Stevan made a solid first impression on me with his 2019 single Timee. He released two mixtapes in 2020 and this is the closing track from the first one. This is a more piano based arrangement than his previous singles but it does have similar dreamy qualities to Timee. I am glad to enter the Stevan universe whenever I hear this.
That is Bridezilla the song, not Bridezilla the band. I did have a song by Bridezilla in contention for my 2010 list, it sounded a bit like Beach House. I don’t even know if that was the same Bridezilla that Hijinx mentioned when I charted this. Deer Park Avenue are a Californian band that appear to be based in either Germany or Switzerland (most of their Spotify listeners are from there too). This is one of the sillier songs I’ve liked in recent memory and I admire it for that.
I quite enjoy Rina Sawayama’s album. It contains some banger singles of course but it’s backed up with some strong deep cuts like this one. A lot of different sounds on the album and it turns out straight up RAWK is also a good one. I also have a soft spot for songs that simulate being played live. I think this might be the only song here with a key change but I’m probably forgetting something.
Proof that how a song does on my chart doesn’t always correspond to how they do on my year end lists. When I Dream was a top 20 hit for me but stalled out around #210 in my 2018 list while this peaked at #30 but has managed to crack the top 100. A bouncy synth tune that fits in reasonably well with what I expect from San Cisco even though I don’t think they really had a song like this before. I liked their 2020 album a lot more than their previous one, which was either not good or I was just in a bad mood when I listened.
If that other song is Reflektor by Arcade Fire this is definitely Kids by MGMT. It has plenty of stuff going for it aside from that however, my favorite part being the melody in the pre-chorus. In 2000 OutKast released their song Bombs Over Baghdad. In 2010 B.o.B had a breakout hit with Nothin’ On You. At least 2020 has managed to continue one tradition.
Unlike in 2017 I listened to the Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit album before the end of the year. This was a pretty clear stand out to me. It’s a fairly engaging story song but the main thing that always gets me here is the main guitar riff that sounds inexplicably similar to the Santana and Rob Thomas hit single Smooth. It feels ironic that I’m pointing this out since I wasn’t even that familiar with Smooth until recently.
I feel like I heard the name Peach Pit long before I heard any of their songs. It might just be that the name is very similar to Passion Pit. Of all things to get my attention it’s a single from the deluxe edition from their most recent album. Here we get a combination of slow verses and a fast chorus and I happen to think both parts slap.
And now the next level music criticism you read this commentary for: Fetch The Bolt Cutters is a good album. Okay, there’s a bit more to it than that. It was one of the few albums I decided to give a second listen despite not being entirely sure if I liked it on first listen. I was certainly fascinated by it. The end result is that Fiona Apple has the most entries in my top 250 this year but this is the only top 100 entry. It’s a nice intro song that’s maybe not fully indicative of the sound of the whole album but it has some interesting elements. You haven’t fully lived until you hear Fiona Apple make dolphin sounds.
I am still the number one Tape Deck Sick stan but this is probably my favorite DMA’s song now. THE GLOW is certainly a step away from the ‘Oasis but Australian’ aesthetic although really they just sound like a more wide variety of British bands now. This was by far their biggest departure, a straight up dance track that is always a joy to hear.
Hazel English is of course tied to The Important Historical Fact of having made the first song to be #1 on my personal chart. In 2020 she has continued to put out enjoyable soft indie rock tracks with her sound being perhaps a little less lo fi now. The chorus of this in particular is very sweet.
Ultraflex is the collaborative effort of Swedish artist Farao, who previously had a #1 on my chart with Marry Me and Icelandic artist Special-K who previously I had not heard of before. Despite the description for the music video literally saying ‘Never Forget My Baby is a tribute to Cher and Janet Jackson’ and Together Again being one of the few Janet Jackson songs I heard on the radio as a kid I did not make the ‘never forget my baby’ connection myself. This is wonderfully dreamy.
Despite the lower placement I think I prefer this over Adore You which might confirm my suspicion of this being a stronger year than 2019 single wise. The strings on this really hit the spot. I’ll say that What’s Your Pleasure? was generally a quite enjoyable album even though this is the only entry for her in the top 250 this year.
88. Lucy Sugerman - i wanna kiss boys cos i’m bored
As far as incredibly random entries here go, here’s the debut single of The Voice Australia Season 6 third place finisher Lucy Sugerman (aside from a LANKS feature). I probably would not have heard this if it had a less memorable title. The song actually ends on a fairly self-critical note which I wouldn’t have necessarily expected but I find it interesting. Aside from that it’s a fun and catchy bop.
In terms of length of just the songs themselves this is by far my shortest top 100 but regardless one of my lists just wouldn’t be complete without at least 1 song that’s nearly 8 minutes long. This was the first single the Swedish duo released in 6 years. Mildly amusing is that their 2014 album is called Chiaroscuro, without hearing any of it I assume it doesn’t sound much like Ocean Alley. Of course I heard this before their 2011 EOY entry. Time is weird.
I’m guessing their name is TOPS because their music is good! This was the most popular single from their album. Maybe? Possibly? It was at least the one that Double J played. I’ve seen this song get compared to HAIM somewhere and I guess I can hear that.
I first heard of Alaska Reid through her 2019 single Quake. I didn’t chart it or anything but I liked it enough that I kept paying attention to her music and it’s worked out here. There are some more guitar based songs on her EP, Big Bunny (it’s honestly longer than quite a few albums I’ve listened to though), that I quite liked but this is ultimately my favorite. It feels melancholic in a somewhat fresh way.
I first heard of Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers in 2017, when I think their song We’re All Henry was played on a triple j mid dawn show. The band name and even the song title were rather memorable and that song is quite good still. In 2019 they had a decent hit for me with See You In A Bit (I Still Care) and now they’ve broken out into my top 100 finally. I don’t know what else to say other than the hooks really deliver on this one.
A song called Wasted that does not have the word ‘naked’ in any version of it? Seems unlikely. It feels weird to write about this before the Chelsea Williams song that was a bit bigger for me. All I’ll say for now is that this one has some similar charms whilst being a more up-tempo pop track.
I think this was a Discover Weekly discovery for me. This being the most played of their 4 singles on Spotify certainly seems to add up if that’s the case. This is totally a vibe song with a rather minimal amount of lyrics. I quite like this more energetic take on dreampop and this might not even be the only song on the list that fits into that category.
A change of pace from the first Shai Brides single I became familiar with but still quite enjoyable. I think it’s a bit like Regret by New Order with more synths. (Joy Division/New Order were mentioned as an inspiration for this song but not Regret specifically) A lot of songs on this list grew on me further long after they left my chart but this got its moment in the middle of its run causing a rather sudden big jump.
This is not a sound you’d expect from him based on Sigur Rós or even his previous solo material but I was quite here for it. Jónsi’s voice sounds so high on the first verse that I didn’t even realize it was him instead of Robyn on that part. This is the second song on this list that’s (co-)produced by A.G. Cook (the first one was Oblivion). This song taught me that ‘Oh no’ is pronounced the exact same way in Dutch and Swedish despite being spelled completely differently.
Always fun to discover music through other people’s lists (a mid-year in this case), especially when it’s something that I very likely wouldn’t have come across otherwise. Follow hits that very specific niche of ‘pop music that is a bit weird but not too weird to not still be considered pop music’ for me. It’s possible there’s an accidental double negative in there. My favorite bit is that cheer sound effect that also ends up getting played backwards before the start of the second verse.
This is my favorite Lily Allen song except I’m not sure if Lily Allen has any song that is this unironically happy. Although I do heavily associate this song with the time period COVID-19 became very serious everywhere so perhaps that adds a layer of unintentional personal irony. This song also contains the most inexplicably boomer lyric of 2020 with ‘We don’t own a radio, play The Beatles on repeat’. For reference, Ellie Moon is my age.
I just did my 2010 list a month ago and that contained no Washington (I did listen to her album from that year though). Anyways, here she is in the list of a year that she was far less relevant in. Switches is a moody synthpop track about all of those Nintendo consoles that are stuck in her head. She also raises her hands to U2’s 2002 hit Electrical Storm. Wow she’s mentioned more songs from 2002 than Anne-Marie.
I’m not surprised by literally anything that makes the ACI at this point but the longevity this had was still quite impressive to me. This perhaps helped it make my top 100 despite fading from my chart relatively quickly. I remember Yves Tumor’s 2018 album getting a lot of praise at the time but Heaven To A Tortured Mind clicked with me a lot more even aside from this song (even though this is their only top 250 entry). Diana Gordon is great on this too, of course. Dirty Talk never really made it over here so I can’t properly appreciate how weird it is for her to turn up here.
If I remember correctly, Fucked Myself Up was near the top of Australia’s New Music Friday playlist despite being the first song merci, mercy had ever put out. It’s easy to be skeptical when an artist gets such a push right out of the gate but I’ve enjoyed her music so far. Something You Like is a softer moment from her, I particularly like the piano melody that runs throughout the chorus.
Lavender Diamond previously snuck into my 2012 list but I don’t blame you if you don’t recall (unless you’re already looked at my ‘previous entry’ table). 2020 was actually the first time they put out new music since 2012. While a lot of songs on this list grew on me this is one of the few that went down for me a little. It’s very lovely but there’s not a huge amount of depth here. I guess this is how they fall.
There’s a fair amount of depth here on the other hand. It was written several years earlier but it ended up being released about a week after the start of the US protests of the death of George Floyd. The minimalistic first half is very impressive already but then the funky second half hits with the huge instrumental outro and it’s just chef’s kiss.
It continues to beabadoobee like that sometimes. In the time since Space Cadet appeared on my list, beabadoobee’s first ever single was sampled on a fairly big hit song. I remember hearing it on New Music Friday and not even being sure what she did on that. The success of ‘death bed’ doesn’t seem to have affected her own music however. While her music is frequently compared to 90’s alt rock what this song specifically reminds me of is late 90’s/early 00’s Silverchair, mostly because of the strings. Obviously as a European I know a lot about Silverchair.
What’s the deal with Miel? (I hope her name is pronounced the way I think it is otherwise this doesn’t scan that well) Apparently she is a podcaster and former Vine star that made her first foray into music in 2020. I certainly wouldn’t have expected her music to sound like this if I knew that information beforehand. My liking of songs with dreamy synthiness shouldn’t be a shock at this point.
There has been some adjacent stuff (including earlier in this list!) but I believe this is the first actual PC Music entry in one of my lists. Of course, usually PC Music doesn’t lean this hard into dreampop so I’m not sure how you should take this. A big proof that writing about songs can give me new perspectives on them is that I wouldn’t have thought to compare this to Frame Of Reference beforehand. Honestly the main appeal of this song for me is the instrumental melody that sounds similar to Phil Collins - Another Day In Paradise to me. That might sound weird but just think about it.
It’s appropriate that this song has the phrase ‘sugar glaze’ in the chorus because it is a sweet one. I mean this both in the sense that I like it a lot and the way how the song feels to me. San Mei is yet another artist who previously had a minor hit for me to crack the top 100 this time. Like seemingly every artist in Australia she’s had songs produced by Oscar Dawson but this is apparently not one of them.
Kom Op Mess Me Up. I probably still don’t pay nearly enough attention to music from my own country that’s not actually on the charts but I did have time for what was most likely the most acclaimed Dutch album of 2020, Bitterzoet by Eefje De Visser. It was noted as a shift into more electronic production for her (Scheef, the one song from before this album that I know from her sounds a bit like Settle by Vera Blue which is probably a coincidence since they both came out in the first half of 2016). This song in particular grabbed my attention because it’s exciting yet still a bit low key. It’s come quite far for me since it only peaked at #35 on my chart.
Lennon Stella is the only Jonas Blue collaborator to have made one of my lists. I’m not sure if this information is useful in any way but I’ve decided to put it here anyway. Really I’ve already mentioned the most notable thing about this in the blurb for her first song but I have to make it clear that this production is very much excellent. You could say her having 2 entries here is an unexpected turn of events but I somewhat liked the 2019 lead single Kissing Other People at the time so there was some precedent!
HiRUDiN is probably the weakest Austra album for me but it still had some solid tunes including an album track that will show up in my snippets section and of course this one. My personal interpretation of this song is that even if your problems are very small in the grand scheme of everything, they’re still your problems and they will still feel massive to you. I kind of want Austra to cover an Oasis song so I can make the obligatory ‘Anywayz, here’s Wonderwall’ joke.
This is the shortest song in the top 100 and it most certainly does not waste any time. I could describe this song as chaotic but its perhaps more accurate to say that it’s very high energy. It’s ultimately brought home by having a very good chorus. I don’t think Tokyo comes up in the lyrics at all which makes me wonder if they really wanted people to think this was actually a Teriyaki Boyz cover.
You can’t say that TikTok did not have any impact on this list. I did not expect to rank this as highly as I have but I just have a lot of fun with this. A specific thing I like is the Velcro (I hope this is the correct English term) sound effect that plays at the start of the chorus. For reasons I’m not sure about a large amount of the YouTube comments on the video are in Spanish.
The 3voor12 Song Van Het Jaar countdown is perhaps a sort of Dutch Hottest 100 equivalent with it leaning a little more mainstream at times but it can still be interesting (I have to note that it actually predates the Hottest 100 however). Goldband did pretty well by scoring 2 top 20 entries with this landing at #10. It’s a great slice of 80’s style synthpop, fitting in well in the year that Blinding Lights was #1. I actually don’t know if this was written before COVID started or not. I realize that if you don’t understand the lyrics you wouldn’t know why that’s relevant.
Car Seat Headrest’s Making A Door Less Open turned out to be quite a shift in sound from their previous album. Something that this lead single made clear pretty quickly. I was down with this song fairly instantly. It has this slow burn build that some of my favorites on Teens Of Denial had too just with a very different sort of instrumentation.
I still wonder what series of events led to a group of 5 guys to call themselves Supathick. Supathick don’t have a vocalist but instead of just doing instrumental stuff they lean on guest vocalists. On this we have Kaitlin Keegan who’s own music is a bit more in the indie folk realm but does pretty well on this funkier track too. I like how it slows down a bit at the end. Songs with unexpected endings seem to be somewhat of a theme in this list.
I’m very keen for the Genesis Owusu album if he keeps putting out bangers like this. Ranking them in such close proximity has made me realize this kind of has a similar tempo to De Wereld except De Wereld is a song that sounds far brighter. When this song first came out it initially had this extended outro thing that seemed disjointed from the rest of the song but it was eventually removed. I’m guessing that was only meant to be on the album.
Neil Frances had 2 bubbling under songs for me previously but they finally got their big breakout song on my chart at the start of 2020. Perhaps it was inevitable as they put out a lot of singles without ever releasing an album. By randomly looking at their Twitter I’ve found out that Hazel English actually co-wrote this song. I wonder if she’s also the backing vocalist in the chorus. Also mildly funny that they have 333 followers (as of me writing this) of which Zacco is one.
I Feel Alive by TOPS has some strong singles but also a solid group of album tracks, my favorite of which is this one. It contains my favorite chorus on the album but it is not my favorite song on the album, which proves that I don’t just judge songs based on the chorus. This might sound like shade of some sorts (I’m not sure to who it would even be) but it’s something I genuinely wonder if I do sometimes. There is a brief moment of French in this even though I don’t believe they’re from Quebec. (it’s possible French is spoken in other parts of Canada of course)
There are far less album tracks I didn’t chart in the top 100 compared to previous years but there happen to be two in a row (actually #47 and #46 are as well). It’s probably because there weren’t that many albums I listened to more than once in 2020. This song I actually heard before the rest of the album through one of the playlists I follow for new music. I ended up enjoying the album as a whole as well. There is a nice balance here between cool guitar and cool synths.
In 2020 Disclosure put out their first song in a while where people here where like ‘yeah, this is pretty good’. Of course by ‘here’ I mean The Netherlands and the song in question is Tondo but this one is also alright I guess. But seriously this is probably the most pure fun song Disclosure have done. I’m not sure why Aminé gets this weird ghost feature status on Spotify but he’s probably the highlight of this.
mxmtoon has gotten some attention here for her collaboration with Carly Rae Jepsen but I like to think that she’s ok on her own too (I came up with this line about 2 months ago, I hope you’re dazzled by this cleverness). In 2020 we learned that life is a game of changing but also that life is a losing game when you don’t play (I came up with this an even longer time ago actually). I think I first heard about coronavirus through a mxmtoon tweet which is certainly an awkward association to have but I can’t change the past.
I might have mentioned this before but I think a strong opening track can help me feel more positive about an album as a whole. Caroline Rose’s album has a fairly high amount of top 250 entries but this opener is pretty clearly ahead of the pack for me. I’m sure Angus & Julia Stone are deeply disappointed that they don’t have my favorite song to mention the Chateau Marmont in the lyrics anymore.
52. The Avalanches (feat. Rivers Cuomo & Pink Siifu) - Running Red Lights
Until now Running Red Lights was both in this list and not in this list like Schrödinger. It seems very common that at first I don’t really like Avalanches singles but then eventually I end up liking them a lot although I think this won me over by second or third listen. Now that I’m about to hit the 2000’s I wonder if Weezer will pop up in my lists anytime soon. As I mentioned in my commentary for Saturday Night Inside Out, Pink Siifu is quoting David Berman here.
From my 2019 EOY commentary on Hit The Back: ‘I wish [King Princess] had more upbeat jams like this one because this certainly proves that she is very good at making those’. This comment is aging well so far. Amusingly the 3voor12 Song Van Het Jaar broadcast had one of the hosts make pretty much the exact opposite take, wanting her to do more rock stuff like Ohio. That song is fairly solid too, I’m not gonna throw any shade here. Only Time Makes It Human is such an oddly specific title that never actually appears in the song itself.
Oh yeah, this one also has a key change. I knew I forgot something. This was the song from SAWAYAMA that stood out to me pretty immediately. I love the sound effect arcade aesthetic stuff that it has going on. This probably is the winner of the ‘most gratuitous saxophone solo of 2020’ award but it had solid competition from Trophy Eyes - Figure Eight at least.
Erthlings have generally been pretty consistent but this is my favorite song of theirs to date. Perhaps appropriately as I can frequently be irrational. It has this kind of shoegaze energy to it but the main riff (the one that’s essentially the chorus of the song) is catchy enough that it still feels somewhat pop. Hoping they keep up this level of quality because they’ll always be returning here if that’s the case.
I remember this came out when I was mostly doing other stuff instead of listening to music and this was one of the few new songs from that week I actually listened to. It’s done pretty well all here all things considered. This was the first girl in red to really grab me, slightly under 2 years after having first heard from her and after a decent amount of singles. It feels like a song with high stakes, I’m not really sure what those stakes are but I enjoy that feeling.
A rare case where I charted an album track instead of a single but I still really like the single as well. It grabs me pretty quickly with the soft guitar notes that play during the verses. I always forget how much I like the last minute of the song too, it’s a cool change up. Beach Bunny are perhaps most notable for their semi-popular on TikTok song Prom Queen that recently passed a 100 million plays on Spotify.
Of the non-singles on Making A Door Less Open this is an easy standout for me. I like the synth loop that runs throughout it and it leads to a great feeling of release of some sorts in the last 2 minutes. One thing that makes Making A Door Less Open an odd album to talk about is that the streaming and vinyl versions of it are a bit different. They have different track orders and some songs have different versions too including this song which has some different lyrics. Having heard the vinyl version of Life Worth Missing through a YouTube upload I can say it doesn’t sound hugely different but it felt worth pointing out.
I feel like the first NIKI song I liked in 2020 could have easily ended up as a one off but that turned out to not be the case. Of course who knows whether that other song is even on this list? Selene has this low key funk vibe that makes me somewhat inclined to compare it to Kira Puru’s Tension but I literally only came up with that 5 seconds ago so don’t take this too seriously. The title of the song being moon related perhaps makes this the appropriate contrast to Obscura Hail’s Penumbra.
This is the second single of The Weather Station’s upcoming album. Lead single Robber got a lot of acclaim but this song is a bit lighter and thus got to me a lot easier. It reaches a nice peak with the strings and the vocals in the middle. It seems like The Weather Station might be the next artist whose fifth album becomes their most acclaimed by far after Waxahatchee and Sharon Van Etten recently (I guess Fiona Apple technically fits this too but that feels different somehow).
Hearing this song made me happy because it indicated Ball Park Music were heading a bit into Every Night The Same Dream territory again, perhaps with a bit more energy this time. The album didn’t quite live up to that but I still enjoyed it overall. I do quite like Cherub (spoilers but it’s in the last snippets section) but this does some similar things in a way that is more directly appealing to me I guess would be the way to put it. Hitting similar peaks in a more cathartic and compact way.
Obviously it wouldn’t have happened even if she did win but it’s wild to me that this was even attempted as a potential Eurovision entry. Both in terms of sound and subject matter it feels wildly out of place but I certainly respect it. I think sound wise it’s pretty similar to her 2019 single Kill Me With Your Love but this feels a bit more intense. This is the only Rabbit Hole in my list.
Obscure Spotify discovery coming through here. I believe Prima Queen are primarily based in the UK but one of the two lead singers is American. I was drawn to this song through its lite jazzy saxophone vibe but I’ve come to really appreciate the lyrics as well. ‘I don’t believe in the American dream’ could be a huge statement in some other song but here it’s a matter of factly stated view the singer has of the world. This isn’t really a cynical song at all, more of a wanting to be optimistic in spite of yourself song. This might just be me bringing my own feelings into it but lots of people do that with music.
The first New Zealand top 100 for today, I thought there’d be more honestly. I think it’s funny that Nadia Reid is popular enough in New Zealand for her album to debut above Lil Uzi Vert but not above Six60’s album in its eighteenth week. I want to point out that I quite liked her album too since there weren’t a huge amount of albums I went back to frequently in 2020. Sort of randomly Violent Soho also had a song called Canada in 2020, I’m not really sure what the Violent Soho song is about even though I’ve heard it a few times.
Maybe the most confusing song title of 2020, the only person mentioned in this is a Justin. Speaking of, I am very pleased that the ‘He is going to find Justin’ Genius annotation is still up. Even one of the more conventionally rock Car Seat Headrest songs of 2020 takes an unexpected turn. You’d think the chorus would appear a second time but instead we’re treated to a neat trumpet solo and some quiet pitched vocals. The chorus is quite good too! But maybe my favorite part is the desperation that comes through in the last verse.
It would have been nice to have a Canadian artist directly after Oh Canada but oh well. Honestly I don’t think I know anything about Loviet aside from ‘she is Canadian and made this song that I like’. That was a bit of an indie rock section but we’re back into some poppier fare now. Of course that doesn’t always mean more well-known (The Thrill has about a 1000 more plays on Spotify than Brownstone though). This song maintains a good amount of excitement throughout it, I guess that’s why it’s called The Thrill.
Or alternatively Fried Rice if the English titles listed on Apple Music are accurate. tricot released 2 albums in 2020 which means they have at least one thing in common with Taylor Swift. This comes from the second of those albums, which was released for their tenth anniversary as a band and is in fact called 10. This is quite a different song to the big hit they had for me in 2018 ‘potage’. Whereas that was a solid rocker this is a much calmer song that seems more focused on producing nice melodies. That soft instrumental breakdown in the middle probably helped push this reasonably high up the list despite this being a fairly new song to me.
More than any other song in this list Barcelona feels like a 2019 leftover. It’s because the other Big Moon singles came out in 2019 but this one is definitely from 2020. The weirdest side effect of making this list while also listening to the Top 2000 is that I started mixing the ‘but I do miss you’ section with the verses of Like A Prayer, even though I’m not convinced they actually sound that similar. If this music thing doesn’t work out for The Big Moon they’ll hopefully still have that bitcoin money to fall back on.
After belatedly getting into Mystery Of Pop, Temples finally get a proper spot on one of my lists. I’ve seen it frequently pointed out that the main melody of this is quite similar to Veridis Quo by Daft Punk which I can’t really deny but I don’t see it as a negative. This kind of also feels like the Temples version of Everything Now (song), I don’t know if this is planned to be on an album at the moment. Paraphernalia has definitely been a big frequency illusion word for me recently.
Loyal Lobos has absolutely nothing to do with Los Lobos, I’m pretty sure. I think I heard this through the American New Music Friday playlist which seems odd since I usually don’t pay attention to that. This stood out to me thanks to its huge chorus which you don’t really expect at first since the song is fairly slow at first. Teddy Geiger co-produced this by the way, I’m not sure if that’s weird for me because I’m not really familiar with her own music. I certainly can’t think of any Shawn Mendes songs that sound like this.
Potentially the most gradual grower of 2020 for me. I thought it was fine initially but I didn’t necessarily prefer it to some of her previous singles. Hearing it on the radio more often and on the album made me realize it was quite fun. Eventually I decided to include it in my Hottest 100 vote which feels appropriate for a song where hearing it on triple j helped it grow on me. It’s just not a song that I ignore whenever it’s on. I don’t think ‘the early 2000’s in a blender’ is a big point of nostalgia for me but it’s very enjoyable here.
Ah yes, the antithesis to Metronomy’s Everything Goes My Way. Day & Age set a pretty high benchmark but there was still a song on Ball Park Music self-titled that I ended up liking more than it. It is a raucous fun time for the first 2 minutes or so before taking a very different approach afterwards. That piano in particular is quite nice. I imagine this would be a fun song to listen to when you’re mad about something very petty.
The song that made me initially pay attention to NIKI. Despite never being a #1 on my chart I definitely had a brief obsession phase with this. I was pretty happy when this song managed to quite literally click with some other people on here. I think my favorite thing about this song is the sense of wonder that it has. The feeling that you still have a lot of things to discover in the world and the excitement you have to experience those things.
This might seem like a weird comparison and there is probably something way more obvious that I’m missing but a lot of Beach Bunny’s music kind of reminds me of the early stuff of Last Dinosaurs. I think I hear it most directly in that bit of guitar that happens between the chorus and the verses. I feel like this could have easily faded for me considering its short length but if anything that has probably helped it not overstay its welcome.
Some songs I don’t first hear that spontaneously. I first heard this when I didn’t have that much new stuff for my chart so I just frantically queued random new stuff from playlists hoping there was something cool in there. It certainly worked out pretty well in the case of this. This feels reminiscent of the pop punk sound of some bands played on triple j like Stand Atlantic or Yours Truly but this feels like it has a bit more of an edge to it (I’d also recommend their previous single ‘i’m gonna tell my therapist on you’ if you like those bands). I really like the singer’s voice too.
I first heard of LAUREL when her album DOGVIOLET was featured on triple j back in 2018. I don’t really remember much about that album. Perhaps the most notable thing about it is that it came out the same year as the Yanny thing. This song marked a noted shift in her sound that appealed to me and several other people on this website. It was one of the most instant hit songs for me in a year where a lot of songs took several listens to really strongly appreciate for me. It’s also a big showcase for Chrome Sparks’ production who previously was most notable for me for sampling Could Heaven Ever Be Like This three years before Jamie xx did on Loud Places.
Some songs have the algorithm going for them quite well. This song was released on January 5 of 2020 (which makes it the oldest (no pun intended) song here I think) and I first heard it on January 27 through my Discover Weekly playlist. At that point it already had more Spotify plays than any of their songs from their 2017 album and it’s by far their most played song now. I wonder if its related to having a similar vibe to some of the more upbeat songs on Be The Cowboy by Mitski (or maybe just Nobody). It is certainly what made me interested in the song.
I remember starting to listen to Kelly Lee Owens’ debut album back in 2017 but for whatever reason I never ended up finishing it. For a bit of redemption I did fully listen to her 2020 album and it features this song that I quite enjoy. There are some moments on the album that edge towards bangers but this is a soft tender moment. L.I.N.E. in this context stands for Love Is Not Enough but the word ‘line’ also appears in the lyrics so I guess it qualifies as a double meaning.
When you see the title I’d Have Killed For You, you probably expect something that sounds a bit darker. I think the light acoustic guitar led demeanor works pretty well for it however. Some of the guitar noodling in this reminds me a bit of a song that is coming up later in this list, I wonder if people will be able to guess what I’m talking about. I’d like to imagine that there are alternate universes that are the exact same as this one except the opening line of this song features the name of a different Elton John song.
The second and last New Zealand top 100 entry in this list and from an artist that actually fits the commonly accepted naming scheme. If there was one song in this list that I could see being an actual chart hit it’s probably this one. Incidentally it was blocked from #1 on my chart by the song that comes closest to it in that department. However it was weird to me that this was so big on the ACI because I felt like the only person here that was strongly invested in it. This is perhaps the opposite song of Colorblind, not in the least because of the different spelling.
An important addition to the canon of songs where part of the artist name is in the title of the song along with It’s Real by Real Estate and other songs that I’m currently not thinking of. Usually when a song takes a few weeks to make my chart it only ends up being a minor hit for me but this ended up climbing fairly quickly once it finally got in. There is some cool quirky piano work here most notably in the brief bridge before the last chorus.
The debut solo single of Elizabeth Fader from Phantastic Ferniture. I believe she is also the titular Elizabeth of Elizabeth by Julia Jacklin (I probably wouldn’t have pointed this out if it wasn’t randomly one of my favorite Julia Jacklin songs). Unlike the indie rock stylings of Phantastic Ferniture this has a cool synth pop element to it. I thought this came out in like June but I first charted this in April so I clearly have no concept of time anymore. I have to confess that this is actually my #1 and that the next 21 songs are just the encore.
My initial impression of this was that this was a fairly standard single and that it didn’t really stand out like Lightning Bolts but eventually I came to the conclusion that it kind of rules. I think what won me over is that the lyric video features the guitar tabs and it made me connect that all the sounds going on in it were very cool. I also think that the vocals here are kind of like a reigned in version of WAAX. I think I make the connection because WAAX did Like A Version around the time I first heard this.
In 2020, Porridge Radio released their highly acclaimed album Every Bad. This song is not on it. It’s also not a Youssou N’Dour cover, which wouldn’t be that surprising as a stand alone non-album single. It is a far poppier moment than anything from that album which makes it understandable that it wasn’t on there and also not all that surprising that it connected with me far more. It has this great synth that runs throughout it and it reaches a wonderful peak about halfway through. This and The View randomly also have a very similar first 2 seconds.
A very nice discovery through triple j’s Home and Hosed playlist on Spotify. Lots of songs on this list with distinct endings but this song has a distinct ending AND a distinct beginning. It doesn’t prepare you at all for when it turns into a rock banger with heaps of energy. You could argue that it doesn’t last long enough perhaps similar to someone making a short appearance somewhere. I was very surprised when I found out that Jess Day played guitar in this band but apparently that’s already not the case anymore if their Unearthed profile is to be trusted.
Maybe the main appeal of this song for me is that I just really like the phrase ‘witching hour’. It just conjures up a lot of feelings in me for whatever reason. This was the song from TOPS that really got me to pay attention to them. It is mostly a cruisy indie rock track which is nice enough and can often go pretty far for me. However, I think the emotion in the chorus is what really sells it for me and is what elevates it to a fairly high position in this list.
I can say this without spoiling my end of decade list so I’ll say that I’m decently certain that I prefer this over Dreaming now. I heard this when it came out and liked it just fine but then just completely forgot it existed for about a month? I’m usually not like that but oh well. The chorus of this is quite great but perhaps the peak of the song as a whole for me is the ‘I can see it with my eyes closed’ part. Also I totally do hear the Moonlight Shadow thing in the chorus now.
Actually this is another song where I went back to it about a month after first hearing it and I ended up realizing it was actually quite great. Cardioid made an interesting move where, because she wasn’t really satisfied with her album as a whole, she decided to cut it down to an EP instead. It is a very consistent effort as a result with 4 of the 6 tracks from it showing up in my top 250. Like with Old Records, this song reminds me a bit of Mitski but this time it’s more of a Your Best American Girl vibe with the quiet verses and the explosive chorus. I thought this was locked in for the top 10 for a bit but with some late contenders rising up and other songs holding up better than expected it wasn’t to be.
Gang Of Youths have not released any new music since 2017 and as it turns out I’m quite accepting of things that sound very similar to Gang Of Youths. I’m not sure if Spacey Jane was the source I expected it from but I’m more than cool with it. To give them some credit my favorite part is probably the synth bit that appears before the chorus that doesn’t really sound anything like Gang Of Youths. Because it still is Spacey Jane it probably is a bit more chill overall but it still feels larger in scope for them than usual. They’ve said they do want to explore this territory further in the future which is promising to hear.
Recently Aly & AJ have had a bit of chart relevance because unlike Will Smith they do need to cuss to sell records. Australian-charts dot com was once again way ahead of the curve however. I initially only listened to it because I needed to fill up my ACI vote for the week and it’s pretty safe to say that this far exceeded my expectation. It’s just a great bop. I’ve recently realized the instrumentation in the bit before the chorus reminds me a bit of Björk’s Hyperballad (or Reborn by Rae Morris which I listened to because someone here said it reminded them of Hyperballad) which is always a good song to remind me of. I think officially it’s Dance Floor in the title but it looks so wrong to me as 2 words for some reason.
Serendipity! In! Numbers! Sad13 is the solo project of Speedy Ortiz’ Sadie Dupuis. You might be able to see where the name comes from. The stage name actually is pronounced ‘sad-thirteen’ so this is not a 6LACK situation. Here’s a fun fact for you: The first song she released under this moniker back in 2016 was a collaboration with Lizzo. Yes, this happened the same year that Good As Hell was released. Anyways, Hysterical here is a heck of a good time and contains the fairly agreeable theme of ‘being politically correct is not remotely the death of comedy’. Also ‘a voyeur for the gore’ is a nice turn of phrase.
12. The Avalanches (feat. Cola Boyy & Mick Jones) - We Go On
The Avalanches snuck their album in just before the end of 2020 and it happened to feature the most instant song they’ve ever had for me. It combined all these disparate elements you wouldn’t necessarily expect to work together like The Clash & Big Audio Dynamite’s Mick Jones, Cola Boyy and a pitched up sample of Hurting Each Other by The Carpenters. But over this amazing dream-like production it all sounds so good. This is probably far too new for me to really rank this properly compared to everything else but I know it deserves its spot very high up here.
The end is near if not quite here. I did not even chart this but the high placement for this should not come as a surprise at all. I don’t even really think I feel that strongly about Punisher as a whole but when this came on it was definitely A Moment. I’ve been mentioning songs with out there endings a lot today and it has arguably all been building up to this. It’s one thing to build up to a huge ending for a song but the screaming and the weird breathing noises make it stand out even more. It’s sort of odd that this ended up being Phoebe Bridgers’ big ACI hit but my own nomination habits might be to blame here (half of the people in chat not knowing what this was when it debuted at #1 was one of the personally more amusing moments of the year for me).
My favorite Australian song of 2020 is certainly an underdog pick. Mal de Mer already had a minor hit for me with Sunshine and Thunder for me but this quickly became huge for me. This probably features my favorite intro of the year with that cool wobbly synth that stands on its own for a little bit and then the drums and the guitar come in. I always get excited whenever I hear that. And that chorus comes in pretty wonderfully too. I’m still not sure if that line in the chorus is ‘I take a lot of cokes in’, ‘I take a lot of coaxing’ or something completely different.
Until the start of 2020 I purposely did not chart any music that was sung in Dutch but I decided to ditch that ‘rule’ because I realized it was stupid. If anything it brings something to my lists that makes it stand out from others here and that can never be a bad thing. There are 3 Dutch language songs in my top 100 this year and that feels huge for me. I first heard of WIES through the 3voor12 Song van het Jaar 2019 countdown where their song Soms Is Het Te Laat was a high placer (Radiostilte was actually higher in the 2020 countdown which might just be a carry over hype thing since it has way less Spotify plays). I liked it enough to give their next single a chance and I was quickly hooked. It has this charming anthemic quality to it. It feels like it belongs at the end of an episode of some TV show I’ve never watched.
A lot of songs are great because they hit upon a simple feeling in a simple way and I think that this is one of them. Living Life doesn’t even remotely reinvent the wheel but that’s probably why it works so well for me. One of the main melodies here sounds so similar to another song that I haven’t been able to place. I think it’s probably something I consider fairly daggy but the familiarity has helped it for me. The piano familiarity also has some shades of Everything Now and wow that’s the second song I’ve positively compared to Everything Now today. I am not the type of person that would usually say this kind of stuff BUT a song about living in the moment and appreciating it feels appropriate for right now, at least for me. The final ‘this is who I am tonight’ is one of my favorite things.
Posthumous material. Even in situations where the artist intended to release it I still feel incredibly weird about it and I generally don’t engage with it too much. Of course I did end up hearing Good News by Mac Miller and I quickly realized there was no way I was going to ignore this. It is a shame that I never really connected with any of Mac Miller’s music in his lifetime because this is beautiful. On a few occasions of listening to it I even came close to tearing up a little which is something that otherwise never happens to me. The instrumentation reminds me a lot of That Look You Give That Guy by Eels, a song that I coincidentally heard for the first time about a month before this came out. Oh and in case you were wondering this was the song I was referring to in the I’d Have Killed For You blurb, congratulations if you guessed it.
I actually first heard of Chloe Moriondo (whose name is typed in normal capitalization here for easier readability) through her follow up single to this, I Want To Be With You. I liked that song a decent amount but it took a little while for me to actually listen to any of her other 2020 material. I am so glad I ended up listening to this because it’s so pleasant whenever I end up hearing this. It is like a warm blanket in song form. And this song comes from someone who is exactly 3 years and 1 day younger than me. I am really starting to feel old. But maybe it’s a good thing that I’m not totally out of touch yet.
Remember that ‘we’re gonna make fun of your Spotify’ thing from about a month ago? When I did it one of the descriptors I got was something like ‘NPR country playlist bad’ which I believe to be solely because of this song, which I literally discovered through a playlist from NPR. This was the title track from Chelsea Williams’ 2020 album. I ended up quite enjoying it but nothing from it quite lived up to this song. A great sign that I feel strongly about a song is when I can imagine hearing it in a very specific situation. I imagine this playing at night at a fairground when you’re outside and it’s snowing a bit. This feels like a fairly unique entity in my 2020 list with its slow waltzing rhythm. Perhaps you can say that it is truly living up to the title of Beautiful and Strange.
I ended up listening to the Bartees Strange album because based on some reviews that I read of it, it seemed like it would be something that I liked. I’m glad that I was right about something! Admittedly this song was a lot to take in at first but I knew I was enjoying it a lot right out of the gate. The first thing that Bartees Strange released was an EP where he covered various songs by The National. I hear a lot of indie rock in this but not exactly The National (maybe some of the heavier stuff from Sleep Well Beast). The most direct reference is an interpolation of the closing track of The Antlers’ highly acclaimed album Hospice that I still haven’t heard as of now (it’s the ‘you’re screaming and cursing’ line to be exact). Writing about music in general is weird but this song in particular is something I just feel rather than having anything profound to say about it.
This was released as a single beforehand but I first heard it as the opening track of TOPS’ album I Feel Alive and it certainly was a moment. Direct Sunlight is a fun and a little bit of a quirky synthpop tune right out of the gate. I was certainly enjoying myself. But then that flute solo hits and I’m just bowled over. Future and Melody’s Echo Chamber were on the right wave in 2017, more songs need segments with extensive flute content. For quite a while this seemed like the frontrunner for my year end #1 and the chart run this had for me certainly reflects that. This might be a rare case of me really overplaying a song for myself though. It’s still pretty great regardless, of course. As a consolation prize TOPS can at least claim the most top 100 entries for this year. Yes, this list technically has Four Tops.
It might be slightly unfortunate that Phoebe Bridgers ended up at both #2 and #11 on this list but its at least a huge step up from being #250 in 2019. Pretty much the only reason that Direct Sunlight didn’t spend 12 weeks at #1 on my chart (aside from restraint) is that this happened to come out around the same time. I guess I have a soft spot for horn based indie rock. This hits a pretty similar spot for me as Addictions by fellow boygenius member Lucy Dacus. I mentioned Scream Drive Faster as an instant hit for me but this one is up there for me as well. I believe she’s admitted that the payphones lyric is completely made up. Maybe Maroon 5 is really popular in Japan so that way it can still be true in a metaphorical sense. It’s possible that the only reason this isn’t my #1 is that it feels slightly too triumphant for 2020 even if this is a situation where it’s contrasted by the lyrics.
Is it possible for this #1 to be both incredibly on brand and slightly out of place? I really love Waxahatchee’s 2015 album Ivy Tripp, you might remember it for the song with an incredibly similar intro to Combat Baby by Metric. Her 2020 album Saint Cloud became her most acclaimed work to date and I think it’s alright I guess. The main exception, as you might have gathered, is Fire. The album’s lead single that kind of stands out by not being nearly as Americana influenced as the rest of the album (I don’t think that’s why I feel so differently about the rest of the album. I don’t know why really). This was perhaps benefitted quite a bit by being a song I first heard in January 2020 and thus having the longest period of time to grow on me (this applies to Good News and Radiostilte as well). It took a fairly long time to get to #1 on my chart and even then it seemed more like a seat warmer for Direct Sunlight. It was sometime in the second half of the year where this ended up becoming my favorite and for now that holds up. This is notably the first time my #1 is by an artist that doesn’t have a single other entry this year otherwise, even in the extended list. I should probably talk about the song itself at least a little bit. I like how this song feels both melancholic and somewhat positive to me. I’m not even sure how that’s possible. This is either a no chorus or an all chorus song, depending on how you view it. I don’t get tired of it regardless and I find this to be fairly catchy despite not trying too hard to be. I have to point out that while it doesn’t sound like the rest of Saint Cloud, it doesn’t really sound like anything on Ivy Tripp either. It belongs in its own little universe and for whatever reason, this past year that’s what I wanted.