I dropped my Best Albums of 2020 list not too long ago, so it’s only fitting that I put out one on the best songs of 2020. These are the top 25 songs of the year but I also took the liberty to make a playlist that expands this list to the top 60, so do give it a follow here.
(Songs marked with * were released in 2019, but came in albums that dropped in 2020)
25. lost spaces – “inter.vision”
Grooves upon grooves upon grooves, the Malaysian band’s start into the new decade is their best work yet.
24. 070 Shake – “Guilty Conscience”
“Guilty Conscience” takes 070 Shake’s life-affirming performance on “Ghost Town” and channels it into a full-fledged banger.
23. Anderson .Paak – “Lockdown”
The closest Anderson .Paak has gotten to recapturing the magic he had on Malibu, packed with impeccable grooves and charisma.
22. Rei – “Categorizing Me”
My favourite Japanese artist returns with a soothing indie rock jam that trades in her signature energy for rewarding mellow ballad.
21. Denzel Curry & Kenny Beats – “DIET_”
Denzel’s heavy DMX influence is exhilarating and absolutely decimates Kenny Beats’ production.
20. Kid Cudi – “The Void”
Kid Cudi’s masterful balance between joyful crooning and distressing lyrical content is one full display here.
19. Megan Thee Stallion – “Savage [Remix]” (feat. Beyoncé)
A swiss army knife-like Beyoncé performance that elevates this song from an underwhelming one to one of the year’s best.
18. Roddy Ricch – “The Box”
Paired with its genius “ee er” ad lib, Roddy Ricch penchant for earworm melodies shot him to right into superstardom.
17. Justin Bieber – “Lonely” (w/ Benny Blanco)
Opening the can of worms that was rise to fame under public scrutiny, this is perhaps Justin Bieber’s best ballad yet.
16. Jason Yu – “Now I Know”
A heart-wrenching pop ballad that sets Jason Yu up as one of Singapore’s brightest rising stars.
15. Run The Jewels – “ooh la la” (feat. Greg Nice & DJ Premier)
The hard-hitting rapping is still here but there’s a certain cordial energy to the track. It’s not just anger or exuberance driving the song anymore. For the first time, Run The Jewels makes me want to dance.
14. Dua Lipa – “Levitating [Remix]” (feat. DaBaby)
The original was a funky disco pop track that already stood strong as Future Nostalgia‘s best. Add DaBaby’s best guest verse since “Under The Sun” however, you get a remix that elevates the track into perfection.
13. Bruno Major – “The Most Beautiful Thing”
The most romantic song on this list, I already know this has secured a spot on my eventual wedding playlist. Bruno Major deliciously addictive vocal runs are just to die for.
12. Royce da 5’9 – “Overcomer” (feat. Westside Gunn)
Royce da 5’9’s career has always been slick rhymes over decent yet predictable production. Which is why “Overcomer” surprises with minimalist structure that crescendos into a luxurious victory lap.
11. Lous and the Yakuza – “Dilemme” *
A curious mix of trap, pop and R&B paired with a silky smooth performance from Lous and the Yakuza, the French artist’s debut single is one that exudes confidence and potential.
10. Aminé – “Compensating” (feat. Young Thug)
Aminé has always excelled at crafting addicting pop-rap melodies, “Compensating” just happens to his best yet. A sticky chorus paired with memorable verses from both artists, all while backed by one of the bounciest beats of 2020. It’s a song by an artist who’s firing on all cylinders, making “Compensating” Aminé’s best track yet.
9. Charli XCX – “forever”
Charli XCX’s last album Charli was a flex in maximalist pop. “forever” – the lead single off how i’m feeling now, takes some elements from that era while fusing it with the more eccentric experimentation of her Pop 2 mixtape. The result is a song that excels at bringing together the niche and mainstream into a career-defining banger.
8. Lady Gaga – “Rain On Me” (w/ Ariana Grande)
There are a lot pop songs on this list but none of them are as balls-to-the-wall enjoyable as “Rain On Me”. Both Gaga and Ariana’s powerhouse vocals match the equally vigorous production, making it one of the best disco-pop revivalist songs in recent memory.
7. Poppy – “I Disagree” *
There aren’t many artists that have a career trajectory quite like Poppy’s. Fusing bubblegum pop and heavy metal, the title track of her new album sees her fully embracing the sound she experimented with on Am I A Girl?. Usually metal isn’t my genre but Poppy’s pop sensibilities come through so strongly that I can’t help but be hooked.
6. Taylor Swift – “Exile” (feat. Bon Iver)
Taylor Swift’s duet have a soft spot in my heart. “Sad Beautiful Tragic”, “Safe & Sound”, “Enchanted” and more were the soundtrack to many of my depressive periods. “Exile” comfortably joins that list and climbed its way up top. The gorgeous harmonies with Justin Vernon and suitably sombre palette makes this one of Taylor’s most emotional songs yet.
5. Joji – “Run”
The main complaint I had with BALLADS 1 was how one-note Joji’s singing could be. Thankfully, “Run” (and the rest of Nectar) lays that all to rest as he belts his heart out over the bristling guitars, leaving the mark of an artist who’s finally grown comfortable in his own artistic vision.
4. 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.
3. Troye Sivan – “Easy”
The production on “Easy” is groovy and uplifting, which is contrasted by Troye’s laidback performance, which again contrasted by the exhilarating ad-libs and addictive vocoder filters. Every element on this song collaborates perfectly with one another and results in the best song of Troye Sivan’s career so far.
2. Rina Sawayama – “Bad Friend”
I wrote about SAWAYAMA as 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.