The 50 Best Songs of 2020

2020, huh? This was complicated, right? In January we had threats from a Third World War. In March, the world entered a worldwide virus pandemic that has so far killed more than 1.5 million people. Also, throughout the year, we had police violence, racism, xenophobia, protest, stress from chaotic elections and explosions. However, in all of these cases, we all turned to our favorite artists, bands and groups who, as a kind of savior, never stopped producing albums and tracks so that our time during that year was more bearable. Fortunately, it was an excellent year when we analyzed artistic productions and now it’s time to look back and remember what are the best songs of 2020!

Note: December 2020 releases will be considered for the 2021 year-end lists

50. Grimes “You’ll miss me when I’m not around”


Being the most different track on Miss Anthropocene, “You’ll miss me when I’m not around” is the best of the entire album. In a simple way, it manages to be the best well-dosed moment of the entire record: while it carries the excellent production from the rest of the tracks ― heavy synthesizers with strong bass beats resonating in atmospheric vibrations ― it also delivers some generic samples, which don’t sound bad, and also a well-calculated progression: the track doesn’t last a second longer than that should ― unlike “Idoru” and its 7 minutes. With the same intensity, the lyrics are also the strongest on the entire project, with Grimes painting scenes of depression and suicide. She sings, “I shot myself yesterday/Got to Heaven anyway/Hurt myself again today/Doesn’t matter anyway.” Unfortunately, the other tracks are not that interesting, or rather, they didn’t last that interesting. ―Leonardo Frederico

49. Blake Mills “Money Is the One True God”


Mills’ monetary outburst in one of the best produced, refined and profound moments of Mutable Set. Over the nearly seven minutes of “Money Is the One True God,” Mills sings about how money has become a kind of God. “Forgive me, Lord, I’m broken/Come into my pocket/I bear my soul to the one true god/I kneel before your prophet,” he sings. However, it is the whole sound of the track that makes everything even more dreamy, impressive and mesmerizing. In the background, a piano plays some opaque notes while, at one time or another, an inner voice appears in your ear, whispering the title of the song. Over time, synthesizers appear to make the whole sound become something so homogeneous that it is difficult to distinguish what is what ― even the vocals seem to sink into this quicksand. You may feel sleepy after the song but you are not sure if it is really sleepy or you have just been dragged into another universe. ―Leonardo Frederico

48. Fiona Apple “Ladies”

2020 • ROCK • EPIC

Feminism has never been as strong in a work by Fiona Apple as it is in Fetch the Bolt Cutters. However, Fiona did not want to work on this matter in the most obvious or natural way. In the romantic ballad, “Ladies,” she talks about the fact that mistresses are always seen as the wrong ones in cheating and not the man who cheated. While the almost classic instrumental seems to dance inside a dance hall homogeneously with Apple’s voice, she weaves these specific lines about how women should come together and not split because of men. “There’s a dress in the closet/Don’t get rid of it, you’d look good in it/I didn’t fit in it, it was never mine/It belonged to the ex-wife of another ex of mine,” she sings. Yes, Fiona Apple can turn everything into something much bigger than it is. ―Leonardo Frederico

47. Taylor Swift “betty”


Within folklore, Taylor Swift did something she had never done in her discography: songs whose stories break the barriers of its sonority, lyrics and minutes and reach others tracks, existing as ghostly entities throughout the album. In the case of this album, Swift tells the story of a love triangle where each of the tracks (“cardigan,” “august” and “betty”) tells the story from a different perspective. “betty,” despite not being the sharpest, turns out to be the most impressive in showing Taylor embodying something she never did: a man asking sorry ― since, according to her, she was always the girl waiting for a man’s apologies.

So, in “betty” she takes on the role of young James, 17, who cheated on his beloved, Betty, with another girl and now apologizes. The most amazing thing about the track is not the sound ― a homogeneous mix between Country, Folk and Pop ― but how Swift takes on the role of the boy very well, managing to pass his experience ― or better lack of ― on each of her words. She begins, “Betty, I won’t make assumptions/About why you switched your homeroom, but/I think it’s’ cause of me,” and then, before one of the album’s best hooks, she sings, “You heard the rumors from Inez/You can’t believe a word she says/Most times, but this time it was true.” Swift seems to be taking on the role of a screenwriter sometimes now. ―Leonardo Frederico

46. Westerman “The Line”


The best song of Your Hero Is Not Dead, British singer Westerman’s debut, is “The Line,” in which he takes on different faces to create a varied and catchy song. In the first few seconds, he appears as an alternative singer with a striking voice in a vintage bar singing, “Baby I miss you.” Quickly, he wraps around a pop singer with an opaque velvet voice, singing a sparkling chorus. Finally, he turns a poet reciting phrases that question his whole life. He sings, “You choose not to choose thatʼs a choice and it brings new choices.” With the help of a metaphorical and poetic lyrics and some strumming on a bass, he creates a natural lo-fi undergrown hit. ―Leonardo Frederico

45. Neil Young “Love Is A Rose”


This song was initially written almost 50 years ago. What keeps it still relevant and in the midst of the best songs of 2020 is its simplicity and essence. In its 2 minutes, Young paints a timeless metaphor. “Love is a rose but you better not pick it/Only grows when it’s on the vine,” he sings. In the instrumental, he is accompanied by bass tugs, occasional playing of banjo, guitar and harmonica. It’s really simple, but it’s really beautiful, memorable and catchy. ―Leonardo Frederico

44. Caribou “Home”


“Home” is Suddenly‘s best track. With synthesizers and analog instruments that seem to create a sound aesthetic from the mixture of trends and aesthetics from several past decades of music (more precisely, the 1960s and 1970s) with contemporary elements that often seem to come straight from the future, Caribou has polished the most fun, striking and captivating song of his album. Although it is very repetitive, applying samples of Gloria Barnes’ vocals coming from a song of the same name several times, at no time does the track seem to sound slow or tiring, on the contrary, it always carries this good energy that captivates you each time more. ―Leonardo Frederico

43. beabadoobee “Care”


Although the opener “Care” seems not to have been placed in such a favorable position on the beabadoobee’s debut album, Fake It Flowers, it is still one of the best songs of the year. In a simple way, it is one of those short teen Alternative Rock songs that play a little with Pop. In the song, which has timid guitars that, sometimes, become sound monsters but never blur the singer, we can see the clear potential of being one of those classic teenager songs that became a landmark in a few years. Also, it is important to highlight the vocal performance of Kristi Laus, who, despite sounding very sweet almost all the time, still manages to convey her feeling of disgust when she sings the chorus. “I don’t want your sympathy/Stop saying you give a shit/’Cause you don’t really/Care, care, care, yeah,” she sings. He may not care, but we do. ―Leonardo Frederico

42. Chris Stapleton “Maggie’s Song”


Among all the inspiring stories that Chris Stapleton tells on his fourth and newest album, Starting Over, “Maggie’s Song,” appears as the most beautiful. This does not happen simply because it tells the story of a dog in the most realistic and lived way possible, but also because it shows simplicity, honesty and a good side of life through his lyrics, instruments and vocals. Stapleton sings, “We moved out on the farm/And she followed those kids around,” and continues, “She’d take off like a bullet/Man, you should have seen her go.” In sonority, guitar and banjo tugs and punches in drums make an emotional presence. Unfortunately, like everything related to dogs, death is the end. However, you feel a kindness like never before in Chris’ voice and you believe it when he says, “I told her she was a good dog.” ―Leonardo Frederico

41. Bonny Light Horseman “Bonny Light Horseman”

2020 • FOLK • 37D03D

One of the strongest points of folk and country music is the ability to pass complete and detailed stories through well-coordinated and rhythmic words. Without a doubt, no other music genre assumes the role of a good storyteller like these two. “Bonny Light Horseman,” the opening track of the debut album of the group of the same name formed by Anaïs Mitchell, Eric D. Johnson and Josh Kaufman, is living proof of this. On the track, singing entirely from Mitchell’s point of view, we see a woman in agony over the death of her lover in the Napoleonic Wars. She sings, “Oh, Napoleon Bonaparte, you’re the cause of my woe/Since my bonny light horseman in the war, he did go,” and adds, “Broken-hearted I’ll wander, broken-hearted I’ll remain.” With the help of strings, harmonicas and other wind instruments that drag the track back to 1800’s/1900’s, Mitchell sings this song full of well-written sepia emotions. A track that is unique in essence, no doubt. ―Leonardo Frederico

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