Top 10 Songs Of 2020
Celebration Station – Lil Uzi Vert
Released on the very last week of school before quarantine started, “Eternal Atake” reminds me of that early stage in the pandemic, when we thought COVID would be over in just a few weeks. Simpler times. This song is just pure fun, a much needed departure from the more glum tunes that permeated music and our society as a whole in 2020. The bouncy production and lively lyrics create the aural equivalent of eating candy. Not too complicated, but it certainly tastes good.
WAP – Cardi B & Megan thee Stallion
While this song is not one that would show up in my usual rotation, the cultural significance of “WAP” is undeniable and one would be remiss not to include it as one the most significant, if not best, songs of the year.
Circle the Drain – Soccer Mommy
Soccer Mommy, aka Sophie Allison, offers an intimate and heartfelt description of monotony, depression, and heartbreak in this indie rock track. If “Celebration Station” was a song that I listened to in order to forget about the state of the world, “Circle the Drain” was one that made me acutely aware of it. The churning background guitar riff paired with the “round and around” refrain cement the feeling of monotony and repetition that was setting in around April. If I was old enough to drive, I am sure this would be a fantastic song to cruise down the highway to.
Slay3r – Playboi Carti
This song goes hard and I like it. Playboi Carti’s Shakespearan mastery of lyrics is apparent throughout the track. Enough said.
Rockstar – DaBaby
DaBaby has mastered a certain style of rap characterized by machine gun beats and fast rhymes, and on no track is that more apparent than Rockstar. On this track DaBaby shows his ability to create polished, effective rap music. The picked guitar riff beat is also infectious, and compliments DaBaby’s vocals perfectly.
Martin – Car Seat Headrest
Despite Making a Door Less Open, Car Seat Headrest’s first album since 2018, being an otherwise disappointing album, “Martin” is a fantastic indie rock song. The rolling electronic production highlights a more grown-up and modern style for the band that works excellently on this track. Will Toledo’s typical muttered verses give way to a delightful chorus and bridge section that is a delight to hear with each new listen of the song.
Blinding Lights – The Weeknd
Sure, this song was released in late 2019 but really found its heyday in 2020. Despite that, this song could have been released 35 years ago. The synth riff and chorus is straight out of 1985, something the Weeknd must have been aware of, as the 80’s aesthetic fits his voice perfectly. It is a shame that this song found its peak during quarantine, because it is a song that really deserves a party.
Phoebe Bridgers really had a fantastic year, with a hugely successful album and four Grammy nominations. Commercially successful and a personal favorite, Kyoto is a brilliant indie pop track. Bridgers shines as not only a vocalist, but also a lyricist painting a vivid, emotional, and melancholy picture in “Kyoto”. The production is also fantastic, especially the horns.
The Bigger Picture – Lil Baby
In a year full of performative activism, Lil Baby’s The Bigger Picture is a painfully genuine and passionate protest song, and one of the definitive tracks of the 2020 BLM protests. A fitting, somber piano scores the track from the Atlanta rapper, who was also commended for his real participation in this year’s protests, unlike many other celebrities who used them simply for social gain.
How Lucky – Kurt Vile & John Prine
While this song may not be very well known, it is my personal favorite song of 2020. Kurt Vile teams up with the late John Prine to deliver a powerful cover of Prine’s 1979 folk tune. Vile, an excellent folk/indie musician in his own right, shines when paired with Prine’s raspy voice, even raspier in his old age. In the context of Prine’s death due to COVID-19 in April, the refrain of “how lucky can one man get” becomes all the more powerful. It becomes a reflection on his life as a whole, and I am grateful that Kurt Vile and John Prine were able to record this before his passing.