The 50 Best Songs of 2020

40. Miley Cyrus “Midnight Sky”

2020 • POP/ROCK • RCA

The best song from Miley Cyrus’ latest album is “Midnight Sky.” This is mainly due to the fact that for the first time Miley Cyrus fits into a sound, style and aesthetic that matches 100% with her, in addition to delivering a great Pop Rock/Disco track that everyone needed at this point. As already mentioned, Cyrus mixes tendencies of Rock and Disco with Pop, creating this sound that perfectly matches all the aesthetic that Cyrus is proposing and even with the name of the song: you can imagine, while listening to the track, silver sparkles on a black background. In other words, is a great Pop song about being independent of your past, with a bold and original sound aesthetic, a very well-written lyrics and a very catchy and addictive hook. ―Leonardo Frederico


39. Bruce Springsteen “Janey Needs A Shooter”

2020 • ROCK • COLUMBIA

Although it was written back in the 1970s, when Bruce Springsteen was still auditioning for his first studio album, “Janey Needs A Shooter” is an incredible song that seems to sound both old and new ― a totally contemporary piece, but also classic. With lyrics that, according to Springsteen himself, is wild and fun, the singer addresses a cinematographic romance: Janey, a young girl, is intended by several stereotyped men, however, she and Springsteen know that he is the right guy for her. He sings, “Janey needs a shooter now/A shooter like me on her side.” Despite the track being almost 7 minutes long, thanks to the instrumental that mixes Rock with Country ― cymbal beats, harmonicas, soft strings and drums ― the track ends up being fluid, memorable and naturally fun and addictive. It’s a good thing that Springsteen released this one, it would be a shame if we had never heard it. ―Leonardo Frederico


38. Tkay Maizda “Grasshopper”

2020 • POP/RAP/R&B • 4AD

Tkay Maidza’s last work, Last Year Was Weird, Vol. 2, is full of empowerment, critical thinking and sharp production. “Grasshopper,” the best of the album, is the point where Maidza brings it all together in one point, in a powerful, bold, catchy and fun track. In the background, synthesizers play something totally distorted overlaid by generic Rap beats. Despite this, the music still sounds extremely pleasant. In the lyrics, Maidza fills her lungs with empowerment and strength while spitting out all the words in the lyrics in a sharp way. “Back then, they ain’t ever wanna see me grow/Took a minute, I stared deep in my soul/Caterpillar, now a butterfly with the doors,” she sings in the strongest part of the song ― wait, the whole song is the strongest part of it, never mind. ―Leonardo Frederico


37. Chloe x Halle “Ungodly Hour”

2020 • POP/R&B • COLUMBIA

The best track on Ungodly Hour is the title track. Despite not being the best in terms of sound or the one that carries the sharpest lyrics of the entire project by the sisters Chloe and Halle, it is the track where the perfect dose of both factors meet and help structures this incredible song. While muffled synth beats are in the background and samples play discreetly, the sisters take turns with the lyrics that talk about deserving someone who is really a good person and who deserves you. They sing in the chorus, “When you decide you like yourself (Holler at me)/When you decide you need someone (Call up on me)/When you don’t have to think about it/Love me at the ungodly hour.” In other words, a kind of epiphany that appears as a spontaneous hit. ―Leonardo Frederico


36. Declan McKenna “Be An Astronaut”

2020 • ROCK • TOMPLICATED

Within Zeros‘ retro futurist moments, “Be An Astronaut,” is the highest point. In this track we can see McKenna talking to Daniel, the main character on the album, and advising him not to care about bullies. Despite working on a relatively simple theme, the way Declan builds his narrative around the subject is magical and original. He sings in the first chorus, “The boys that wait outside your house/Have got your number/And are not afraid to use it.” However, the weird enchantment of the lyrics makes everything a little bit confusing and you ask if you’re getting it right. But we can’t forget about the sound variety that this track presents ― probably the wider on the entire album: in the beginning, a dramatic piano that, later, evolves into more bouncing notes and, at the end, explodes in drums, guitars and vocals in remixed layers. When he pronounces, “But you were born an astronaut/To do it or die trying,” you almost feel if he is saying this to you. Well, maybe he is. ―Leonardo Frederico


35. Fiona Apple“Under the Table”

2020 • ROCK • EPIC

One of the many skills of Fiona Apple is her ability to get her ideas across in the most unthinkable and unsuitable ways. On one of Fetch the Bolt Cutters best tracks, “Under the Table,” she does that: transforms an abusive relationship and feminism into a horrible dinner. On the track, she narrates a time when she went to a dinner that she didn’t even want to go with her boyfriend and the people who were there started saying things she didn’t like. Quickly, she answers this roughly and her boyfriend kicks her with a “be quiet” touch. She didn’t.

She starts, “I told you I didn’t wanna go to this dinner/You know I don’t go for those ones that you bother about/So when they say something that makes me start to simmer/That fancy wine won’t put this fire out,” and continue, “Kick me under the table all you want/I won’t shut up, I won’t shut up.”  Sonically, the song is also great: with strong vocals on the bridge with her screaming, electronic synthesizers that resemble Björk’s Homogenic and well-dosed and thoughtful remixed voice. Again, an energetic, inspiring and extremely well-done track. ―Leonardo Frederico


34. Arca “Afterwards” (feat. Björk)

2020 • EXPERIMENTAL/ELECTRONIC • XL

Within Arca’s daring electronic dream, the moment when she looks fondly at her past where her vocals and her sonority seemed much more religious is the highlight of her new album. In “Afterwards,” with Björk ― whom Arca has been working for a few years ―, we see the Venezuelan singer reach the state of mind that was very common in her previous work, before the electronic turbulence of synthesizers took over her discography. In the beginning, we see synthesizers and Björk’s voice played in echo, establishing an atmosphere somewhat similar to some works by the Icelandic singer. She recites a poem by Antonio Machado called “Anoche cuando doria,” while the synthesizers that now sound more mystical and magical than futuristic. Closer to the end, Arca appears as a distant spirit on a plane above us. It is a magical duet, with a magical lyric and a magical sound that enchant us. ―Leonardo Frederico


33. The Chicks “Gaslighter”

2020 • COUNTRY • COLUMBIA

The opener of The Chicks’ first album in 14 years is the best song on the album. With a narrative lyrics that manages to pass the entire story of a toxic relationship with fidelity and details, “Gaslighter” is a natural hit that has a catchy, memorable and very entertaining hook and an instrumental that is simple but also very well-done, produced and tasteful. Natalie starts the song by singing, “We moved to California and we followed your dreams/I believed in the promises you made to me/Swore that night ’til death do us part.” “Gaslighter, denier/Doin’ anything to get your ass farther/Gaslighter, big timer/Repeating all of the mistakes of your father,” she sings in the hook, the most energetic point of the song ― in fact, the whole song is very energetic, by the way. ―Leonardo Frederico


32. Taylor Swift “august”

2020 • POP/ALTERNATIVE • REPUBLIC

Among the trio of songs that tell the story of a love triangle, the strongest is “august,” for its minimalism that, at the same time, sounds simple but refined. From the perspective of the girl with whom James cheats on Betty, “august” carries a sunny atmosphere, a breeze and a sunset in its drum beats, synthesizers and strings of guitar, bass, violin and cello. Throughout the track, Swift paints lived scenes as she always does, however, now everything seems a little sharper since the metaphors that appear between these lines seem more self-conscious and have become more mature. However, the strongest point is at the end, when, after Swift repeats her most painful phrase (“Back when I was livin’ for the hope of it all”), an orchestra appears, which sounds complex, large and refined, but that, at the same time, it seems simple and one-dimensional. Perhaps this is a faithful representation of our feelings ― complicatedly simple. ―Leonardo Frederico


31. Laura Marling “Song For Our Daughter”

2020 • POP • WARNER

On the title track of her seventh album, Laura Marling shows the strongest, well-written and worrying lyrics of the entire record. Going straight to the point, at the beginning, the track looks like a narrative of the birth, life and death of Marling’s daughter. Beside a piano, strings and a violin solo on the instrumental hook, she sings in one part, “Lately I’ve been thinking about our daughter growing old/All of the bullshit that she might be told.”

However, as time goes by, you notice that Laura’s words that seemed harmless begin to have more intense meanings. In the first verse, she references the vulnerable situation of women in the music industry ― “With your clothes on the floor/Taking advice from some old balding bore/You’ll ask yourself, “Did I want this at all?” Later, she also talks about children who are abused and discredited. She sings, “There’s blood on the floor/Maybe now you’ll believe her for sure.” In the end she sings that we will get over it, however, it will not be easy. ―Leonardo Frederico


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