We Asked People To Describe Each Month of 2020 with a Song, and the Answers We Got Were Amazing

2020 was a rollercoaster ride. From start to finish, it was a strange year filled with world-shifting events like a global pandemic, wildfires, lockdowns and political drama. For most of us, this was one of the most difficult periods of our lives, but through it all, we found joy in the little things, and overcame adversities by uniting and being more appreciative of each other—plus, many of us picked up a bunch of new hobbies.

All in all, we survived! If we were to pick a song to describe the whole year, it would definitely be “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor. But why pick just one song for the entire year when you can create an entire soundtrack? Here at CuttingRoomMusic, we decided to create a fun survey to see how people would describe last year by picking a song that they think best depicts the events of each month of 2020. The results that came back were pretty amazing.

With all things considered, it looks like being stuck in the house and working from home for most of last year brought out a wild sense of humor in many people. The song choices of the survey participants for each month are very entertaining, and accurately describe the emotional state we’ve all been going through during those times. With the responses gathered, we were able to create the soundtrack of 2020, and even a Spotify playlist. You can check out the playlist by scrolling down to the end of the article.

As a disclaimer, we are aware that several tragic events unfolded during 2020, but with this survey, our aim was to bring a little joy both to you, our readers, as well as to all of those who took their time to complete this survey.

January – Highway to hell

January felt like a really packed month full of events. It’s safe to say that all of us started the new year optimistic, but then things slowly started going downhill. The Australia wildfires, followed by the climate change summit, Kobe Bryant’s death, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle quitting the royal family, and the first news of COVID-19 emerging in Wuhan all occurred in January. 

It’s no wonder the majority of the respondents chose AC/DC’s iconic “Highway to Hell track to describe this month. The song’s mood and energy goes so well with what we were feeling in that particular time period. 21% of respondents also chose “We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel, clearly referencing the wildfires that were ravaging Australia. Other top-voted songs were “Bad News” by Kanye West, and “Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne.

February – Oh, the irony

February was a pretty stable month, all things considered. The most noteworthy events of the month were The Oscars, particularly Parasite winning movie of the year. The Democratic presidential debate also took place in February, as well as Trump’s (first) impeachment. The majority of survey respondents felt that Alanis Morissette’s “Ironic” best described this month.

Whether the respondents chose the song because, at the time, they actually felt like things were looking up compared to January only to be deceived later on, or because of Trump’s impeachment, is totally up for interpretation. Other songs that were picked include “February Stars“ by Foo Fighters, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough“ by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell and “Life Is Good“ by Future and Drake.

March – It’s the end of the World

By the time March arrived, the new coronavirus started spreading worldwide, and lockdowns and shelter-ins were instated. These events also triggered a stock market crash. Plus, Tom Hanks got infected with COVID-19 and we all started hoarding toilet paper for some reason. Things were starting to get just a little bit crazy.

R.E.M.’s “It’s The End Of The World” was voted by 47% of respondents as the song that best described March 2020. A bit of a dramatic choice, but the people have spoken. Other songs picked by the survey participants include “Gnarls Barkley – Crazy,“ “Bring Me The Horizon – Parasite Eve,“ and of course “Talking Heads – Paper,“ that most definitely indicates the craze regarding toilet papers at the time.

April – Times are changing, but every day is exactly the same

April found us struggling with this new pandemic, with most of us spending all of our time indoors. It seemed like the whole world was on pause this month, but we managed to find creative ways to stay optimistic by picking up new hobbies and connecting online. Still, there was a feeling of uneasiness. 

Nine Inch Nails’ “Every Day Is Exactly the Same” and Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are Changing” were both equally voted as the songs that best depicted how we felt in April 2020. “I Want to Break Free” by Queen was also voted by 19% of the survey recipients, and songs like “I Can’t Go Outside” by Channel Tres, “The Lazy Song” by Bruno Mars and “Stuck With U” by Ariana Grande & Justin Bieber were also voted at least once.

May – This is America

By the end of May, lockdowns started to be lifted, but social distancing, wearing masks at all times and disinfecting our hands became the new norm. This was also the month when the Black Lives Matter movement picked up steam. 

Things were starting to get more and more intense. For May 2020, Americans voted Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” as their song of choice.  Respondents felt that this song represented best the state they were in at that time. Three Days Grace’s “Riot,” Run the Jewels’ “Close Your Eyes” and Bastille’s “Doom Days” also received some attention. 

June – Sunshine

Suddenly, it was summer. By June, there were no more lockdowns, and we could finally enjoy some hiking trips, a beer with friends, and a refreshing walk in the park—all the while still practicing social distancing, of course. No wonder most participants chose Atmosphere’s “Sunshine” as the soundtrack of June 2020. “Sunshine” is a song about waking up from a bad hangover, and that’s exactly how at least 23% of respondents felt like. 

July – Waiting on the World to change 

For the most part, July was a breezy month. The world was slowly adapting to the work-from-home lifestyle, we were picking up new hobbies and going on trips with close friends, but the pandemic and Black Lives Matter movements were still unfolding. John Mayer’s “Waiting On the World to Change” was the top choice for the survey participants, but songs like “Stressed Out” by Twenty One Pilots and “The End Has No End” by The Strokes were also favorites.

August – The less I know, the better

By August, COVID-19 cases were dropping worldwide, and the world was getting back in motion. Sadly, this was also the month when Black Panther actor Chadwick Boseman passed away and West Coast Wildfires erupted. 27% of our survey participants chose Gary Jules’ “Mad World” as the song that best described this month, however, Tame Impala’s “The Less I Know The Better” as well as “All the Stars” by Kendrick Lamar and SZA were also among the most voted.

September – Wake me up when…

The second wave of COVID-19 was already looming in September. As the weather started getting colder, we paid even more attention to protecting ourselves against the coronavirus. Yet there still was optimism in the air. For September, it was obvious that Green Day’s “Wake Me Up When September Ends” would win by a long shot. 50% of the survey participants claimed this was their song of choice for September 2020.

October – Please, don’t stand so close to me

The second coronavirus wave started closing in, and we became more and more cautious. This was also the month when Donald Trump got infected with the COVID-19 virus. The pandemic was really getting to us at this point, that’s probably why 34% of the survey recipients chose “The Police – Don’t Stand So Close To Me” as the best song that described October 2020. “Charlotte Lawrence – Joke’s On You“ and “Ramones – I Wanna Be Sedated“ were also among the most voted songs.

November – We are the champions

Finally, election month. Joe Biden became the 46th president of the United States after a rollercoaster election process, and honestly, it seemed like everybody was talking about the elections for the entire month. “We Are the Champions” by Queen was the song of choice for November 2020, along with songs like “It Was A Good Day” by Ice Cube, “Miracle” by Rise Against, and of course, “Feel Good Inc.” by Gorillaz. 

December – Livin’ on a Prayer

The COVID-19 vaccine rollout began in December 2020. The arrival of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, which were developed in less than a year, is regarded as one of the greatest scientific accomplishments in modern history. And what better way to celebrate this glimmer of hope than spending a safe and cozy Christmas and New Year’s Eve? 

Our survey respondents decided to end the year with “Livin on a Prayer“ by Bon Jovi. 27% of the survey recipients felt like this song described December 2020. Other songs that received many votes include “Panic! At The Disco – Impossible Year,“ Leonard Cohen – “Hallelujah“ and Kool & The Gang – “Celebration.

And just like that, the year was over. 2020 had its ups and downs, but we made it through, and all of us felt a little more hopeful by the end of the year. You can listen to the soundtrack of 2020 on our Spotify playlist below.

Methodology

The survey was created with Google Forms, and distributed on Reddit and PollFish. For the Reddit distribution, we allowed open-ended responses. On PollFish, we provided a set of songs for respondents to vote from. We then aggregated the responses in Microsoft Excel to see the total percentage of songs voted from both distributions.

‘Mank,’ ‘Soul,’ or ‘Sound of Metal’ – Which Movie Will Take Home the Oscar for Best Sound in 2021?

And the Academy Award for Best Sound Goes To…? Probably a question many of us are asking ourselves, especially when so many great movies with incredible sound design and exceptional mixing came out last year. It’s anyone’s guess who is taking home the award this year, but a small “tweak” to this category makes it so much easier to predict the winner.  

For the 93d Academy Awards edition, the motion picture academy merged Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing, the two distinguished categories, into one: Best Sound. With the two former awards often going to the same film, the academy decided that combining the two for the upcoming 2021 Oscars was a “sound” choice. Both sound editors and mixers will be recognized in the new category.

Even though the two categories are merged, sound editing and sound mixing are still different processes. Sound editing, for example, is the art of putting various sound tracks and sound pieces together, everything from sound effects to dialogue, foley sounds and automated dialogue replacement. Sound mixing, on the other hand, refers to the skillful adjustment of the overall sound, score and music levels throughout the motion picture.

A brief history lesson of the Best Sound Oscar Category

The last time both of these categories were combined was way back in 1962. Since then, the Best Sound category was split up between various categories, including Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing. 

With both being obviously distinct, the merger still makes sense because, for the past few years, both awards went to the same movie. One of the few exceptions occurred last year, when sports drama film Ford v Ferrari won the Best Sound Editing trophy, while Christopher Nolan’s 1917 took home the award for Best Sound Mixing.

These categories have typically favored blockbusters, with films such as Bohemian Rhapsody, Dunkirk, Mad Max: Fury Road, Inception, as well as The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King winning both awards in their respective year.

But enough with the history lessons. Let’s see which films are eligible for this year’s “Best Sound” award.

Who will take home the Oscar for Best Sound in 2021?

Netflix is dominating this category. Unfortunately, this pandemic has put a huge dent in theatrical releases, and several 2020 movies have been either pushed to a new 2021 release date, or went straight to online streaming. “With the Oscars going virtual this year, it’s surely a game-changer,” said Adonis Tsilimparis, Composer and Co-Founder at Cutting Room Music. “The COVID 19 Pandemic has certainly revolutionized the Film Industry so much that it has put a final nail in the coffin of movie theater revenue.

“The streaming world has seen the advent of so many new services like Disney Plus, Discovery Plus and others,” continued Adonis. Many films are now bypassing the traditional theatrical route and are going directly to streaming services. It’s obvious that this will, in turn, affect the nomination process of the Oscars.” There are a handful of movies released by streaming platforms with incredible sound design that could end up being nominated, or even snatching the Oscar Statuette.

For this year’s edition, the event will be held exclusively online, so everyone will be attending from the comfort of their homes. So, before grabbing our popcorn and tuning into the awards—or actually seeing the official nominees list—let’s take a look at some predictions.

The Midnight Sky (Netflix)

Randy Thom, Dan Hiland, Todd Beckett, Danny Hambrook and Bjorn Schroeder worked on the sound design for George Clooney’s The Midnight Sky. Randy Thom, a 15-time Academy Award nominee and two-time winner, created an incredible sound experience for the movie, which he details in an exclusive interview at A Sound Effect. The amount of talent that went into the sound design of the movie from all these incredible artists can be heard and felt throughout the movie. The Midnight Sky will definitely land a nomination, if not even the trophy. The movie’s score was composed by Alexandre Desplat.

The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Netflix)

The story of the movie follows 7 people on trial due to various charges surrounding the uprising at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois. Renee Tondelli, Dan Kenyon, Julian Slater, Michael Babcock, Thomas Varga helmed the sound design of the movie. Almost each of these artists have one or more previous academy award nominations for either best sound mixing or best sound editing. A deep, unsettling tension can be felt throughout the movie, thanks to the incredible work that went into its sound design.

Mank (Netflix)

Equipped with a stellar cast, Mank is the story of a social critic and alcoholic screenwriter scrambling to finish the screenplay of Citizen Kane for Orson Welles. The story, which is set in 1930s Hollywood, is captivating, and what David Fincher manages to accomplish with top-notch directing, Ren Klyce, Jeremy Molod, David Parker, Nathan Nance and Drew Kunin manage to improve further with incredible sound design. Without a doubt this movie is among the top choices for getting nominated or even winning the Best Sound award.

Soul (Pixar)

The heartfelt movie Soul is about a musician who has lost his passion for music, is transported out of his body and must find his way back with the help of an infant soul learning about herself. Coya Elliott, Ren Klyce, David Parker and Vince Caro sound mixing and editing are at the core of the movie, accompanied by the original soundtrack composed by NIN’s Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.

Sound of Metal (Amazon Studios)

Starring Riz Ahmed, this movie can be considered a masterpiece for its sound alone. The story revolves around a heavy-metal drummer’s life, which goes into a whirlwind when he starts losing his hearing. Phillip Bladh, Nicolas Becker, Jaime Baksht, Michelle Couttolenc, Carlos Cortés and Carolina Santana worked on the sound design, and the original score was produced by a handful of artists and musicians, including the star of the movie, Riz Ahmed.

Conclusion

The incredible talent and hard work that went into the sound design creation for these films is breathtaking, and honestly, we can’t wait to see at least one or two of them get nominated. Apart from these 5 movies, there are countless others deserving both of a nomination and even a win for the Best Sound category, including titles such as TENET, Wonder Woman 1984, The United States vs. Billie Holiday, News of the World, and many more.

Here at CuttingRoomMusic, we believe quality sound design, sound engineering and original compositions make movies come to life. If you’re looking for a partner to breathe life into your work with music or sound, our dedicated team of talented professionals with a wide range of skills, experience, and connections is ready to jump aboard your project. We love what we do, we do it with passion and we look forward to working with you.

The Most Successful Theme Songs in Daniel Craig’s Bond Movies: Billie Eilish Tops Adele in Spotify Streams

When we hear the name Bond…James Bond, we immediately think of slick tuxedos, incredible charm and charisma, huge explosions, and of course, beautiful women. Agent 007 is by far the most thrilling spy anyone can think of, and James Bond movies have been a hit ever since the first movie came out back in 1962, starring the late Sean Connery. In fact, ‘Double O7’ was popular even before making it to the big screen, captivating readers since the first Bond novel was published in the 1950s.

Obviously, top-of-the-line acting done by some of the most talented people portraying James Bond made the movies a huge success. But apart from great actors, writers and directors, the movies were also brought to life by incredible soundtracks and music. Even as you are reading this, you can practically hear the classic Bond theme song playing in your head – or is it just us?

With a brand-new James Bond movie coming up in this year, what better time to talk about Agent 007 than now? Here at CuttingRoomMusic, music, and particularly soundtracks, are our bread and butter, and we wanted to find a fun way to pass the time while we wait for the new movie. 

We analyzed the theme songs of all the James Bond movies starring Daniel Craig, to see how they performed in charts, sales, and streams. Theme songs for the Daniel Craig 007 series were recorded by artists such as Adele, Chris Cornell, Billie Eilish, and other A-list contemporary musicians. 

To calculate the revenue for the number of streams on platforms such as Spotify and YouTube, we used Music Gateway’s streaming royalties calculator.

Let’s see which songs made the most noise.

1. Casino Royale – Chris Cornell: You Know My Name 

Casino Royale was the first Daniel Craig Bond movie, and what better recording artist to helm the iconic franchise reboot with a new theme song than late Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell? “You Know My Name” was a bold choice for the movie soundtrack, especially because it had been a long time since a rock artist had attempted to have a go at a James Bond theme song. 

Fortunately, the late Chris Cornell nailed it, and the song was well received. It was bold and unique, and hearing the song, we all knew that James Bond was back. The song peaked at #7 in the UK charts, and 79 in the US Billboard Hot 100, where it spent 2 weeks.

“You Know My Name” sold 323,000 digital copies, according to Variety. On Spotify alone, the song racked up over 48 million streams since its release, which roughly equates to almost $200,000 in revenue. On YouTube, on the channel it got originally released on, the song racked up 21 million views, about $36,750.

2. Quantum of Solace – Jack White & Alicia Keys: Another Way to Die

With this new Bond series, it seemed like the creators wanted to explore new possibilities with music. The Quantum of Solace theme song featured two vocalists, namely Jack White and Alicia Keys. Their chemistry captured the essence of the movie, all the way from the electric guitar parts to the quieter piano moments.

It was a rather unique pairing, and it definitely brought up debates among fans related to whether two vocalists were a great choice or not for a Bond theme song. The song didn’t perform so well in the charts, peaking at #81 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and spending only one week there. It sold around 260,000 units.

Jack White and Alicia Keys’ Another Way to Die racked up around 30 million streams on Spotify, earning about $120,000 to date. On YouTube, the music video has been viewed 21 million times, making around $36,750.

3. Skyfall – Adele: Skyfall

Quite frankly, this song exploded once it got released, and you could hear it everywhere. Adele brought her A-game—as usual—going into the song, and created a masterpiece. The iconic song, with the same name as the movie, even brought an Oscar for Adele for Best Original Song.

The song captures the dark and moody plot of the film, hitting sweet spots of both nostalgia and tragedy. The song breathed life into the movie, and it was also very catchy, of course. Adele’s Skyfall sold 2 million copies in the US alone, went double Platinum, and peaked at number 8 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. It became Adele’s first song to debut in the top 10, with 261,000 copies sold in the US during its first three days. The song spent 30 weeks in the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

As for streaming numbers, on Spotify, the song is currently at almost 180 million plays, which roughly equates to $720,000 in revenue for the artist. On YouTube, the music video racked up over 423 million views, which is roughly $740,250 in revenue.

4. Spectre – Sam Smith: Writings On The Wall

Without a doubt, Sam Smith felt a little bit of pressure when writing the new Bond song: there was a lot to live up to after Adele’s Skyfall. But luckily, the artist came through just fine. Sam Smith also took home an Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Writings On The Wall,” as well as a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song.

The lyrics narrate Bond’s character impressively, and the melody blends exquisitely with classic Bond theme songs. Even though the song won an Oscar and several other awards, some fans and music connoisseurs still argue whether the song is overrated or not.

Writings On The Wall peaked at #71 on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent 11 weeks in the top 100. The song went Platinum in the US, selling over 1 million units. As far as streaming numbers go, on Spotify, the song has been played over 186 million times, which equates to about $744,000. On YouTube, the song racked up 231 million views, which is roughly $924,000 in revenue for the artist.

5. No Time to Die – Billie Eilish: No Time To Die

No Time to Die by Billie Eilish is the latest Bond theme song. It also marks an important milestone: the 18-year-old artist is the youngest person to ever record a 007 theme song. The tune is full of mystery, it’s haunting, dark, and moody—in line with both Billie Eilish and James Bond. The song complements both the recording artist and Agent Double O7. 

“No Time To Die” can also be regarded as a swan song for Daniel Craig, as most likely this is the actor’s final outing as James Bond. The lyrics of the song are in perfect harmony with the chords and orchestration and seamlessly fit in the Bond universe. Billie Eilish performed the song alongside legendary composer Hans Zimmer at the 2020 Brit Awards, and we’re yet to find out how many awards this theme song will take home.

Currently, the song sold 500,000 units in the US, and its streaming numbers are rising at a fast pace. On Spotify, it has been streamed 264 million times ($1 million in revenue), already surpassing previous Bond theme songs in just a couple of months. On YouTube, the music video has been viewed 27 million times, earning $47,250.

Movie NameTheme SongUS Billboard Hot 100 Peak PositionTotal Spotify StreamsTotal Spotify RevenueTotal YouTube ViewsTotal YouTube RevenueUS RIAA Certification
Casino Royale (2006)Chris Cornell – You Know My Name7948,000,000$200,00021,000,000$36,750
Quantum of Solace (2008)Jack White & Alicia Keys – Another Way to Die8130,000,000$120,00021,000,000$36,750
Skyfall (2012)Adele – Skyfall8180,000,000$720,000423,000,000$740,2502x Platinum
Spectre (2015)Sam Smith – Writings On The Wall71186,000,000$744,000231,000,000$924,000Platinum
No Time To Die (2021)Billie Eilish – No Time To Die16264,000,000$1,000,00027,000,000$47,250Gold

Conclusion

There are countless elements that make a movie great, and one of them, of course, is the music. James Bond movies have always been known for incorporating incredible music in cinematography, all the way from singers to world-class composers like Hans Zimmer, David Arnold, and John Barry. James Bond theme songs are so iconic that the movies would be totally different without them, and the soundtrack of the films is also a crucial element in setting the mood and tone for the viewing experience.

Here at CuttingRoomMusic, we’re on the same mission: making movies come alive with incredible sound design and original compositions. If you’re looking for a partner to breathe life into your work with music, our dedicated team of talented professionals with a wide range of skills, experience, and connections is ready to jump aboard your project. We love what we do, we do it with passion and we look forward to working with you.