Since I wrote about the best albums of 2020 so far, it’s only right that I do one about the best songs of 2020 as well. I’ve also included a handy playlist of every song listed HERE if you’re inclined to give them a listen.
20. Dua Lipa – “Physical”
The best song of Dua Lipa’s career so far. The pumping energy and swagger was the much needed boost that shot her career into the stratosphere.
19. Thundercat – “Dragonball Durag”
Genre: R&B, Jazz
Wonderfully encapsulating Thundercat’s personality and musical talent into a brief 3 minutes, “Dragonball Durag” is peak Thundercat in his most mainstream accessible stride.
18. lost.spaces – “inter.vision”
Genre: Indie Rock
Grooves upon grooves upon grooves, the Malaysian band’s start into the new decade is their best work yet. Though it’s not a detour from their usual sound, they’ve perfected it to the point of pure ecstasy.
17. Channel Tres – “Weedman”
Genre: Funk, Rap
The bass lines alone on this song helped propel it up this list. It also helps that Channel Tres’ performance on the track oozes confidence and eccentricity, making it a song I can’t help but dance to.
16. RMR – “RASCAL”
An acoustic cover of Rascal Flatts’ “These Days” doesn’t seem like a recipe for virality, but the ski mask-totting RMR made it happen. The lyrics on this rendition is hilarious but most importantly, RMR’s voice is sexy as hell.
15. BROCKHAMPTON – “SUGAR (Remix)” [feat. Dua Lipa]
Genre: Rap, Pop
I loved “SUGAR” when it came out, but this remix blows it out of the water. Switching out the admittedly occasionally clunky rap verses for superior contributions from Ryan Beatty and Dua Lipa, this is BROCKHAMPTON’s best pop tune yet.
14. Childish Gambino – “53.49”
3.15.20 was a disappointment coming off the genius of Awaken, My Love!, but my dismay was rewarded at the end as “53.49” mirrors the manic energy of “Zombies”, a highlight of AML. This is the Gambino that I wanted to hear in 2020.
13. Christine and the Queens – “People, I’ve been sad”
I have a…’thing’ for French vocals in pop songs. On “People, I’ve Been Sad”, Christine delivers a powerful first verse in English before crushing me with a second in French. I have no idea what she’s saying but the gorgeous performance and production tells me enough.
12. Run The Jewels – “ooh la la (feat. Greg Nice & DJ Premier)”
“ooh la la” is a slight departure from Run The Jewels’ usual fare. The hard-hitting rapping is still here in full force, but there’s a certain cordial energy to the track. It’s not just anger or bombastic drive behind the song. For the first time, Run The Jewels makes me want to dance.
11. Denzel Curry & Kenny Beats – “DIET_”
I was never a huge fan of DMX, heck, I was 6 when he was in his prime. However, I figure that “DIET_” is the closest I’d ever get to understanding people’s adoration for him. Denzel’s heavy DMX influence is exhilarating and absolutely decimates Kenny Beats’ production.
10. 070 Shake – “Guilty Conscience”
Genre: Rap, R&B
Hip-hop’s closest thing to city pop, “Guilty Conscience” takes 070 Shake’s life-affirming performance on “Ghost Town” and channels it into a full song. Amplifying the rawness of her voice, this is the best song of Shake’s very early career.
9. Royce da 5’9 – “Overcomer” (feat. Westside Gunn)
Throughout most of Royce da 5’9’s discography, you know what you’re getting: slick rhymes over decent-to-great yet predictable production. Which is why “Overcomer” comes as a surprise, with its unconventional minimalist structure that crescendos into a glorious victory lap.
8. Roddy Ricch – “The Box”
It was impossible to avoid this song early 2020 and for good reason. With its genius “ee er” ad lib and earworm hook, Roddy Ricch’s hype in hip-hop over the past year accumulated into this one track and shot him to superstardom.
7. Charli XCX – “forever”
Charli XCX is probably the only artist that has come close to making me tear up from heavily auto-tuned vocals. Released during the peak of quarantine (you know, when everyone was freaking out about it), “forever” sorely reminded me about how much I miss ‘people’.
6. Lady Gaga – “Rain On Me” (with Ariana Grande)
I missed this Lady Gaga. The theatrical performance and vocal flexing since her Fame Monster days are back in full force, only this time updated for a 2020 audience with an explosive breakbeat and a killer Ariana Grande feature.
5. Poppy – “I Disagree”
Genre: Pop, Nu-Metal
I loved Poppy’s foray into nu-metal inspired pop since she first got into it on Am I A Girl?. “I Disagree” is essentially her fully coming into the sound and she balances both genres so well, to the point where it overshadows every other song on her latest record.
4. Joji – “Run”
“Sanctuary” was one of my favorite songs from 2019, so having “Run” as my #4 so far leave me with exceedingly high expectations for NECTAR. Bursting through with a vocal performance that I didn’t expect coming off of BALLADS 1, “Run” feels like Joji finally shedding the YouTube shadow that has always weighed him down.
3. The Weeknd – “Blinding Lights”
The Weeknd has endured Michael Jackson comparisons his whole career, so its funny how much “Blinding Lights” sounds like something MJ would have made if he was in his prime in 2020. The bright synths, grooving drums and infectious singing from Weeknd makes this song easily one of Weeknd’s best.
2. Rina Sawayama – “Bad Friend”
I wrote that SAWAYAMA was the album I’ve related to the most in the past 5 years. “Bad Friend” is then, unsurprisingly, THE song that I’ve identified the hardest with. As she recounts her experience of drifting apart with a close friend, the song crescendos to a climax that breaks my heart every time.
1. Mac Miller – “Good News”
The first single of his magnificent posthumous album, “Good News” felt like the beginning of the end of Mac Miller’s adored career. It’s eerily prophetic lyrical content only made the song all the more brutal to listen to. However, it (and Circles) did prove that people will always be ready for more Mac, be it good or bad. We won’t just be talking about him too much, we’ll be talking about him forever.