CTRL Best Songs of 2020

2020 began on a hopeful note! Coachella unveiled their massive lineup with the return of the likes of Rage Against The Machine and Frank Ocean. Mac Miller provided some much needed “Good News” with a ray of sunshine that looked down upon us. But then Future and Drake dropped “Life is Good”, and things started not to look so good. 

In this chaotic year, music was utilized as an escapism, with songs that provided brief moments of defining emotions that were held in for too long. Whether you were blasting these tunes in your home, out in protests, during post-Election results, or imagining the clubs that such hits needed, these are the Best Songs of 2020:

50. City Girls: “Jobs”

It’s City Girls world and we’re just living in it! Boosting the female rap world with the lifestyle that seems a bit repetitive in the realm of the resurgence of women rappers in the mainstream, JT and Yung Miami sound the most authentic about the life that they rap about. There’s “Hot Girls”, and “Icy Girls”, but there’s no one like the City Girls”. 

49. Travis Scott feat. Future, Young Thug, and M.I.A: “Franchise” (Remix)

After a polarizing initial reaction, Travis Scott had a trick up his sleeve and that was Future! There’s really nothing you can’t love about “Franchise”, sure it was a cash grab to boost his McDonalds grab, but Travis Scott makes magic with both Future and Young Thug. Eat the rich! 

48. Still Woozy: “Window”

Woozy combines comforting piano keys, a head-bopping bassline, and smooth vocals as he invites listeners to live in his daydream. The song is an escapism, as Still Woozy directs a scene with the lyrics that provide vivid flashbacks to a reality that seems awfully familiar. 

47. Ariana Grande: “Positions”

Flawlessly approaching a massive production, Ariana Grande crafts a perfect blend of pop and r&b for a euphoric anthem that is so good, that it becomes a guilty pleasure that you just can’t stop listening to. 

46. Jamie xx: “Idontknow”

Merging everything all at once, at first sounds like a crash collision of ideas, one that sounds like an obvious attempt to experiment for the sake of experimenting. But it’s just that, an aggressive hardcore dance track.

45. Jack Harlow: “Whats Poppin”

Jack Harlow doesn’t need to impress you with his lyrical ability, but let’s his confidence, and his effortless flow do all the talking. Such is apparent on his breakthrough hit, Whats Poppin. Jack is charismatic, easy to listen, and most importantly, enjoyable.

 

44. Boldly James: “Surf & Turf”

Boldly James and Vince Staples return on The Alchemist produced number, Surf & Turf. Promoting the track by tweeting “Sometimes you just gotta bring out the bars to see if you still got it ya know”, Vince reassured fans that they were in for a treat, and he delivered. Exchanging bold bars from the get go Boldy James is no holds barred as he then taps Vince Staples in to match his energy.

43. Joji: “Run”

On the song, the singer songwriter displays an unprecedented amount of maturity that leaves listeners in awe. Through layering of breathy vocals and psychedelic production, Run is a haunting series of events in just under 4 minutes.

42. Tom Misch & Yussef Dayes: “What Kinda Music”

The genius masterminds behind the new school wave of a soulful, electronic, and jazzy fusion have joined forces for a head inducing musical experience.

41. Oneohtrix Point Never: “No Nightmares”

Hauntingly cinematic, OPN demonstrates the emotionally challenging power of heartbreak and the impact it lasts. 

40. Gorillaz: “Momentary Bliss”

Formulated upon an unprecedented array of unpredictability, the song is a sneak attack of a bright colorful punk moment.

39. The Neighbourhood: “Cherry Flavoured”

Quirky and self-aware, Jesse Rutherford is all grown up!

 

38. Meduza & Dermot Kennedy: "Paradise"

With the signature Meduza touch, Dermot matches the aggressiveness with his powerhouse vocal abilities. 

 


37. Slowthai: “Feel Away”

Slowthai tones it down a notch as he pays tribute to his brother on this striking and dynamic collaboration with James Blake and Mount Kimbie. 

36. Migos & YoungBoy Never Broke Again: “Need It”

In a year that many people have written them off, the Migos prove that they still got it. NBA YoungBoy and Offset bounce back and forth, meanwhile Takeoff and Quavo trade bars on this absolute banger!

35. The 1975: “If You’re Too Shy Let Me Know”

Continuing to showcase their versatility with their approach to rock music, The 1975 captures a nostalgic sound from the past to re-dream angsty pop rock music.

34. Denzel Curry and Kenny Beats: “DIET_”

Unleashing fury on the rap game, the duo provided hit after hit on ‘UNLOCKED’, an album that was too intense to catch a breather. Standout DIET_,ultimately became the best showcase of what the two had to offer.

33. Buju Banton: “Cherry Pie”

One of the highlights in the year of music was not only the return of The Neptunes, but also Buju Banton! This island-inspired dance number combines the best of both worlds. 

32. Rosalía & Travis Scott: “TKN”

“TKN” is a light, refreshing, but yet unique single for both artists. Meshing two drastically different styles together, both acts complement one another, avoiding butting heads as they did prior on “Highest In The Room”.

31. Yves Tumor: “Gospel For A New Century”

This nostalgic, industrial driven power ballad evokes an intense moment of pure awe. 

30. Glass Animals: “Your Love (Deja Vu)”

The song, Your Love (Deja Vu) is a chaotic love story that is toxic yet you just can’t escape. Maintaining with their signature sonic sound, Glass Animals provide intimacy in all of a relationships problematic moments.

29. Guapdad 4000 & Denzel Curry: “Lil Scammer That Could”

Built around a title that puts a twist on a much more mature children’s lullaby, Guapdad plays the role of Dr. Seuss as he spins the classic Little Engine That Could.  With no time to breathe, he spits with envy as he’s ruthless and doesn’t hold back.

28. Yellow Days: “Treat You Right”

An upbeat and nostalgic approach, Yellow Days revives the groove with hints of R&B. 

27. JPEGMAFIA: “BALD!”

Turning it down a notch yet remaining as lively as ever, JPEG creates an ethereal experience that is in the realm of being more traditional that doesn’t challenge the status quo but doesn’t really have to. Requiring all of the right ingredients for the signature JPEG recipe, "BALD" checks out every box on the checklist. It’s quirky and humorous in terms of lyricism, while charismatic and out-going in terms of delivery.

26. SZA: “Good Days”

Sneaking her way into the list, SZA arrives with arguably her best single to date! In a trance, the song depicts youth culture in 5 minutes that answers the questions of the crowded surroundings that keeps us claustrophobic in our headspace. 

25. Don Toliver: “After Party”

A Tik-Tok viral hit, “After Party” showcases Don’s impeccable energy! Sure critiques say that it sounds like he’s trying to replicate what made his Travis Scott feature on “Wake Up” so special, but this hit proves he’s the next golden boy from Houston.

24. Thundercat: “Funny Thing”

Thundercat was one of the lucky ones in 2020, as he also somehow, miraculously enough, scored a viral hit, all thanks to TikTok of course! The greatness behind “Funny Thing” is his drunk-like approach, over this fast-paced, bass stomping mega-hit!

23. Popcaan: “Twist & Turn”

Is it 2016 all over again? Popcaan and Drake reunite along with PARTYNEXTDOOR for “Controlla” PT. 2 for a Summer anthem that we were robbed from. 

22. Nick Hakim: “QADIR”

In seven minutes, Nick Hakim bears his overwhelming pain over the sudden loss of one of his closest friends. It’s an emotional journey that prioritizes the importance of sharing care.

21. Koffee: “Lockdown”

Yes, we lived and are currently still living through a pandemic, and no, we don’t need any musicians to remind us with their failed attempts at quarantine inspired music. Koffee, unlike the plethora of bedroom pop artists who used quarantine as a poor excuse to release more uninspired music, did the opposite of releasing a sad-hit to remind everyone that the world is ending. Instead, she releases an upbeat, and celebratory anthem to requires listeners to live in the moment and be hopeful of getting through these challenging times and celebrating life no matter how tough it can be. 

20. Drake: “Chicago Freestyle”

Flipping a sample of Eminem’s “Superman”, The Canadian rapper nails an unexpected treat that sounds bogus on paper, but somehow works. Completed with the sudden escape of the haunting vocals of Giveon who upon first listen is somewhat identical to a similar vocal delivery by Sampha, “Chicago Freestyle” is a mindboggling listen, even when it wasn’t intended to be.

19. Mustafa: “Air Forces”

All eyes are on Mustafa, as he is undeniably 2021’s artist to watch! “Air Forces” depicts the power of duality, as it questions the intentions of our very own presence in this world. Co-produced by Frank Dukes and Jamie xx, the song quietly makes an impact the more you listen to it. 

18. Future & Drake: “Life is Good” 

Isn’t it ironic that ever since Future and Drake dropped “Life is Good”, life hasn’t been good? The smash hit was a moment when it was released, and nearly a year later, and is still a moment that regardless of how 2020 turned out to be, it will still be remembered of being the final anthem of life before COVID-19. 

17. 070 Shake: “Guilty Conscience”

Emerging from finding freedom in the darkness, 070 Shake swims with the heavy weights on the epic Modus Vivendi single. 070 is an outcry of a fear of losing yourself while getting lost in someone else.

16. The Avalanches: “We Will Always Love You”

Driven upon a rather mellow atmosphere, The Avalanches make their long awaited return and they don’t disappoint. We Will Always Love You is a stunning cosmic arrangement of instrumentals, captured alongside a beautiful Dev Hynes vocal moment.

15. Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist: “Scottie Beam”

“Scottie Beam” is the piece that ties everything together on ‘Alfredo’. Freddie narrates his story of being racially profiled and the sudden rush of fear of being confronted by the cops. At the moment there’s this eerie sensation to the fact that his story is the actual life and times of the black community that still, in 2020, are living in fear due to the color of their skin.

14. SG Lewis: “Impact”

“Impact” is an ambitious, timeless sounding rejuvenated club banger that is ready for dancefloor.

13. Dua Lipa: “Levitating”

Written in mind of Austin Powers, as told by Dua Lipa herself, “Levitating” perfectly bridges the gap between Future and Nostalgia! Pop perfection some might call it, this disco-influenced anthem is the first pop-classic of the new decade. It’s the response to Daft Punk’s “One More Time”, MGMT’s “Electric Feel”, and Tame Impala’s “The Less I Know The Better”.

12. 21 Savage & Metro Boomin: “Many Men”

On ‘Savage Mode II’, 21 Savage and Metro Boomin do their own stunts on a lethal tale of the south side. “Many Men” is the soundtrack to the death-defying stunts that matches the hunting spree the two have on their enemies. 

11. Mac Miller: “Good News”

Gently balancing an array of emotions, Mac Miller is more-so than ever apparent and self-aware on his final moments in life. In good spirits, “Good News” was the ray of sunshine that is needed despite the troubling darkness that overshadows the pure intentions of what the mind needs to focus on.

10. Ty Dolla $ign: “Ego Death”

Layered and layered upon marvelous moments throughout this grand posse cut, “Ego Death” crafts an manifesto of ideas that works in the favor of Ty Dolla $ign. A pulsating house beat, a not-so awkward 2020 verse from Kanye West, angelic vocals from FKA Twigs, an outrageous sample, a Skrillex production, background vocals by Serpentwitfeet, and of course Ty himself, this song has everything you could possibly ask for and more. 

9. Bad Bunny: “Safaera”

Is this the reggaeton response to Travis Scott’s “Sicko Mode”? Boosted over a collage of various twists and turns, the song captures an intense display of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it-moments. It’s electric, lively, and full of spark, and it even samples Missy Elliott’s “Get Ur Freak On”.

8. Lil Uzi Vert: “Bean (Kobe)”

Long live Kobe!

7. Pop Smoke: “Got It On Me”

The late rapper also flips 50 Cent’s classic hit “Many Men” with a similar approach that highlights a modern flare! Pop Smoke’s menacing “Got It On Me” complements his distinctive vocal delivery with an undeniable charisma. 

6. Tame Impala: “One More Year”

Opening the new chapter of the psychedelic mind of Tame Impala, Kevin sings “do you remember we were standing here a year ago, our minds were racing, times were slow”, the introduction to the concept is clear from the get go. The song is an outcry for stopping time, but dazed on what to exactly do with it. Destiny is fate, our past has shaped the exact moment of today, and Kevin is on the edge of coming to terms with it, but not necessarily ready to let go.

 

5. The Strokes: “At The Door”

Traveling into the state of human nature, Julian Casablancas questions society’s comfort with their everyday lifestyle. The oh so terrifying reality of failing to meet expectations will have one in a loop that much like a hour glass, it’s never ending, despite time just being wasted. The Strokes take full responsibility into filling the void that they left open, and they've returned like they've never left. 

4. Flume: “The Difference”

Kicking off with intense energy straight from the get go, “The Difference” is a high speed chase that is short but sweet. Luscious Flume synths that are remastered with the apparent Toro touch, it transitions into various dynamics. It cuts right at the point when you get comfortable with the new sound, but leaves you demanding more.

3. Lil Baby & 42 Dugg: “We Paid”

The man of the moment, Lil Baby undeniably had arguably the best year out of any other rapper in 2020. “We Paid” was the hit that was the cherry on top after impressing with crucial anthems such as “Emotionally Scarred” and “The Bigger Picture”. All three worthy of being mentioned at this position, but “We Paid” matches Baby’s charismatic delivery alongside an impressive verse from 42 Dugg who shows out an cadence that you won’t forget. The trap anthem that the world needed in 2020. 

2. Disclosure: “My High”

British rapper Slowthai and American MC Aminé team up as the ultimate tag-team as they go hand-and-hand on a ferocious house banger. “My High” is a no holds barred display of what to expect from all acts involved. It’s chaotic, fast paced, and filled with ENERGY!

1. The Weeknd: “After Hours”

In 6 minutes the soundscape of “After Hours” contributed to the such chaotic journey that highlights the crash and burn of feeling trapped, as if it’s all just an illusion. Listeners are in the passenger side of the ride, as the song travels through various roads unraveling the layers to his escape. In just mere seconds the song kicks off with hints of something intense, as it slowly builds and builds and the drive kicks off right at the halfway point.

Leave a comment