Yes, Songs You Should Hear is tentatively getting back in gear with some, well, songs that you should hear.
The thing about doing a monthly top 20 is that some songs have a bit more time to ruminate than others, so its important to take the released-earlier-in-the-month skewing at the top end as at least in part determined by more time being able to hit that play button. Every single one of these tracks is solid and worth a few minutes of your attention, no matter where they land on the monthly chart.
Notable pop-behemoth omissions: there were no proper standout cuts from either Ariana Grande or Sam Smith’s new albums that came out this month, although both were definitely worthy listens.
20. If I Gotta Run by Tim Chadwick
Chadwick held this music writer’s top spot in the best songs of 2019 rankings with cry-pop banger I Need To Know, and his newest effort If I Gotta Run is it’s gentle cousin: a slow disco masterpiece, with a cute home-video music video to boot.
19. Hold On by H.E.R.
It was only in searching for the YouTube link that I saw H.E.R. did this for her SNL appearance and god damn is this gorgeous slow RnB jam a slice of absolute vocal magic?
18. Set Somebody Free by Be Charlotte
Feels like aeons ago that I saw Be Charlotte supporting Samm Henshaw, but then all live shows feel like aeons ago now don’t they? Set Somebody Free is a huge anthem from one of Scotland’s finest pop stars.
17. After All This Time by Allday
This song may be indie-pop-euphoria by the numbers, but that chorus has me right back in the early 00s.
16. Can’t Help Myself by Kita Alexander
Woke up with the hook for this in my head this morning which should be testament enough to how good Kita Alexander is at gifting us with endlessly good pop choruses. Can’t Help Myself is a slow burner, but don’t be alarmed when this Haim-esq tune has ignited a forest fire in your brain.
15. Something in Your Eyes by Steps
Not sure what’s more impressive – the fact that Steps really are still going, or the key change at 2.20 seconds into this truly perfect, albeit slightly cheesy, disco pop tune.
14. 4:15 by Claudia Valentina
If Dua Lipa’s New Rules had been a bit darker, a bit moodier, and a lot sexier, it would’ve been a lot like this.
13. Place I Love by Sonny
Given we’re all stuck at insideand wishing we could be just about anywhere else, it’s something of an achievement that Sonny has been able to craft a genuinely lovely tune about going home.
12. WALK YOU HOME by Bishop Briggs
Bishop Briggs is a purveyor of huge and passionate pop rock tunes, and WALK YOU HOME is yet another excellent example of this.
11. Humans + Skeletons by Saint Nothing
There’s nothing better than when your friend of many years achieves a long held dream of being a recording artist, and its even better when the music their making are stone cold, genuinely good anthems. Humans + Skeletons is an emo-inspired synth pop banger that I implore you to check out. I also must ask that you watch this 5-year-old video of myself and Saint Nothing himself singing on YouTube to a McFly tune.
10. Not a Pop Song by Little Mix
Contrary to its misleading title, it is a pop song, and a very good one at that.
09. Lean On Me by Sandro Cavazza
Sure this is a bit Jason Mraz in 2008, but that’s ok, it’s just the kind of sickly sweet we could all probably use right now.
08. In Your Head by Isabelle Brown
Criminal that Izabelle Brown is 17 and making songs as good as this. Phenomenal vocals, pure fire.
07. You Only Die Once by Kelsey Karter
I’m hoping that the musical landscape is clearing itself for the impending tidal wave of early-00s style pop rock that is just edging over the horizon. Standing atop the wave? Well, Miley Cyrus probably – but Kelsey Karter is hot on her heels, and You Only Die Once is testament to this.
06. Wonder by Shawn Mendes
The music video for this muted would have been enough to secure Mendes a spot in this month’s top 20. The song itself *is* quite good, not his best ever lead single, but definitely a Shawn Mendes Future Classic™.
05. AMERICA by Moncrieff
Taking a well known hook and reworking it isn’t groundbreaking stuff, but Moncreiff does the absolute most with it in this joyous take-a-good-long-look-at-yourself-America anthem.
04. Halloween III: Seven Days by Ashnikko
In lieu of me still not writing and recording that Halloween themed EP to fill that very obvious gap in the market, here is the best spooky-adjacent tune to come out in the spookiest month of the year.
03. Bet You Wanna (feat. Cardi B) by BLACKPINK
There is nothing better than an upbeat love-pop song when it’s done well, and BLACKPINK absolutely nailed it here.
02. oops! by Yung Gravy
The opening line to this is: “Ayy, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious/Supercalifragilis… my ex be on some ho shit,” is so inspired and so awful and it only gets worse lyrically as it goes goes on, of course making it the second best song to come out in October.
01. Fallin’ (Adrenaline) by Why Don’t We
Initial balks aside at this (with permission) sampling the 11/10 song that is Kanye West’s Black Skinhead, Fallin’ is probably the most exciting, high-octane song to come from a boyband in this new decade. More of this energy going into 2021 please.