LET’S FUCKING GOOOOOOOO!!
HONORABLE MENTIONS I
Even with the occasional flavor-of-the-week act, I can rely on acts like DaBaby to deliver some entertaining music, even if his schtick can get repetitive. But Rockstar is one of those songs that stands out from the usual and it became a number one hit. The plucking guitar alongside the trap production knocks in the whip and DaBaby goes in on this song, especially in the Black Lives Matter remix which has an extra verse as an intro that calls out police brutality. Roddy Ricch is featured on this song and he does his thing on here. With these two, I think I can safely say that hip-hop is in a good place right now. But we’re not done talking about Roddy Ricch just yet.
I admit that this song didn’t hook me that much initially, but it caught me on a good day and I can’t stop listening to it since then. It’s no secret that DJ Mustard has been improving as a producer and that his hacky 2014 days are pretty much in the past. Ballin’ is probably one of the best songs he’s produced lately and it’s a whole vibe. The West Coast production is smooth and bouncy with a 702 sample in the intro. But the real star of the show is Roddy Ricch, who’s becoming one of my favorite acts in hip-hop right now with his flexible flow that goes back and forth between rapping and singing. The song is your typical rags-to-riches story, but Roddy Ricch sells it well and he sounds like he’s having the time of his life. You get a real cathartic feeling of “we made it” from Roddy and you can’t help but join the ride. Good stuff overall.
If there’s an award for MVP of 2020, The Weeknd is easily one of the top contenders. With After Hours, the man put out some of the best music that the pop charts have ever seen this year and the Grammys fucked up big time by not giving him a single nomination. Heartless is the first single off of that album and boy, does it slap. The hard-hitting trap production lays the groundwork for The Weeknd to go on a nihilistic binge of drugs and sex after being a single man once again. It’s not new territory for this guy and he has made better songs, but he captures that carefree, heartless atmosphere for this type of song. I dig this.
This song was released four years, yet it became a hit around late 2019 to early 2020, so it’s eligible for this list. While I’m still annoyed that Juice wasn’t the next hit for Lizzo, Good As Hell is still a worthy addition to her catalog. I like how soulful the production sounds thanks to the piano and the horns that give off an upbeat vibe. Of course, Lizzo sounds great vocally as she exudes confidence in herself and encourages others to love themselves as well. It pulls off self-empowerment much better than the majority of self-empowerment anthems of the past ten years. Not to end this segment on a corny joke, but Good As Hell by Lizzo is, well, good as hell.
In terms of consistency, there’s very few pop acts out now that surpasses Dua Lipa. This girl just does not miss with these songs. Even the songs from her that I’m not a fan of aren’t that bad. Break My Heart is one of the breakout hits from the excellent Future Nostalgia album. It has that throwback disco production that I should be tired of hearing, but it still sounds pretty damn well that I don’t even care. It even samples the INXS hit Need You Tonight. Dua Lipa is showing a feeling of uncertainty here as she’s wondering if the new guy she’s in love with will break her heart. It’s a damn good song from a great artist that I’ll be talking more about in this list.
Now onto the list.
We’re gonna be talking about two country acts for the number 10 pick. One is a veteran who’s been doing his thing since the 2000s and the other is one of the new guys who’s been carrying the genre over his shoulders in terms of consistency. So what happens when these two collaborate?
When I saw that Luke Combs and Eric Church were working together, my expectations were high because I can count on those two to make some good music, so there was no way they were gonna screw up. Then, I finally listened to Does To Me and those expectations that I had were fortunately satisfied. I really dig the old-time neo-traditional country instrumentation with some sprinkles of rock guitars that kicks all sorts of ass. Both men sound great on this track as it works to their vocal strengths. In terms of writing, they highlight some of the things that they excel at where even though most people don’t care, it matters to them. It’s the sort of humble brag that works and is in line with what they usually put out. Overall, one of the best country songs to be released this year and a solid addition to the catalogs of both Luke Combs and Eric Church.
It’s very common for the breakout star of a group to become a superstar in the aftermath of their breakup or hiatus. My number 9 pick is one of them.
Out of the individual members of One Direction, Harry Styles has the best solo career so far. His songs have more staying power, at least in my eyes, and they’re really damn good. He put out his second album last year and it has some solid pop songs. He got his first number one hit in the solid Watermelon Sugar, but it’s Adore You that shows him at his best. Goddamn, the production to this song is so good, leaning into a funky groove that has a lot of bounce to it. Of course, Harry Styles sounds great on this type of music as he’s pretty much getting comfortable being a pop superstar. Writing-wise, it is your basic love song, but Harry pulls it off so well thanks to this presence and charisma. The future is looking very bright for Mr. Styles over here, especially if he keeps making jams like this.
If you were to tell me in 2018 or 2019 that this guy would not only release a song that would become a Black Lives Matter anthem, but that he was going to be on my Best Songs list, I would look at you like you were on meth. But that’s just the way the dominoes fall and thus, my number 8 pick.
It’s no secret that I’m not a Lil Baby fan. I find his music for the most part to be derivative and trite. So it would surprise a few that I didn’t put any of his songs on my Worst list. Well, that’s because they all blend in to one another and neither one stood out. Anyways, The Bigger Picture. It was not what I expected out of Lil Baby as instead of another run-of-the-mill flexing song, he made a social-political song addressing racism and police brutality, which has become a hugely relevant topic in our current climate. He talks about the need to stand up for something bigger than one person and that serious change is needed in this country. What makes this song work is the sincerity behind it, that Lil Baby believes in every word he’s speaking in this song. The production also helps the song with its more dramatic sound, even if it is the typical trap sound. But hey, if that’s what it takes to get a message like this out to the masses, then I can’t complain. A song like this is needed for these times. If Lil Baby made more songs in this vein, I wouldn’t mind him that much. It’s at least something different.
And we’re staying on rap for the number 7 pick, which took a while for me to get into, but I finally got it.
The Box is the breakout hit for Roddy Ricch that blocked Yummy by Justin Bieber to be the number one song in the country and it also became the first new number one single for the 2020s. Those are amazing accomplishments in of themselves. It also helps that the song is really damn dope. The production creates this eerie atmosphere with the horror movie orchestral and the thumping 808s. The “eee-err” ad-lib is a nice detail that gives the song more character. And while we’re on that subject, Roddy Ricch kills it with his flexible rap-singing flow that’s pretty much the perfect evolution of what Young Thug usually does, but more coherent and with more structure. The Box is also memetic thanks to a catchy hook and a lot of lines that stick to the head. It has all the ingredients to make a perfect hit song and I have a feeling that it’ll be one of the songs that defines the 2020s in the years to come.
Did I ever mentioned that I’m a big Dua Lipa fan? Here she is at number 6.
At this point, I’ve run out of ways to praise this woman for being a damn good pop artist in this time and age. So I’m just going to get to the point and talk about Don’t Start Now, the first single off of Future Nostalgia. Just like Break My Heart, the production to this song has some funky disco grooves, plus those piano chords that you would hear in a lot of house songs. Dua Lipa is a fucking boss who commands the song with her vocal presence as she moves on from a bad relationship and telling her ex to piss off. It’s a perfect post-breakup song that gets to the point and doesn’t linger too long, plus, it’s a fun and entertaining listen outside of that. If I were to continue doing these lists through the rest of the decade, chances are very high that Dua Lipa will be making appearances on them if she keeps the momentum she currently has because she is that good.
Before we continue, here are the final 5 honorable mentions.
HONORABLE MENTIONS II
Well, this will certainly attract the K-pop stans. It’s almost scary how huge this music is all across the world. It reminds me of the boy band craze of the late 90s. That means that BTS is the genre’s Backstreet Boys because of the amount of success and the huge fandom they have. Dynamite is far from their best work and it’s entirely sung in English instead of Korean, but it’s still a solid pop song that does the formula well. The writing is pretty much cheese, but it’s the good kind of cheese that’s endearing thanks to the performances from the boys of BTS. The disco-like production with the big horns, synths, and a final chorus key change makes for a song that will stick in your head for days. What can I say? It is a basic song, but it’s one of the most infectiously catchy basic songs out there.
And while we’re on the subject of pop music, here’s a collaboration between two modern pop divas that kicks all sorts of ass. Chromatica is Lady Gaga going back to her dance music days and one of the standout tracks is Rain On Me. A throwback to 90s house thanks to the piano chords and pulsing beat, it’s perfect for all the parties out there. It also helps to have two powerhouse vocalists in both Gaga and Ariana Grande, who just kill it and they have some very solid chemistry here as they hope for better days ahead. It’s easy to rain down praises to a song like this. Don’t try to make that sound dirty.
Everything revolving around Juice WRLD now is depressing. The fact that this dude was struggling with drug addiction, that his death was a freak accident that wouldn’t happen if his people got him the help he desperately needs, and that the industry is milking the hell out of his corpse for posthumous releases. Anyways, Come & Go. I did not expect myself to like this song that much, but it surprised the hell out of me. The writing is more of Juice expressing his insecurities about a girl, but there’s no incel vibes coming out of this song, which is a nice change of pace. But what puts this above most Juice songs is the production, which leans into a pop punk sound with prominent guitar riffs and one of the most infectious choruses all year thanks to Marshmello’s drop. If this guy was still here, I can definitely see him doing more songs with a rock sound. A shame we’ll never see that come to fruition.
Remember when Eminem put out an album this year? Well, seems like he wants people to remember that since he just released a deluxe edition of the album with 16 new tracks. One of the high points of that album was Godzilla, a collaboration with the late Juice WRLD. Over a quirky beat and with one of Juice’s better hooks, Eminem pretty much unleashes the dragon in terms of spitting bars, showing that he still got it on a technical level despite not saying much. He even raps faster than usual in the final part of the last verse, surpassing Rap God in terms of speed. I know I’ve said that fast rapping is not as cool as it used to be, but with how Eminem kept going seemingly without taking a pause is impressive. Even though I’m not as excited for new Eminem music as I used to, this is still pretty good compared to what he usually releases now.
When Luke Combs hits, he knocks it out of the park. That puts him above the majority of most modern country acts. Even Though I’m Leaving is one of those tracks that hits hard. The instrumentation leans into that neo-traditional sound with help from the gentle acoustic guitars and mandolins. The writing is based around the relationship between a father and a son as one doesn’t want the other to leave and vice versa. I won’t give away how the song ends, but it does tug at the heart strings and Luke Combs sells the emotion behind every line with his performance. This is easily up in the Top 5 in terms of Luke Combs songs.
Number 5 goes to an artist who broke out last year and pretty much dominated. Now, she’s working on a new album and has released singles here and there, but there’s one that stands among them as part of her best work to date.
Aside from making the unconventional, Billie Eilish can also pull off making songs that hits you in the feels and everything i wanted is like a feels train at full speed. The music sets the perfect mood with its muted piano loop and drums that hit like a heartbeat, plus some watery keys to keep things more interesting. Billie Eilish sings this in a lower whisper-like register for a more intimate performance, which fits the writing. Despite all of the fame, success, and accolades she collected, Billie is still having doubts about herself thanks to her depression and at one point, she thought about ending it all. But she’s pulled back from that thanks to the support of her brother/producer Finneas, who assures her that everything will be fine. This song shows how strong the bond between these two siblings is and that when it comes to mental illness, sometimes, one person in your life can make a difference. Like I said, this song hits you in the feels and that’s why it’s one of the more emotionally potent and resonant songs of the year.
Number 4 goes to another MVP of 2020, who despite the bullshit she’s been through, is still soldiering on and making anthems for the hot girls. You all know where this is going.
Megan Thee Stallion has had one hell of a year, from issues with management not letting her release music to getting shot in the foot by a certain Canadian gremlin who shall remain unnamed. This was also the year Megan became a bonafide superstar with help from songs like Savage. The original song was on the Suga EP that was released earlier this year and it was 2 and a half minutes long. Then came the remix with the Queen Bee herself Beyonce and the rest was history. The beat bumps in the whip and Megan brought the braggadocio lines all land. But the true star of the show is Beyonce, who goes back and forth between rapping and singing and she excels at both. Her contributions to this remix took a good song and made it 10x better. We love to see two queens making quality music.
And while we’re on that subject, number 3 is happens to be another collaboration between two women at the top of their game. Might want to bring a bucket and a mop for this one.
It’s historically amazing to see one three-letter acronym take the world by storm. WAP was more than just a song, it was a moment in pop culture. By now, you’ve come across several articles either praising WAP as a feminist anthem or criticizing it as detrimental to the feminist movement, usually coming from conservative voices. Considering it’s placement on this list, it’s easy to tell which side I don’t agree with. WAP (Wet Ass Pussy, for the curious) is both Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion rapping about how much they enjoy sex over a minimal banging beat sampling Whores In This House by Baltimore club DJ Frank Ski. Graphic sex songs are usually not my thing, but what puts this song above the others is that 1, the lyrics are over-the-top silly in a good way, and 2, Cardi and Megan both sound like they’re having the time of their life. I can understand why one would be turned off by its crassness, though. This is no different from what Lil Kim or Trina released in their prime. If the guys can have a whole bunch of songs about their sexcapades, let the girls get in on the fun. Let us now collectively laugh at Ben Shapiro for not knowing about female lubrication and accidentally admitting to being unable to make his wife orgasm.
And while we’re on the subject of pussy, here’s the number 2 song on this list where we come across the rarest mythical creature, the pussy fairy.
Jhene Aiko is one of the best artists working in the modern R&B scene. Her music is a counter-response to the rap-ification of R&B music as she keeps the soul and passion of what made the genre great while still being influenced by rap in certain ways. A whole generation of alternative R&B acts owes a lot to her as she remains underrated to this day. Anyways, P*$$Y Fairy (OTW). It’s a clear-cut bedroom jam that mirrors a lot of 90s R&B in its glassy production and hard hitting beat. Jhene Aiko sings like an angel flying down from heaven, which is funny considering that she’s singing about hypnotizing you with her pussy. Hearing these raunchy ass lyrics come out of such a cute and playful voice somehow works. Big Sean is one lucky son of a bitch. I would gladly be hypnotized by that pussy any day of the week. P*$$Y Fairy (OTW), a raunchy sex song that works and it almost topped this list.
Remember in my Worst list where I said that my number one choice was easy? Well, that also applies here and while it’s the most obvious of obvious choices, it was a song that brought a lot of joy in this turbulent year. It topped the Year End list for 2020 and it’s topping my list as well. Once again, ladies and gentlemen, Abel Makkonen Tesfaye.
I mean, this wasn’t even a contest. You didn’t think anything else was gonna top this list, did you? Once again, we’re gonna talk about one of the MVPs of 2020, The Weeknd. It’s no secret that this man is in love with the 80s, especially in songs like Can’t Feel My Face, In The Night, and I Feel It Coming. But I believe he surpassed them all with what would become the biggest song of the entire year, the song that’s still in the Top 20 a year later (as of this post), Blinding Lights. The first thing that comes to mind when it comes to Blinding Lights is the production, which is that 80s-inspired synthwave sound that sounds retro, modern, and futuristic at the same time. Comparisons have been made to 80s classics like a-ha’s Take On Me and Rod Stewart’s Young Turks, which I can hear because those songs have great catchy melodies that you can’t help but dance along to. I also like how the cold dark synths are combined with the bright upbeat synths to create a bittersweet atmosphere. It’s fitting for The Weeknd as he’s going through a downward spiral in Las Vegas and is looking to make things right with his significant other and fix their relationship. It’s a piece of the puzzle for the After Hours album arc and it can also stand on its own as a singular track. I can guarantee you that not only is this song a modern-day classic, but it will stand as a classic decades from now. All it had to do was pull from the past to build the future. Blinding Lights, the best hit song of 2020. Once more, fuck the Grammys.
And those were the best hits that 2020 had to offer. 2021 is only a few weeks away, so let’s work towards making it a better year for everyone and leave all of the chaos behind. For the next two months, I will be working on my final two posts for this blog; the Top 20 Worst Number One Songs list, which will be released on January 29, and the Top 50 Best Number One Songs list, which will be released on February 26. Until then, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Happy New Year.
SONG OF THE WEEK
The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas To You)-Nat King Cole