If you’re like us, the last seven months have felt like a decade. The only silver lining to this time warp is that, even though you can’t go outside without a mask (seriously, listen to Nicholas Braun and wear a mask) or go to concerts, the music industry hasn’t slowed down one bit. We’ve gotten singles, albums, mixtapes — you name it — from our favorite artists this year, enough that we came up with a list of the Best Songs of 2020 (So Far). Check them out below and keep scrolling for some 2020 recommendations from ATG writers past and present.

 

 


 

Best Songs 2020 - Dogleg

Dogleg – Bueno

There’s a moment in “Bueno,” one of the standout tracks on Dogleg‘s excellent full-length debut, Melee, where it feels like a ceiling is crashing down on your head. The song starts off all fire and brimstone, surging punk guitars and slammed drums, before settling into a groove — a funky one, possibly? It’s punk, it’s loud, but the melody is undeniable. It’s a full-on party … but then, halfway through the song, they slam on the brakes. The guitars ease up, leaving a simple bass line. You catch the touch of a cymbal. You think, for a second, that’s it, but then you realize Oh no. They’re just catching their breath. The guitars surge back in, and then the primal scream: “Little brother, was I ever a part of it?” Well, it’s screams — they take turns yelling the line, then, one more deep breath … and the explosion. It’s noise, and chaos, but it’s gorgeous, and perfect. The drums roll. Everyone screams. You’re screaming, too, and wondering: Why can’t all music sound like this?

— Nate Scott (@anatescott)

 

 


 

Best Songs 2020- Charli XCX

Charli XCX – anthems

Of course a “Song of the Year” doesn’t need to be literally about that year. But it doesn’t hurt, either. Upon first listen “anthems,” a buoyant sing-song sledgehammer of a track from Charli XCX and erstwhile producing collaborators Danny L Harle and Dylan Brady of 100 Gecs, doesn’t seem built to capture the mood of our decidedly downtempo 2020 experience. But click over to the song’s Genius page, and behold: “anthems” is an ode to quarantine cabin fever, and the feeling of panic and longing that overtakes you in those despairing moments when Love Island and to-go margaritas fail to adequately fill the void.

The amphetamine staccato of the track’s unrelenting synths propel Charli’s going-out wishes and reminiscences—treacly, but relatable—into a manic frenzy of nostalgia; this is not sincere dance music so much as a half-remembered inkling of what dance music used to feel like. And for a concept like that, no producers make more sense than the Gecs, whose katana-bladed Vitamix of a production style can blend irony up so finely that it transforms the original ingredient into earnestness. And locked-down listeners, you will likely feel that earnestness in your soul when Charli takes a break from her signature posh-aping snarl to tenderly admit, “I just wanna go to parties/ Up high, wanna feel the heat from all the bodies.” That’s the kind of line that, in 2020, makes you want to turn off Love Island and just stare at the wall for a while.

— Justin McCarthy (@stewmccoy)

 

 


 

Best Songs 2020 - Khruangbin

Khruangbin – Time (You And I)

It’s hard to pick just one song off Khruangbin’s newest album Mordechai, which also may be my favorite album this year (so far) but “Time (You and I)” is definitely my current fav. Fans of the Houston outfit will recognize their characteristic funky beats but many may be surprised that the song is fully lyrical, a feature that isn’t usual for the band. The song is catchy as heck but also somehow perfectly encapsulates the feelings of joy and existentialism, emotions we all might be processing at the moment. But hey, in the words of Khruangbin: that’s life! And this song will certainly cheer you up in the meantime.

Clara Mora

 

 


 

Best Songs 2020 - Ric Wilson

Ric Wilson – Fight Like Ida B & Marsha

Ric Wilson‘s flair and funky sound simply doesn’t get old. After thousands of listens, “Fight Like” still makes me want to dance across the room every time the signature pulsating bass begins to play. In true 2020 fashion, the song also uplifts Black freedom fighters and their causes, educating, energizing, and uniting people around its fun, bouncy flow. It’s unique style also showcases a changing genre, a fluid, developing  sound that reflects the versatility of hip-hop artists today. While it may not have the most plays or biggest features, “Fight Like Ida B & Marsha P” embodies the wild ride that 2020 has been so far. So take a listen, and two-step your stress away.

— Hugh Brooks (@hughhugs)

 

 


 

Rina Sawayama 

Rina Sawayama – XS

If you haven’t still listened to Rina Sawayama, then you’re missing out. The 29-year-old, Japanese-British pop-diva released her debut studio album, SAWAYAMA this year and it’s absolutely phenomenal. A master at blending the softer elements of R&B with the harsher, elements of heavy metal, her entire album packs a punch. “XS” stands out in particular, not just for its genre-bending production but also for its reflective lyrics on hyper-consumerism.

‘XS’ is a song that mocks capitalism in a sinking world,” Sawayama explains in a press release. “Given that we all know global climate change is accelerating and human extinction is a very real possibility within our lifetime it seemed hilarious to me that brands were still coming out with new makeup palettes every month and public figures were doing a gigantic house tour of their gated property in Calabasas in the same week as doing a ‘sad about Australian wild fires’ Instagram post. I mean I’m guilty of turning a blind eye too, because otherwise it makes me depressed. We’re all hypocrites because we are all capitalists, and it’s a trap that I don’t see us getting out of.”

Always catchy but never surface-level, “XS” is easily one of the best tracks of the year. Be sure to check out Sawayama’s retro-dystopian music video below, and keep an eye out for her documentary “The Making of Sawayama” coming soon — we’re so excited! 

— Kiddest Sinke (@cyber_girlfriend)

 

 


 

The 1975

The 1975 – If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)

Half the fun of a new The 1975 record is guessing what they’re going to sound like. This year’s Notes On A Conditional Form is yet another chameleonic entry in the Manchester outfit’s discography. As with any 1975 album, it’s hard to choose a favorite track, but when push comes to shove it’s got to be “If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know).” The band goes full Huey-Lewis-meets-Duran-Duran with this musing on internet love and, according to frontman Matt Healy, “getting naked on FaceTime.”

— Adrian Maseda (@allthingsgo)

 

 


 

Cautious Clay

Cautious Clay – Cheesin’ (Ft. Remi Wolf, Still Woozy, Sophie Meiers, Claud, Melanie Faye & HXNS)

We think it’s fair to say that the best thing to come out of quarantine is all of the incredible new music we’ve been getting week after week. Early on in lockdown, Fall Classic alum Cautious Clay teamed up with a few of our other favorites like Remi Wolf (the second member of the ATG Class of 2020), Still Woozy and more for this funky, cheesy collaboration. More than just the music, Cautious Clay and friends donated all proceeds from the single to MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund, which we think crystallizes their spot as one of the best songs of 2020 (so far). Now we’re only hoping for more future collabs like these!

Lizzy Fletcher

 

 


 

Check out our full Best Songs of 2020 (So Far) playlist below and let us know if your favorite tracks from this year (so far):