The Top 10 Songs of 2020

#10: “You And I”/ Caribou

A fantastic juxtaposition of melancholy vocals and bright synths, Dan Snaith’s first album in five peaks on a track that examined death and loss early on in a year that ended up having more than its fair share of both, relying on a nifty bridge and ghostly vocal manipulations to keep things exciting.

#9:Blinding Lights”/ The Weeknd

It was impossible to escape from this song in 2020 even while being forced to stay inside, so it’s a good thing that the shimmering 80s organ synth riff punches, massively addictive hook and powerfully melodic vocal delivery by Abel Tesfaye were so spot on.

#8: “Loner”/ Dehd

An anthemic battle cry for an entire generation of singles confined to their homes in 2020 due to quarantine orders, lead singer Emily Kempf’s voice howls and cracks above beach party guitar riffs in defiance to the idea that she’d want it any other way.

#7: “Los Angeles”/ Haim

The engaging opening track to Women In Music Pt. III immediately signified a new direction for this band of three sisters, as lead singer Danielle Haim sings wistfully about moving on from her hometown above a punchy saxophone and jazzy Motown backing vocals.

#6: “Cue Synthesizer”/ Destroyer

Dan Bejar’s patented spoken-word style of singing serves to showcase and direct a bevy of musical elements- swanky bass, real and fake drums, electric guitar and, of course, a synthesizer- into a massively enjoyable groove, at once endearing in its simplicity and unsettling in its cynicism.

#5: “Gospel For A New Century”/ Yves Tumor

A throbbing bassline and distorted horn blasts kick off of the opening track to Heaven For A Tortured Mind and anchor its chaotic chorus, while the verses glide along settling into a more gentle groove as Tumor shifts and swaggers between the two with an intensity that makes its catharsis ever more enthralling.

#4: “Lilacs”/ Waxahatchee

The folksy Americana twang of this standout track from Saint Cloud carries a certain familiarity and warmth as Katie Crutchfield reflects on a past filled with memories both simple and complex, capturing a sense of resolve and in the singer’s own words, the light at the end of the tunnel. A healthy and readily needed dose of self-awareness and optimism badly needed in 2020, “Lilacs” gains extra traction as Crutchfield switches to an emotive falsetto that hangs on the last word of its fantastic chorus, “And if my bones are made of delicate sugar / I won’t end up anywhere good without you / I need your love too.”

#3: “On The Floor”/ Perfume Genius

This rollicking, bouncy dance track isn’t too subtle in its sugar-coated sweetness, but balances it out with a funky bassline over lyrics that communicate a relatable sense of sentimental longing and infatuation that feels far more joyous than it does melancholy. The addictive background vocals that drape the chorus provide their own dash of ear candy. 

#2: “Remember Where You Are”/ Jessie Ware

The sweeping theatrical closer to Ware’s career-topping What’s Your Pleasure bursts with optimism, combining chamber pop and soul elements behind smart, concise and constantly evolving string and percussion arrangements. It is not only the most stunning climax to any album in 2020, it is also a perfect, vital pop song.

#1: My Name Is Dark/ Grimes

No song better foreshadowed or encapsulated the impending doom of the first year of the new decade than this apocalyptic track, which highlighted February’s Miss Anthropocene before Covid-19 and nation-wide riots set our collective worlds ablaze. Everything about it is both vintage and peak Grimes, from the juxtaposition of elfish, childlike vocals with demonic screams, screeches and wails set above propulsive electronic beats to its foreboding hook and paranoia-inducing lyrics. Leave it Grimes to sign off in the aforementioned childlike vocal style by sneaking in a haunting extra combination of feminism and cynicism in jarring fashion, “The angel of death, she said to God, unfuck the world, unfuck the work, you stupid girl.”

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