To say that the past year has been interesting would be quite an understatement. It’s been analyzed and talked about to death, so I don’t really feel like wasting any of your time recounting the boredom and malaise. Instead, let’s talk about some great music.
2020 brought out a lot of wonderful sounds, including new releases by some artists who had been dormant for a long time. Maybe they were just waiting for a time when they had something to say…or maybe musicians are just like the rest of us and they got tired of sitting around the house watching Netflix. In this incendiary moment of racial injustice, Covid, and the redistribution of wealth to the top .00001%, music seemed to be the one thing the world got right.
This list is one that I tried to keep going throughout the year. It makes it easier when December comes around so I don’t have to go back and try to remember which songs I enjoyed. I slacked for a bit, of course, so I did have to do some catching up. And I went through a handful of times to cut, add, and rearrange the order to reflect how much I liked the songs. There are some surprises, as well as some VERY obvious choices for anyone that knows me.
The biggest surprise is probably the inclusion of Powfu’s “death bed (coffee for your head)” featuring beabadoobee. It soundtracked my first month or so of scrolling through TikTok while I laid around feeling bad about everything. If you don’t know it, well, congratulations first of all. You’ve avoided the timesuck of TikTok and are certainly better for it. However, you missed out on a song so treacly and saccharine, your brain actually starts relying on it like a special form of diabetes that can only be cured by injections of this song.
The least surprising thing is most likely the fact that Fiona Apple gets two spots. I honestly could’ve done a “Best Songs Of 2020” that’s just Fetch The Boltcutters on repeat. Also, some artists that seem to show up on my list every year like Gloom Balloon, Fort Frances, Run The Jewels, and Ezra Furman.
All of these songs brought me some kind of comfort this year and I’m so thankful to all of the great musicians who made them possible. Below, find the ranked list as well as the playlist if you want to listen along.
50. Alex Lahey-Sucker For Punishment
49. Jess Williamson-As The Birds Are
48. Brian Fallon-Hard Feelings
47. JARV IS-House Music All Night Long
46. Kicking Bird-What Would All The Other Girls Say (If They Knew What I Was Doing)
45. Pete Droge & Elaine Summers-Skeleton Crew
44. Bruce Springsteen-I’ll See You In My Dreams
43. Micah Schnabel-Existential Dread Machine
41. Torres-Good Grief
39. Margaret Glaspy-Stay With Me
38. We Love Us-Ric Wilson
37. The Antlers-It Is What It Is
36. good son-the thrill of sheer complacency
35. Brendan Benson-Good To Be Alive
34. Brian Paddock-Your Favorite Record
33. De La Soul-Remove 45 featuring Styles P, Talib Kweli, Chuck D
32. Busta Rhymes-Look Over Your Shoulder featuring Kendrick Lamar
31. Oliver Ignatius-Right Off the Dirt featuring Arsun
30. Moses Sumney-Me In 20 Years
28. Arkells-Quitting You
24. Jeff Tweedy-Gwendolyn
23. Matt Costa-Slow
20. Phoebe Bridgers-Moon Song
19. Fort Frances-These Lights Will Shine Again
18. Nik Freitas-Aviso Amor
17. Frances Quinlan-Rare Thing
16. AJJ-Normalization Blues
15. Of Montreal-Gypsy That Remains
14. Bob Dylan-Key West (Philosopher Pirate)
13. Fiona Apple-Under The Table
12. Bright Eyes-Persona Non Grata
11. Perfume Genius-On The Floor
8. Holy Hive-Float Back To You
7. Young Jesus-Magicians
6. Powfu-death bed (coffee for your head) featuring beabadoobee
5. Nana Grizol-South Somewhere Else
4. The Weeknd-Blinding Lights
3. Run The Jewels-ooh la la featuring Greg Nice and DJ Premier
2. Ezra Furman-Every Feeling
And the number 1 song of 2020