It is, impossibly, December, which means that we are in songs-of-the-year-roundup territory. Spotify shot its wad a bit early on its Wrapped function this year if you ask me – I don’t see what the harm in waiting a few more weeks so I can make Bree Runway one of my top 5 artists of the year rather than exposing me for the Justin Bieber fan that I am, but here we are with that I guess.
I’ve got something a bit dumb/fun that I’ll be quote-unquote launching this week – there’s a bit of audience participation in it, if that’s your kind of thing, so watch out for it.
Now, onto what you’re here for – a list of t he top 20 songs released in the month of November in the cursed year that is two-thousand-and-twenty.
Spotify playlist here + embedded at the end of the post for those who don’t want the words and just want a wee skim through.
20. Consequence by Patrik Jean
Jean is someone that I can lowkey see having some real success – he’s got really nice silky RnB vocals, he has the hook ‘but I fuckin hate the consequence’ perfectly placed and satisfyingly delivered, and for a white boy he’s doing an excellent job of channelling a Khalid-like softness in his vocal. If you’ve not checked his music out yet, Consequence is a very good place to start.
19. remember the mornings by Clinton Kane
Another could-be-really-good if this soft-pop genre comes back around again artist is Clinton Kane. He’s got a vocal that sits somewhere between James Arthur and a archetype teen boy singer (not far off given he’s 20). remember the mornings isn’t likely to be his big breakthrough, but it’s a really sweet lovesick puppy of a song laden with pleasing pop clichés and vocal nuances that make him that little bit better than some of his peers in the arena.
18. Beast by Blithe
I’m still trying to decide if this pop-do-wap hook is so good or just terrible – arguaby the mark of a truly excellent song. The way Blithe sings ‘I’m a beast, I’m a legend’ and the bridge where she spells it out the song’s title are so disgustingly blasé and matter-of-fact it’s almost so offensive that it works.
17. There Will Be a Way by Dotan
One mans trash is another mans treasure, right? They tell you in school not to kink shame and, well, shouty men singing about their demons is my musical kink. I’d like to assume Dotan dramatically prancing around a warehouse surrounded by socially distanced mannequins is covid-related, but it’s not hard to believe he’d have done it global pandemic or not.
16. Shades In The Rain by Sandro Cavazza
Shades In The Rain is at its core a cheesy, superficial pop song as a vehicle for Cavazza’s gymnastic upper range (see also: JP Cooper), but given the state of the world, its actually sitting really nice to have a conceptually escapist upbeat tune that’s just about living
15. Is It Just Me (feat. Charlie Puth) by Sasha Sloan
There are few things more pure and perfect than a gentle pop duet, which this I’m-too-cool-for-life tune has in spades. Sure, it’s a lyrical eye-roll, but the melody is palpably catchy for something relatively lowkey. Are we ready to give Charlie Puth his dues now? I certainy am.
14. dependent by Mae Muller
Can’t quite put my finger on why, but dependent sounds like Wii-music-pop – aren’t you just transported back to 2006 watching all the little Miis you made wandering around Mii plaza? Muller brings a great deal of self-aware attitude here, with a lot of punchy rhyming throughout, and the way it ends leaves it open to an easy repeat which is what a good pop song should do.
13. Confetti by Little Mix
Respect Little Mix 2020. Somehow, when they started pushing songs in this club-pop genre it felt at odds with their kid-heavy audience, but I think we can agree that enough time has passed no that those initial notions were unfair and that songs like Confetti are very much their signature move. This, the title track from their sixth(!!) album is beat heavy, bassy-chorused, gives each member a key song moment, and is just all in all a knockout. In short: it slaps.
12. Something Better by Tom Grennan
There’s something annoyingly charming about Grennan – he should slide into that awful white boy “soul” thing that is our countries national export, but it works on Something Better. That bridge is just impeccable to the song surrounding it, sure it’s a bit cunty-vibed a points, but it’s hard to escape the appeal of such an honestly euphoric tune.
11. NY by Emily Vu
Short, sweet, satisfying. Also, this video is so cute and it turns out I’m in love with Emily Vu now? It really packs in a chorus and I’m sad it’s not longer. Pop by the numbers pushed to perfection. Play it on repeat.
10. Fly Away by Tones and I
Tones and I is a VOCALIST, and her patchwork loop peddle schtick really serves to accentuate the child-like pop she knocks out again and again. Fly Away is hopeful, heavenly, and the vocals just rise and rise. Her tone is her signature, and the way she rushes through and crams in the lyrics and melody is nuanced chaoticism, which I live for.
09. December by Harriet Nauer
This is just divine. Acoustic guitar music isn’t new, but when it’s good, it’s really really good. I don’t have the words for this one, but I have to single out the ‘we all the same stars’ lyric where it falls into the next line – perfection.
08. Therefore I Am by Billie Eilish
If we’re honest with ourselves, this is just all the good girls go to hell version two, but with lyrics that hit 10x harder. The way she delivers ‘what the hell are you talking about, get my pretty name out of your mouth’ is so cutting, and combined with a play on one of the most iconic phrases of all time ‘I think therefore I am’ it’s a knockout. Eilish can do Shakespeare but could Shakespeare do Eilish? I don’t think so!!
07. Life Goes On by BTS
What’s really good about Life Goes On, speaking as someone who can only speak English, is the way that the song is basically just a wash of nice noises, and then the occasional thrown in English lines in the hook (“Like an echo in the forest”) ground you just enough to keep you engaged as the rest of the track takes you on a the loveliest daydream. All the record breaking that this song has done is deserved. Also, how cute is this video?!
06. LUCID by Rina Sawayama
This song came to me when I was mid mental breakdown from deadlines and I literally cried because it hit so right and broke all the tension that had built up in my body. Sure, it’s basically Rain on Me, but for me it’s more cohesive than the Gaga-Grande collaboration. A triumph for one of the most exciting next-gen pop stars.
05. Circles by Megan Thee Stallion
Megan Thee Stallion is just a force to be reckoned with. I’ll admit I’ve not listened to her record yet, but Circles, the one song I did hear, is pure fire. Her flow is killer, that background refrain is so tight – an inescapable rush.
04. heartbeat by Ziggy Alberts
The thing about Ziggy Alberts, one of many really, is that
he’s really fit? And his music is that mid-tempo pop-acoustic which hits just right. I think this every time, but whoever does his support vocals sits so right that it draws his music less a from being about voice and more about what he’s singing about. heartbeat is a gentle love song with some perfect lyrical painting: “Stars/They pour on our skin/Wе have high hopes/We yelling to the eve/Warm throats kicking and singing/Until our legs and our voice gives out”, and a hook-repeating final stretch which makes for the perfect crescendo.
03. Angels Like You by Miley Cyrus
A whole Miley Cyrus album came out – and it was good! Something on there for everyone, but Angels Like You is definitely the one for me. It feels like a call back to her post-Hannah Montana, pre-Wrecking Ball era – soft rock, soaring vocals, a huge chorus, crescendo’d bridge, and that “I’m gonna wish we never met on the day I leave” is up there with her all time best. A triumph.
02. ATM (feat. Missy Elliott) by Bree Runway
Bree, and I cannot stress this enough, RUNWAY is absolutely killing it. The EP she dropped this month was on loop in this house for a week, the best new song for me: ATM – a relentless, unapologetic anthem, with a hook that just won’t quit, and a spectacular guest spot from Queen of rap Missy Elliott herself – pure, unadulterated fire.
01. Want Me by Baby Queen
You can take your Sawayamas, your Thee Stallions, your Runways, your Cyruses – I’ll take the Queen herself. Baby Queen that is. I cannot put into words how alive my body and soul feels when playing Want Me – a song of unhealthy obsession over Jodie Comer which works on that self-fulfilling level where all I’m doing is talking to everyone and anyone about Baby Queen. A strong contender for song of the year from the best thing to happen to pop in fucking ages.