It goes without saying that it has been a very long year for everyone. At this point, my body feels like it has been in quarantine for about four years. I feel like I have forgotten how to act in anything other than a formal work setting(I am an essential worker and have had to go into work for most of the lockdown); I honestly do not know how I will be in a social setting when we are finally able to start going out and doing normal stuff. All I know is I can not wait to be able to go to professional sports games and concerts. Professional sports and music have been the things that have kept me somewhat sane during this time. Without these two things as an outlet, I would have gone crazy(more so than I already have, at least) during 2020. Considering how difficult it must have been to work on and put out music in 2020, the music that has come out this year has been great. Being locked inside and having to deal with all of the racial justice issues that have gone on this year have pushed so many artists to a new level of creativity, and 2020 has had some very cool and very meaningful music come out because of this. Because so much great music has come out this year, I split my list in half. On this list, I will be talking about the best songs(in my opinion) from the first half of this year. This list is not actually in order from least to best; rather, it just a collection of songs popular in the first half of 2020 that I liked. Make sure to check out the playlist underneath the article, as it contains all of these tracks. Please let me know in the comments below if these songs would have been on your list had you made one, and let me know about any songs you loved that I may have missed in the comments as well!
The Box – Roddy Ricch
It would be impossible to talk about the best music from 2020 without referencing ‘The Box.’ Even though this song technically came out at the end of 2019, it blew up on Tik Tok in a major way at the beginning of this year. This track has one of the most iconic beats out of the year; by now, everyone who listens to music has had the door squeaking sound that drives the melody of this track stuck in their head. On ‘The Box,’ Roddy Ricch shows how distinct and talented a rapper he is. His flows are super interesting catchy, and his vocal patterns are very individual to him as well. ‘The Box’ is such a hot melodic Trap song, and I am excited to see what he does next.
Good News – Mac Miller
If you know me at all, then you know how much love I had for Mac Miller. His death still haunts me and makes it tough to listen to his music at times. I grew up listening to him, and I resonated with his music and identified with him as a person in a way that I can not say has happened very many other musicians, if any. His post-humous album Circles, which is one of my favorite albums from 2020, highlighted how awesome of a musician he was. It showed off his vulnerability in a way that many other artists will not do, and it proved how much he had progressed as a musician. ‘Good News’ is my favorite song from this record, as it highlights how great he was. The production is simple but sophisticated, the lyrics are so touching and sweet, and the vocals and melody are so nice to listen to. This track is everything that was great about Mac, and it will be one of my favorite songs to listen to for a long time.
Futsal Shuffle 2020 – Lil Uzi Vert
‘Futsal Shuffle 2020’ was the first single from Lil Uzi Vert’s album Eternal Atake. This was one of my favorite albums from 2020, so do not be surprised that there are multiple songs from Eternal Atake on this list. ‘Fustal Shuffle 2020’ is an example of everything great about Lil Uzi Vert’s music. It has a super high energy instrumental which has a melody and beat that sounds like it would be on a New Jersey Club music Footwork song. This is a very distinct kind of music that is usually not used in the mainstream much, and Lil Uzi Vert’s quirky vocals and vigorous rapping style match up with this kind of instrumental so well. ‘Futsal Shuffle 2020’ is the kind of song that is perfect for working out and perfect for a Dance club at the same time.
Funny Thing – Thundercat
Thundercat is easily one of the coolest and most eclectic musicians in the game right now. He is an incredible bassist who has created some sick riffs for some of the best artists in music right now. From Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly to Flying Lotus’ Flamagra, Thundercat has helped make some great albums over the last several years. In 2020, Thundercat released his own awesome album called It Is What Is Is, and ‘Funny Thing’ is my favorite song from this album. It an upbeat Electro-Funk song with a funky bassline and sweet vocals that are super fun to listen to. This song is so catchy and so easy to listen to and just makes me want to dance. ‘Funny Thing’ is a perfect song for those who love old school music that makes you want to dance.
La Santa – Bad Bunny feat. Daddy Yankee
One artist that I have gotten into in a major way in 2020 is Bad Bunny. I had known who he was before this year, but as Bad Bunny took over the Latin Music World in 2020, I fell in love with his music just like everyone else did. Bad Bunny has a way of blending genres in a way that is very unique and unlike most other people making music right now. He also has a way of writing extremely catchy hooks that can draw any music listener in, regardless if there is a language barrier or not. ‘La Santa,’ which features Daddy Yankee, is a Reggaeton/Pop song with a very sweet melody which just makes me want to dance. A lot of Bad Bunny’s music has a bit more of a Hip Hop element to it, but this song is a bit more of a traditional Latin Pop and Reggaeton song than a lot of his other music. As expected, Daddy Yankee provides a ton of energy and brings the heat like he always does. If you are a fan of melodic Reggaeton that is perfect for the club, ‘La Santa’ is a song for you. It proves that Bad Bunny can excel at making the music that takes him back to his roots just as well as he is able to experiment with genres.
Blinding Lights – The Weeknd
There probably is not a lot I can even say about ‘Blinding Lights’ that has not already been said. I mean, this was the biggest song of the year and it came off of the biggest album of the year. ‘Blinding Lights’ is the epitome of The Weeknd’s transformation into the modern Pop Superstar. He has fully embraced the Retro Synth Pop sound that he has experimented with throughout his career, and it seems like he has found the kind of music that he is supposed to be making. The Weeknd has been known to transform himself with every new album cycle, but I would not be surprised if he sticks with this theme and sound for a while because he excels at it. ‘Blinding Lights’ is the kind of song that my parents’ generation loves just as much as younger generations because it toes the line between old school and new school perfectly. ‘Blinding Lights’ is easily one of the most exciting and fun songs of 2020, and I know it will be popular for many years to come.
Rascal – RMR
Now I feel like a lot of people would say that choosing ‘Rascal’ by RMR for this list is a bit silly because most people think this song was just a gimmick. I understand why people would think it is a gimmick, and maybe is just is one, but that does not change the fact that it is a good track and that RMR may have uncovered something very special with it. RMR’s ‘Rascal’ is a remix of sorts to the Rascal Flatts Country-Pop ballad ‘Bless the Broken Road.’ It takes this iconic melody and puts lyrics on it that sound like they should be in some underground Trap song. The thing that obviously stands out the most about this song is RMR’s vocals. No one in the world can deny that this man can sing. If he decides to stick with this weird Ghetto Country thing he is doing, RMR can completely create his own lane and basically create a genre. Regardless of whether he does this or not, ‘Rascal’ is a very interesting and fun song to listen to, and it deserves to be recognized as one of the great pieces of music from this year.
Yessirskiii – Lil Uzi Vert featuring 21 Savage
‘Yessirskiii,’ which features 21 Savage, is my favorite song from Lil Uzi Vert’s second release of the year, Lil Uzi Vert vs. The World 2. This record was a compilation of a bunch of unreleased tracks recorded over the last few years that did not fit well onto Eternal Atake or any of Uzi’s future projects. ‘Yessirskiii’ is a fun, melodic trap joint that reminds me a lot of Lil Uzi Vert’s early mixtape music. The melody has a bright and sweet video game element to it that highlights off the wall energy that both rappers on this track possess. 21 Savage and Lil Uzi Vert have a Tom of chemistry on this track; I would love to hear a full project from these two together because their rapping styles match up so well. ‘Yessirskiii’ brings out the best in two of the best Trap artists in the game right now.
Levitating – Dua Lipa
‘Levitating’ was one of the singles released from Dua Lipa’s 2020 album Physical, which is deservedly ending up on a lot of ”Best of the Year” lists. The album as a whole is so funky and fresh, and that sentiment shined through on ‘Levitating.’ In this song, Dua Lipa’s takes on an 80s Pop sound that is very reminiscent of artists like Laura Branigan and Belinda Carlisle. ‘Levitating’ is so fun and catchy, and it makes anyone who hears it just want to dance. It has a bit of a Disco element to the instrumental as well; if you played ‘Levitating’ in a club during the early 1980s, I feel like it would fit in super well. Out of all of the Retro sounding Pop songs that have come out over the last couple of years, ‘Levitating’ is one of my favorites.
In Your Eyes – The Weeknd
The Weeknd’s After Hours is a record where I could have chosen quite a few songs for this list since the album was so good as a whole. There are so many songs on this album that are great, and the album as a whole will be timeless. Even though ‘Blinding Lights’ is so iconic, I have to say that ‘In Your Eyes’ is probably my favorite song from the record. I feel like The Weeknd’s storytelling ability, vocal ability, and emotional vulnerability as an artist shine through on this song. ‘In Your Eyes’ has a super warm and fuzzy Synth-Pop instrumental, which creates a juxtaposition with the lyrical tone of the track. On ‘In Your Eyes,’ The Weeknd is realizing how much he has hurt his significant other, and how much she does she tries to ignore all of the pain he has caused her to make him happy. It is a really sweet and raw and honest track, and it brings out all of the best things about The Weeknd as an artist.
Idoru – Grimes
Grimes’ Miss Anthropocene is probably not an album that resonates with all casual music listeners, but it is one of my favorite albums from 2020. This kind of Electro-Pop can be challenging to the listener since it is so complicated and eclectic and strange; it is an acquired taste, for sure. ‘Idoru’ is probably one of the least complicated and most palatable songs on this record for casual Pop music fans. ‘Idoru’ has a sweet Synth-Pop sound that reminds me a lot of the Indie-Pop music that was popular in the early 2010s. It reminds me a lot of artists like Postal Service or Matt and Kim. It has a very catchy melody and Grimes’ high-pitched vocals are so pleasant to listen to on this track. If you are not very familiar with Grimes but like the kind of Indie Pop that was popular about 10 years ago, I suggest that you give this song a listen.
XS – Rina Sawayama
One of my favorite artists to emerge over the last couple of years has been Rina Sawayama. She is an artist that can blend genres in a way that is very eclectic; Rina incorporates retro Electro-Pop and Synth-Pop, Heavy Metal, Industrial music, R&B, and Hip Hop in ways that you will not hear from any other artists making music right now. ‘XS’ is an excellent example of Rina combining genres in a way that is very cool and abnormal. This track mixes Metal music and early 2000s Euro-Pop in a way that is super fresh and interesting. This is easily one of the most unique songs you will hear all year. If you are a fan of Pop music and have not listened to Rina Sawayama yet, ‘XS’ is an excellent introduction to what she does.
Bloody Valentine – Machine Gun Kelly
Out of every musician who made music in 2020, Machine Gun Kelly had one of the biggest years. He started the year with a bunch of covers/remixes performed and recorded entirely within the quarantine. From Hip Hop remixes to covers of Pop songs, MGK showed off his wide range of abilities as an artist in these Youtube videos posted in late April and early May. ‘Bloody Valentine’ was his first truly original release of the year; it was the lead single from his Pop-Punk album Tickets To My Downfall which was released in the fall of this year. ‘Bloody Valentine’ is a very catchy and fun Pop-Punk track that is very reminiscent of the early 2000s. If you are a fan of early 2000s Punk bands like Blink 182 or Sum 41, this is a song for you. MGK’s vocals are perfect on this track, and he demonstrates that Pop-Punk is a genre of music he excels at making.
Yo Perreo Sola – Bad Bunny
Bad Bunny’s YHLQMDLG was way too good to only include one song from the album on this list. ‘Yo Perreo Sola’ is one of the biggest bangers of 2020, and it would be wrong for me to not include it on this list. The title of this song translates to “I twerk alone,” and this song is a women’s club anthem. It encourages women just to dance and have fun and discourages men from touching and feeling on women in the club that they do not know. The instrumental for this track is a perfect combination of Reggaeton and Trap music, highlighting Bad Bunny’s traditional Reggaeton tendencies as a performer while also showing off his rapping ability. ‘Yo Perreo Sola’ is definitely one of the best songs of 2020, I also know it will be very popular for years to come because it is just so fun.
Savage – Megan Thee Stallion featuring Beyoncé
I mean, it wouldn’t be right to make a list about the Top songs of the year and not include this track. ‘Savage’ really took over social media apps this year; it specifically took over Tik Tok, becoming one of the most used sounds on the sight. The original version of this track is such a fun Pop-Trap bop, but Beyoncé adds so much to it in her remix. Not only did she gives us a full original verse that is better than the verses on the first version, but her ad-libs on this remix are also just so iconic. ‘Savage(Remix)’ is a song I’m positive will stand the test of time; people will be singing a long to this banger for years to come.
TKN – Rosalìa featuring Travis Scott
Compared to what she has done the last couple of years, Rosalìa’s output has been pretty infrequent in 2020. She has released a couple of singles this year been featured on a few songs, but compared to 2018 and 2019 her output has not been very big this year. Regardless of the amount of music Rosalìa put out in 2020, her presence was still felt in a big way with her banger ‘TKN.’ On this track, Rosalìa completely dove into the Latin Trap sound she has been dabbling in over the last year or so. Rosalìa kills this sound on ‘TKN,’ showing that she can make modern Latin music as well as everyone, as well as proving that she should continue to dabble in genres like Latin Trap and Reggaeton. Travis Scott excels on this track as well, showing his diversity as an artist. He even sings in Spanish on this track, which is a delightful surprise. I would love to see Rosalìa continue to collaborate with American Hip Hop artists and make this kind of music in the near future, as she is obviously very good at it.
anthems – Charli XCX
There are quite a few songs I could have chosen as my favorite from Charli XCX’s 2020 record how im feeling now. This record was entirely created during the first month of quarantine; it was written, produced, and engineered over the course of about 40 days, with all of the music videos and artwork created over this time period as well. This resulted in one of the most eclectic and strange pieces of music out out all year; this album has elements of Hyper-Pop, EDM, Pop-Punk, Industrial music, and Hip Hop all incorporated in various ways. ‘anthems’ is a Hyper-Pop banger that is super fun and kind of intense to listen to. It has a really sweet melody that is very reminiscent of Bubblegum Pop, and auto-tuned vocals that are very reminiscent of early 2000s Euro-Pop. The beat has a bit of a 90s Industrial feeling to it mixed with modern Trap. It is really unlike any other song I have heard this year; it is just super fun to listen to and makes me want to go to an EDM club and dance the night away. ‘anthems’ may not be for everyone, but fans of brash Hyper-Pop should love this track.
Free Woman – Lady Gaga
For as good as the album was, I feel like Lady Gaga’s Chromatica ended being swept under the rug and forgotten about a bit this year. This album ended up coming out right in the middle of the COVID pandemic and Black Lives Matter Social Justice movement of 2020, and even though it did go number one for a week, Chromatica was not nearly as popular and talked about as any of Lady Gaga’s previous albums. With that being said, I still really enjoyed this record, and ‘Free Woman’ was the best track on it in my opinion. This song follows the Retro Euro-Pop sound that the rest of the album has, but it stands out because it just feels like more of an anthem than a lot of the rest of the record. It reminds me a lot of Lady Gaga’s early music; it has an EDM feeling to it, and will just make any listener want to dance. It is such a fun song, and if you missed this one and love Pop and Lady Gaga, I know you’ll love this track as well.
3 Headed GOAT – Lil Durk, Polo G, and Lil Baby
If you are into modern Chicago Drill or Atlanta Trap music, I’m sure you know about Lil Durk, Polo G, and Lil Baby by now. They are some of the most prolific and most talented rising stars in the Hip Hop game right now; all three of them have very distinct flows and styles of rapping, and all three of them are known for being deep and sophisticated lyrically. ‘3 Headed GOAT’ is an excellent collaboration from these three that is the best song from Lil Durk’s album Just Cause Y’all Waited 2. On this track, all three of them demonstrate their respective skills as rappers, showing off their killer flows and sophisticated lyrical abilities in a way that is super crazy and fun on this track. If you are a fan of Trap music and missed this track, you have to check it out because you will love it.
Ju$t – Run The Jewels featuring Pharrell and Zack De La Rocha
Run The Jewels’ record RTJ4 is another album that I could pick multiple songs from for this list, as the whole record is excellent in general. My personal favorite song on the album is ‘Ju$t,’ as it highlights everything great about this record overall. RTJ4 is a Hardcore Hip Hop protest record that speaks out about the racism, police brutality, and overall hypocrisy that is very prevalent in our country right now. ‘Ju$t’ has a rough and tough-sounding Hardcore Trap instrumental that also happens to be very catchy. It is very obvious right from the start what this song is going to be about, with the chorus containing the line: ‘Look at all these slave masters posing on your dollar!’ Every rap performance in this song is great and majorly contributes to the message of the song. If you do not know this song and love Hip Hop, it is a must-listen as it is easily one of the best and most important rap songs of 2020.
The Bigger Picture – Lil Baby
As I mentioned previously, Lil Baby has become one of the biggest riding Trap Rap superstars from the last couple of years. He has continued to prove he can be as lyrical as anyone who makes his style of music, and his variety of flows and his catchy melodic vocals have stood out. Even though he had some good music come out this year on his My Turn album, my favorite release of his this year was ‘The Bigger Picture.’ This track was released in response to the murder of George Floyd and an anthem for the Social Justice movement. Lil Baby demonstrates his rapping prowess on this track and has a variety of very catchy flows, and he highlights the reasons he thinks the world needs to change. ‘The Bigger Picture’ is an easy to listen to and accessible social Justice anthem which will be relevant for a long time.