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Reimagined– what does it mean? By definition, to “reimagine” means to reinterpret, to imaginatively rethink; in the context of music, the meaning shifts to reflect something different: showcasing another facet of one’s artistry, and in 2020, a noteworthy handful of artists took their musicianship to the next level. 

However you want to classify them– acoustic, stripped, unplugged– here are the Top 20 Reimagined Releases of 2020, as decided by the CaliberTV staff and Discord server.

20. Blossoms – “There’s A Reason Why I Never Returned Your Calls – In Isolation”

Blossoms demonstrate how there’s excitement yearning to be found in the mundane with ‘Everyday I Write The Book (In Isolation)’, a collection of covers and alternate recordings. “There’s A Reason Why (I Never Returned Your Calls) – In Isolation” takes the band’s ability to seamlessly weave sounds of indie rock and pop to spark inexplicable sentiment in listeners a step further.

19. I Prevail “Hurricane- Reimagined”

The keystone track off I Prevail’s grammy-nominated album, ‘Trauma’, reshapes itself to tap into the band’s gloomier musical fragility. Without sacrificing its emotional rawness in the process, “Hurricane – Reimagined” illustrates there’s always an alternate side to every story.

18. DROELOE “Sunburn – Reimagined”

Three years of basking in the bouncy progression and hard-hitting drop of “Sunburn” implored Dutch powerhouse DROELOE to subtly reconstruct the song, giving “Sunburn – Reimagined” a new stripped-back and airy ambience. “Reimagined” has its own unique definition in the world of EDM.

17. VÉRITÉ “think of me – acoustic”

Indie-pop artist VERITE’s playful breakup anthem, “think of me – acoustic”, acknowledges the negative side of relationships with refusal to glamorize them in the process. Self-admission of detachment and resulting pain echo with an emotionally raw and heartfelt tone as the lyrics once again deliver the song’s bitter, vengeful twist. In hindsight, making light of devastation can be productive.

16. Motionless In White “Another Life: Motion Picture Collection (feat. Kerli)”

Motionless In White never fail to embed an indescribably theatrical quality in their sound, and “Another Life”’s cinematic reboot is no exception. Kerli lends her passionate and ethereal voice to accompany the orchestrally-driven ballad that speaks to the heartbreak in separation.

15. Wage War “Grave – Stripped”

Metalcore shapeshifters Wage War attest to their confidence in crafting a song equally anthemic and evocative with “Grave – Stripped”; this rendition is just hard-hitting as its original counterpart, in a different way. Hashing out residual feelings evoked by toxicity and pain from unstable relationships brings the band’s melodic side into the spotlight.

14. Yonaka “Bad Company – Stripped Back”

The English anti-pop quartet remain standing firm in their captivating presence on their ‘Yonaka Stripped Back’ EP. Removing the riffs and layers that help create the song’s sonically apprehensive atmosphere from the equation, this translation of “Bad Company” is nonetheless moving and amplifies its lonely, depressive demeanor in a way that can’t go unnoticed.

13. Selfish Things “Torn – Alternate Version”

Rarely does resounding desperation and disdain generate a concept so inexplicably moving. Selfish Things’ reimagined EP, ‘Logos // Alternate Versions’, extends an abbreviated reflection on the poignant and critical analysis demonstrated throughout band’s debut album ‘Logos’. Cinematic orchestral instrumentation elevate “Torn”‘s subtly anthemic chorus as every word breathes a sort of aching culpability.

12. Makari “Transient – (acoustic)”

Makari grow tiresome of days dragging out with melancholy and call upon fate for a reason to persist on their acoustic rendition of “Transient”. “Transient – (acoustic)” seeks its somber character through its words rather than its delivery as roaring passion behind the progressively outspoken vocals balance the more gentle and ambient qualities residing in the track’s instrumentals.

11. Neon Trees “Used To Like (Acoustic)”

‘I Can Feel You Forgetting Me’ was inarguably Neon Trees’ most mature exposition to date, and notably provided the synthwave-powered summer soundtrack many needed. Substituting bright and danceable energy accompanied a cadence with attitude for something more nuanced and somber make the sorrow residing in “Used To Like (Acoustic)” more clear than ever.

10. CHVRCHES “Forever – Separate But Together Version”

To Scottish electropop trio CHVRCHES, “Love Is Dead” isn’t a straightforward statement; it’s a question, a pause, and an antithesis. Devoid of the band’s signature huge synths, “Forever – Separate But Together” resurges to prove CHVRCHES are just as talented with guitars and a piano at their fingertips, and that “Forever” isn’t as prideful or cold-hearted as it seems.

9. Silverstein “Infinite – Alternate Version”

Releasing an album-of-the-year contender equally relieving and completely unexpected wasn’t enough for post-hardcore’s household name Silverstein. R&B beats and collective suffering are the springboard for an appropriately minimal atmosphere unlike anything on ‘A Beautiful Place To Drown’. Uncertain, “Infinite – Alternate Version” doesn’t scream into the void—it trades never-ending anger for sadness on a raw, real portrayal of the feelings it alludes to.

8. Flor “unsaid”

Flor’s unyielding desire to explore each angle of their creativity gave way to making the ‘reimagined’ EP. With the assistance of a bouncy synth riff, the alternative-pop group gracefully breathe new life into “unsaid”, ultimately changing it into a more upbeat song that reflects the simplicity and retrospect on the youthful curiosity channeled into making it.

7. Falling In Reverse “The Drug In Me Is Reimagined”

Falling In Reverse’s debut album ‘The Drug In Me Is You’ went gold, and the band saw it fit to pay a celebratory tribute to their most loyal and long-standing listeners with an equally clever and innovative new rendition of its title track. “The Drug In Me Is Reimagined” undergoes a metamorphosis into a ballad, grandiosely crescendoing into an emotive eruption. Though devoid of its usually upbeat nature, it’s arguably the most genuine song Falling In Reverse have released.

6. Sleep Token “Blood Sport – from the room below”

Insatiable curiosity is written in the human condition’s code, and Sleep Token embracing the comfort of uncertainty is a force to be reckoned with. “Blood Sport – from the room below” spirals into sentimental agony with soft-spoken visceral power. Reducing the song’s sound to just a voice and keys— rather than continuing to explore the band’s idiosyncrasies— better attests to Sleep Token’s mission: imploring listeners to foster a connection with the emotion their music evokes rather than try to decipher the band’s mystery. 

5. Thousand Below – “lost between”

While “alone (out of my head)” yields the band’s best chorus and an acoustic rendition better than the original, “lost between” is the moment Thousand Below ascend to the sound they’re meant to resonate. Reminiscing on the second side of the same disheartened coin, the delicate and subdued acoustic EP ‘let go of your love’ shows how Thousand Below run with their creativity, remodeling “lost between”into a synth-driven track that shines with striking vulnerability.

4. Crown The Empire “blurry (out of place) – acoustic”

2020 uprooting the music industry sparked an epiphany for Crown The Empire to purge their emotions in the method musicians know best: productively. With fearless foresight on what the band’s future holds, acoustic album 07102010 commemorates leaving sonic aggression in the shadows to write a more somber and meaningful narrative; “blurry (out of place) – acoustic” is reworked to turn the song’s search for truth and meaning inward.

3. PVRIS “Hallucinations – Acoustic”

Assuming a stripped-back and ghostly persona makes for a standout track amongst PVRIS’ dark and danceable pop sound. Rendering itself as an almost entirely different song, the confessional “Hallucinations – Acoustic” navigates the haze of loss, confusion, and reminders of someone’s presence long after they’ve disappeared.

2. Machine Gun Kelly – “bloody valentine (acoustic)”

After proving he can get away with pulling a total 180 and pushing a niche genre farther into the mainstream with his album, ‘Tickets To My Downfall’, Machine Gun Kelly gives his energetic single “Bloody Valentine” a darker take. Where “bloody valentine – acoustic” lacks upbeat energy, it appropriately triggers heart-wrenching nostalgia in a way that alludes to acoustic renditions from pop-punk golden era.

1. Bad Omens “Mercy (Unplugged)”

“Mercy (Unplugged)” serves as an alternate deliberation of the same idea— conducting the same search for higher truth. Vocalist Noah Sebastian endures critical self-analysis through introspective lyricism resounding with defeat, while simultaneously questioning “how” and “why” faith and humanity render themselves so blind. Ridding the band of their trademark sound to showcase their equally versatile shadow side, ‘FGBGFM Unplugged’ insists Bad Omens continue to tap into their enigmatic persona and evolve with limitless potential; welcome to the best reimagined project of 2020.

Serene Indie/pop princess and real life Powerpuff Girl. Finds intrigue in ambient soundscapes, vulnerability, and conviction.