100 Best Songs of 2022

Though I grew up in the 1960s – arguably one of the best periods for popular (i.e. rock, pop, folk, R&B and soul) music – I’ve continued to find lots of music to my liking every year since then, and 2022 is no different. In fact, 2022 was a tremendous year for new music, and it infuriates me when people dismiss all new music as ‘crap’, ignorantly proclaiming that nothing worth listening to has been released since the 70s, 80s, or some other arbitrary date. Obviously, music tastes are very subjective, and while I cannot imagine how others cannot share my love for a particular song (I was both dismayed and incredulous when a long-time friend told me she didn’t like Sam Fender’s magnificent “Seventeen Going Under”), I also realize that not one person will agree with all my song choices or rankings.

As a music blogger, I’m exposed to a tremendous amount of new music. In addition to all the artists and bands I already follow, I receive a continuous stream of submissions from artists, PR reps and labels for possible reviews, so I listen to a lot of albums, EPs and singles from a great many artists and bands over the course of a year. Nevertheless, I realize I’ve still heard only a fraction of all the music released in 2022 (I get enough proof of this just by reading other bloggers’ year-end best-of lists, where in some cases I literally haven’t heard a single one of their song or album picks.) Consequently, my list includes only songs I know, and I’m certain there are likely many great ones that should be on this list, except that I’ve never heard them. That said, among the thousands of songs I did hear in 2022, there were many outstanding ones, and it frustrates me to have to cull my favorites down to only 100, omitting quite a few that I really like. It’s also a challenge ranking them, because a song at #40 isn’t necessarily any better than a song at #70. Perhaps I shouldn’t rank them at all, except for the fact that I love making lists!

As with every year, in 2022 we had to say goodbye to several legendary and beloved musicians. Some of the more notable ones included Ronnie Spector, Meat Loaf, Bobby Rydell, Mark Lanegan, Naomi Judd, Mickey Gilley, Andy Fletcher of Depeche Mode, Olivia Newton-John, Judith Durham, Ramsey Lewis, Pharoah Sanders, Coolio, Jerry Lee Lewis, Loretta Lynn, Irene Cara, Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac, Terry Hall of British ska band The Specials, and perhaps most tragically, Foo Fighters long-time drummer Taylor Hawkins, and young artists Aaron Carter and Migos band member Takeoff. 

A final caveat I feel I must mention every year: Many bloggers and critics include songs released during the year in question on their year-end lists, whereas Billboard and many other charts generally include songs in the year they were ‘hits’ on said charts, which is what I prefer. Many of the songs on this list were released in 2022, however, a number of them were released in 2021, but didn’t ‘peak’ until 2022. And Beach Weather’s “Sex, Drugs, Etc.” was originally released in 2016, but after going viral on Tik Tok, the song began getting airplay and eventually appeared on the Billboard Alternative Charts. Also, because there are always a few songs that overlap from one year to the next, like Billboard, I include those songs on lists for both years if they spent enough time on the charts in each year. I always wrestle with how to rank them, as well as whether to list them in only one year or two. I suppose that at the end of the day it’s all silliness, but this is the way I choose to do it. The songs in this Top 100 that also appeared on my Top 100 Songs of 2021 list are indicated with an asterisk *. 

As always, I’ve created a Spotify playlist for this list, which is included at the end of the post. Hopefully you’ll find some of your own personal favorites on it. Let me know what songs were your favorites of 2022.

1. AS IT WAS – Harry Styles

Though I was not a fan of One Direction, there’s no denying the talents of its individual members. Most have gone on to enjoy success as solo artists to one degree or another, though none more so than Harry Styles, who I think is the most talented of them all. I’ve really liked a lot of his music, particularly his beautiful 2017 anthem “Sign of the Times”, but my favorite is “As It Was”, which is my top song of 2022. The lead single from Harry’s third album Harry’s House, the song was a monster hit, spending 15 non-consecutive weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and also topping the charts in 35 countries, including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Lithuania, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Sweden and the UK.

Despite it’s upbeat melody and exuberant chorus, the song is actually quite poignant. According to an article in the webzine Stylecaster, though Styles hasn’t confirmed the song’s meaning, many believe it’s about his relationship with fame and how his life isn’t “the same as it was” since becoming a music star, expressed by the lyrics “In this world, it’s just us. You know it’s not the same as it was.” The song also alludes to his loneliness and concern from others as he isolates himself from the world, opening with a child’s voice (an actual phone recording of his goddaughter Ruby Winston) saying: “Come on, Harry, we wanna say goodnight to you,” and in the second verse Styles acknowledges “Answer the phone. ‘Harry, you’re no good alone. Why are you sitting at home on the floor? What kind of pills are you on?‘” I think it’s a perfect pop song that I never grew tired of hearing.

2. MY LOVE – Florence + the Machine

I love the music of Florence + the Machine. Fronted by English singer-songwriter Florence Welch, who I think has one of the greatest voices of any female vocalist today, their sound is a glorious blend of indie rock, baroque pop, folk, art rock and soul. Their single “My Love”, from their fifth studio album Dance Fever, is a gorgeous, sweeping anthem that covers me with chills every time I hear it. It spent three weeks at #1 on my weekly top 30, and six weeks atop the Billboard Adult Alternative Airplay chart, but shockingly, never even made the Hot 100. The song was co-written by Glass Animals vocalist Dave Bayley, with whom she collaborated on Dance Fever along with Jack Antonoff.

3. SEX, DRUGS, ETC. – Beach Weather

It’s not often I fall in love with a song the moment I hear it (it usually takes a couple of listens for most songs to grow on me, even from artists and bands I love), but I fell head over heels for the gorgeous “Sex, Drugs, Etc.” by American band Beach Weather the instant it hit my ears. I was immediately struck by the song’s enthralling melody, Nick’s captivating vocals and the guys’ stunning harmonies, which made the song one of my favorites of the year. I’ve had it on repeat ever since, and my year-end Spotify Wrapped report revealed that it was my third most-streamed song of 2022 (“As It Was” was #1).

Interestingly, the song was originally recorded in 2016, and was featured on their debut EP Chit Chat. After releasing a second EP What a Drag, the band went on hiatus as the three members – Nick Santino, Reeve Powers, and Sean Silverman – relocated to different cities and began working on their own solo projects. They reunited late last year, and began recording their forthcoming debut album Pineapple Sunrise, featuring their single “Unlovable”, which dropped August 11, their first release in five years. In the meantime, “Sex, Drugs, Etc.” went viral on TikTok, and started getting airplay on AltNation and many alternative radio stations. The song eventually went all the way to #1 on my Weekly Top 30 and the Billboard Alternative Airplay charts. “Floating on my low-key vibe” indeed!

4. BOY – The Killers

The Killers have long been one of my favorite bands, on the strength of their melodic brand of alternative rock and frontman Brandon Flowers’ beautiful tenor singing voice. I love many of their songs, including “Mr. Brightside”, “Somebody Told Me”, “When You Were Young”, “Read My Mind”, “Human”, “The Man” and “Caution”, so it was no surprise that I would also love their beautiful uplifting anthem “boy”. The song was originally intended for inclusion on their seventh album – which was to be titled TK7 but eventually renamed Pressure Machine – a concept album about life in Flowers’ hometown of Nephi, Utah, with songs told from the perspective of various townspeople that touches on everything from prescription drug abuse and poverty to crime, homophobia, and depression. However, the anthemic sound of “boy” differed from the other tracks on Pressure Machine, which had more of a folk-rock feel, so The Killers decided to not include it on that album. They instead released it as a single a year after the album’s release, in August 2022. Though it did not chart on the stupid Billboard Hot 100, it did reach #1 on several Alternative charts. It spent three weeks at #1 on my Weekly Top 30.

About the song, Flowers said: “This was the first song written after we had to cancel the ‘Imploding The Mirage’ tour due to the pandemic. I had recently moved back to Utah and started to make trips to Nephi, where I grew up. I found that the place I had wanted to get away from so desperately at 16 was now a place that I couldn’t stop returning to. I have a son approaching the age I was at that time in my life. With ‘boy’, I want to reach out and tell myself – and my sons – to not overthink it. And to look for the ‘white arrows’ in their lives. For me now, white arrows are my wife, children, my songs and the stage.”

5. UNTIL I FOUND YOU – Stephen Sanchez

One of the biggest breakout artists of 2022 has been Nashville-based singer-songwriter Stephen Sanchez, who became a sensation when his gorgeous throwback love ballad “Until I Found You” went viral on TikTok. With it’s wonderful retro 50s doo wop vibe, highlighted by Sanchez’ beautiful jangly guitar and vibrant vocals, I couldn’t get enough of it! Originally recorded when he was only 18, the song was released on September 1, 2021, but didn’t chart until early summer 2022. It was a huge hit in Southeast Asia for some reason, reaching #1 in Malaysia, #2 in Indonesia, and #3 in the Philippines, as well as on the Billboard Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart. It spent two weeks at #1 on my Weekly Top 30. The song is included on his seven-track debut EP Easy On My Eyes, which dropped August 19th.

For the marvelous official video, which came out in late June, Sanchez channels his inner Elvis, also pairing himself with a Marilyn Monroe lookalike as his love interest with whom he sings the song in a duet (although the layered vocals on the track are all his, from what I can tell). He told Rolling Stone “I was obsessed with the style of the 50s when I was growing up. The glamorous cars, movie theaters, mom & pop shops. I romanticized all of its visually stunning colors and sleekness. I wanted to implement all of that beauty into my dream of being a 1950s singer debuting his ‘hit’ song on the Ed Sullivan Show.”

6. BAD HABIT – Steve Lacy

Southern California-based singer-songwriter Steve Lacy has been making music since his teens, not only as a solo act and guitarist for alternative R&B band The Internet, but also as a producer who’s worked with such acts as Denzel Curry, Kendrick Lamar, Ravyn Lenae, Solange, Mac Miller and Vampire Weekend. But his monster hit “Bad Habit”, from his second album Gemini Rights, finally catapulted the 24-year old to stardom. Not only is it his first song as a solo artist to chart in the U.S., it went all the way to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, also becoming the first song ever to simultaneously top the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop, Hot R&B and Hot Rock & Alternative charts. It also topped my Top 30 chart for two weeks in October.

It’s a sweet song, with lyrics directed to someone he finds attractive, but thinking he wasn’t good enough, never had to courage to make a move: “I bite my tongue, it’s a bad habit. Kinda mad that I didn’t take a stab at it. Thought you were too good for me, my dear. Never gave me time of day, my dear. It’s okay, things happen for reasons that I think are sure, yeah.” But later in the song, he calls her out for toying with his emotions: “You grabbin’ me hard ’cause you know what you found. It’s biscuits, it’s gravy, babe.” It has an irresistible lo-fi funk-pop vibe, and as someone on YouTube put it so perfectly, it’s “one of those songs that feels nostalgic even though it’s new”.


I love a good dance song, and with its funky bass-driven groove and her wonderful, confident vocals, Lizzo’s delightful “About Damn Time” fits the bill quite nicely. From her fourth album Special, the song topped my Weekly Top 30 chart this past August, as well as the Billboard Hot 100, Adult Top 40 and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop charts. I love when she sings “I’m way too fine to be this stressed, yeah.”

8. DECEPTION – Hannah Reem & Noodle Beard

One of the most arresting songs I’ve heard all year is “Deception”, a stunning collaboration between soulful-voiced British singer-songwriter Hannah Reem and producer-composer Noodle Beard. Both based in Portsmouth, Hannah is a popular personality in the local music scene, and producer and composer Noodle Beard makes trip-hop and ambient chilled music. “Deception” is Hannah’s second collaboration with Noodle Beard, and is about infidelity and the emotional complexities of making painful choices. Hannah explained her inspiration for writing the song: “I’ve felt fury and been forced to lose, I’ve been homeless and broke, felt like a joke, and cheated on by those that I choose. But I’ll get through.” 

I first learned about it as a result of being a guest moderator for the BBC Music weekly song competition Fresh On The Net. My task was to listen to all 170 songs submitted as entries for a particular week, then choose my five favorites (four of which are included on this Top 100 list: “Deception”, as well as “Chasing Trains” by HULLAH, “La Cienega” by Chief Springs, and “The Hurt Within” by Holy Coves). When I heard “Deception”, I was immediately struck by it’s breathtaking cinematic vibe, and in particular Hannah’s vibrant, captivating vocals that reminded me of Shirley Bassey. In fact, I still think this would make a fantastic theme for a James Bond movie. The song is magnificent, and even after hearing it again and again, it still has the power to cover me with chills every time. It should have been a huge worldwide hit, and I think Hannah’s powerful, sultry vocals would hold their own against many of today’s top-rated female singers. The video Hannah created for the song is somewhat disturbing, showing her being emotionally and physically dominated in an almost threatening manner by her romantic partner.

9. WILD CHILD – The Black Keys

I’ve been a long-time fan of The Black Keys, who’ve had numerous songs top my Weekly Top 30 over the years. The lead single from their 11th studio album Dropout Boogie, “Wild Child” is a rousing stomper that saw them going back to their blues rock roots, highlighted by Dan Auerbach’s gnarly guitars and Patrick Carney’s muscular drumbeats. Though the simple lyrics are directed to a woman the singer wants to love – “I just wanna hold you at the end of every day. Girl, I wanna please you, oh, I’m needing you to stay. The sun is gonna shine if you would just come out and play. Baby, won’t you show me your wild child ways” – the outrageous video portrays Auerbach and Carney as guys who show up for menial jobs at an out of control high school, then take part in the ensuing mayhem. “Wild Child” was a huge hit on the Billboard alternative rock charts, reaching #1 on the Alternative Airplay and Adult Alternative Airplay charts, also ranking as the top song of 2022 on the latter chart.


“Seventeen Going Under”, by the immensely talented English singer-songwriter Sam Fender, was a bit of a sleeper hit. First released in July 2021, the song slowly worked its way up the UK Singles Chart, finally peaking at #3 in January 2022, when it also began getting airplay in the U.S. It eventually appeared on various Alternative song charts (peaking at #10 on the Billboard Adult Alternative Airplay chart). Though I actually ranked it at #44 on my Top 100 Songs of 2021 list, I loved the song so much I added it to my Weekly Top 30 in May, where it went all the way to #1 in July. Those gorgeous jangly guitars, exuberant trumpet and sax, cracking drumbeats and Fender’s arresting tenor vocals are all magnificent. I think it’s is one of the most perfect songs I’ve heard in a long while, and this past May, it won the Ivor Novello Award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers, and Authors.

Written by Fender and released as the lead single from his brilliant and critically acclaimed second album Seventeen Going Under, the album in general, and song in particular, chronicle his life at 17 when his mother was afflicted with fibromyalgia and depressed because she could no longer work after 40 years of service as a nurse. Though she’d never missed a day of work, the Department for Work and Pensions harassed her with letters and treated her unjustly. Fender wanted to help her financially, even considering selling drugs to earn money, but she talked him out of it. In an interview with Rolling Stone, he commented: “That’s when my rose-tinted glasses fell off. 17 is when all the challenges begin: you’re not a baby, but you’re definitely not an adult.” With his striking tenor voice, strong Geordie accent, and heartthrob good looks, it’s hard to believe Fender was bullied for being overweight and unathletic as a child.

Fun fact: Sam Fender also plays Fender guitars.

11. CRUTCH – Band of Horses

Indie/Southern rock band Band of Horses have been around for 18 years (they were originally formed in Seattle in 2004 by singer-songwriter Ben Bridwell, but are now based in Charleston, South Carolina), but I stupidly never paid much attention to them or their music until hearing their heartwarming song “Crutch” last fall. I was so smitten with both the song’s music and poignant lyrics, not to mention its charming offbeat video, that it went all the way to #1 on my Top 30 in late January. The lead single from their sixth studio album Things Are Great, “Crutch” was also their first song to ever top a Billboard chart, spending two weeks at #1 on the Adult Alternative Chart.

About the song, Bridwell told Pitchfork: “I think like a lot of my songs, ‘Crutch’ starts with something from my real life. Obviously ‘Crutch’ means some of the things that I was dependent on. My relationship for one. I think I wanted to say, ‘I’ve got a crush on you,’ and I thought it was funny how relationships also feel like crutches. I feel like everybody has had a time when nothing goes right and you still have to carry on. I think that feeling hits you in this song even if you don’t know what the specifics are.” Another of their wonderful songs from Things Are Great, “Warning Signs”, appears later on this Top 100 list.


Japanese-American singer-songwriter and Mitski has been recording and releasing music since 2012, but it was her sixth studio album Laurel Hell that’s been her most successful. The exuberant dance-pop gem “The Only Heartbreaker”, the second single to be released from Laurel Hell, is also her most successful single to date in the U.S., going all the way to #1 on the Billboard Adult Alternative Airplay chart, as well as spending two weeks at #1 on my Weekly Top 30.

The brilliant track was co-written by Semisonic frontman Dan Wilson, marking the first time Mitski has ever teamed up with another songwriter. She told Apple Music that her collaboration with Wilson came about because she’d been struggling with the track for ages: “I was just sitting on it forever. I have so many iterations of it. Nothing felt right. He helped me solve so many of the problems and kind of lead me out of the labyrinth of it. And yeah, I’m really glad that I took that chance with him.” For the recording of the song, she programmed synths and keyboards and her longtime producer Patrick Hyland played guitar and percussion.


One of my best new finds of 2022 has been British singer-songwriter Charley Hullah, who goes by just his last name, stylized as HULLAH. As I noted earlier, I learned about the handsome and talented London-based artist as a result of being a guest moderator for the BBC Music weekly song competition Fresh On The Net, for which he’d entered his single “Chasing Trains”. I loved the beautiful song the moment I heard it, and chose it as one of my top five picks out of the 170 entries. HULLAH’s compelling lyrics, haunting melody, sparkling atmospheric synths and sultry ethereal vocals that remind me at times of the late George Michael are quite marvelous, and I couldn’t get enough of it. According to my year-end Spotify Wrapped report, “Chasing Trains” was my second most-streamed song of the year.

About the song, HULLAH wrote on Instagram: “I began writing this at uni quite a few years back. I was given a mock songwriting brief to write a 60-second track for a car advert that quite literally pictured a car chasing a train alongside a train track from the city to the suburbs. I got such great feedback that I decided to turn it into a full song. I wrote quite literally about a car chasing a train, but it became an expression of my personal experience of chasing certain things in London, as many of us who live in cities do. This song reflects my feelings to the grind and chase of city life.


“Broken Record” is a hauntingly beautiful, cinematic little masterpiece by British artist NAVE, the solo music project of singer-songwriter, composer and producer Nathan Evans. The prolific and hyper-talented musician, who possesses a gorgeous singing voice, is also front man for alternative rock band Native Tongue. He wrote “Broken Record” to address the powerfully addicting allure of social media and its impacts on our emotional and mental health. Nathan states “‘Broken Record’ focuses on the like, follow and share society we have transitioned into over the past decade. Likes release dopamine like a drug and we become addicted to the validation, attention and acknowledgment of our successes or happiness. We hide behind filters and fake smiles to show an inaccurate reality we wish was real.

The song is stunning, with mournful, contemplative piano keys overlain with arresting percussion, swelling strings and mysterious vocal effects. I love male singing voices in the higher ranges, and Nathan’s is particularly captivating here. Not only is “Broken Record” a gorgeous song, it also resonates very strongly with me, as I too am addicted to the need for validation, attention and acknowledgment of not only my blog, but also my tweets, Instagram and Facebook posts, all of which sometimes causes me disappointment.

15. WHAT, ME WORRY? – Portugal. The Man

I love the music of Portland-based alt-rock band Portugal. The Man (who are originally from Wasilla, Alaska, not Portugal), and their deliciously exuberant single “What, Me Worry?” is one of the highlights of 2022. Co-written by the band, along with Jeff Bhasker and OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder, both of whom also produced the track, “What, Me Worry” is an antidote for overcoming the gloomy pall of the pandemic and perpetually depressing news cycle by remaining aloof so we can be “happy as a clown.” The song’s title is a nod to long-time Mad Magazine cover boy Alfred E. Newman and his iconic phrase. Highlights of the song for me are the fantastic bass line and band frontman John Gourley’s great vocals.

16. GOOD FRIEND – dwi *

One of the most fascinating artists I’ve come across over the past few years is dwi, the music project of Canadian singer-songwriter Dwight Abell (he’s also bassist for Canadian alternative/power pop band The Zolas). Though he’s a devoted husband and father of two young boys living in the suburbs of Vancouver, he lets his creativity and imagination run totally wild with his zany alter ago, making outstanding music that’s innovative, quirky and fun. In October 2021, he released his brilliant debut album Mild Fantasy Violence, which I happily reviewed.

One of the terrific singles from that album, “Good Friend”, is about discovering after the fact that a friend had been going through some hard times, and wishing you’d known more at the time so you could have helped them through it. I love the song’s infectious hard-driving melody, colorful guitar work and dwi’s expressive vocals lamenting about his shortcomings as a friend: “Had I known you were broken inside. Had I known you were empty inside. If I was a good friend, I’d a known better. If I was a good friend, I’d have done better./ I’m done with the drugs, but there’s still some left inside.” It’s a great power pop song that I loved so much, it spent 18 weeks on my Weekly Top 30 from November 2021 until early March 2022, two of them at #1. Another of dwi’s more recent singles “Party4One” also went to #1 on my chart just last month, and appears later on this Top 100.

17. TELL ME THE TRUTH – Two Feet

Brooklyn, New York-based Two Feet (the music moniker of singer-songwriter and guitarist extraordinaire Bill Dess) has been my favorite music artist for the past four years. His single “Fire” was my top song of 2021, and two of his other songs, “Don’t Bring Me Down” and “Devil” finished in the top 10 for 2021. I’ve written about him numerous times on this blog, and have seen three of his live shows. Many of his songs are sultry and sensual, but “Tell Me The Truth”, from his fourth album Shape & Form, is one of his darkest and sexiest of all. I love how it transitions from haunting interludes of restrained instrumentals and vocals in the verses, to an explosive, cinematic crescendo in the choruses, in which Two Feet’s vocals are more impassioned and raw than we’ve ever heard before. It’s also longer than most of his previous songs, and his scorching guitar solo in the final chorus is well worth the wait. He’s commented that it’s his favorite of all the songs he’s written and recorded, and I have to say that it’s certainly one of mine. It was his tenth song to top my Weekly Top 30 chart.

The lyrics are sung from the perspective of a man who’s tried everything to win the love of a woman he desires, to no avail. “For too long, I dream of you, All that you do. I watch you float on, float on. For too long, I contemplate, I try to be all that you need. So tell me the truth, my baby, baby. Is it me, is it you?“ The steamy video, directed by Brian Lipko and starring a finely chiseled Two Feet and sexy LA-based model and restauranteur Tina Louise, shows them experiencing the throes of unrequited sexual desire and angst, both together and alone.

18. I SEE THE SUN – Solar Eyes

Another fine band to emerge from the crowded British music scene over the past few years is Birmingham-based psychedelic pop/rock trio Solar Eyes. I love their sound, and have featured them several times on this blog. My favorite of all their terrific songs is “I See the Sun”, a gorgeous, cinematic affair, highlighted by twangy western-style guitars that would make Ennio Morricone proud. The track, which could serve as their theme song, was born from a conversation between band frontman and vocalist Glenn Smyth and mixing engineer Jeff Knowler. After Glenn mentioned to Jeff that he’d written a cool ’60s-sounding Tarantino-esque track on his newly acquired 12 string guitar, Jeff suggested that he watch Tarantino’s film Once Upon A Time In Hollywood before recording the track. Glenn took Jeff’s advice, and created the perfect song, beginning with that jolting opening guitar note to the infectious, galloping drumbeat, the swirling cinematic synths, castanet-like percussive sounds, soaring harmonies and, most of all, those fabulous spaghetti-western guitars. Then there are Glenn’s beautiful, reverb-drenched vocals as he sings of his eternal love for another: “I see the sun. The light shines on you and me. And that’s the way it’s meant to be, for eternity.

As with their previous videos, the colorful animated video for “I See the Sun” was created by Matt Watkins, a videographer, lighting and visual design producer who’s a frequent collaborator with Gorillaz.


One of the best songs of 2022 is the lovely and poignant “Unconditional I (Lookout Kid” by Canadian art-rock band Arcade Fire. Released in late April, it was the second single from their sixth studio album WE, which was recorded during the Covid lockdown mostly in El Paso, but also New Orleans and Mount Desert Isle, Maine (I always find it fascinating how some artists and bands record their albums in such far-flung locales). About the uplifting song, band frontman Win Butler told Pitchfork “‘Lookout Kid’” is a reminder, a lullaby for the end times, sung to my son, but for everyone…. Trust your heart, trust your mind, trust your body, trust your soul. Shit is going to get worse before it gets better, but it always gets better, and no one’s perfect.” The video, produced by Ben Matheny and Nathan Harrison, and directed by Benh Zeitlin, is delightful.

20. CLOSER – The Frontier

Northern Virginia-based artist The Frontier (the music project of enormously talented, funny and gracious singer-songwriter Jake Mimikos) is no stranger to this blog, and has had several of his songs appear on my year-end best-of lists. Drawing from elements of pop, folk, rock and electronica, his music is incredibly pleasing, relentlessly catchy, and flawlessly crafted. I find that the more I hear his songs, the more I grow to love them. The prolific artist has released an impressive amount of music both as a band and a solo artist under The Frontier moniker since around 2015, and I’ve written about quite a bit of it. Several of his songs have appeared on my Weekly Top 30, with two – “Dark Places” (from 2019) and “Can We Go Back” (from 2021) – going all the way to #1. His marvelous, upbeat love song “Closer” was the third to do so this past August.

  1. SUPERMODEL – Måneskin
  2. CAVIAR – Two Feet
  3. THE HARDEST CUT – Spoon
  4. PARTY4ONE – dwi
  5. HERE TO FOREVER – Death Cab for Cutie
  6. WHITE HORSES – Art Block
  7. SNAP – Rosa Linn
  8. I DON’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE – The War on Drugs featuring Lucius *
  9. SLEEP – Gooseberry
  10. LOVE BRAND NEW – Bob Moses
  11. TWO CAR FAMILY – Apollo Junction
  12. CRACKER ISLAND – Gorillaz featuring Thundercat
  13. TIME IN DISGUISE – Kings of Leon
  14. MY BABE – Spoon
  15. STARTS WITH YOU – Shimmer Johnson *
  16. MISTAKES – Sharon Van Etten
  17. JUST LIKE ALWAYS – Oli Barton & the Movement
  18. BROKEN HEARTS – Ships Have Sailed
  19. WILD – Spoon
  21. VIBE – Editors
  22. ONE AND THE SAME – Future Theory
  24. LOVE LOVE LOVE – My Morning Jacket *
  25. I’LL CALL YOU MINE – girl in red
  26. SPIT OF YOU – Sam Fender
  27. HEAD IN THE CLOUDS – Thunder Fox
  29. A LITTLE BIT OF LOVE – Weezer
  30. CREST OF THE WAVE – Foals
  31. TEK IT – Cafuné
  32. BELIEVE – Caamp
  33. BROKEN HORSES – Brandi Carlile
  34. WAKE ME UP – Foals
  35. THESE ARE THE DAYS – Inhaler
  36. WET DREAM – Wet Leg
  37. TONIGHT – Phoenix featuring Ezra Koenig
  38. I LOVE YOU – Fontaines D.C.
  39. BLACK SUMMER – Red Hot Chili Peppers
  40. VIVA LAS VENGEANCE – Panic! At the Disco
  41. THE ECHO – A.A. Williams
  43. REDCHURCH STREET BLUES – Philip Morgan Lewis
  44. 2am – Foals
  45. BONES – Imagine Dragons
  46. SYNCHRONIZE – Milky Chance
  47. BLOODRUSH – The Amazons
  48. WEIRD GOODBYES – The National featuring Bon Iver
  49. AIN’T NO THIEF – Viagra Boys
  50. BREAK MY SOUL – Beyoncé
  51. SIDELINES – Phoebe Bridgers
  52. THE OUTSIDE – twenty øne piløts
  53. SISTERS – pMad
  54. THE TIPPING POINT – Tears For Fears
  55. LEMON TREE – Mt. Joy
  56. LA CIENEGA – Chief Springs
  57. IN THE MIRROR – The Interrupters
  58. OH MY GOD – Adele
  59. GIVE A LITTLE LOVIN’ – Jamie Alimorad
  60. VIRGINIA (WIND IN THE NIGHT) – The Head and the Heart
  61. LEFT BEHIND – a million rich daughters
  62. THE FOUNDATIONS OF DECAY – My Chemical Romance
  63. PART OF THE BAND – The 1975
  64. LIN MANUEL – Onism E
  65. WARNING SIGNS – Band of Horses
  67. NEW ENGLAND – Kid Kapichi & Bob Vylan
  68. I LIKE YOU (A HAPPIER SONG) – Post Malone with Doja Cat
  69. SMILE – Wolf Alice
  70. CHEER UP BABY – Inhaler
  71. THAT’S WHERE I AM – Maggie Rogers
  72. OFFCUTS – Mount Famine
  73. LONELY – Sea Girls
  74. LOVE DIES YOUNG – Foo Fighters
  75. THE HURT WITHIN – Holy Coves
  76. WHAT’S THE TRICK? – Jack White
  77. B-SIDE – Khruangbin & Leon Bridges
  78. FREE – Florence + the Machine
  79. SOMETHING LOUD – Jimmy Eat World
  80. BLOOD WOLF MOON – Vulture Party

Top 30 Songs for January 23-29, 2022

The poignant and beautiful “Crutch” by Band of Horses takes over the top spot on my latest Weekly Top 30. It’s their first song to ever top a Billboard chart, recently spending two weeks at #1 on the Adult Alternative Chart. It was a tough decision knocking dwi’s wonderful song “Good Friend” down to #2, as I still love it so much. Finally entering the top 10 are three great songs – Solar Eyes’ “I See the Sun”, Apollo Junction’s “Two Car Family”, and a million rich daughters’ “Left Behind”. Debuting this week are Elvis Costello & the Imposters’ “Magnificent Hurt” and Adele’s “Oh My God”. It took a while for “Magnificent Hurt” to grow on me, because I can sometimes be a real idiot when it comes to music (as well as many other things, unfortunately). But after reading two recent posts about the song and Costello’s new album by fellow blogger Christian’s Music Musings, I finally realized what a terrific song it is. 

The video for “Crutch” is odd but sweet, and features lots of cute cats, so please watch.

  1. CRUTCH – Band of Horses (2)
  2. GOOD FRIEND – dwi (1)
  3. TIME IN DISGUISE – Kings of Leon (4)
  4. I DON’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE – The War on Drugs feat. Lucius (3)
  5. STARTS WITH YOU – Shimmer Johnson (6)
  6. THE TIPPING POINT – Tears for Fears (7)
  7. I SEE THE SUN – Solar Eyes (11)
  8. LOVE LOVE LOVE – My Morning Jacket (5)
  9. TWO CAR FAMILY – Apollo Junction (12)
  10. LEFT BEHIND – a million rich daughters (13)
  11. I DON’T WANNA TALK (I JUST WANNA DANCE) – Glass Animals (9)
  12. SMILE – Wolf Alice (14)
  13. JOURNEYMAN’S BALLET – Sam Rappaport (15)
  14. U&ME – alt-J (16)
  15. ONE AND THE SAME – Future Theory (17)
  16. THE HARDEST CUT – Spoon (19)
  17. WAKE ME UP – Foals (18)
  18. BEGGIN’ – Måneskin (8)
  19. UNTIL I COME HOME – Two Feet & grandson (20)
  20. CHAPSTICK – COIN (21)
  21. HEAD IN THE CLOUDS – Thunder Fox (22)
  22. THE OUTSIDE – twenty øne piløts (23)
  23. LOVE IN OCTOBER – Ships Have Sailed (10)
  24. THE ONLY HEARTBREAKER – Mitski (25)
  25. INDUSTRY BABY – Lil Nas X featuring Jack Harlow (28)
  26. JUST LIKE ALWAYS – Oli Barton & the Movement & Maella (29)
  27. REDCHURCH STREET BLUES – Philip Morgan Lewis (30)
  28. MAGNIFICENT HURT – Elvis Costello & The Imposters (N)
  29. DON’T BRING ME DOWN – Two Feet (24)
  30. OH MY GOD – Adele (N)

Top 100 Songs of 2021

Time seems to fly by at an increasingly faster clip as I get older, and it’s hard to believe we’re now at the end of the second year of the third decade of the 21st Century. That means it’s time for my annual year-end list of my Top 100 favorite songs. As a music blogger, I’m exposed to a tremendous amount of music. In addition to all the artists and bands I already follow, I often receive 5-10 submissions a day from artists, PR reps and labels for possible reviews, so I listen to a lot of albums, EPs and singles from a lot of artists and bands over the course of a year. Nevertheless, I realize I’ve heard only a fraction of all the singles and albums released in 2021. (I get enough proof of this just by reading other bloggers’ year-end best-of lists, where in some cases I literally haven’t heard a single one of their song or album picks.)

Consequently, my list includes only songs I know, and I’m certain there are likely many great ones that should be on this list, except that I’ve never heard them! That said, among the thousands of songs I did hear in 2021, there were many outstanding ones, and it frustrates me to have to cull them down to only 100, omitting quite a few that I really like. It’s also tough ranking them, because a song at #40 isn’t necessarily better than a song at #70, but rank them I must.

As with every year, in 2021 we had to say goodbye to far too many legendary musicians, including Gerry Marsden (Gerry & the Pacemakers), Phil Spector, Jimmie Rodgers, Sophie, Mary Wilson, Lloyd Price, B.J. Thomas, Dusty Hill (ZZ Top), Chick Corea, Tom T Hall, Don Everly, Charlie Watts, Graeme Edge (Moody Blues), Steve Bronski (Bronski Beat) and Michael Nesmith. 

A final caveat I feel I must mention every year: Many bloggers and critics include songs released during the year in question on their year-end lists, whereas Billboard and many other charts generally include songs in the year they were ‘hits’ on said charts, which is what I prefer. Many of the songs on this list were released in 2021, however, a number of them were released in 2020, but didn’t ‘peak’ until 2021. Also, because there are always a few songs that overlap from one year to the next, like Billboard, I include those songs on lists for both years if they spent enough time on the charts in each year. I always wrestle with how to rank them, as well as whether to list them in only one year or two. I suppose that at the end of the day it’s all silliness, but this is the way I choose to do it. The songs in this Top 100 that also appeared in my Top 100 Songs of 2020 list are indicated with an asterisk *. 

This year, I felt ambitious, and have written a narrative for the top 30 songs on the list. I wish I could write one for all 100 tracks, but it would take me forever to get this post done! As always, I’ve created a Spotify playlist, which is included at the end of the post. Hopefully you’ll find some of your own personal favorites on it. 

1. FIRE – Two Feet

Regular readers of my blog know I’m a huge fan of Two Feet (aka Bill Dess), and he ruled my music charts this year like the Beatles did back in the mid 1960s. He’s been my favorite artist for the past few years and I love all his music. I think he’s one of the finest guitarists making music today, and I’ve written about him numerous times and have seen him live in concert twice. In addition to his brilliant concept album Max Maco is Dead Right? (which I reviewed this past April), the prolific Brooklyn, NY-based musician also dropped an impressive string of fantastic singles throughout the year, as well as collaborative singles with Gryffin, SHAED, Sub Urban and grandson. Seven have appeared on my Weekly Top 30 in 2021, six of which are included on this year-end list, and four of them, including “Fire”, have reached #1. It’s also meant that he’s continuously had at least one song on my chart every week since November 2020!

Released this past January, “Fire” is a sultry little masterpiece that slowly builds to a scorching crescendo, befitting the song’s title. Two Feet lays down a bluesy guitar riff that sounds like a slowed-down version of “Every Breath You Take” by The Police, while his trusted keyboardist/programmer Geoffrey Hufford layers soaring cinematic orchestral synths over a smoldering deep bass groove. Two Feet sings with a breathy, impassioned falsetto as he croons to a lover of his intense, all-consuming desire: “Darling, You call my name / I like the games you play / Charming, My love for you / Burning, I feel it too./ Fire, ooh I say.” My love for this song was further verified by Spotify Wrapped, which showed it was my most-played song of 2021. The song is one of three tracks from Max Maco is Dead Right? on this list.

2. MINE FOREVER – Lord Huron

Besides Two Feet, the other act that most strongly resonated with me in 2021 was indie folk-rock band Lord Huron. Their uniquely beautiful music is a blend of folk, western, rock and roll, pop, surf rock and new age, and has been described by a few music writers as evoking the ‘high-lonesome’ sound of such legendary acts as The Band and Neil Young, as well as newer acts like Fleet Foxes and My Morning Jacket. The most striking features of their sound are the lush twangy and shimmery guitars, backed by stirring orchestral strings, and lead singer Ben Schneider’s achingly beautiful vocals, which have an arresting and heartfelt vulnerability. For me, listening to their music is an almost religious experience, transporting me to a dreamy, faraway place out in the open West. The cinematic quality of their music makes many of their songs perfect candidates for the soundtrack of a sweeping Western epic. “Mine Forever” is from their gorgeous, critically acclaimed fourth album Long Lost, which is my personal pick for best album of the year.


Two Feet is back with his darkly beautiful and mesmerizing “Don’t Bring Me Down”, the second of his six songs on this list. It was also his 8th song to reach #1 on my Weekly Top 30, where it recently spent four weeks at that position. The captivating song features a massive, floor-rattling bass drop at the end of each verse that covers me in chills. His beguiling echoed vocals are understated yet powerful as he pleads with a woman for whom he’s give up a lot to love him back and save him from loneliness: “The darkened skyline, outside my room. A kingdom that I gave up too soon, To be with you. To be with you. I think about that most everyday. My life I think it’s, it’s going to pass me by. So love me girl. This lonely world won’t  bring me down.” The video, which was created by Allison Michael and features vintage 50’s film footage, nicely complements the noir vibe of the song.


I’ve also been a massive fan of Austin, Texas-based duo MISSIO for the past several years, and their beautiful song “I See You”, from their magnificent album The Darker the Weather // The Better the Man, was my #1 song of 2019. With the combined talents of singer-songwriter and producer Matthew Brue and songwriter/producer and instrumentalist David Butler, their edgy and eclectic sound is a glorious mix of gritty alternative electronic rock, hip hop and dreamy emo vibes. Then there’s Matthew’s distinctive vocals that register in the higher octaves just below a falsetto, giving them a unique, instantly recognizable sound. “Can You Feel The Sun“ was released in September 2020, but topped my Weekly Top 30 for three weeks this past February. I love the bold cinematic arrangement, lush otherworldly synths and strummed acoustic guitar, all melding together to create a truly stunning and inspirational track. The introspective lyrics speak of reassessing one’s prejudices and shortcomings, and trying to be more open-minded and accepting: “Below the willow tree is where I hide the darkest parts of me. They’re hiding underneath the broken lies that I just still believe. Below the willow tree is where I sit and hate on my enemies. I drown ’em in my dreams, I think it’s me who needs some humility.”

5. CAN I BELIEVE YOU – Fleet Foxes *

Speaking of beautiful songs, Fleet Foxes’ wistful “Can I Believe You” is one of the most beautiful on this entire list. From the Seattle band’s exquisite fourth album Shore, the song was also released in the fall of 2020, and ranks #24 on my Top 100 Songs of 2020 list. But it spent the first three weeks of January at #1, so is also one of my favorite songs of 2021. According to Songfacts, “Can I Believe You” was the first song that band frontman Robin Pecknold started to write for Shore, though he struggled with it for a while. He stated he began with the ‘Can I believe you’ line, with its memorable melody and chord progression, but didn’t know whether it was a verse or chorus. Also, the lyrics were originally about an untrustworthy person, but as he thought more about his own anxieties with letting people get close to him, the song “turned into this headbanger about trust issues and it was funny to me because it’s such a fun song,” he explained. “It made sense for a song about trust to have the verse function like a chorus and the chorus like a bridge; the whole thing is slightly upside down.” Another interesting aspect of the song is that its choral backing vocals are comprised of over 400 different voice clips compiled from recordings submitted by Pecknold’s Instagram followers. The album’s producer-engineer Beatriz Artola spent days editing them together and cleaning them up into one big choral bed.

6. SHY AWAY – twenty øne piløts

twenty øne piløts have been my favorite band since 2015. Two of their songs – “Tear In My Heart” and “Stressed Out”, both from their phenomenal album Blurryface – topped my year-end charts for 2015 and 2016, respectively, and four of their singles from their follow-up fifth album Trench reached #1 on my Weekly Top 30 in 2018 and 2019. They released their much-anticipated sixth album Scaled And Icy in May 2021, and though I’m not as enamored with it as I am with their previous albums Trench, Blurryface and Vessel (all masterpieces in my not so humble opinion) I do love two of its tracks: “Shy Away” and “Saturday”, both of which appear on this year-end list.

The bouncy and upbeat “Shy Away” was written by Tyler Joseph and produced mainly in isolation in his home studio as a kind of tutorial for his younger brother Jay on all the stages of a creating a song (writing, composing, producing). Tyler also more deeply explored the electric guitar for the song, an instrument he’d barely used prior to recording the duo’s 2020 hit “Level of Concern”. Fun fact: The album’s title is a play on “scaled back and isolated”, reflecting music produced during the pandemic, but is also an anagram of “Clancy is dead”, in reference to the protagonist of their previous album Trench.

7. NOT DEAD YET – Lord Huron

The second of two songs by the enigmatic Lord Huron on this list, “Not Dead Yet” was the lead single from their gorgeous album Long Lost. Not much I can add that I didn’t already elaborate upon in my write-up of “Mine Forever”, except to restate that I love this band’s music. The lyrics seem to speak to a person grappling with their mortality, but knowing they still have something to contribute: “All messed up with nowhere to go, I stare at myself in the mirror alone. It’s hard to make friends when you’re half in the grave, but I ain’t dead yet. And I’ve got something to say.”

8. DRIVERS LICENSE – Olivia Rodrigo

“Drivers License”, the stirring debut single by young Southern California singer-songwriter Olivia Rodrigo (who was not yet 18 when the song was released in January) is the highest-ranking song on my list that was also a mainstream #1 hit. The lead single from her debut album Sour, the song received universal critical acclaim and topped music charts in 25 countries, including the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, where it spent eight consecutive weeks at #1. It’s an achingly beautiful piano ballad with strong bedroom pop, indie pop, and power pop elements. Rodrigo has stated the song was influenced by the music of Taylor Swift, Lorde and Gracie Abrams. The moving lyrics address feelings of desolation and heartache after a breakup, in which Rodrigo laments about finally getting her drivers license, but heartbroken as she drives past her former boyfriend’s house, thinking of what could have been: “And I know we weren’t perfect, but I’ve never felt this way for no one. Oh, and I just can’t imagine how you could be so okay, now that I’ve gone. I guess you didn’t mean what you wrote in that song about me. ‘Cause you said forever, now I drive alone past your street.” The song features a spine-tingling crescendo moment when she plaintively croons “ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh” in the chorus after the words “‘Cause I still fucking love you, babe“. That moment was parodied on an episode of Saturday Night Live.

9. STARGAZING – The Neighbourhood

Ever since the release of their gorgeous monster hit “Sweater Weather” in 2013 (which ranks #4 on my list of 100 Best Songs of the 2010s), Southern California alt-rock band The Neighbourhood have been a favorite of mine. I love their sound, and especially love the beautiful singing voice of the band’s handsome, heavily-tattooed lead singer Jesse Rutherford. I’ve also loved just about every song they’ve ever released, and am happy to see them still flourishing after ten years together. “Stargazing”, their dreamy song of love, hope and optimism, was featured on the deluxe version of their fourth album Chip Chrome & The Mono-Tones, a concept album addressing Rutherford’s doubts about the band’s identity and his personal struggles with social media addiction – a condition to which I can strongly relate. He’s stated that the album was heavily inspired by the story and style of David Bowie’s alter-ego Ziggy Stardust and his band ‘The Spiders from Mars’: “Before we started this album, I asked myself what my opinion was about our music, our band, and our fans, and I realized I didn’t really know—and that scared the shit out of me. I got off the internet for about nine months and stopped ingesting everybody else’s opinion. Bowie was Ziggy, and Ziggy was a character very addicted to cocaine—and I would say that Chip is addicted to the internet, a product of addiction from social media for so many years.”

The sweet video shows the band as their alter-egos Chip Chrome & The Mono-Tones, and features cameos by Lana Del Rey, Blake Griffin, Jaden Smith, Benny Blanco, Devon Carlson, Mac DeMarco and Alexa Demie.

10. DEVIL – Two Feet

When it comes to making music, Two Feet can do no wrong as far as I’m concerned. Like many of his songs, “Devil” features a chest-thumping deep bass groove and smoldering sensual vibe, creating an arresting and indelible mood that hits you right in the feels. He should seriously write film soundtracks, and I believe I read in one of his tweets a while back that he’s doing just that. One of the people commenting on the YouTube video for this song wrote: “This song makes me wanna buy a 1962 Corvette and drive around LA with a cigar in my mouth, blasting this song on the highest volume so everyone sees.” My sentiments are a bit different, but I too want to blast this song so that everyone around me feels it as strongly as I do. The mysterious industrial synths, sharp percussion and Two Feet’s seductive throbbing guitars are fantastic, and I love his sultry, vulnerable vocals as he croons to a lover that, even though she’s a cruel, heartless devil, he just can’t quit her: “Every time that you fuck with me I wanna let you go. But I can’t cause I don’t really know how to let you know. 1, I feel nothing. 2, I got something. 3, I need you near. Your the only one that never fools around here so, you, won’t ever break.”

11. LEAVE THE DOOR OPEN – Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak, Silk Sonic

When you combine the considerable talents and charisma of two great artists like Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak, you’re bound to get musical fireworks. Toss in a throwback early 70s R&B vibe into the mix, and the result is a soulful breath of fresh air in the form of “Leave the Door Open”. With sexy but lighthearted lyrics about setting the stage for an evening of romance, the song was a huge #1 hit that appealed to young and old alike, a rarity in music these days. A match made in heaven, the two joined forces almost as a joke they hatched on the road in 2017, when Anderson .Paak was the opening act for Bruno Mars on the European leg of his 24K Magic World Tour. The two also collaborated with Nile Rodgers and Guy Lawrence for Chic’s album It’s About Time, and also on Paak’s album Ventura.

12. WELCOME TO THE PARTY – Jack Droppers & the Best Intentions

Without question, the most heartwarming song on this list is “Welcome to the Party” by Grand Rapids, Michigan-based indie rock band Jack Droppers & the Best Intentions. One of the singles featured on their third studio album Dad Rock, the song was inspired by the birth of Jack’s first child, and addresses the innocence of a newborn as they’re brought into this world, and how showering them with love from the start will hopefully make them grow up to be a loving person in return. Jack elaborates: “’Welcome to the Party’ invites this child into a world that is sometimes beautiful, sometimes terrible, and often both at the same timeThis song is perhaps the most personal song on the record (it’s the only time I’ve ever had to stop recording vocals cause I was crying big old dad tears). It was written for Naomi before she was born but was also written for you as we eventually step out of this strange season and begin to ask, ‘what does it mean to be alive?’ The song (like the record as a whole) arrives at this question and offers no quick answers but the steady refrain ‘remember you are so loved, so you can always sow love‘.”

It’s a beautiful song from a musical standpoint as well, opening with a stirring four-part vocal harmony backing Jack’s lovely, heartfelt vocals that reminded me of The Killers’ Brandon Flowers. Like Flowers, Jack has an emotive vocal style with a strong vulnerability that’s quite endearing. The melody and lush instrumentals are gorgeous too, with jangly guitars accompanied by strings, mellotron, vibraphone and trumpet. I love it, and to this day I still get a big lump in my throat every time I hear it.

13. WE ARE BETWEEN – Modest Mouse

After a six year semi-hiatus between albums, during which they released three stand alone singles in 2019, beloved and quirky Portland, Oregon-based alt-rock band Modest Mouse returned in 2021 with their seventh studio album The Golden Casket. It’s lead single, the rousing anthem “We Are Between”, was one of the best songs of the year, and went to #1 on the Billboard Alternative Airplay and Adult Alternative charts, as well as my own Weekly Top 30. I love the song’s driving melody, highlighted by a mix of grungy and twangy guitars and front man Isaac Brock’s signature raspy vocals. According to Songfacts, the song was inspired by Brock’s pondering how fortunate we humans are to exist on this planet Earth. He explained to Apple Music: “It’s just about how lucky we are to get to live in an ocean of oxygen, how lucky we are just to even get between a rock and a hard place. Fuck. There’s a limit to feeling good about life on earth, I’m sure, but most of the time, it shouldn’t be there.”

14. TRANSPARENTSOUL – WILLOW featuring Travis Barker

One of the most exciting songs of 2021 is “t r a n s p a r e n t s o u l”, wherein 20-year-old WILLOW (the daughter of actors Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, for those who don’t already know) launches a full-throated tirade against fake and duplicitous people with scathing lyrics and raging guitars, fortified with the pummeling drumbeats of ubiquitous Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker, who seems to be just about everyone’s go-to drummer these days. The bombastic song was the lead single from her fourth solo studio album Lately I Feel Everything, and I couldn’t get enough of it.

15. I DON’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE – The War on Drugs featuring Lucius

One of the finest bands making music today is The War on Drugs. Fronted by Adam Granduciel, their music is gorgeous, their lyrics intelligent, and their songs always deeply compelling. The lead single and title track from their critically acclaimed fifth album I Don’t Live Here Anymore, “I Don’t Live Here Anymore” is a stunning work, with dreamy synths highlighted by shimmery guitars and Granduciel’s Bob Dylan-esque vocals, backed by the sweet harmonies of indie pop band Lucius. In fact, he mentions Dylan in the song’s lyrics that describe someone desperately trying to hold on to a relationship now in tatters: “When I think about the old days, babe, you’re always on my mind. I know it ain’t like I remember. I guess my memories run wild. Like when we went to see Bob Dylan, we danced to Desolation Row. But I don’t live here anymore. But I got no place to go.”

16. VIRUS – Vanity Fear *

Vanity Fear is an outstanding cinematic rock band from Columbus, Georgia consisting of husband and wife Brandon Diaz and Heather Gevonovich, Matt Hardy, Jeff Cobb and Kyle Netherland. Drawing on influences ranging from alt rock and metal to pop and hip hop, their music is dramatic, sweeping and harshly beautiful in ways that call to mind such bands as Evanescence, Pink Floyd, Dream Theater and Linkin Park. Since forming in 2019, the prolific band has released three full albums, an EP and several singles, including their magnificent song “Virus“, which is featured on their third album Optophobia. The song is a gorgeous soundscape of glittery synths, haunting piano keys, skittering percussion and sweeping strings, highlighted by the triple-threat of the band’s three singers Heather, Brandon and Matt, each contributing their own unique vocal textures to the mix. The song’s lyrics speak to the uncertainties of life and feelings of helplessness and vulnerability that have been laid bare by the Covid pandemic: “Everything we thought was right is wrong. Yeah it’s all broken / Everyone’s talking, nobody knows.”

The song was released in October 2020, and ranks #49 on my Top 100 of 2020, but continued climbing my chart into 2021, ultimately reaching #1 in late January. I think the song is a masterpiece, and should have been a huge hit.

17. LEVITATING – Dua Lipa featuring DaBaby

After the massive success of her 2020 dance hit “Don’t Start Now” and album Future Nostalgia, beautiful English singer-songwriter Dua Lipa scored one of the biggest hits of 2021 with “Levitating”. Incorporating the music styles of 1970s disco, 1980s funk and 1990s pop, the song has been described as electro-disco, nu-disco and pop-funk, with dance-pop, power pop and space rock elements. But whatever you want to call it, “Levitating” is pure, unbridled joy from start to finish. With numerous outer space references, the lyrics describe the idea of “levitating” when falling in love: “My love is like a rocket, watch it blast off. And I’m feeling so electric, dance my ass off.” Several versions of the song were released, the most successful being the remix with rapper DaBaby (though later controversy over homophobic comments he made at a July concert caused Billboard to replace their remix with Dua Lipa’s solo album version on the Hot 100 chart). Despite peaking only at #2 on the Hot 100, Billboard named “Levitating” the number one song of 2021.

18. THE BANDIT – Kings of Leon

I’ve been a long-time fan of Nashville foursome Kings of Leon, and have loved every song I’ve ever heard by them. “The Bandit” is no exception, and I was immediately drawn to its exhilirating guitar-driven melody and lead singer Caleb Followill’s beautiful distinctive vocals. Released in January 2021, “The Bandit” was the lead single from their eighth album When You See Yourself, which the band also released in the form of an NFT (non-fungible token), a type of cryptocurrency containing unique assets such as music and art. They were the first band to do so for a new album. Though When You See Yourself is the band’s most personal one yet from a lyrical standpoint, Caleb Followill stated in an interview with British newspaper The Sun that “The Bandit” is entirely fictional. “It’s got an old Western vibe, about an old bounty hunter. And he’s out to catch a criminal. They’ve developed an admiration for one another. One is the yin and the other is the yang. And so they spend their whole lives chasing each other. It is a never-ending game of hide-and-seek and it defines their life.

19. BREATHE – Ships Have Sailed

Los Angeles-based alternative pop-rock duo Ships Have Sailed, comprised of vocalist/guitarist Will Carpenter and drummer Art Andranikyan, are one of my favorite indie acts. They’ve released quite a bit of music over the past eight years or so, and have been on a creative streak since the beginning of 2019. I love many of their songs, several of which I’ve featured on this blog, but one of the best of them is “Breathe”. The first of four singles they released in 2021, it’s a beautiful song of optimism and strength, and a deeply personal one for Will. He was inspired to write it after reflecting back on his own dysfunctional family and difficult upbringing, as well as the incredible resilience people have shown throughout the Covid pandemic. The song urges us to step back and take a deep breath, face our personal demons and traumas with a clear head and the belief that we can – and will – get through this. Musically, it starts off with a gentle, atmospheric feel, but gradually expands into a dramatic anthem with soaring strings and thunderous percussion, accompanied by Will’s beautiful, comforting vocals. The song’s fascinating animated video, created by Ben Panfil, shows characters based on Will and his wife Payal being observed by what appears to be an older version of Will.

20. HEAT WAVES – Glass Animals

I love the music of English band Glass Animals, particularly the distinctive voice of lead singer Dave Bayley. From their third album Dreamland, “Heat Waves” was released in late June 2020, and is their most successful single to date. Although it pretty quickly reached #1 in Australia, it was a sleeper hit in the U.S.. The song was released in late June 2020, but didn’t climb the U.S. charts until early in 2021, eventually peaking at #1 on the Billboard Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart, and later at #7 on the Hot 100 after the song went viral from being featured in numerous Tik Tok videos. The beautiful but melancholy song features a strong, melodic groove overlain with lush, quirky synths. Bayley has stated “Heat Waves” is generally “about loss and longing, and ultimately realising you are unable to save something“, but more specifically, the lyrics are directed at a former romantic partner, telling them that although you still care for them, you can’t give them the kind of love they want or deserve. One of my favorite lines is “I just wish that I could give you that. That look that’s perfectly unsad.”

The music video, directed by Colin Read, shows Bayley singing the song as he walks through the streets of East London pulling a wagon stacked with several TVs, and being filmed by his neighbours on their mobile phones during the Covid lockdown. He eventually arrives at a dark theater, where he sets up the TVs on a stage, which then display his bandmates playing their instruments while he finishes singing the song to an empty house. Bayley describes the video as “a love letter to live music and the culture and togetherness surrounding it.”

21. FLATLINE – Two Feet

“Flatline” was one of the songs featured on Two Feet’s outstanding concept album Max Maco is Dead Right?, and although he never officially released it as a single, he did release a terrific video for it in which he portrays Max Maco, his alter-ego for the album. I love the song so much, it became one of my favorites of 2021, and went all the way to #1 on my Weekly Top 30. The dangerously sexy song pays homage to his love for Latin culture with a mesmerizing Latin-esque melody, intense, bluesy guitar notes and vocals so fucking sensuous they raise the hairs on the back of my neck. The lyrics speak to a carnal desire so intense, he feels like he may “flatline”, a medical term indicating a person no longer having a pulse or heartbeat – in other words, dead.

22. SLEEP – The Frontier

One of my favorite indie artists is The Frontier, the music project and brainchild of singer-songwriter, guitarist and producer Jake Mimikos. Based in Fairfax County, Virginia, Jake is a talented, gracious and funny guy who I’ve grown quite fond of, both as an artist and human. Since 2015, the prolific artist has released numerous strong singles and EPs, and one of his very best is his beautiful song “Sleep”. Jake’s an excellent guitarist, and here his layered strummed and chiming guitars are so stunning, they take my breath away. He’s also quite adept at programming synths and keyboards to create lush, sparkling soundscapes, as well as layering his lovely, heartfelt vocals into a rich tapestry of harmonies. On “Sleep”, he plaintively sings of the pain and unease he feels over not knowing where he stands with another, and yearning for a little sleep to momentarily forget his troubles.

23. SATURDAY – twenty øne piløts

The second single from twenty øne piløts’ sixth album Scaled And Icy, “Saturday” is more pop-oriented than a lot of their previous music, but it’s still a sweet tune with an irresistible dance groove. I love it, and it’s their 10th song to reach #1 on my Weekly Top 30. The song is basically about forgetting one’s troubles and responsibilities when the weekend arrives, and just having fun. The song’s bridge includes an audio clip of a phone call between twenty øne piløts front man Tyler Joseph and his wife Jenna, where she encourages him to keep working on the track.

24. NEVER LOOKED BACK – The Zangwills

One of my greatest finds of 2021 was British indie rock band The Zangwills, whose exciting and melodic music is outstanding, with a maturity of songwriting and musicianship as fine as many top big-name bands around today. Though they’ve been releasing music since late 2017, I wasn’t familiar with them until their PR rep reached out to me about their single “Never Looked Back“, which I loved at first listen. The song is breathtaking, highlighted by a dramatic pulsating beat overlain with gorgeous cinematic keyboards and thunderous percussion, and punctuated throughout by piercing trill-like flourishes that raise goosebumps. Lead singer Jake Vickers’ beautiful vocals are equal parts captivating and chilling, backed by glorious soaring choruses. He passionately laments about a relationship that’s deteriorated to the point that there’s no going back, with one of my favorite lyrics of the year: “And now I see in ways I’ve never seen before. So I took that vision by the waist and I danced it to the door. And I never looked back.

25. LIKE I USED TO – Sharon Van Etten & Angel Olsen

The collaborative single “Like I Used To” by American singer-songwriters Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen is one of the most hauntingly beautiful songs on this entire list. The song was written by Van Etten, who approached Olsen about doing a duet with her. In their press release for the song, Olsen stated “I’ve met with Sharon here and there throughout the years and have always felt too shy to ask her what she’s been up to or working on. The song reminded me immediately of getting back to where I started, before music was expected of me, or much was expected of me, a time that remains pure and real in my heart.” The song has a heartland rock feel, with tinkling piano keys, bold guitars and cinematic orchestration, highlighted by enchanting glockenspiel in the dramatic choruses. The combination of two powerhouse vocalists like Van Etten and Olsen was a winning formula, but shockingly, the song was not a big hit, and only peaked at #26 on the Billboard Adult Alternative Chart. It peaked at #3 on my Weekly Top 30, held back by “Stargazing” and “Devil”.

26. MISSING PIECE – Vance Joy

Though I’ve really liked Australian singer-songwriter Vance Joy ever since hearing his wonderful 2014 hit “Riptide”, it took a while for his song “Missing Piece” to grow on me. But it’s such a sweet and catchy love song, it’s hard not to like it, and I eventually grew to love it. The simple and straightforward lyrics are about missing a loved one who makes you feel complete when you’re together, which Joy sings with such honest conviction that we believe him, not to mention the fact that he’s as charming as a prince. The sweet video shows him making sandwiches for himself and his wife or girlfriend, then forgetting his when he leaves to go do a show. She then sets off on foot to take his sandwich to him, finally reaching him, whereupon they hug and split the sandwich.

27. BEGGIN’ – Måneskin

One of the hottest acts to burst onto the global music scene in 2021 has been Italian rock band Måneskin. Though the beautiful foursome have been around since 2016, it was their win this past May of the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest for their song “ZITTI E BUONI” that catapulted the exciting and sexy band into superstardom. That song entered my Weekly Top 30 in mid-June, and as I write this at the end of 2021, they’ve remained on my chart every single week since then with a run of singles – “ZITTI E BUONI”, “I WANNA BE YOUR SLAVE” and “Beggin’”. “Beggin’”, their fiery remake of the 1967 Four Seasons song, has become their biggest hit in the U.S., spending 11 consecutive weeks at #1 on the Billboard Alternative Airplay chart, as well as reaching #1 on the Rock Airplay chart. It’s also been a huge hit throughout Europe, topping the charts in Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Lithuania, Netherlands, Portugal and Switzerland. “Beggin’” was a top 20 hit for the Four Seasons, and was reimagined 40 years later by Norwegian hip-hop duo Madcon, who had a #1 hit with it in several European countries.

28. DIRTY – grandson

grandson is the music project and alter-ego of quirky-voiced Canadian-American singer-songwriter Jordan Edward Benjamin. Released in September 2020 on the day after National Voter Registration Day, “Dirty” is a call to arms for the people who are not doing anything at all to help change what might be happening in the country. grandson remarked to Apple Music “My songs in the past that served as a call to action have had much more of a sense of urgency, like, ‘Wake the fuck up, this is happening right now, and if you don’t do something about it, then you’re going to have to answer for your apathy.’ But with ‘Dirty,’ I was looking to recontextualize that story for somebody who might not resonate with [my past approach]. I had gone to Nashville to write, and I got to work with songwriters who encouraged me to draw inspiration from artists that I had liked growing up, but hadn’t found room for in the grandson project yet. So this is a bit of a nod to Amy Winehouse and Outkast—a sort of tongue-in-cheek retro production juxtaposed with very contemporary lyrics.” The third single from his debut album Death of an Optimist, “Dirty” is his most successful single thus far, peaking at #10 on the Billboard Alternative Airplay chart in early 2021. It peaked at #2 on my Weekly Top 30.

29. ENEMY MINE – Roadkeeper

Since forming in 2018, Texas alt-rock quartet Roadkeeper have released a string of exceptional singles, all of which I’ve loved, and several of which I’ve featured on this blog. Fronted by singer-songwriter & producer John Hetherington, Roadkeeper is completely independent and self-produced, doing their recording, producing and mixing in John’s studio, and releasing their songs on their own label Equal Temperament. Blending dreamy shoegaze and dramatic psychedelic rock with complex melodic structures, they craft lush soundscapes that are a perfect backdrop for their intelligent, socially conscious, sometimes political, and always topically relevant lyrics that give us something to think about. “Enemy Mine” is the first of two singles by them on this list, and addresses the “far right radicalization of vulnerable young people in the U.S. by white nationalist professional pundits who are fed viewers and readers by algorithms on social media and YouTube. ‘Enemy Mine’ is about the dissonance between the perceived realities of radical white supremacists and that of everyone else.”

The track opens with ominous cinematic synths that build for nearly a minute, then eventually erupts into an electrifying crescendo of wailing guitars, screaming synths and explosive percussion in the bridge, continuing through to the end of the track for a powerful climax to a gorgeous rock song. John’s striking falsetto vocals are impactful throughout. The dramatic video, produced by Robert Woodward, shows digitally-altered footage of recent political protests juxtaposed with old footage of 50’s films, atomic blasts, space exploration and scenes of the band performing the song.

30. EASY ON ME – Adele

Adele needs no introduction, and is one of the most successful music artists on the planet, with record sales exceeding 120 million. With her powerful and distinctive mezzo-soprano voice, she’s my favorite female vocalist, and her magnificent song “Rolling in the Deep” was my #1 song of the 2010s. She returned in October with “Easy on Me” her first new music in five years, following the release of her previous album 25. Like with 25 and it’s lead single “Hello”, which was released in October 2015, a month ahead of the album, “Easy On Me” was also released in October, a month ahead of her long-awaited fourth album 30. The song is a heartfelt piano ballad in which Adele addresses her nine-year-old son, explaining to him her divorce from his father and pleading with him to go ‘easy’ on her by trying to understand the pain she’s gone through herself. This is beautifully expressed in the lyrics “You can’t deny how hard I have tried. I changed who I was to put you both first. But now I give up. I had good intentions and the highest hopes. But I know right now it probably doesn’t even show. Go easy on me baby. I was still a child. I didn’t get the chance to feel the world around me. I had no time to choose what I chose to do. So go easy on me.”

31. CAN WE GO BACK – The Frontier
32. WRECKED – Imagine Dragons
33. METRONOME – Polarizer
34. 1ST TIME – Bakar
35. COLD – Chris Stapleton
37. FIRE FOR YOU – Cannons *
38. THE ANGEL OF 8TH AVE. – Gang of Youths
39. MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name) – Lil Nas X
40. MY EX’S BEST FRIEND – Machine Gun Kelly with blackbear
41. INTO THE BLUE – The Joy Formidable
42. TAKE THE L – Roadkeeper
43. ALL ABOUT YOU – The Knocks featuring Foster the People
46. ROSE HIPS – Dawning
47. LET DOWN – Michigander
48. BED HEAD – Manchester Orchestra
49. FOLLOW YOU – Imagine Dragons
50. MARTYR – Oli Barton & the Movement
51. BAD DREAM – Cannons
52. THINK I’M CRAZY – Two Feet *
53. LOVE LOVE LOVE – My Morning Jacket
54. TROUBLE’S COMING – Royal Blood
55. SKIN AND BONES – Cage the Elephant
56. THEREFORE I AM – Billie Eilish
57. SAVE YOUR TEARS – The Weeknd
58. I NEED YOU – Jon Batiste
59. BE A WOMAN – DeLaurentis
60. LAST TRAIN HOME – John Mayer
61. SINNER – Young Decades
62. GOOD FRIEND – dwi
64. WHAT YOU SAY – Cold War Kids
65. LOVE IN OCTOBER – Ships Have Sailed
66. SURVIVOR – Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats
67. JUSTIFIED – Kacey Musgraves
68. BREAK MY BABY – Kaleo
70. ZITTI E BUONI – Måneskin
71. SOFIA – Clairo
72. ALL TOO WELL (10 Minute Version) – Taylor Swift
76. SHAME SHAME – Foo Fighters
77. BETTER – Michigander
79. ESTELLA – Kenny Hoopla featuring Travis Barker
80. YOUR POWER – Billie Eilish
81. WAITING ON A WAR – Foo Fighters
83. HYPOTHETICALS – Lake Street Dive
85. TYPHOONS – Royal Blood
86. BITTER TASTE – Billy Idol
87. SOLAR POWER – Lorde
88. COME FIND ME BACK – Philip Morgan Lewis
90. STARTS WITH YOU – Shimmer Johnson
91. NOTHING2 – Strange Souvenirs
92. BLACK DAYS – Amongst Liars
93. TALK TO ME – Bealby Point
94. BROKEN PEOPLE – almost monday
95. TIME TRAVELER – Matt Jaffe
96. COLORADO – Milky Chance
97. STICKY – The Maine
98. PATCHWERK – Sub Urban with Two Feet
100. I LIKE IT WEIRD – Express Office Portico

Top 100 Songs of 2020

It goes without saying that 2020 turned out to be a year for the record books on so many levels. It started out well enough, but quickly went to hell beginning in March as the Covid-19 virus spread throughout the world, causing a global pandemic that resulted in a shut down of many countries’ economies, and nearly 1.8 million deaths as I write this at the end of the year. One of the hardest-hit sectors has been the music industry, particularly live music, which in these days of unlimited streaming, most musicians count on to make a living and promote their music. On the plus side – if there was one – many musicians had more time to write and record new music, blessing us with some really stellar works. The Rolling Stones used the lockdown to put out their previously-written but timely “Living in a Ghost Town”, their first new single in four years, while AC/DC thrilled fans with their surprise release of Power Up, their first new album in six years. The Pretenders, Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney also released new albums.

Like with every year, in 2020 we had to say goodbye to far too many legendary musicians – something that seems to be happening with greater frequency as music icons we grew up with pass away primarily due to having reached old age. Some of the notable passings included Bill Withers, Little Richard, Peter Green, Eddie Van Halen, Spencer Davis, Neil Peart, Kenny Rogers, Helen Reddy, Bonnie Pointer, Mac Davis, Ennio Morricone, Johnny Nash, Jerry Jeff Walker and Chad Stuart (of Chad & Jeremy). Sadly, we also lost John Prine, Charley Pride and Trini Lopez due to complications from Covid-19.

As a music blogger, I receive a lot of submissions from artists, PR reps and labels wanting me to review their music. I also follow a large number of music blogs, where I learn about music, and as a result, end up listening to a tremendous amount of new music over the course of a year. That said, I know I’ve heard only a fraction of all the singles and albums released in 2020. Some of the standout albums I had the pleasure of hearing were Taylor Swift’s Folklore, Run the Jewels’ RTJ4, Fiona Apple’s Fetch the Bolt Cutters, The Killers’ Imploding the Mirage, Tame Impala’s Slow Rush, Fontaines D.C.’s A Hero’s Death, Fleet Foxes’ Shore, Two Feet’s Pink, Haim’s Women in Music Pt. III, Bryde’s The Volume of Things, Kidsmoke’s A Vision in the Dark, Surrija’s brilliant eponymous album Surrija, and MISSIO’s Can You Feel the Sun. (The albums I reviewed are highlighted in blue, and if you click on those titles it will take you to my review.)

One of my favorite music genres is Dream Pop & Rock, which seems to be undergoing a major surge in recent years. The genre was well-represented in 2020 by numerous stellar songs, including “Are You Bored Yet?” by Wallows ft. Clairo, “Can I Call You Tonight?” by Dayglow, “White Lies & Palm Trees” by The Lovepools, “Lost in Yesterday” and “Is It True” by Tame Impala, “Can I Believe You” by Fleet Foxes, “Downs” by Roadkeeper, “Fire For You” by Cannons, and the entire aforementioned album by Kidsmoke. 

Obviously, my list of the Top 100 Songs of 2020 includes only songs I know. I’m certain there are likely other great ones that should be on this list, except that I’ve never heard them. Still, among the thousands of songs I did hear in 2020, there were many outstanding ones, and it frustrates me to have to cull my favorites down to only 100, omitting scores of tracks I really like and wanted to include. Furthermore, a song at #40 isn’t necessarily better than one at #60, but I had to rank them somehow.

Our music tastes are very subjective, so it’s guaranteed that not a single person reading this will agree with my song choices or their rankings. My list contains my favorite songs of the year, not necessarily songs that were ‘popular’ or influential. I’m now late middle-aged, so my song picks are going to reflect that, though I do still have my guilty pleasures.

Many bloggers and critics list songs in the year they were released, while Billboard and other charts generally place them in the year they were ‘hits,’ which is what I prefer. Many of the songs on this list were released in 2020, however, a number of them were released in 2019. Absofacto’s “Dissolve” was originally released in 2015, but didn’t chart until 2019. Because there are always a few songs that overlap from one year to the next, like Billboard, I include those songs on lists for both years if they spent enough time on the charts in each year. I always wrestle with how to rank them, as well as whether to list them in only one year or two. For example, Two Feet’s “You?” was #1 during the final week of 2019, and the first four weeks of 2020, so it would seem only fair to include it on the lists for both years. That song ranked #18 on my Top 100 of 2019, and ranks #3 on this year’s list. I suppose that at the end of the day it’s all silliness, but this is the way I choose to do it. The songs in this Top 100 that also appeared in my Top 100 Songs of 2019 are indicated with an asterisk *.

For previous years’ Top 100 lists, I wrote little pieces for each of the top 20 songs, as well as embedded their YouTube videos, then simply listed the remaining 80. That always left me feeling a little bad for those 80 songs, as it made them seem like afterthoughts, which was certainly not the case. For this year’s list, partly out of fairness, and partly to save myself huge amounts of time, effort and stress, I’ve decided to forego with the individual descriptions and videos, and simply list the entire 100 songs.

As always, I’ve created a Spotify playlist for this list, which is included at the end of the post. Hopefully you’ll find some of your own personal favorites on it. Let me know what songs were your favorites of 2020.

  1. BLINDING LIGHTS – The Weeknd
  2. LEVEL OF CONCERN – twenty øne piløts
  3. YOU? – Two Feet *
  4. CAUTION – The Killers
  5. HALLUCINOGENICS – Matt Maeson
  6. FEEL YOU – My Morning Jacket
  7. EVERYTHING I WANTED – Billie Eilish
  8. HELL N BACK – Bakar
  9. DON’T START NOW – Dua Lipa
  10. MARIA – Two Feet
  11. BLACK & WHITE LOVE – Beating Hearts Club
  12. MIGHT BE RIGHT – White Reaper *
  13. ARE YOU BORED YET? – Wallows featuring Clairo
  14. IS IT TRUE – Tame Impala
  15. DOWNS – Roadkeeper
  17. CAN I CALL YOU TONIGHT? – Dayglow
  18. WHITE LIES & PALM TREES – The Lovepools *
  19. MY OWN SOUL’S WARNING – The Killers
  20. IF NOT FOR THE FIRE – The Million Reasons
  21. IT’S YOU – The Frontier
  22. LOST IN YESTERDAY – Tame Impala
  23. MARIPOSA – Peach Tree Rascals
  24. CAN I BELIEVE YOU – Fleet Foxes
  25. MONSTERS – All Time Low featuring blackbear
  26. BLOODY VALENTINE – Machine Gun Kelly
  27. NOVOCAINE – The Unlikely Candidates *
  28. BLACK MADONNA – Cage the Elephant
  29. USED TO LIKE – Neon Trees
  30. WARS – Of Monsters and Men
  31. CARDIGAN – Taylor Swift
  32. ORPHANS – Coldplay
  33. LEMON DROP – Absofacto
  35. DISSOLVE – Absofacto *
  36. HONEYBEE – The Head and the Heart
  37. ADORE YOU – Harry Styles
  38. YOUR LOVE (DÉJÀ VU) – Glass Animals
  39. VISITOR – Of Monsters and Men
  40. MOOD – 24kGoldn featuring iann dior
  41. DELETER – Grouplove
  42. PSYCH FILM – Strangely Alright
  43. SOMEONE ELSE – Rezz & Grabbitz
  44. A HERO’S DEATH – Fontaines D.C.
  46. BAD DECISIONS – The Strokes
  47. LOVE YOU FOR A LONG TIME – Maggie Rogers
  48. THE RUNNER – Foals
  49. VIRUS – Vanity Fear
  50. REWARD – Paul Iwan *
  51. THINK I’M CRAZY – Two Feet
  52. SHINE A LITTLE LIGHT – Black Keys
  53. 2ALL – Catfish and the Bottlemen
  54. VAN HORN – Saint Motel
  55. LIFE IN THE CITY – The Lumineers
  56. IDENTICAL – Phoenix
  57. GIANTS – Dermot Kennedy
  58. FIRE – Black Pumas
  59. LAY YOUR HEAD ON ME – Major Lazer featuring Marcus Mumford & Diplo
  60. OH YEAH! – Green Day
  62. COME & GO – Juice WRLD & Marshmello
  63. BLIND LEADING THE BLIND – Mumford & Sons
  65. HERO – Michael Kiwanuka
  66. PARADISE – Creeper
  67. WATERMELON SUGAR – Harry Styles
  68. UNCHAINED – Devon Gilfillian
  69. EXPECTATIONS – Katie Pruitt
  70. FIRE FOR YOU – Cannons
  71. HEAVEN IS HEART – Jaded Jane
  72. TEXAS SUN – Khruangbin featuring Leon Bridges
  73. OVER AND OVER – Amongst Liars
  74. HONEY – King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard
  75. LIVING IN A GHOST TOWN – The Rolling Stones
  76. HOW WE LIVE – Mandalan featuring Cadence XYZ
  77. MY FUTURE – Billie Eilish
  78. STRANGERS – Mt. Joy
  79. NOT OK! – Chaz Cardigan
  81. LETTER TO YOU – Bruce Springsteen
  82. HOLD ON – Noah Reid
  83. BE AFRAID – Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
  84. FAULT LINES – Callum Pitt
  86. ME & YOU TOGETHER SONG – The 1975
  87. HALF YOUR AGE – Joywave
  89. COLORS – Black Pumas
  90. THE LET GO – Elle King
  92. REAL LONG TIME – White Reaper
  93. NOTHING LOVE – Surrija, Albert Chiang, Christine Tavolacci & Matt Chamberlain
  94. MAN ON THE MOON – The Common View
  95. ALONE – The Rare Occasions
  96. RAINBOW RECORDS – Oceanography
  97. BURN THE VISION – Amongst Liars
  98. ZEN – X Ambassadors, K.Flay & grandson
  99. ROSE TINTED EYES – Seprona
  100. SKIN – The Ocean Beneath & Fran Minney

100 Best Songs of the 2010s – #91: “Superposition” by Young the Giant

The song at #91 on my list of 100 Best Songs of the 2010s is “Superposition” by Southern California alt-rock band Young the Giant. Their music has an instantly recognizable sound unlike no other, thanks in large part to their brilliant musicianship and front man Sameer Gadhia’s distinctive and arresting vocals. Their songs are melodic and often stunning rock compositions, with intelligent lyrics and lush instrumentation. Released in August 2018, “Superposition” was the second single from their fourth studio album Mirror Master, and is one of their most beautiful songs. Starting with a deep bass line and a rhythmic toe-tapping drumbeat as a foundation, the band layers moody synths, delicate piano keys and an enchanting ukelele riff to create a gorgeous backdrop for Gadhia’s captivating vocals, which are in turn backed by lovely vocal harmonies.

The term ‘superposition’ is used in physics to describe how things or items in nature overlap or interact. On their Twitter page, Young the Giant stated that the song is generally “about quantum physics that has defied odds.” For the song, they use the term to describe the strong pull or connection we feel to those we love, and how fate and inexplicable events can bring us together: “In any universe you are my dark star / I want you to want me / Why don’t we rely on chemistry / Why don’t we collide the spaces that divide us.

I had the pleasure of seeing them live at The Forum in Los Angeles in August 2019, in a double bill with Fitz & the Tantrums. (You can read my review of that concert here.)

100 Best Songs of the 2010s – #92: “The Sound of Silence” by Disturbed

The song at #92 on my list of 100 Best Songs of the 2010s is “The Sound of Silence” by heavy metal band Disturbed. It’s hard to believe anyone could do a respectable cover of this iconic Simon & Garfunkel song, but David Draiman and his band Disturbed accomplished the feat and then some. Wow, what a magnificent and emotionally raw interpretation it is! Some people I know hated it for reasons unfathomable to me, but I love it.

After seeing the band perform the song on the late-night talk show Conan, Paul Simon sent Draiman an email praising his performance, writing “Really powerful performance on Conan the other day. First time I’d seen you do it live. Nice. Thanks.” Draiman responded, “Mr. Simon, I am honored beyond words. We only hoped to pay homage and honor to the brilliance of one of the greatest songwriters of all time. Your compliment means the world to me/us and we are eternally grateful.” (Loudwire) That live performance on Conan is the most watched YouTube video ever from the show.

100 Best Songs of the 2010s – #93: “Riptide” by Vance Joy

The song at #93 on my list of 100 Best Songs of the 2010s is the delightfully upbeat “Riptide” by Australian indie folk-rock singer-songwriter Vance Joy (born James Gabriel Keogh). With his ukelele as the primary instrument, he adds piano, guitar and percussion, and combines them with with a breezy melody and lovely backing harmonies to create an incredibly pleasing track. His heartfelt vocals convey an endearing vulnerability as he sings the lyrics about being besotted with a girl. “I love you when you’re singing that song, and I’ve got a lump in my throat ’cause you’re gonna sing the words wrong.

“Riptide” was first released as a track in 2013 on his debut EP God Loves You When You’re Dancing, and is also featured on his 2014 debut studio album Dream Your Life Away.  The single has sold over 7 million copies (both physical copy and digital download) worldwide, and holds the record for the most weeks in the top 100 of the ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Assn.) Singles Chart – 120 consecutive weeks. It also spent several wees at #1 on the Billboard Alternative Chart.

Here’s the official video for the song:

And here’s a nice acoustic performance by Joy:

100 Best Songs of the 2010s – #94: “Dreams” by Beck

The song at #94 on my list of 100 Best Songs of the 2010s is “Dreams” by Beck. Born Bek David Campbell in Los Angeles in 1970, the eternally youthful singer-songwriter, musician and producer has been making great music ever since the unexpected success of his breakout single “Loser” in 1994. Over his long, innovative and prolific career, he’s recorded and released an astonishing 14 studio albums, continually experimenting with an eclectic myriad of genres including alternative rock, folk, country, hip hop, soul, funk and electronic.

“Dreams” was released in June 2015, a few months after his Album of the Year Grammy win for Morning Phase. Beck stated he wanted to make a record that “would be good to play live“, and did he ever! The song is exhilarating, with a fantastic guitar-driven groove, cool psychedelic synths and the kind of strong thumping drum beat that I adore. The song was ultimately included on his 2017 album Colors.

100 Best Songs of the 2010s – #95: “My Type” by Saint Motel

The song at #95 on my list of 100 Best Songs of the 2010s is “My Type” by Los Angeles-based Saint Motel. I loved this song the moment it first hit my eardrums back in late 2014, and it turned me into a big fan of the band. Their rousing, sophisticated sound is a nod to the brassy exuberance of the Big Band era, but delivered with a fresh, contemporary indie pop approach. “My Type” is a deliriously catchy song with a powerful driving dance beat and an exuberant horn-driven hook that make for a joyful and fun listen. It also has one of the best tongue-in-cheek lyrics ever: “You’re know you’re just my type. Oh, you’ve got a pulse and you are breathing.”

Band front man A.J. Jackson, who has a terrific singing voice, produced and directed the stylish video for the track, which was filmed in a cool Mid-Century Modern house in L.A.

100 Best Songs of the 2010s – #96: “Wander” by Vox Eagle feat. Pierre Fontaine

The song at #96 on my list of 100 Best Songs of the 2010s is “Wander” by Vox Eagle, featuring rap vocals by Pierre Fontaine. Vox Eagle is the music project of Australian-born and now Colorado-based singer-songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist Andy Crosby. One of the tracks from his outstanding 2018 album TriumAvium, “Wander” is an enchanting mashup of melodic dream rock and hip hop, and when those magical keyboard and string synths wash over us like a shower of tiny diamonds, it’s absolute bliss. Eventually, a trip hop beat ensues as Andy freestyles about how communication has broken down in his relationship, his vocals going from sultry to falsetto as he sings: “We don’t talk no more, baby girl, we just wander.” Guest vocalist Pierre Fontaine’s smooth rap vocals take over on the last third of the track, adding another wonderful textural element to this stunning track. I love this song so much I’ve probably listened to it five hundred times.