third-biggest-selling album format in 2020, trailing two formats that both declined: CDs (40.12 million; down 26%) and digital albums (34.39 million; down 12.5%).

Strikingly, overall album sales, across all formats (CD, digital album, vinyl LP, cassettes, etc.) had their smallest yearly decrease since 2015. In 2020, total album sales fell just 9.2% to 102.4 million – the first time yearly sales dropped by less than 10% since 2015, when volume fell by just 6% (aided by huge sales for Adele’s 25 album).

Overall album sales have been falling steadily since 2012, as consumers increasingly turn to streaming services to enjoy music.

Vinyl LP sales accounted for over a quarter of all album sales in 2020: 26.9% (27.54 million of 102.4 million). Notably, vinyl LP sales comprised a robust 40.5% of all physical albums sold in the U.S. in 2020 (27.54 million of 68.01 million). Both sums represent MRC Data-era records for vinyl’s share of the album sales market.

In 2020, there were a total of 51 albums that sold at least 50,000 copies on vinyl – up from just 23 in 2019.

1. Harry Styles, Fine Line (232,000)
2. Billie Eilish, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? (196,000)
3. Queen, Greatest Hits (176,000)
4. The Beatles, Abbey Road (161,000)
5. Soundtrack, Guardians of the Galaxy, Awesome Mix, Vol. 1 (152,000)
6. Bob Marley and The Wailers, Legend: The Best Of… (148,000)
7. Fleetwood Mac, Rumours (138,000)
8. Billie Eilish, Dont Smile at Me (126,000)
9. Michael Jackson, Thriller (125,000)
10. Kendrick Lamar, Good Kid, M.A.A.D City (117,000)
Source: MRC Data, for the tracking period Jan. 3, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2020.

Of 2020’s total vinyl LP sales, a leading 11.24 million came via the non-traditional sector of the market, which includes Internet-based retailers (Amazon, etc.), mail order and direct-to-consumer sales (such as an artist’s official webstore). That total of non-traditional vinyl LP sales grew 52.5% in 2020, up from 7.37 million in 2019.

Despite COVID-19 complications causing many physical record stores having to reimagine how they did business in 2020, the second-largest seller of vinyl album were brick-and-mortar independent record stores, with 10.94 million sold (up 45.6%). That number was likely goosed by Record Store Day’s (RSD) four separate promotions in 2020 at indie stores (three RSD drops, along with RSD Black Friday).

Mass merchants, such as Target and Walmart, were the third-largest seller of vinyl in 2020, with 3.81 million sold (up 98.5%). The tremendous growth at mass merchants is owed to Target and Walmart’s continued expansion into the vinyl market over the past few years, with both retailers dedicating more in-store square footage to vinyl and selling their own exclusive variants of vinyl LPs.

Ariel Pink Dropped by Label After Attending Pro-Trump Rally at White House

Mexican Summer has removed Ariel Pink from its roster following his attendance at a pro-Trump rally outside the White House on Wednesday (Jan. 6).

The record label announced its decision via Twitter on Friday (Jan. 8), writing, “Due to recent events, Mexican Summer and its staff have decided to end our working relationship with Ariel Rosenberg AKA Ariel Pink moving forward.”

Mexican Summer was set to release Odditties Sodomies Vol. 1, Sit n’ SpinOdditties Sodomies Vol. 3, and Scared Famous/FF>> later this month, marking the final installments of its “Ariel Archives” series.

Billboard has reached out to both Mexican Summer and Pink’s reps for comment.

On Wednesday, documentary filmmaker Alex Lee Moyer posted a now-private Instagram picture of her with Pink and John Maus lounging on a hotel bed with the caption, “the day we almost died but instead had a great time.” She also posted a video of Maus watching crowds at the U.S. Capitol, where a crowd of Trump supporters violently stormed the building.

Pink clarified on Twitter that he was not a part of the mob because “I don’t and never have advocated for violent confrontation or rioting.”

“I was in dc to peacefully show my support for the president,” he added. “i attended the rally on the white house lawn and went back to hotel and took a nap. case closed.”

He continued arguing with Twitter user @yerbalove late into the night after she reposted Moyer’s photo. See below.

Twitter Permanently Suspends Donald Trump’s Account

Twitter has permanently suspended President Donald Trump’s account “due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” the social media platform announced on Friday (Jan. 8).

The move comes two days after a crowd of Trump-supporting rioters violently clashed with law enforcement, storming the U.S. Capitol and sending the building into lockdown. At the time, Twitter and Facebook imposed temporary freezes on the president’s account.

Prior to the decision to permanently suspend his account, Trump tweeted that he will not be attending President-elect Joe Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration. In another, he wrote, “The 75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me, AMERICA FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future. They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!”

A number of celebrities have been calling out social media platforms for their inability to control the spread of misinformation and violent rhetoric on their platforms in recent months — which has allowed for both the President himself and his supporters to spread baseless claims of election fraud.

After the chaos in Washington D.C., Selena Gomez specifically called out Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google as entities, plus YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and CEO of Alphabet Inc. and Google Sundar Pichai.

“You have all failed the American people today, and I hope you’re going to fix things moving forward,” she wrote.

Borat creator Sacha Baron Cohen has been similarly vocal, slamming Dorsey for not banning Trump sooner. “5 people are dead because of Trump’s election lies–lies you helped spread!” he wrote.

See below.

Hip-Hop, Latin & Vinyl’s Popularity Grew in 2020 (Rock, Pop & CDs’ Did Not)

Even through the pandemic, the U.S. music industry continued its upward growth trend for the sixth consecutive year as overall audio consumption increased 11.6% to 756.8 million units in 2020 (up from 678.1 million units in 2019), according to MRC Data (formerly Nielsen Music).

Driving that growth, audio on-demand streams grew a whopping 17% to 872.6 billion from 2019’s total of 745.9 billion. When video streams are added in, on-demand streams totaled 1 trillion, the second year in a row the U.S. industry has reached the trillion stream-plays milestone.

Roddy Ricch’s “The Box” (via Atlantic) was the top streaming song in 2020 with 1.3 billion on-demand streams, beating out Future’s “Life Is Good” featuring Drake (via Epic), which had 1 billion on-demand streams. Lil Baby’s My Turn (via Quality Control) was the No. 1 album for the year, generating 2.6 million consumption units, with Taylor Swift’s folklore (via Republic) coming in second at 2.2 million album consumption units — of which 1.3 million were from sales (including 796,000 from downloads), making it the year’s best-selling album. In fact, Swift placed four albums in the year’s top 200 albums, as her Lover album ranked No. 33 with 878,000 album consumption units; evermore was No. 70 with 569,000 units and 1989 was No. 116 with 428,000 units.

For the 21st year in a row, Universal Music Group led all labels in market share with 38.5% in 2020, up 40 basis points from 2019’s 38.1%. Along the way, recording acts on UMG’s labels topped the Billboard 200 for 36 weeks — or 69.2% — in the year.

Streaming now comprises 84.3% of overall album consumption units, up 3% from 81.8% in 2019. Meanwhile, all sales shrank from 18.2% in 2019 to 15.8% in 2020. Physical sales accounted for 8.5% of total music consumption.

Album consumption units comprise album sales counts, track-equivalent albums whereby 10 track sales equal one album, and streaming-equivalent albums whereby 1,250 paid streams or 3,750 ad-supported streams equal one equivalent album.

Catalog outpacing current:

Catalog audio consumption album units — music available for 18 months or older — continued its upward market share creep in 2020, now comprising 63.8% of the U.S. market. Overall, it grew 12.8% to 483.2 million units from 2019’s 428.3 million units. Current audio consumption units — music available for less than 18 months and older albums that are still in the top half of the Billboard 200 and/or getting airplay at hit radio — now stand at 36.2% market share, growing overall 9.3% to 265.61 million units from 249.8 million units.

Last year, catalog was 63.5% of the market share and current was 36.5%. Back in 2015, catalog consumption units claimed 57.2% market share and current 42.8%.

By genre, hip-hop rules while rock and pop lag:

Of the three largest genres, once again R&B/Hip-Hop produced the greatest growth, up 13.8% to 211.04 million in audio album consumption units for 2020, from 185.5 million units in 2019. Its market share grew to 28.2% from 27.7% in 2019.

Rock was the second most popular genre, growing 4.3% to 150.95 audio album consumption units from 144.7 million units. And pop came in at third, up 6.1% to 97.6 million audio album consumption units from 91.3 million in 2019. But since neither genre kept pace with the industry’s 11.6% overall audio consumption growth, their U.S. market share percentages fell — rock finished 2020 with a 20.2% share in audio consumption units (down from 21.6% in 2019), while pop’s share fell to 13.04% in 2020 (from 13.73% in 2019).

Market share measurements for 2020 come with a caveat: Due to a recalibration in the way Billboard counts video streams for the charts, video streaming measurement is significantly smaller than last year. Consequently, Billboard didn’t include overall album consumption units in this analysis story since there is no apple-to-apple comparison available when looking at 2020 versus 2019. However, an earlier story published on the year’s end numbers looks at genres by all album consumption units, including audio and video streaming equivalent albums. See those market share genre numbers here.

Pandemic shakes CDs, but vinyl remains steady:

Physical music sales’ market share continues to shrink, its decline slowed in 2020, even though thousands of retail stores were shuttered early on in the pandemic; and then when re-opened, many had to limit the number of shoppers inside. Amazon also slowed and delayed delivery for product lines like CDs and vinyl so it could focus its vast fulfillment capabilities at what it termed essential items during the start of the pandemic shutdown. Yet in 2020, physical albums only dropped 7.4% to 68 million copies from 73.45 million in 2019 (compared to a 15.5% decline between 2019 and 2018). During the second half of 2020, physical music sales actually grew 4.4% to 41.1 million copies compared to the same period the year before.

Vinyl sales continue to defy expectations, growing 46.2% in 2020 to 27.54 million copies from 18.84 million in the prior year. Harry StylesFine Line was the best selling vinyl title in 2020, moving nearly 232,000 copies. For the second year in a row, Billie Eilish’s When we Fall Asleep Where Do We Go? was the second best selling vinyl album, moving nearly 196,000 copies in 2020 (up from the 176,000 it sold in 2019).

The CD format, meanwhile, was probably hurt the most by the economic downturn, scanning just 40.1 million copies in 2020 — a 26% decline, from the 54.2 million copies sold in 2019. Before the pandemic struck, the CD format had seen a dramatically slower decline: as of March 12, 2020, the format was only down 8.2% compared to the prior year.

Downloads of digital albums — which received a boost during the second quarter when brick and mortar stores where closed — totaled 32.4 million copies. That represents a slowing decline from the 39.3 million copies downloaded in 2019, down just 12.5%. Digital tracks sales fell more drastically, dropping 22.3% to 233.74 million downloads from 2019’s total of 301.1 million downloads. BTS’ “Dynamite” was the top digital song with 1.26 million copies downloaded in 2020. That’s more than twice as many as the No. 2 digital song, The Weeknd’s “Lights,” at 580,000 downloads.

Gibson Acquires Iconic Amp Manufacturer Mesa/Boogie

Guitar manufacturer Gibson has acquired boutique amplifier brand Mesa/Boogie, the company announced Wednesday.

Founded in 1969 by Randy Smith, Mesa/Boogie began as an amplifier repair shop before Smith branched out into manufacturing. Among other innovations, Smith is noted for creating a high-gain distorted guitar tone, with early customers including Carlos Santana and Ron Wood and Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones. Adam Jones of Tool and Captain Kirk Douglas of The Roots also count themselves as devotees of the brand.

Over subsequent decades, Mesa/Boogie’s MESA Engineering became a leader in tube amplifier technology and in 1991 introduced the Dual Rectifier Solo Head amp, which became a top seller for the company. Mesa/Boogie’s current flagship product is the MARK I Boogie, billed as “the world’s first high gain, high power, compact 1×12 amplifier.”

Under the terms of the acquisition, Smith will join Gibson as master designer and “pioneer of Mesa/Boogie.”

“At Gibson we are all about leveraging our iconic past and leaning into the innovative future, a quest that started over 100 years ago with our founder Orville Gibson,” said Gibson Brands president and CEO James “JC” Curleigh. “Today this quest continues with the addition of Mesa Boogie into the Gibson Brands family, along with the visionary leadership of Randy Smith and his Team who, for the past 50 years, have created an iconic and innovative brand that has stood the test of time. This is a perfect partnership based on our collective professional experiences and passion for sound.”

“I’m 75 years-old and still at work every day,” added Smith. “This is my art and many of our crew have worked along my side for 30 to 40 years. As we witnessed JC and Cesar transform Gibson, we saw kindred spirits sharing common values and a fierce dedication to quality. Today, Gibson’s guitars are the best-ever and when they asked if we’d like to become Gibson’s Custom Shop for Amplifiers, we envisioned a perfect collaboration that would expand our outreach while preserving our legacy beyond my time. Gibson realizes the unique value of what we’ve all built together and this next chapter in the Mesa/Boogie story is a continuation of that dream. I am so fortunate for this partnership with the new Gibson after 50 years of doing what I love. It’s been the ride of my life . . . and it ain’t over yet!”

Along with other guitar manufacturers, Gibson’s sales have surged during the pandemic, marking an upswing for an industry that struggled to maintain its relevance in the late 2000s and early 2010s. Gibson itself declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May 2018 following an unsuccessful expansion into consumer electronics. It emerged from bankruptcy that same October when a U.S. bankruptcy court approved a plan to wipe $500 million in debt and use as much as $70 million to support the company’s growth.

Spotify Stock Price Hits New All-Time High

What recession? The leader in the fast-growing music streaming market, Spotify reached an all-time high of $354.60 on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday, and closed at $353.48, up 7% from Thursday’s closing price and up 12.2% for the week. At Friday’s high, Spotify’s enterprise value rose to roughly $66.1 billion.

Why the investor enthusiasm? An obvious factor is Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst Jessica Reif Ehrlich’s price target hike from $357 to $428 on Wednesday. But a number of factors have had investors excited about the stock over the past year: It is the leader in music streaming and is aggressively expanding its podcast business, most notably with the strong — although controversial — launch for the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. Plus, limited pricing experiments suggest Spotify might raise prices, expand margins and improve profitability without securing better terms from rights holders.

By now, Spotify’s stock is valued far above many analysts’ assessments. The median analyst price target is $299.46, according to Refinitiv — 15.6% below Friday’s high price. Spotify isn’t alone here: the median price target for Tencent Music Entertainment, the music streaming leader in China, is 10.1% below this week’s all-time high of $21.29.

About a quarter of the week’s gain could simply reflect the New York Stock Exchange composite’s 3.3% gain; the remainder could stem from a belief that Spotify’s growth-over-profits strategy will finally give way to a growth-with-profits one.