This list was rushed out so it might not be my best, and I typed it all on a google doc because wordpress’s new block editor is complete ass, but let’s get started. No intro, just number 10.
Ok so additional evidence of the new wordpress sucking, youtube links cover up text. If you want my full thoughts on each song, just look at this google doc.
10. Roses (Imanbek Remix)- Saint Jhn ft. Imanbek
YE Position: 19
Of all the bizarre events that happened this year, one of the stranger ones was seeing Lithuanian bass hit the mainstream. To better explain what “Lithuanian bass” is, my friend twitter user @oofy_Boof and the man behind the term itself was kind enough to give an explanation.
“Lithuanian Bass is an EDM subgenre taking elements of Brazilian Bass, Future House and Deep House popularized by the success of Dynoro’s In My Mind. At the time everyone considered it a Brazilian Bass song, but it’s clear now that it sparked an entire new subgenre, with some of the newer songs sounding completely different from the old school Brazilian Bass songs like Fuego by Alok. It’s an incredible genre when it’s done right, as now you can find pretty much any popular song remixed in that style, with the bassline always going zoom zoom.”
Thanks oofy_Boof. And yeah, this is about as Lithuanian bass as it gets. A no-name producer from Kazakhstan took a trap song from 2016, pitched up the vocals and added some heavy bass, and it was a huge hit. And it works for some unconventional reasons. Let’s talk about that.
One of the more noticeable things when you first hear this song is its lack of an intro. Just drops you right in with the hook and you hit the ground running. Now the original Roses does open with some sparse somber piano keys, which would’ve been very difficult to… Lithuanian bassify, if you will. The listener would’ve been like “what the hell’s goin on”. So what did Imanbek do? The madlad just cut it out and started it on the word “roses”. That way you’re not so inclined to question what’s going on, you just go along for the ride. And boy what a ride it is. Also just so there’s no misconception, I really like the original Saint Jhn Roses as well, but creative liberties needed to be taken for this to have any chance of working.
But what Imanbek did leave unaltered from the original was the vocal melody. He pitched it up, sure, but the original is still there. And turning those dark mournful vocals on the original into something you can dance to is just genius, there’s no other way to put it. There’s not much besides that, but the song has everything it needs to be a catchy fun time. This was a fluke to be sure. Nothing like it has touched the charts since. Except maybe Breaking Me by Topic that’s a really good one. And that Goosebumps remix is slowly but surely clawing its way to the top, I guess there’s that. Also Imanbek follow me on twitter please you followed like 5 of my friends just do it ok it’s so easy come on Imanbek please.
Pffffahahahahahahahaha. You ain’t toppin this list motherfucker.
9. Blinding Lights- The Weeknd
YE Position: 1
Yeah know your fucking place. You think you’re the best song of all time or somethin? You ain’t even in the top 8 of this year. You think you break the 0-10 scale? Nah. You’re just a 10. A light ten. Yeah that amazing synth and insane hook can only take you so far buddy. Get outta here.
Whew. Glad I got that outta my system. Yeah Blinding Lights is a fantastic piece of music but you knew that already. I don’t need to say anything else moving on.
Ok look, I know this next song isn’t particularly well-liked, at all, and putting it above Blinding Lights especially could cause some backlash. But just hear me out, I promise I can explain.
8. I Hope- Gabby Barrett
YE Position: 12
Oh sorry, my bad guys. Number 8 isn’t I Hope, it’s I Hope You’re Happy Now. Honest mistake.
8 (for real). I Hope You’re Happy Now- Carly Pearce ft. Lee Brice
YE Position: 73
Y’know we got a lot of country this year, so it’s nice that at least a portion of it came from women this time. Like we got Maren Morris, Maddie & Tae, Gwen Stefani, the Trump Girl-
But yeah Carly Pearce had the best hit out of the bunch. I also happen to know literally nothing about her other than I guess “she sing good. Nice voice.”
But this is a duet, and a fantastic one at that. First, this production is just gorgeous. It’s got these warm, vibrant guitars leading the melody and it leads well into the song’s lyrical content, which is pretty unconventional for a breakup song. It’s about a relationship that fell apart on Carly Pearce’s end, and she accepts the fact that it is what it is and wishes her ex well in his future romantic pursuits.
But Lee Brice? Not so much. See this song actually takes advantage of the fact that it’s a duet and offers us two distinct perspectives. Dude just doesn’t know what hit him and he’s left bewildered and despaired. I love how when he gets the second hook, he changes the wording. Carly said “I hope you find what you were looking for” and he says “I guess you found what you were looking for”. Goddamn that hits. But they both end their choruses with “I hope you’re happy now” and it takes a very different context with each one of them. That’s good songwriting. This is how you properly carry a double-sided narrative in music, I Hope Remix featuring Charlie Puth. Unlike a lot of people I do kinda like the I Hope remix, it’s just not well written because it was never meant to be a duet. This had clear artistic ambition and intent from the start, and it stuck the landing. It took way too long to become a hit (seriously I was bumping this shit 5 months before it charted) but it got there nonetheless and that just warms my cold dead heart. Great song, want more of this in mainstream country and a whole lot less Jason Aldean.
2020 was just a miserable time for all of us, and no song captured that attitude better than this one. And seeing so many music critics freak out and pop their monocles over this blowing up just makes it all the better. A perfect middle finger to everyone and everything, and it’s all thanks to my favorite douchebag and sex god, Blackbear.
7. Hot Girl Bummer- Blackbear
YE Position: 26
This was the song that made me come around on blackbear. It made me go back to his 2017 hit, Do Re Mi, which I used to hate and made me go “ok, this is actually pretty good” (not the Gucci Mane remix tho that’s still ass). Also hey, that song also has a sound of music interpolation. Go figure.
But the song sounds absolutely fantastic. That liquid guitar running through everything coupled with Blackbear’s great singing voice it’s just magic. The song’s detractor’s describe it as sour, but like that’s the point dipshit. This isn’t meant to be a happy experience. I interpret it primarily as an antisocial person tryna get through some big party that they don’t really wanna be at but they’re going along with everything anyway. And it works a lot better in this song than in, say, Here by Alessia Cara- a song that seems more keen on jerking itself off over how quirky and different it is. Blackbear’s just like “this sucks, but fuck it” and that is how I feel every day.
“bUt ItS mIsOgYnIsT!!!!1!!!!” no. Are you fucking stupid? Do you hear “girl” and “mean words” and think “yup, sexism”? That’s ridiculous. Is it because he says “emo chick”? That line’s a joke. Not long before it he says “they can’t fit me in a trojan” he’s fuckin messing around dude.
The “fuck you and you and you”s honestly feel more cathartic than annoying. This plays in my head when I’m arguing with dumbasses on twitter. This plays in my head when I’m forced to do a group project with people I don’t like. It’s an anthem for a generation that doesn’t quite understand the world yet, but understands just enough to know it’s a hellhole. He’s just tryna have some fun in the midst of a bad situation, and I think that’s something we all need to do. Stream My Ex’s Best Friend.
So streaming basically dominates everything these days. A song doesn’t even have to be a single to gain traction. This next song is one of those cases. It topped the charts not off of label promotion, but because people just loved it that much. And you know what? In this instance, I 100% agree with them.
Oh, uh I mean Ee ur ee ur haha funny meme.
6. The Box- Roddy Ricch
YE Position: 3
We’re at the “oh my god, where do I even begin” phase of the list. At this point if you don’t like the song you probably never will and there’s nothing I can do to change that. I’m just gonna say this is one of the most outside-the-box (get it?) mainstream rap hits in years. Roddy has an ability to seamlessly jump from flow to flow as he recounts his time in prison but at the same time I don’t really care about the lyrics, as good as they are, because this song just sounds so good. It’s bleak and a little unsettling, but it somehow just makes me feel good I don’t know how to describe it. And that’s really all I got to say about this one. Amazing song.
Except this. Come on, we all know the election was stolen from Roddy. Trump and Biden both gotta come clean-
Back in the spring, I said this had become one of my favorite songs of all time. And like, not quite?
5. Everything I Wanted- Billie Eilish
YE Position: 18
(I’ll keep it real for a sec, I’ve worked on this list out of order and this is the last one, I just wanna wrap things up I’ll keep it quick.)
Ok so uh, this song. It sounds great thanks to Billie’s brother Finneas doing the production, he’s also kinda what the song is about. In this song Billie’s only barely hangin on she’s close to killing herself, she even did kill herself in a dream, but her brother helps her get through it, which is just really nice imo ok moving on
Hey, are you ready to fill up a glass of whiskey and mix it with some tears? Because we got the sad country song next. From the undisputed king of emotional country himself, Luke Combs.
4. Even Though I’m Leaving- Luke Combs
YE Position: 85
Shit, it’s better than One Number Away.
This is one of those songs that bothers to tell a real story. It relays three moments from the protagonist’s life (I don’t think Luke’s own life but I could be wrong) between him and his father. It starts with him as a little kid, afraid of monsters under his bed that’ll get him as soon as his dad turns off the light and leaves. The dad comforts him with the main lines of the chorus “even though I’m leaving, I ain’t goin nowhere”, assuring that he’ll always be watching over him.
Cut to around 20 years later, the boy’s all grown up and he’s headed off into war (probably got drafted to Iraq or Afghanistan or whatever other middle eastern countries we’re in right now). He confides with his dad before he boards that plane that even though he’s acting tough he’s terrified of what’s to come. His dad switches the narrative on him, saying “even though you’re leaving, I ain’t goin nowhere.” Subtle change, but it’s cohesive narrative-wise. One critique though is I think it would’ve worked better if the second chorus came from the son reassuring his father. Just a thought.
And you all know what’s coming in the third verse. The tearjerker moment. His father’s on his deathbed, he’s scared to let go of his dad, and his dad reaches up and tells him once again that he’ll always be there for him, even if he can’t see him. What a fucking journey, and it’s all coupled with Luke’s wonderfully gruff vocals and the delicate glimmering instrumentation.
Oh but SPEAKING of sad moments-
Okay, I’m bouta do something crazy. First of all, no not all of the upcoming songs are better than Even Though I’m Leaving- in fact I’d say only one of them is. But all of these would take up a shit ton of space on my list otherwise, and since they’re all from the same person, I’m doing a tie. A 4-way tie.
3a. Bandit- Juice WRLD ft. Youngboy NBA
YE Position: 63
Some people only found out about Juice after he died, but I was around long enough to remember when all the comments on this video were fat jokes. Yeah any top comment you see there that says it’s been edited? Used to say somethin like “getting in mcdonalds is a challenge”.
I probably have the least so say about this one. Jarad’s vocals sound great as usual, the melody is incredibly catchy, and the liquid production flows perfectly. This is Juice’s only hit that isn’t depressing in its content, which honestly just makes it more heartbreaking because this was the last thing he released before his death. There was a glimmer of hope there, he had a girl, he looked to be doing pretty alright. Then, well, you know the story.
Oh right Youngboy’s on this song. Ummm… he’s ok? His flow is ripped from the hook but it’s still good. He says “semen” that’s something right?
Now if you want something that does hit ya right where it hurts well I got good news.
3b. Wishing Well- Juice WRLD
YE Position: 92
This isn’t quite my favorite of the 4 Juice WRLD songs on the year end, but I’ll admit it’s probably the best. I didn’t bother with it much because honestly I didn’t think it would make the year-end. The main draw here is obviously the lyrics, but I’d be remissed not to mention that lush, spaced out production, it’s a beautiful almost orchestral sound. But that content, man. Now Jarad’s obviously no stranger to sad material, but he was very rarely this raw in his emotion. The line “drugs killing me softly” would be enough on its own but his death adds a whole nother gutpunch. Then there’s “if it wasn’t for the pills I wouldn’t be here, but if I keep taking these pills I won’t be here.” It’s all so simply structured, but it works. Just one blunt honest expression of deep feelings after another.
If I had to nitpick, some of the punchlines don’t fit the mood. “Anthills”? “Ring ring phonecall from depression”? But at the same time I can’t detract any points from this song because it’s all so blunt. I guess that’s why of all the album tracks, this is the one that stuck around long enough to scrape by. But yknow it’s not the best song on the album, or even the best hit off it. That has to go to-
3c. Come & Go- Juice WRLD ft. Marshmello
YE Position: 54
It’s his most mainstream pop-friendly song to date. And it’s my favorite from these 4. It’s a wonderful expression of insecurity. He doesn’t feel good enough no matter how much those around him, mainly his girlfriend, love and care about him. The line that hits me the most is “sometimes I feel you like being alone, then you tell me that I should’ve stayed in the room.” There’s this feeling of hope permeating throughout the song that even if he doesn’t believe he’s worthy, one person believing he is is enough to keep him going. And uh, then he died. Fuck.
Marshmello’s not the greatest producer, to say the least, but he pulled through with this one. The buildup of guitars, synths and handclaps is just astonishingly good. And the payoff for the whole song is that second drop/guitar solo, and it somehow avoids undercutting the emotion. Just a masterpiece, not Juice’s best, but certainly one of the best hits of not just this year, but the past few years.
But wait, isn’t that every Juice WRLD song on the year end? Yes, as a lead artist. Which brings us to-
3d. Godzilla- Eminem ft. Juice WRLD
YE Position: 62
I guess this counts too? I don’t know it’s easily the weakest of these four songs, but that’s not just because “Eminem bad lol”. Like this is an amazing song no matter how you look at it. This song just feels like a descent into madness. Eminem just keeps going faster and faster until that ending where he breaks his own record. Really he’s just showing off, which just adds to the unstable self-portrait the song paints. It’s like he looked at how bad his past 2 years were, he’d turned just about everybody against him in one way or another, so he just said “fuck it, I’m gonna get wasted, get in the booth and just go apeshit, corny punchlines and all” and he made this song. The Juice WRLD hook is good too, and completely ethical since Eminem and Juice WRLD worked on the song together before his passing.
This was hands down the biggest musical surprise of the year.
If you had told me two years ago that Lil Baby would release one of the greatest anthems for racial justice in modern times, I would’ve said “2020 must be a fucked up year”. And I mean, I wouldn’t be wrong. But seriously, “The Bigger Picture” manages to pick apart nearly every aspect of the conversation surrounding police brutality and systemic racism. He acknowledges that not every white person or even every police officer is racist themselves, but calls them out on their complacency with a broken system. He recognizes that he’s rapped about committing crimes in his music, but goes on to use his platform to make a statement (also for the record rap music does not lead to more crime and if you think it does, I’m sorry but you might actually be braindead. Might wanna get that checked out by a doctor so you can get the care you need.)
That’s not to say Lil Baby wasn’t improving beforehand, though. Sure, Woah wasn’t anything special, but was pretty good and then he followed it up with Sum 2 Prove which was… a song. There’s also We Paid with 42 Dugg, all I know about 42 Dugg is that he’s very short. Maybe that’s how he got his name he’s like 42 inches tall. And We Paid is great. It just has this sticky addictive quality to it. 42 Dugg sounds like chunky peanut butter and then Lil Baby sounds like the smoo- why did I say that.
So yeah, I like We Paid, but it really feels wrong that its success overshadowed what was clearly the best song on the album. And considering that I’ve mentioned 4 out of Lil Baby’s five hits this year (yes, he had 5), you’ve probably figured out what my actual number 2 is by now.
2. Emotionally Scarred- Lil Baby
YE Position: 74
Fuck, this one hits hard. Like a truck. I didn’t want that to rhyme. From the moment it opens with those haunting keys, you know you’re in for something different. It’s like standing on a lonely hill with your face in the wind. Then Lil Baby jumps in with “a love letter came through the mail, it said ‘I miss you’, I ripped it up and flushed with the tissues try to forget you” what a perfect way to establish Lil Baby’s state of mind right out the gate with only two lines. He goes on to say he doesn’t hold anything against his ex, but he’s just tired of thinking about her and having to worry. And while he claims to have moved past emotions, it’s made clear that this just isn’t true.
Gotta say something real quick on that subject. A lot of people view character inconsistencies in any form of media as a writing flaw, and take it from somebody who generally speaking knows their shit when it comes to writing, it’s not. In a first person narrative especially, this improves the quality of the storytelling. With an unreliable narrator, the reader will have to engage on a deeper level with the work to figure out what’s really going on. If you intend to critique a piece of art, you better damn well spend some time on it and not take everything at face value. Idk I guess I blame cinemasins. And don’t even get me started on those mfs who say “well why didn’t the character just do x” as if real people aren’t flawed enough to make poor decisions. I can’t believe the level of sheer stupidity-
Anyway, Lil Baby then transitions into what looks like regular flexing at face value, but a look deeper reveals more conflicted feelings, made evident in lines like “they said I’ll be great, I guess I’m waiting for it” and “everybody can’t go to the top I had to leave some people”. Every time I hear this song it just blows my mind that it came from a guy I wholeheartedly dismissed two years ago. It’s genuinely one of the best songs I’ve ever heard, but it’s not #1.
HM. Nobody But You- Blake Shelton ft. Gwen Stefani
Yeah I like it leave me alone.
Some people have called this song bad because Blake and Gwen don’t make sense as a couple which… dude shut up leave em alone they’re happy together. Log off and go outside.
HM. Die From A Broken Heart- Maddie & Tae
I sometimes have to remind myself this actually happened. Maddie & Tae, after being effectively blacklisted by corporate Nashville, broke through with a top 40 hit this year. And yeah it’s with probably their safest single to date, but I’ll take it man.
HM. Break My Heart- Dua Lipa
“Noooo you can’t make an album with the same retro formula over and over”
“Haha bassline go brrr”
I probably would’ve put this on the list if I had even one thing to say about it. All I’ll say is Dua’s gotten better with each single and we better not let Levitating flop.
HM. Dior- Pop Smoke
Maybe it’s just me, but even though I really do like every Pop Smoke song that made the year end, the ones off Shoot For The Stars felt like they’d been somewhat moderated by the label for mainstream audiences. This meanwhile is just the man himself.
Got It On Me still deserved to be a hit over all of them tho.
HM. Be Like That- Kane Brown ft. Swae Lee & Khalid
I guess it do really be like that. Homesick was good, it just missed the honorable mentions because it can’t compete with this magical blending of genre.
HM. What’s Poppin- Jack Harlow
“Brand new whip just hopped in.”
I got options, I can pass that bitch like stockton”
SO true. Also fuck you the original counts.
HM. The Bones- Maren Morris
And here’s the other big female country hit. Overplay got to this one eventually, but this is the perfect song to listen to while driving and just close your eyes and drift off to sleep– yeah you might crash your car, but as long as your bones are good-
HM. Before You Go- Lewis Capaldi
Year 2 of pissing people off by praising Lewis Capaldi.
“Nooooooo his voice is bad!!!!!!!! >:(” Don’t care didn’t ask
HM. Rain On Me- Lady Gaga & Ariana Grande
This song was really, really really great for like a month.
HM. We Paid- Lil Baby & 42 Dugg
Did I really put this over The Bigger Picture? Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
HM. Heart On Ice- Rod Wave
I once said this song would be very high on my best list. Well I forgot about it as I was putting together my top 10 and now here it is out in the honorable mentions. Yeah it’s great, you just- yknow you feel it.
HM. Ballin- Mustard ft. Roddy Ricch
And on the opposite side of things, this is just fun. Mustard is surprisingly good at making chill lighthearted beats that really play on the brighter side of Roddy Ricch’s vocals.
HM. Heartless- The Weeknd
What a great comeback single. It’s a shame Blinding Lights came along and made everyone forget about this one.
Honorable Mentions For The Honorable Mentions
Because the year was that good. From the bottom up
- Slide- HER ft. YG
- Lovin On You- Luke Combs
- Ily- Surf Mesa ft. Emilee
- Does To Me- Luke Combs ft. Eric Church
- Homesick- Kane Brown
- The Scotts- Travis Scott ft. Kid Cudi
- The Bigger Picture- Lil Baby
- Hot- Young Thug ft. Gunna & Travis Scott
- For The Night- Pop Smoke ft. Lil Baby & DaBaby
- Highest In The Room- Travis Scott
- Woah- Lil Baby
- Laugh Now Cry Later- Drake ft. Lil Durk
- High Fashion- Roddy Ricch ft. Mustard
- Good As Hell- Lizzo
- BOP- DaBaby
- Blueberry Faygo- Lil Mosey
- I Hope- Gabby Barrett
- Life Is Good- Future ft. Drake
- Adore You- Harry Styles
- Rockstar- DaBaby ft. Roddy Ricch
- Don’t Start Now- Dua Lipa
FUCK that’s a lot of great music. But in a year like this, what song reigned supreme over all others for me? Well, you probably already know so just pretend to be shocked okay?
Yknow my entire 5-2 (counting Come & Go as my #3) could’ve topped this list and nobody would have any complaints. They’re all beyond masterpieces and each one is compelling and heart-crushing in their own way. But guys, this was 2020. The whole year was misery. The only type of song that could top a best of 2020 list is one that for its brief runtime makes you forget what a horrible state of being you’re in and just makes you feel really good inside. It took until the very end of the year for such a song to arrive, but here it is. A few months old and already among songs of all time. Play it!
1. Mood- 24kGoldn ft. Iann Dior
YE Position: 47
Look sorry guys, this isn’t gonna be a long in-depth breakdown like I usually end up doing with #1s, this song is just flawless. It’s basic, but that’s not really a bad thing. That beaming guitar melody repeats throughout the whole song and never gets old, and 24kGoldn and Iann Dior, while not bringing their most passionate performances, ride that production perfectly. There’s some funny lines in here too, from Iann Dior proclaiming that he is not, in fact, your dad, to 24kGoldn comparing the wap to gangs in the 40s.
But that’s about all there is to the song. That’s enough to make it good, but #1 on the best list? Well it just never got old. Everything else has grown tiresome this year, but so far this one hasn’t. I listened to this song so much it wound up as #1 on my spotify wrapped despite only being four months old. It’s spent more than 15 weeks at the top of my personal charts (via crownnote.com), only the second song ever to do that. We all needed a song like this, for a lot of people it was Blinding Lights, but for me, Mood by 24kGoldn and Iann Dior is an easy choice for the best hit song of 2020. Merry christmas, happy end of 2020, see ya some time next year.