2020 has been certainly one for the books as it started off with the tragic loss of iconic basketball player Kobe Bryant, followed by the Coronavirus pandemic, the calls for social justice after the senseless murder of George Floyd and the effects of the on-going pandemic. The start of the new decade still brought out some great music to pull us through these distraught times and we’ve put together our list of the top 20 songs of the year!
20. Taylor Swift “mirrorball”
In the same year, Taylor Swift dropped two studio albums ‘folklore’ during the summer and just recently, it’s companion, ‘evermore’. Swift keeps proving and pushing herself as a creative artist with each album sounding different than the last, and these albums prove she’s got a lot more tricks up her sleeve. “mirrorball” off Folklore is a charming folk-pop song that captures the essence of a sonic dreamy 90s vibe.
19. Cautious Clay “Agreeable”
Brooklyn artist Joshua Karpeh aka Cautious Clay really keeps outdoing himself and worthy of the critical praise and online buzz. His single “Agreeable” is off his upcoming debut album and its overarching message of compromise accompanied by the chill vibes makes for a timeless record.
18. Thundercat “Funny Thing”
Off his fourth studio album It Is What It Is , Thundercat released his spring song “Funny Thing” which has some funky groovy riffs reminiscent of Daft Punk. Although elevated by its use on TikTok, the song stands on its own merits and is one that many can’t get enough of.
17. The Strokes “Bad Decisions”
The Strokes returning with new music was probably the best news of 2020! Their highly anticipated sixth studio album ‘The New Abnormal’ dropped this spring and their breakout single “Bad Decisions” is classic Strokes enhanced by the sample of Billy Idol’s “Dancing with Myself”.
16. HINDS “Good Bad Times”
2020 just feels like that “Good Bad Times”. Yet, all-female group Hinds has created an empowering and uplifting song that’s super catchy with its dreamy vibes!
15. Slowthai “BB (Bodybag)”
British rapper Slowthai released his debut album last year and is working on his follow-up scheduled for next year. The single “BB (Bodybag)”, which has been featured on our New Music Friday playlist is filled with mouth-spitting of verses that keeps you wanting more!
14. Grimes “Delete Forever”
After having a baby and dropping a new album ‘Miss Anthroposcene‘, Grimes is on top in 2020. She’s the queen of electronic trip-hop/ power pop and it says so in “Delete Forever” plus adding melodic folk dance into the mix.
13. Remi Wolf “Woo!”
Getting attention after her American Idol audition and signing onto Island Records, Remi Wolf is finding her sound, as exhibited in the single “Woo!”
12. Billie Eilish “Everything I Wanted”
Grammy winner Billie Eilish, along with her brother Finneas crafted one of the most raw and vulnerable songs to date for her to sing. The ode to their bond is light and filled with honesty as Eilish expertly croons and whispers on easily one of her best songs to date.
11. Dream Wife “Hasta La Vista”
Dream Wife are more than just a trio of womxn, but they’re activists with their own music and fighting for gender equality. “Hasta La Vista” off their sophomore album ‘So When You Gonna…’ is what they describe as their “Blondie” song and is airy and bouncy.
10. Charli XCX- “Forever”
Taylor Swift isn’t the only one who stayed busy writing and recording a new album in 2020. Last year, Charli XCX dropped her third studio album ‘Charli’ which featured many collaborations. When the lockdowns and quarantine hit, it really impacted, affected, and motivated Charli XCX to release a new album ‘How I’m Feeling Now’ the following year. The single “Forever” is a synth-pop love ballad and is delicately crafted that makes it stand out as one of the best.
9. Arlo Parks “Black Dog”
Arlo Parks has garnered much recognition with her the release, “Black Dog,” a song she describes as being about “the feeling of helplessness that comes along with watching a loved one suffer.” The song was actually written long before the pandemic as Parks explained, “it’s supposed to make people who are struggling feel less isolated and start a conversation surrounding the prevalence of mental health issues in today’s world.” “Black Dog” is soulful and melancholy yet the pain in the song makes it beautiful. Arlo Parks is definitely an artist on the rise!
8. The 1975 “If You’re Too Shy”
“If You’re Too Shy” off The 1975’s fourth studio album ‘Notes On A Conditional Form’ is one of the few singles that sound like the genesis of The 1975. The upbeat track starts with a soft intro led by guitarist Adam Hahn as drummer George Daniel kicks off to cue the rest of the band into the song’s catchy melody and seductive sax playing into the chorus. The song is topical in nature as it talks about an online love affair with a stranger as the protagonist eventually falls prey to her demands.
7. Fiona Apple “Shameika”
Singer Fiona Apple made a strong return with her fifth studio album Fetch The Bolt Cutters (Epic Records) this year. It had been eight years since Apple released her previous album The Idler Wheel… (2012) and the wait was certainly worth it. “Shameika” has been nominated for Best Rock Song and Performance and the piano ballad is one of the best tracks on the album.
6. Dominic Fike “Chicken Tenders”
Dominic Fike released his highly anticipated debut album ‘What Could Possibly Go Wrong‘ and the song “Chicken Tenders” has been wildly successful and rightfully so. It’s a complete genre-bending song with a catchy melody and emits a fun vibe.
5. 070 Shake “Guilty Conscience”
Signing with Def Jam and collaborating with her labelmate Kanye West, 070 Shake is a true poet at heart, as her lyricism in “Guilty Conscience” is a great example of wordplay. What captivates us with her song is the perfect blend of R&B and synth-pop that begs for more music from 070 Shake!
4. Holly Humberstone “Falling Asleep at the Wheel”
Rising UK artist Holly Humberstone recently dropped her debut EP Falling Asleep at the Wheel, which has been garnering well over 45 million streams. The self-titled track has been a milestone for Humberstone who was discovering herself as an artist at that time. She mentioned the song is about “losing momentum and feeling like your emotions will slowly destroy the relationship you’re in and you altogether.” The dark sonics and keyboard in the background add a whole other level to the single.
3. Tame Impala “Is It True”
“Is It True” off of Tame Impala’s fourth studio album ‘The Slow Rush’ has such a Phoenix vibe with its psychedelic disco roots and is a fun and dancey track that is one of the best songs on the album.
2. The Weeknd “Blinding Lights”
“Blinding Lights” from The Weeknd was absolutely the summer jam of 2020! With its infectious 80s-inspired synths that you can’t help but dance and sing along to. “Blinding Lights” is another chart-topping single for The Weeknd, which should’ve been nominated for a Grammy!
1. Phoebe Bridgers “Kyoto”
“Kyoto” (named after a city in Japan) is Phoebe Bridgers’ second single offer her sophomore album ‘Punisher’. Her parents’ divorce when she was twenty-years old inspired the sentimental and mid-tempo ballad while featuring Warpaint’s Jenny Lee Lindberg accompanied by a variety of instruments including autoharp and mellotron.