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
  16. HOW WILL I REST IN PEACE IF I’M BURIED BY A HIGHWAY?// – Kenny Hoopla
  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
  34. THE BEST – AWOLNATION
  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.
  45. DANCE OF THE CLAIRVOYANTS – Pearl Jam
  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
  61. UNEVENTFUL DAYS – Beck
  62. COME & GO – Juice WRLD & Marshmello
  63. BLIND LEADING THE BLIND – Mumford & Sons
  64. HOODIE UP – MISSIO
  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
  80. MARINERS APARTMENT COMPLEX – Lana Del Rey
  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
  85. LET’S FALL IN LOVE FOR THE NIGHT – FINNEAS
  86. ME & YOU TOGETHER SONG – The 1975
  87. HALF YOUR AGE – Joywave
  88. SERAFINA – BAMBARA
  89. COLORS – Black Pumas
  90. THE LET GO – Elle King
  91. SWIMMING CLOSER – HAZY
  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. DO YOU FEEL THAT? – Ronnie the Bear
  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