As I mentioned in my post about the best songs from the first have of 2020, one of the things that has kept me going this year is the amount of great music that has come out. I am not going to lie, as 2020 dragged along, it would have been easier and easier to fall into a pit of despair. For a while, it did not seem like things were going to get any better for quite a while. As our country clashed over Social Justice issues, COVID regulations, and the 2020 election, everything looked like it was heading into a downward spiral. The most consistent thing about 2020 has been the quality of music that has come out. As our world plunged forward in chaos and turmoil, the amount of music that has been put out, and the quality it has had has been pretty extraordinary. There have not been very many things that we could rely on over the last several months, but fortunately, we were able to assume that good music would keep coming out as the year moved along. It was honestly pretty tough to narrow this list down because so many good songs came out in the second half of this year. There are quite a few tracks that narrowly missed the cut. Listed below is a group of songs I loved that either came out in or came popular in the latter half of 2020. Below the article, you will find a playlist that contains all of the music from this list. Please let me know in the comments below if you liked any of these songs as well, and let me know what songs you think I should have included in the comments as well!
Yea Yea – Pop Smoke
Pop Smoke was one of my favorite upcoming rappers before he unfortunately passed away early this year. He was able to combine the intense New York Drill music sound with other forms of Hip Hop in a way that stood out, and he even had major Pop music tendencies as well. Pop Smoke was everything you want out of a new rising star; he had a distinct style of rapping, uncanny charisma, and an ability to adapt to the Popular music landscape in any way he needed to. There were multiple songs I could have picked from his posthumous album Shoot For The Stars, Aim For The Moon for this list because I loved so much of it; other songs from this record that I almost chose were ‘Something Special,’ ’44 Bulldog,’ ‘For The Night,’ and ‘Got It On Me.’ Ultimately, the best song on this album, in my opinion, is ‘Yea Yea.’ It is really interesting how someone can make a song that is straight-up about gang banging so catchy and fun sounding. This track has a sweet and catchy melody that one would expect to hear in a Pop or R&B song, and Pop Smokes low-voiced sing-rapping sounds unbelievably smooth on this instrumental. If someone were to hear this instrumental without any vocals, they would not expect someone like Pop Smoke to sound so good on it, and that is what makes it so great. On ‘Yea Yea,’ Pop Smoke proved he could excel on any kind of song, and that there was not anyone else like him in the rap game.
Man Of The Year – Juice Wrld
Juice Wrld was another one of the most interesting Hip Hop artists to have emerged over the last couple of years. He had a cool way of blending the Pop Music and Punk Rock music that he liked to listen to growing up with modern trap music; he was one of the driving forces behind the Emo-Trap genre, and he was also one of the artists most willing to push the boundaries within this sound. Unfortunately, he passed away late last year, so we will never know how much he could have continued to shape Hip Hop music. His posthumous record, Legends Never Die, is another album that I could have picked multiple songs from for this list. Other songs I wish I could have included are ‘Come & Go,’ ‘Conversations’ and ‘Hate the Other Side.’ My favorite song of all from this album is ‘Man Of The Year.’ This track is one of the more experimental ones on the record, which is saying something since the whole thing is so fresh and different. ‘Man Of The Year’ is pretty much a straight-up Punk Rock song; it does not have a Hip Hop beat to it at all. He does use some of his rap flows to sing the vocals in the choruses, though, which does give the song a bit of a Trap feeling even though it does not have a Trap beat. I love the guitar riff on this song, as it is very catchy and matches up with Juice Wrld’s vocals well. ‘Man Of The Year’ emphasizes everything that made Juice Wrld a special artist.
Weak – Flo Milli
One of the best things about the progression of the Hip Hop game over the last few years has been the influx of women in the genre. Of course, two of the most popular artists of the 2010s, Nicki Minaj and Cardi B, are women, but for the most part, the genre has still been mainly dominated by men until very recently. With the emergence of artists like Syd, Tierra Whack, Tommy Genesis, CupcakKe, Noname, Megan Thee Stallion, and Rico Nasty, Hip Hop has been flooded with excellent female EmCees over the last couple of years. One of the best female rappers to emerge over the last couple of years is Flo Milli. She has an energy and charisma that is so palpable and so unlike anyone else making music right now; her attitude reminds me of artists like Trina or Diamond and Princess from the Crime Mob. Her song ‘Weak’ from the mixtape Ho, Why Is You Here? is one of my favorite singles from 2020. On this track, Flo Milli is asserting her power over the men around her, stating that she is the one in charge and they are the ones that grovel over her. The sample for this track comes from SVW’s song ‘Weak,’ which is about a woman always giving a man a pass for his wrongdoings because she loves him so much. I like how Flo Milli flips this idea on its head with her version of the track. Flo Milli’s ‘Weak’ is just such a fun Trap song that shows off how skilled and how confident Flo Milli is.
Selene – Niki
Niki is an emerging Pop and R&B star who hails from Indonesia that has been making some waves in the Indie and Alternative music scenes over the last couple of years. She is signed to the up and coming music collective 88Rising, quickly becoming one of the most exciting artists on the roster as she has released more and more music. She has a neo-Soul sound that is equally inspired by Erykah Badu or Aaliyah as it is by 70s and 80s Disco music, giving her a super eclectic style that is unlike most other R&B artists making music today. My favorite song from her 2020 EP Moonchild is the song ‘Selene.’ This track has a sound that is sort of a combination of retro Disco music and UK Garage music. I love the Garage sound that this song has, because it gives the song a different sort of funky feeling to it that you do not hear too much in “American music.” If you are into R&B music and want to hear something that is very funky and fresh, please check out Niki’s song ‘Selene.’
Daylight – Joji and Diplo
Speaking of R&B artists that are completely doing their own thing, the next song on the list is by Joji, and has production provided by world-renowned DJ Diplo. Joji is another artist signed to the music collective 88Rising. After gaining popularity in the early to mid-2010s from various comedy characters and comedic music acts that have become very popular online, he has pivoted over the last couple of years and now makes pretty intense and somber R&B music. ‘Daylight’ is one of the more bright and upbeat songs he has made in years, and it is such a funky and fun song. It is a track that sounds old school and Futuristic at the same time, it is one of the more interesting sounding Pop songs I have heard this year. I like this song because even though it just sounds different than anything else on this list, it has a Pop music familiarity that anyone can love.
Woodlawn – Aminè
Aminè has become one of the most interesting and ultimately different sounding rappers to become a star within the genre over the last couple of years. After he took over the world with his song ‘Caroline’ a couple of years ago, Aminè has dominated the airwaves with his unique sound that stands out within the genre. His 2020 album Limbo is one of my favorite Hip Hop records from 2020, and it had a few songs on it that I would have loved to pick for this list. Other songs from Limbo that I love are ‘Kobe,’ ‘Compensating,’ and ‘Pressure In My Palms.’ The song I chose for this list though is ‘Woodlawn.’ This track has a melody that reminds me of old-school 90s instrumentals, and a slow Trap beat that kind of reminds me of early 2000s Trap music. I love Aminè’s flows on this track; he glides over this instrumental in a way only he can, and provides some of the smoothest sounding bars of 2020. If you do not know this track and like really smooth older sounding Rap music, ‘Woodlawn’ is a song you should check out.
Mr. Right Now – 21 Savage and Metro Boomin featuring Drake
If you are into seeing musicians progress in a major way, you should go back and track the career of 21 Savage. As far as someone that has improved as an artist, not many people have developed more than 21 Savage. He has always had killer flows that are very addicting, but as far as his abilities as a lyricist and his abilities to pick good instrumentals, 21 Savage is lightyears ahead of where he started. Speaking of instrumentals, 21 Savage’s 2020 collaborative album with Metro Boomin, Savage Mode II, is full of excellent instrumentals. There are so many great tracks from this record I could have put on this list from that record, to be honest. ‘Mr. Right Now,’ which features Drake, is the best of the bunch, though. This song has a weird and cool melody that sounds like something would play in a carousel ride; it is not something you would expect to hear on a Trap song, but it highlights Drake’s and 21 Savage’s vocals super well. Both rappers on this song have such nasty flows, and the hook on this track is so catchy. If you are a fan of either of these artists or just enjoy Trap music, you will love ‘Mr. Right Now.’
iPhone – Rico Nasty
I have said this so many times, but if you know me or have paid attention to this blog at all in the last year and a half, you should know about my love for Rico Nasty by now. She has easily become one of my favorite artists; she brings so much chaotic and fun energy to every song she is on, are there is no one like her. ‘iPhone’ was the first single from her excellent 2020 album Nightmare Vacation; on an album that is full of in your face and abrasive and weird Trap music, ‘iPhone’ is one of the strangest and most intense. This track is produced by Dylan Brady of the Experimental EDM group 100 Gecs, and if you have heard their music I would say this feels kind of obvious. This instrumental is so bright and saturated and as about tough sounding as a song with this kind of sweet melody can have. Rico Nasty completely meets the bold nature of this instrumental with her vocals; she yells and sings and raps all at the same time in a way that is not like anyone else you will hear in the rap game right now. ‘iPhone’ may not be the kind of song for casual Trap fans, but I urge everyone to check it out because it is so fresh.
Martin and Gina – Polo G
Polo G has had a huge last couple of years. His last two projects have both been critically acclaimed, and he has risen to the top of the list as far as Hip Hop artists that other rappers want to get features from. His 2020 record THE GOAT, was critically acclaimed and is considered one the best rap albums of the year by tons of Hip Hop fans all over the country. It feels like Polo G can succeed at anything when it comes to the genre of Hip Hop; he can sing-rap as well as anyone, he has an uncountable amount of excellent flows, and he is one of the most lyrically superior young rappers in the game right now. ‘Martin and Gina’ is a song that demonstrates the diversity of Polo G as an artist, and is probably my favorite song of his to date. It is just so sweet and funky and enjoyable, and Polo G demonstrates a softer side of him that is so nice on ‘Martin and Gina.’ This is a love song that references the iconic 90s TV show Martin; in fact, I have to mention the music video, because it is a recreation by Polo G of some of the show’s most iconic scenes. If you are into melodic Pop Rap and somehow do not know this song, please look up ‘Martin and Gina’ and check out the music video as soon as possible.
Mood – 24kGoldn and Iann Dior
I feel like most of the songs on this list up until this point have not been super mainstream or that popular as far as the Billboard Hot 100 goes. Obviously, that changes with the song ‘Mood’ by 24kGoldn and Iann Dior. This track was number one in the country for a while, and I feel like if you have any sort of online presence it is impossible for you to not have heard this song because it was so popular. 24kGoldn and Iann Dior are both rising stars in the Emo Trap genre; I feel like they are becoming revolutionary within this genre in a way because they both have incorporated more Rock and Pop music and less Trap music into their sounds than a lot of other artists who are also considered to be in this genre. ‘Mood’ is an excellent example of them taking this sound down more of a Pop route, and it is probably the reason it is so popular.
forget me too – Machine Gun Kelly featuring Halsey
As I mentioned in Part One, Machine Gun Kelly had a hell of a year. After all of those excellent covers/remixes he dropped at the beginning of the Pandemic, he released his first fully Pop-Punk album, Tickets To My Downfall. This album ended up being excellent, and there are quite a few songs from it I could pick for this list. Ultimately, the best song on Tickets To My Downfall is ‘forget me too,’ which features Halsey. This track is a Pop-Punk anthem. It has a killer melody and riff, angsty lyrics, and awesome vocals. The chemistry between Halsey and MGK is so excellent on this song; I want to hear more music from these two together. ‘forget me too’ is such a fun song and it brings out the best in all of the artists involved in it. It is proof that Pop-Punk is coming back in a major way.
Care – Beabadoobee
If you know me personally, Beabadoobee is an artist that I am sure you have heard me mention over the last year or so. Beabadoobee has quickly become one of my favorite artists over the last year or so. I have always been a big fan of 90s music and 90s style, and everything about this band embodies that era. ‘Care’ is the lead single from their 2020 album Fake It Flowers, which was another one of my favorite artist of 2020. If I told you this song came out in 1995, I bet you would believe me, because it does not sound like it was made in this era. ‘Care’ sounds like a mixture of Smashing Pumpkins or Social Distortion and Michelle Branch or Sixpence None the Richer. They take the super distorted sound Alt-Grunge sounds from the 90s and combine them with contemporary Alternative Pop music. The instrumental goes so hard, and the vocals are so soft and sweet. If you are a fan of 90s music at all, ‘Care’ by Beabadoobee is a song you need to download.
Drip On My Dresser – Yung Gravy featuring Chief Keef
I feel like I can’t make a year-end list without including at least one Yung Gravy song, because he always drops random bangers every year. Yung Gravy is not one of the most sophisticated rappers and does not push many boundaries artistically, but he is easily one of the most fun to listen to. His albums to me almost feel like random compilations of songs that were supposed to be singles, and because of this, every record he drops has gems. The gem that I chose from his latest record, Gasanova, is ‘Drip On My Dresser,’ which features his frequent collaborator Chief Keef. This song has a melody that sounds like typical elevator music, which is super silly and funky at the same time. Of course, both Chief Keef and Yung Gravy kill it with their performances. I love how their styles of rapping contrast each other in a really interesting way, and they both showcase the best things about the way they rap in this track. If you are a fan of Trap music and do no know much about Yung Gravy, please check out this track because it is so fun and such a smooth bop.
Scuse Me – Flo Milli
I could not continue to make this list without putting another song from Flo Milli’s Ho, Why Is You Here? on this list. Overall, this album is so good and I could put multiple more songs from it on this list if I wanted to. I chose ‘Scuse Me’ for the list because I feel like it embodies everything about what makes Flo Milli such a great and interesting rising Hip Hop star. Flo Milli’s arrogant and bold attitude shines through on this song in the best way. The instrumental has a bit of an old school feeling to it that reminds me a lot of early 2000s Crunk music in a way. Once again, I have to say that I hear a lot of influence from the Crime Mob on this song. Overall ‘Scuse Me’ is an excellent example of every that makes Flo Milli stand out in the best way.
Hawai – Maluma featuring The Weeknd
We have now reached the Latin music section of this list. I love Spanish language music, and I could not make one of these year-end lists without including a few songs in Spanish. Since I first heard it, ‘Hawai’ by Maluma and The Weeknd has quickly become one of my favorite songs from 2020. As soon as smooth Reggaeton music goes, this song is just so excellent. Maluma and The Weeknd have such awesome chemistry on this song; one would not expect The Weeknd to seamlessly slide into Reggaeton music so easily, but it just shows how talented he is. He even sings in Spanish on this song, and it sounds surprisingly very natural. ‘Hawai’ has a very chill and fun melody that reminds me of the beach or somewhere very tropical. This song brings out all of the best things in both of these artists, and it just shows off how good they both are at what they do respectively. If you are a fan of easy-going Reggaeton music, this is a song you need to hear.
Despeinada – Ozuna featuring Camilo
Speaking of easy-going and chill Reggaeton music, another one of my favorite songs in Spanish this year, ‘Despeinada,’ came from Latin superstars Ozuna and Camilo. This is another song where that includes two artists that one would not necessarily expect to work with each other. Ozuna is typically known for making more Hip Hop influenced Reggaeton and Latin Trap music, and Camilo is known for making romantic Latin Pop music. ‘Despeinada’ is sort of a combination of what both of these artists do best; it honestly feels like a straight-up mixture of Reggaeton and Latin Pop. I really love how their voices contrast each other on this track. The husky nature of Camilo’s voice sounds so good when paired up with Ozuna’s more high-pitched tones. ‘Despeinada’ is another song that makes me think about a warm day on some beach in the Caribbean. Considering it is about 20 degrees outside where I live, it is nice to listen to music that makes me forget about it for a second. Once again, if you like easy going Reggaeton music, this is a song you need to check out.
Dakiti – Bad Bunny featuring Jhay Cortez
You did not think I could get through this list without including another Bad Bunny song, did you? After how successful his first album of the year was, Bad Bunny had to outdo himself on this second record of 2020. El Ultimo Tour Del Mundo, which came out at the end of November, ended being the first album that is completely in Spanish to reach number one on the Billboard Top 200. This is pretty unbelievable if you think about it; I do not think many people would expect an album that is not in English to go number one in the United States, but that just shows how popular Bad Bunny has become. ‘Dakiti’ was the only single released in anticipation for this record, and it is easily one of the best songs of the year. I mean, there is a reason that this song is still considered the number one song globally two and a half months after it came out. This song sort of has a House music feeling to it; it does have some typical sounding Reggaeton drums in the background, but the overall melody, tempo, and beat remind me a lot of European House and Eurodance music. ‘Dakiti’ is the kind of song that will make anyone want to dance as soon as it comes on. It is so high energy and is so fun to listen to, just makes me want to party. ‘Dakiti’ is easily one of the best songs of the year, and it just shows off how great Bad Bunny is.
Photo ID – Remi Wolf
It is impossible to make it through a list like this in 2020 without at least a couple of Tik Tok songs, and I had to include this one. ‘Photo ID’ by Remi Wolf is one of the catchiest songs I have heard in a while. This song is so funky and so fresh, and all of the weird sound effects are so cool and fun. Remi’s flow is so nice too; the way she sings and delivers her lines is so memorable. There is a reason this song is so popular online; everything about it is unique and cool and weird. I also would like to shout out another song of hers from this year, ‘Hello Hello Hello.’ This song is not as funky or Pop oriented as ‘Photo ID,’ but it is just as catchy and different. This track has a bit of a Reggae feel to it, making it a lot more chill than ‘Photo ID.’ Once again, the way Remi Wolf delivers her lines is so catchy and captivating, and her tongue-in-cheek lyricism draws the listener in. She is someone I am excited to follow in 2021 because there are not many artists similar to her.
Dynamite – BTS
I have to admit, I did not know much about BTS before hearing this song. I know this sounds bad as someone who is a music blogger, but I just never really gave them a chance the way I should have. I had heard snips and seem random clips of videos and thought they were very talented, but I never actually listened to their music for myself. After hearing ‘Dynamite,’ though, I will be paying a lot more attention to them and checking out their music in the future. ‘Dynamite’ is a straight-up bop; everything about this song is so upbeat and fun and bright. It is impossible to listen to this song and not have your mood brought up a bit. I enjoy the fact that everyone member of the group does have a very distinct and recognizable sound; sometimes in boy bands, some members can kind of seem like they are in the background. For BTS, every artist has multiple things that make them stand out from the group. If you have not listened to BTS yet, check out this song because it is so good.
How It Go – King Von
Out of all of the tragic losses we had in 2020, King Von was one of the ones that bugged me the most. King Von was one of my favorite rising stars in the rap game. He was bringing back the Chicago Drill music scene in a major way(which I was a massive fan of when it first became popular about ten years ago). King Von had a way of telling stories that were so vivid and eye-opening. When listening to his music, people can feel his pain. He described the situations he had been apart of in a way that was so compelling. Multiple songs came out by King Von in 2020, as he dropped two mixtapes. I chose ‘How It Go’ because it highlights how good of a lyricist he was and how he could sing-rap and switch up his flow with the best of them. In ‘How It Go,’ King Von describes what it is like to go through the prison system. While he is in jail, all he can think about is getting out and seeing his kids. Once he gets out, he realizes he is at the bottom of the totem pole now, and that he needs to climb his way back up to the top of his neighborhood to get what he wants. If you like intense gangsta rap or Drill rap, you need to check out ‘ How It Go’ by King Von.
Let It Out – Rico Nasty
To round out this list, I have to bring it back to one of my favorites, Rico Nasty. Her record Nightmare Vacation is yet another one where I wanted to choose multiple other songs for this list. It is so good as a whole; if you listen to either of the tracks I wrote about here, I promise you will enjoy the whole album so much. One style of music that Rico Nasty has become very popular for is Metal Trap. She likes to rap on these instrumentals that are a mixture of Industrial, Heavy Metal, and Trap; most rappers would not be able to match the energy of instrumentals like this, but Rico Nasty can exceed the energy of these instrumentals. ‘Let It Out’ is an excellent example of this Metal Trap sound. This song is so harsh and tough and just goes so hard. It is impossible to listen to the chorus of this song and not scream the lyrics with Rico. ‘Let It Out’ would be the perfect pump-up song. I promise that if you listen to this song, it will get your blood flowing and energy flowing in the best way. I know that this description may sound a bit strange to some casual music listeners, but I am telling you this song is so good. Please check out ‘Let It Out’ by Rico Nasty because it is one of the coolest songs of 2020.