Top 100 Songs Of 2020 (100-81)
2020 was the year that K-Pop went mainstream, Taylor Swift went indie and just about every genre crossed over with disco
While most of us define the soundtrack of our lives over the span of our entire life, 2020 has been a year where music carried far more cultural and historical impact than we’d ever imagine. Gone were live concerts and tours and instead we found comfort in the classics and artists found new creative ways to share music. In many ways, music transcended all of the technological advances of the modern era and instead echoed a time when we sat and listened to songs over the transistor radio.
So rather than moving our bodies in a club or rocking out at a stadium, we kept our headphones on and like Robyn once sang, we kept dancing on our own.
With the significant decrease in full sized albums, I decided to double the number of songs selected for my curated, highly subjective annual list. And for the first time, because of this increased number, I’m allowing more than one single by an artist to feature on the chart. To be fair, I’ve only included the top two singles by them so as to ensure more diversity of artists and styles in my ranker.
Most years, I don’t think I would have even had multiple songs from one artist but this year there were some candidates that had way too worthy singles.
This year, my list is far more dance-heavy, probably because it fueled my motivation to stay positive and keep moving…no matter what. A reminder, this list based on my initial review of the song, its repeat value, the number of listens (I do not alter this even if I may regret it later!) and how the song has aged since my initial listen. Love it or hate it, enjoy and be sure to debate!
100. Hayley Williams – “Simmer”
Paramore’s front lady steps out on her own with this debut single. The explosive song that explores Williams experience with abuse creates a dark yet touching moment. The entire album “Petals of Armor” showcases the singer’s vulnerability and “Simmer” is hands down the highlight.
99. Emeli Sande, Stonebwoy, Nana Rogues – “More Of You”
Brit sensation Emeli Sande is back, this time in a collaboration with Ghanaian artist Stonebwoy and fellow Brit songwriter Nana Rogues for the banger “More Of You”. This unique pairing creates an otherwise benign love song into something far more timeless and current. We need more of this, more Afro soul and of course more of Sande please!
98. Caylee Hammack – “Small Town Hypocrite”
The country singer digs deep into her personal relationships for the beautiful “Small Town Hypocrite”. The Nashville songwriter doesn’t simply play victim on the song, she owns up to her own missteps making for a heartbreaking song that understandably has resonated with listeners well beyond country radio and with good reason!
97. Yves Tumor – “Gospel For A New Century”
Without a genre, Yves Tumor has slowly but surely been creating a lane for himself. “Gospel For A New Century”, the lead single from his latest album “Heaven To A Tortured Mind” blends rock and soul in just the way required to create a modern anthem but the lyrical depth here is what makes for repeat listens. Tumor seems to be soaring to greater heights with each album and with standouts like this opening track, it’s no wonder he keeps ranking up high with critics year after year.
96. London Grammar – “Baby It’s You”
UK natives London Grammar came back with this Balearic banger. More akin to fan favorites like “Metal & Dust”, Grammar finds the perfect way to give us what we expect from their records but there is a bit more than just familiar atmosphere here, it’s lighter, and lead singer Hannah Reid sounds more relaxed, dare I say happier which elevates the song and the feel to a far more positive place. A welcome change!
95. Sasha Sloan, Charlie Puth – “Is It Just Me?”
I’ve been drawn to Sloan ever since her feature on ODESZA’s “Fall”. This year, she finally released her debut album “Only Child”. The Cali native confesses the many questions that she has about things she sees. With help from fellow singer songwriter Charlie Puth, Sloan finds an equally playful partner to engage in the comical and at times cynical nature of the lyrics. “Is It Just Me?” is deeper than it sounds much like Sloan herself.
94. Little Dragon – “Hold On”
Swedish pop band Little Dragon rarely disappoints and they started the year with “Hold On”, the first single from their “New Me, Same Us” LP. The song nicely mixes house with classic Dragon quirks. A great record that kept me moving throughout the year. And for once, Dragon didn’t need to wait for remixers to get the party started, they made their own fun this time around!
93. Alicia Keys, Sampha – “3 Hour Drive”
Rarely does Alicia Keys fail to have at least one song from her latest album not make it into my year end chart and this year that single happens to be her wonderful duet with a fellow fave of mine, Sampha. “3 Hour Drive” is classic Keys, oozing sensuality, creating an atmosphere that speeds its way through the song thanks to her comforting vocals. The addition of Sampha just elevates the song to instant classic status.
92. Phoebe Bridgers – “I See You”
“Punisher”, Phoebe Bridgers follow-up release to her 2017 debut “Stranger In The Alps” was a valiant sophomore album and the single “I See You” aka “ICU” is probably its shining star. The single about a breakup takes a road less traveled lyrically, focusing on the co-dependency angle which makes the song feel so raw, honest and truly a gem.
91. Victoria Monet, Khalid, SG Lewis – “Experience”
Khalid guested a number of times this year but for me his best collaboration was with Victoria Monet alongside SG Lewis. It’s a sonically joyful breakup jam, where the two lament about their unfaithful exes and their hope that they’ve have learned from “Experience”. One of way too many disco jams to make the cut this year but how can you resist?
90. Moses Sumney – “Cut Me”
Hurt is good. Here, Moses Sumney gently but beautifully showcases his perfect falsetto talking about learning about life the hard way. Avant-garde in style, Sumney is a rock artist but offers bared-boned soul here on “Cut Me”, a cut above the rest and a name we all should look out for.
89. The Chicks – “March March”
Nearly a decade and a half later and with a modified politically uncharged new name, The Chicks returned to a whole new music scene but with an impressive album featuring yet again a stellar selection of songs that charged with meaning, poignancy and value. “March March” stood out for its message and its hypnotic yet simple beat. Everything we always loved about these trailblazers came together impressively here and we’ll march with them no matter where they take us.
88. Sofi Tukker, Gorgon City – “House Arrest”
Well if you needed to express your frustrations about being under “House Arrrest” this year during the global pandemic, Sofi Tukker with a little help from Gorgon City made sure you did it while dancing your ass off. Isolated clubbing never sounded so exciting.
87. Sam Smith, Burna Boy – “My Oasis”
I’m a little embarrassed by the presence of this song. Not because it’s a bad song, actually it’s a great song with poignant lyrics. But, Sam Smith this year created cover blasphemy in my opinion and I’m still left with the most loathsome feeling about it. Smith’s cover of Donna Summer’s untouchable “I Feel Love” is genuine garbage and it makes me cringe that a new generation will associate his version with the way they identify to that classic. But having said that, “My Oasis” is definitely far better suited for the singer and Burna Boy’s presence most certainly helps the song level up.
86. GASHI, DJ Snake, Afro B, Chris Brown – “Safety 2020”
Ok. So “Safety” was a hit in 2019 for DJ Snake and GASHI but at the early onset of 2020, an updated version featuring Chris Brown and Afro B came out and suddenly the song felt like a blockbuster. Adding new verses to complement GASHIs, the single managed to blend the varied stylings of the three artists while all perfectly fitting into a signature DJ Snake production.
85. RAYE, Rudimental – “Regardless”
For quite some time now I’ve been talking about RAYE’s vocals and its similarity to 00’s club queen Nadia Ali (of iio). Well, it almost seems predestined then that RAYE alongside Rudimental would use “Rapture (Tastes So Sweet)” as a catalyst for their collaboration “Regardless”. Sing along, dance along, smile along or just groove along, this is guaranteed to blow up in 2021 and if it doesn’t, well, I just can’t see that NOT happening.
84. Ariana Grande – “positions”
With a surprise album, a more mature Ariana Grande stepped back into the spotlight. The first release from the album “positions” is definitely the winner of the lot. It is sassy, clever and under 3 minutes of pure pop perfection, exactly what we expect from Grande. There’s truly no better heir apparent to Mariah Carey and Grande has proven time and time again, there’s a reason why she’s on top of the charts.
83. Tate McRae – “you broke me first”
A late 2019 release that got its true legs in 2020. Okay yes I thought this was Camila Cabello the first 10 times I heard the song but I kept listening and kept on loving the track too. “you broke me first” took a while to find its footing on radio and the charts but it’s a true success story of 2020 where the power of a good song supercedes everything else.
82. Wrabel, Kesha – “since I was young”
“Since I Was Young” is a powerful ode to the ups and downs of life. It’s also yet another feather in the cap of Wrabel and Kesha who together create a wonderful space to be bold, brave and raw. A song many, including myself latched onto during the multiple lockdowns.
81. Perfume Genius – “On The Floor”
Mike Hadreas AKA Perfume Genius came back with his fifth studio album “Set My Heart On Fire Immediately”. “On The Floor”, the fourth single released from the set is its USP. The upbeat track finds the singer-songwriter literally separating himself (as captured in the music video) from himself. We see that who are with and what we think they are can often be two different things.