60 – Rare by Selena Gomez
Selena Gomez pretty much sums up why I still stan musicians who don’t have the biggest voices. She doesn’t have it all and she’s not claiming to. But she is special. There’s nothing to hate here. Selena Gomez is a successful woman talking about her struggle with self-esteem and confidence in the most reasonable and vulnerable way. The rest of us put on a mask and take it out on other people. We should be ashamed.
59 – Lost in Yesterday by Tame Impala
I recall my first ever listen to Tame Impala’s music in 2015. The psychedelic sound felt so retro and experimental (for my taste.) It was the equivalent of recreational drugs for music listeners. And for people with existential issues, the experience can be therapeutic. Five years later, I still find myself ruminating about the past. They give me “Lost in Yesterday” – the medication I need in order to move forward.
58 – evermore by Taylor Swift featuring Bon Iver
There was a risk that Taylor Swift and Justin couldn’t recreate the magic they made. But some would even argue that the connection is stronger and better this time. I’m a sucker for melodramatic pieces centred on depression and hope. And this one is no different. At first, I found the transition to the bridge awkward. Now, I’m in love with it. With time, I’ve learned that these eccentricities are what make art beautiful.
57 – The Box by Roddy Ricch
I have no clue what the song is about. Or at least in totality what “the box” stands for. But that’s all irrelevant and has no bearing on why I consider the track a favourite. The “eee err” is arguably the most addictive loop released in 2020. It’s so random. But at the same time, the lyric adds a mystery and flavour to verses that would otherwise isolate a non-hip-hop fan like me.
56 – I Know the End by Phoebe Bridgers
I’ve never heard of Phoebe Bridgers until 2020. This year all the critics started gushing about “Punisher”. But even before having a listen, I had this feeling her sound would be one of apocalyptic sentimental indie. And I was right (at least on this track.) I know Phoebe Bridgers and Matty Healy are good pals. And maybe it’s why I totally get “Love It If We Made It” vibes from “I Know the End.” And the world could always use more of that.
55 – Claws by Charli XCX
Iggy Azalea, Icona Pop and The Fault in Our Stars have all come and gone. But Charli XCX continues on pushing the envelope. I would say she gets even more creative as time passes by. Covid-19 happened and Charli XCX provided us an escape with the most-EDM friendly tune for your house. And it is coupled with the perfect Zoom music video for an Apple computer user!
54 – Therefore I Am by Billie Eilish
It was supposed to be downhill after she swept the Grammys. But Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas continue to produce the darkest sounding and messed up tunes that trigger our inner demons. They tell them to f*** off. “Therefore I Am” is the middle finger to her naysayers and trolls, especially the body-shamers. To top it off, she managed to employ the words of a famous philosopher, Descartes, in a track. How sick is that?
53 – Catch Up by Chloe X Halle and Swae Lee featuring Mike WiLL Made-It
Dating and romance are filled with mind games. And the back and forth is so messed up I don’t know why people bother. But I guess attraction needs a little excitement and unpredictability to sustain. And tracks like “Catch Up” by Swae Lee and Chloe x Halle keep preying on these annoying tendencies (not that the song is annoying.) If anything, they make it sound sexier than how bland and rage-filled the see-saw is in real life.
52 – I Can’t Breathe by H.E.R.
I have no doubt in my mind that this song deserved a nod for Song of the Year at the Grammy’s. Even as a Taylor Swift apologist, I would feel happy if “I Don’t Breathe” wins instead. This is how woke-ness and artistry should be mixed. There are many ways to cut the lyrics and still be classified as genius. But my favourite one has to be “Because we do not seek revenge. We seek justice, we are past fear”. Just powerful stuff right there.
51 – False Prophet by Bob Dylan
Many prefer “Murder Most Foul” and for good reason. While I am a fan of his words (and they are still exceptional in this one), the guitar riffs on this are just haunting and I couldn’t remove it from my head for days. And let’s not forget, J Cole can rap about the false prophets that hip-hop has. But when Bob Dylan preaches about being the enemy of the unlived meaningless life, everybody should just bow down and listen.
50 – Starting Over by Chris Stapleton
When my father listened to John Denver or Mr Hyunh sings “Simple Things” in Hey Arnold, these are moments I consider country music to be a blessing to humanity. The other time is when I hear Chris Stapleton on a record. “Starting Over” caught me off guard. I’m in a period of my life where I’m sentimental, a lot more choiceful, willing to take more risks, and, pun intended, starting over. His voice and words just get me.
49 – Freak by Doja Cat
Who knew “Put Your Head on My Shoulder” would sound so great on a modern day record? Well, Doja Cat knew. And I’m happy a friend of mine was so insistent on giving her music a listen. She sings with class and grace putting you under an enchanting spell. But she also raps like wildfire and it’s insane. And her genius is amplified by the artistic choices she employs, like using the 50s classic to showcase her versatility.
48 – Bikini Porn by Tove Lo
If I told you that Finneas, Billie Eilish’s brother, worked on “Bikini Porn”, then the production would start to make sense. It’s minimalist, dark, and employs this crazy loop that’s apparently a vocal and not some random musical instrument. But besides the production, just the sexual energy contained in this track (obvious but understated) is one most people had during this quarantine period. Praise Tove Lo!
47 – Good News by Mac Miller
“Good News” has me reminiscing “One More Light” all over again. There are always signs and the problem is often hidden. But a lot of times it’s also apparent. I can’t begin to comprehend what Mac Miller was going through. But I agree that it’s exhausting to always hold your head up high and have a positive outlook. I say whoever said you should abandon people who give off negative energy should just recant that statement.
46 – What’s Your Pleasure? by Jessie Ware
If you ever needed a song to boost your confidence in the bedroom, then “What’s Your Pleasure” should be your go-to track. Jessie Ware said it herself. She made music that people can have sex to. But the best part about this song is it releases your inhibitions and makes you feel less awkward. You can overthink the experience. But this one can aid you let all those thoughts go.
45 – Break My Heart by Dua Lipa
Dua Lipa knew what was good for you even before the pandemic happened. You should’ve stayed at home. But we all know danger is sexy and people are stupid. So we go ahead and risk ruining our health (emotional or physical.) But the best part about the track is the build-up. The instrumentation progresses until it reaches the chorus and we are all lost on the beat and our sanity is thrown out the door.
44 – ROCKSTAR by DaBaby featuring Roddy Ricch
At this point, the depiction of a rockstar version of hip-hop artists is getting old. It would not be a year without hundreds of those. But the instrumental playing in the entire track is to die for. It reminds me of “Lucid Dreams” by Juice WRLD. Think of Kenny G playing but having rappers do the serenading for gods and goddesses of Ancient Greece. That’s how I picture this collaboration between DaBaby and Roddy Ricch.
43 – Midnight Sky by Miley Cyrus
Miley Cyrus is quite known for her antics. And it’s a tragedy that people remember her for that VMA performance instead of the masterpieces she’s created. If The Weeknd had a musical sibling in 2020, it would be Miley Cyrus. The throwback to the disco sound of the past is apparent and used as an effective tool to show how much she’s moved forward with her artistry and her personal circumstances.
42 – Describe by Perfume Genius
If 2020 had a silver lining, it was the abundance of alternative artists I discovered. Perfume Genius is one of them. He is an artist that could’ve been lifted from any decade and would thrive regardless. “Describe”, in particular, is 90s rock teenagers formed groupies for. Most people who’d hear this would assume it’s from a different decade. They’d still love it. Freddie Mercury has found a worthy successor.
41 – I Want You to Love Me by Fiona Apple
I have not properly listened to a Fiona Apple record since the 90s. I must say that all the hype and acclaim surrounding Fetch the Bolt Cutters is well-deserved. Particularly, the opening track as my reintroduction showcases the brilliance of her skills in keyboard arrangement and the confidence she has built in her lyricism through the years. The song is the very definition of a modern-day timeless classic.