Top 100 Songs Of 2020 (80-61)
From Harry Styles’ ‘Watermelon Sugar’ to Megan Thee Stallion’s ‘Savage Remix’ and more
80. Morgan Wallen – “7 Summers”
Lost love is as universal as apple pie? Well, you get the point. Here, Morgan Wallen takes us on a journey looking back at a past relationship that still seems to carry weight in the now. The song which first gained traction on TikTok ended up becoming a massive crossover hit for Wallen. One of the few truly deserved hits to stem from the pop culture social media platform and for once I’m thankful for it!
79. Michael Kiwanuka – “Final Days (Bonobo Remix)”
Getting Bonobo to remix your track is no easy order. After three years, the elusive producer shows off his remixing magic on Michael Kiwanuka’s already soulful “Final Days” but adds a level of ethereal funk, something way beyond the original recording. Taking Kiwanuka’s raw vocals and transforming the song and its hefty lyrics to this euphoric feeling takes me back to the days of Massive Attack and I love it!
78. Jazmine Sullivan – “Lost One”
Jazmine Sullivan has always played by her own rules. Despite being labeled as R&B, she is so much more. Here, “Lost One” is this moody, ghostly masterclass where Sullivan confesses her desires to her estranged lover. The muffled loop of the guitar adds an edge to the song that once again shows why Sullivan is still the same relevant artist she was when she was busting windows out of your car!
77. GriZ – “Sweet”
If this summer felt like it was lacking something with grit, well, that all ended with the release of GRiz’s mixtape “Chasing The Golden Hour Pt. 3”. The perfect soundtrack for what the summer should have been is captured across the nine tracks and “Sweet” is vintage candied perfection.
76. Aly & AJ – “Joan Of Arc On The Dance Floor”
Former Disney Channel stars Aly & AJ have slowly been paving their way back into musical relevance and personally nothing seems to have succeeded that more than this 80’s inspired banger “Joan Of Arc On The Dance Floor”. The sisters clearly have something to say and as women who themselves have seen the highs and lows from such an early age, to have music that not only sounds good but means something – well, welcome back to the big-league ladies.
75. Mickey Guyton – “Black Like Me”
So amidst the global pandemic, we also saw Black Lives Matter become a social movement that went far beyond George Floyd and the United States. Already a trendsetter as a black woman in the country music scene, Mickey Guyton sang her truth straight from the heart with probably the most moving and dare I say most effective single from the movement. “Black Like Me” doesn’t hold back punches but the vulnerability we often see missing from media coverage when discussing BLM, Guyton beautifully showcases here. She may not be Carrie Underwood but with this powerful single, Guyton just showed all of the music industry that honesty can not only sell but help share the truth.
74. Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit – “Be Afraid”
Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit often take me back instantly to the mid 90’s and that’s not a bad thing. Their single “Be Afraid” could have easily been on the “Singles” or “Threesome” soundtrack but the indie rock track works because of the conviction with which Isbell sells the message of the song for artists to use their voices and invoke change. In a year with so much political unrest, “Be Afraid” became an anthem for musicians to speak their truth much like Mickey Guyton did just above.
73. Emanuel – “Addiction”
Canadian singer-songwriter Emanuel is a name we’ll surely be hearing about in the years to come. “Addiction” is an infectious track off his debut EP “Session 1: Disillusion”. This is more than just soul, and much like say Raphael Saadiq, the artist finds the right balance between offering a throwback vocal but making very sure to stay relevant for 2020 sonically.
72. Adam Lambert, Nile Rodgers – “Roses”
Adam Lambert going disco with Nile Rodgers at first sounds just weird but then you think about his evolution, his identity and yes, his Freddie Mercury/Queen connection and then all of a sudden “Roses” makes sense. In fact, I’m not quite sure why he didn’t dab in this style which fits him vocally and stylistically in a way very few artists can do so authentically. I’m always a sucker for Rodgers and this Daft-Punk lite ditty is yet another feather in a legendary career.
71. Kleerup, Ana Diaz – “Trouble”
For me, nothing probably will ever match up to the brilliance that was Kleerup and Robyn’s “With Every Heartbeat” but that’s not to say he’s not trying hard. “Trouble” is a great song by all accounts. Ana Diaz sounds sincere and broken at the same time and the instrumentation matches that emotional depth cent to cent. Glad Kleerup is still doing his thing and not letting any one song or style stop him from creating dramatic music that crosses genres and generations every time.
70. Onehotrix Point Never – “Long Road Home”
We rarely get epic tracks these days but “Long Road Home” surely is a delight to fans of symphonic tracks that you literally can’t predict where the song is sonically going next. Featuring Caroline Polacheck as well on the track, the song is the music equivalent of changing the TV channels yet somehow finding the rhythm in even that and imagine if that rhythm took you to a place you last reached with Enya. Now that’s something I never thought I’d hear or even say…like ever!
69. Harry Styles – “Watermelon Sugar”
Harry Styles truly became the bonafide breakout star of One Direction this year thanks in no large part to this cheeky single “Watermelon Sugar”. While I also dug “Adore You”, there was something particularly sweet about this song which felt more like a moment. Styles has managed to morph easily into the Justin Timberlake of his boy band but for me the big standout here is that Styles hasn’t needed a genre or collaborations with known artists to get there, it’s been just him. You have no idea how rare that is right now. Just for that, hats off to the Brit.
68. Taylor Swift – “the 1”
Folklore as an album this year is unmatched work but I realized while listening to it, there aren’t many tracks that stand out when listening to them independently. One of those stand out tracks is the opening one “The 1”. The song is classic Taylor Swift but with the 2020 twist. Her vocals never sounded more confident and vulnerable. Gone are the sass and attitude that often take away from the impact of her more meaningful lyrics. It works perfectly here with this single.
67. Minus 8, Laskaar – “Closer”
Spanglish never sounded more sensual than on “Closer”, a brilliant R&B electro reggaeton hybrid smash by Minus 8 and Laskaar. The collaboration works because the atmospheric nature of the song manages to hold all the varied styles together in a cohesive thread. The song literally can fit almost any playlist and that’s what makes the song so special.
66. B Young – “Catch Me Outside”
If you’d have told me that Shaggy’s “It Wasn’t Me” would be sampled and used in a smooth R&B ballad in 2020 and I’d actually dig it and it would end up in my Top 100, I’d have laughed it off but I guess nostalgia when paired with a super creative effort by a young artist, it actually can work (and this isn’t the only time it worked for me this year). “Catch Me Outside” by B Young works because it’s not trying to reinvent the wheel and it actually pays homage in a way where the song is less important but its more about the sincerity.
65. The Knocks, Foster The People – “All About You”
Okay, back in 2018 I was a huge fan of “Ride Or Die”, the first collaboration between The Knocks and Foster The People. Well 2020 treated us with a second collab and it’s as good!
“All About You” is simply irresistible, you can’t help but move, smile and dance. It’s cool without even trying and much like “Closer” at #67, the song defies a genre category making for a perfect inclusion to countless playlists.
64. BRONSON, ODESZA, Golden Features, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs – “DAWN”
Just when I thought nothing was cooler than The Knocks and Foster The People coming together we have BRONSON coming together with ODESZA, Golden Features and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs. Now don’t ask me who did what on the song but the end result is simply spectacular. Within a second you are taken to another world, one that is full of little beautiful surprises. “DAWN” is the kind of the song you expect to close out a blockbuster film but instead here it simply keeps your attention because the build refuses to let you fall.
63. Annie – “The Streets Where I Belong”
It’s hard to believe more than 15 years have passed since indie princess Annie released “Chewing Gum” and “Heartbeat”. Before Carly Rae, there was Annie and it’s been a welcome return for the artist with “The Streets Where I Belong”. It doesn’t feel like any time has gone by especially with the major 80’s vibe she creates reminding listeners of greats by The Police and The Outfield. Hands down one of the best pop songs of the year.
62. Blossoms – “The Keeper”
Brit rockers Blossoms started the year already riding high on the release of this single (also released at the tale end of 2019, too late to chart for me) with “The Keeper”. The uplifting and incredibly catchy tune is as thoughtful as it is memorable. Taking you back to the 1970’s, the single is pure joy thanks in big part to lead singer Tom Ogden and those piano chords courtesy of Myles Kellock.
61. Megan Thee Stallion, Beyonce – “Savage Remix”
Don’t mess with Texas. “Savage Remix” is basically a whole new song minus the same chorus (remember those J.Lo remixes that were basically different songs?). While Megan Thee Stallion might be the headliner here, it’s totally Beyonce who steals the show. Her two verses simply remind listeners that the artist is truly a chameleon and part of that includes being a skilled rapper. There’s a reason this shot straight to number 1 on the charts. A far more approachable Beyonce has been missing for the better part of the last half decade so it was a welcome return to one of the chart’s most dependable hitmakers.