Favorite Songs of 2020

My Halloween costume this year was music blogger

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2020. Yuck, right. It was a challenging year for me on multiple levels. I spent most of the year unemployed in my parent’s house.

Naturally, a global pandemic occurred a week after I got a promotion at my job. So that was put on hold.

I was about to be 25 without a job and without any discernible future. At least, I had all the time to finally rewatch ER (I made it to Mark’s death).

Against all odds, I was strangely productive in the latter half of the year. I met someone I feel deeply for who made me want to unlock the best version of myself. I started running and working again. I even saved some money too. I am still hell bent on losing all the weight I put on from inhaling bags of chicharon earlier in the year. We will have a slightly less shitty president soon and maybe we can all hang out together again. I have so many American Airlines miles to burn.

The day Kobe Bryant died, Drew McIntyre won one of the best Royal Rumbles of all-time. The day I tested positive for Covid, I got offered my job back. The day my grandmother passed away, I met the love of my life.

2020 was the equivalent of touching the bottom of the pool only to come up under a tube float. I got my head above water but I’m not completely safe yet.

I’ve done this list in some form for 8 years now. This time, I’ve added a remark about each song because I have way too much time. This list is still pretentious, incomplete, and unexamined. But it is mine. These are the new songs that kept my head above water (once again the song of the year is “Praise You” by Fatboy Slim). As always, I hope that my taste in music makes you think I’m cool and hot.

Apologies to Bob Dylan for the snub. Consider your Nobel Prize a consolation.

100. Together — beabadoodee

“Together” is a welcome addition to any playlist you send to your sweetie or crush. Also, it’s fun to say “beabadoodee” in a bad Italian accent.

99. Who Are You — Diet Cig

Diet Cig’s instagram makes them seem like really lovely people and this is a song nice people make.

98. Blinding Lights — The Weeknd

“Blinding Lights” was the theme song to Wrestlemania this year which was ironic considering there were no fans in attendance. It was held at WWE’s performance center with all the lights on. It would be more apt if the song was called “Garish Lights” but that doesn’t roll off the tongue at all.

I really like The Weeknd songs that cocaine wrote.

97. Dough — Key Glock

Key Glock makes this extended homage to “Nuthin but a G Thang” extremely charming.

96. Brace — Half Waif

On the title track of 2018’s Lavender Burning, Half Waif sings about tending to her ill grandmother. I knew that at some point I would have to tend to my grandmother who was suffering from ALS.

Much of the middle part to this year was doing just that and my grandmother passed away in late July two days after her 72nd birthday. “Brace,” which I consider a sequel to “Lavender Burning,” absolutely wrecked me in the days following her passing. It’s kind of funny that considering all the crying I did, I’m like “96.”

95. Rock & Roll — Trace Mountains

I really like this Trace Mountains impression of a War on Drugs song.

94. Trying — Orion Sun

Mark my words, “Trying” is going to be a prominent needle drop on some HBO show in 2021.

93. Hollywood — Car Seat Headrest

I wonder if Will Teledo does cocaine? Google wasn’t any help on the matter but did link me to a news story about a drug trafficking conspiracy in Toledo, Ohio.

Well, if he wanted some coke, I’m sure The Weeknd can spare him some.

92. I Think I Had It. I Think I Have It Again — Guided By Voices

If anyone on this list got COVID twice, it would be Robert Pollard. He’s probably indoors at a bar in Dayton drinking vodka waters right now.

91. Ghosts — Bruce Springsteen

Springsteen on Broadway pretty much guarantees Bruce a spot on this list anytime he releases an album.

90. Face — Jessy Lanza

If I could go to a party and “Face” came on after my fourth beer oh man bro you don’t even want to know.

89. My Lil Fantasy — 03 Greedo & RONRONTHEPRODUCER

A welcome addition to the “Isn’t Sex Fantastic” canon.

88. Ghost — Ohmme

As someone who aspires to fake his own death, I heavily relate to the lyric “it’s what you want the most/to fantasize your ghost”

87. Run Away With Me — Sufjan Stevens

“Run Away With Me” is ranked relatively low solely for not being the other, definitive “Run Away with Me”

86. Funny Thing — Thundercat

Basslines ❤.

85. Plastic Hearts — Miley Cyrus

The two best things Miley has done this year is this song and covering “Doll Parts. Judge Joshy declares that Miley is back.

84. Marry Me — Greg Dulli

My father and I were going to see Greg Dulli live this year lol. I would have worn black jeans and this cool shirt I have with snakes on it.

83. Lcr — Melkbelly

The drumming on this sounds like you’re getting pushed by a circle of bullies.

82. Around Your Room — Kississippi

“Around Your Room” reminds me of the summer I read a bunch of John Green books. I was so innocent back then. I was 19

81. Song 33 — Noname

If COVID didn’t happen, I would have heard this song while I watched people smoke weed.

80. Wasted — NNAMDI

My favorite music video of the year.

79. Back to the Streets — Saweetie feat. Jhene Aiko

“La-da-dee-da-dee-da” but in a aloof way.

78. XS — Rina Sawayama

2020s best song from 2006.

77. ICU — Cakes da Killa & Proper Villains feat. Nomi Ruiz

A harsh reminder that I wasn’t able to dance in a bar this year.

76. Berlin — Adult Mom

In the dorm room we sang “Violet” by Hole/Screaming off our youth.” I’m happy we’re all talking about Hole again.

75. Frank Lucas — Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist feat. Benny the Butcher

No disrespect, but I would have not guessed that Freddie Gibbs would make his best two albums after trading in Madlib for The Alchemist.

74. the last great american dynasty — Taylor Swift

“the last great american dynasty” does for “a little gauche” that “Jessie’s Girl” does for “the point is probably moot”

73. Pulling the pin — Run The Jewels feat. Joshua Homme & Mavis Staples

I make the rules here and if you put both Josh Homme and Mavis Staples on a song that’s a direct path to number 73 on this list.

72. i will not mourn who i was that has gone away — Field Medic

One day I will be as confident in floral patterns as Field Medic is.

71. Garden Song — Phoebe Bridgers

The backing vocals are scary.

70. Come Down — Bully

“And I’m Changing into/A Person I Don’t Know” is a lyric about me getting into using the elliptical.

69. Love Is Not Enough — Lydia Loveless

Drinking shitty beer (Hamm’s not Schlitz this time) on my bed while this song played was the most therapeutic moment of my year.

68. Arpeggi — Kelly Lee Owens

I used to hook up with this woman who is 10 years older than me. When I told her that In Rainbows was my favorite Radiohead album she called me childish. I felt bad about that exchange until hearing Kelly Lee Owen’s reworking of Weird Fishes/Arpeggi and it reaffirmed that In Rainbows is for big boys and not dumb babies.

67. to Perth, before the border closes — Julia Jacklin

Hey Julia Jacklin, here’s a challenge, try writing a song that doesn’t make me cry. Fucking jerk has me bawling in the Mariano’s frozen food section.

66. Me and My Guitar — A Boogie wit da Hoodie

This song makes me cry harder than the last one.

65. Give Me Another Chance — Empress Of

I would absolutely get punched in the face if I called this song “‘Lookout Weekend’ for people who listen to podcasts.”

64. toothless — 100 Gecs

It’s endlessly funny to me that 100 gecs is from St. Louis.

63. Worm in Heaven — Protomartyr

I don’t like concerts anymore but fucking love seeing Protomartyr. The shows are filled with my type of dudes (Guys who think they’re smart, smoke cigs, and fuck everything up) and they rock. I absolutely need to see them play “Worm in Heaven”

62. My Best — LPX

This song probably hits differently if you have long beautiful hair and can play with it while you dance.

61. Pigeons — Bill Callahan

Bill Callahan honestly might have been at that Protomartyr show I saw last year.

60. A Comma — serpentwithfeet

Haunting. I often picture serpentwithfeet as a phantom hiding away in a castle by the ocean.

59. Born at Midnite (Every Time) — Born at Midnite

This is the song I begin my little ab work outs with.

58. Waving, Smiling — Angel Olsen

Our kids are going to get a lot of mileage out of Angel Olsen who for some reason isn’t a superstar.

57. Compensation — Retirement Party

Retirement Party you have my attention. I can’t wait to see you at Lincoln Hall soon.

56. Ohio Tpke — Jeff Rosenstock

Jeff Rosenstock has a place in my heart because I know a lot of people from Long Island.

55. Myron — Lil Uzi Vert

I would not recover if Lil Uzi Vert told me my girlfriend wasn’t pretty but he wanted to fuck my mom.

54. Lockdown — Koffee

The consensus is that we’re going to see a lot of bad art about the quarantine before we get to the good stuff. “Lockdown” is either the exception or a positive indication of what’s to come.

53. Levitating — Dua Lipa

Dua needs to leave Anti-Vaxx Anwar if she wants to be higher on the list.

52. Nothing Changes — PUP

PUP’s best songs start with cynicism but through a series of anthemic hooks you are imbued with hope by the end.

51. 34+35 — Ariana Grande

Reader, it took me an embarrassing amount of time to understand what the equation meant.

50. No — Fontaines D.C.

My favorite U2 song of the last couple of years.

49. Gucci Peacoat — DaBaby

DaBaby uses “Gucci Peacoat” as a therapy session after his brother’s suicide. He alternates between spewing anger and ruminating about their life trapped in a cycle of crime and drugs. The song is a raw nerve and the most poignant DaBaby has been.

48. Cameo — Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever write good ass choruses, bro.

47. Done with Drugs — The Dirty Nil

I used to love drugs and now I haven’t done them for over three years :.

46. The Adults Are Talking — The Strokes

In the video for “The Adults Are Talking,” The Strokes are wearing custom baseball jerseys stylized like the ones the mid 70s Astros wore and I want one so bad.

45. Hannah Sun — Lomelda

If you make me cry and mention Chicago automatically on the list.

44. Ice Cream — BLACKPINK & Selena Gomez

I wouldn’t have heard this song unless my girlfriend invited me to this social distanced gathering to meet her friends for the first time.

The next day I listened to the song alone in a McDonald’s waiting for my egg mcmuffin.

43. Dobby — 1010 Benja SL

“Dobby” is slated to enter the makeout playlist canon next year.

42. Kerosene! — Yves Tumor

Most songs from Heaven to a Tortured Mind are already in the makeout playlist cannon.

41. Yo Perreo Sola — Bad Bunny

We needed a spanish language “Dancing on my Own”

40. Caution — The Killers

Brandon Flowers knows that he got my ass by opening a song with “Let me introduce you to the featherweight queen”

39. Bueno — Dogleg

If Detroit’s Dogleg performs at the next Gathering of the Juggalos, I will finally go.

38. Circling — Porridge Radio

It was cool that we all went through a collective anxiety attack in March that some of us haven’t been able to escape.

37. Body — Megan Thee Stallion

A song so infectious, I forgive the Carol Baskins lyric.

36. Hit Different — SZA (feat. Ty Dolla $ign)

SZA keeps teasing us with a new album. This song is edging.

35. Up From A Dream — Haim

A bit of mine that no one likes is calling Haim “little Haim medium Haim and big Haim.”

34. claws — Charli XCX

Despite not being about the TNT hit Claws like I originally thought, I enjoyed this song immensely.

33. La vita nuova — Christine and the Queens feat. Caroline Polachek

For all of its horrors, 2020 can claim two incendiary reworkings of Dante: Bray Wyatt v. John Cena in The Firefly Funhouse Match and this song.

32. The Neverending Story — Jay Electronica

Jay Electronica finally released his debut album this year which is great news for guys like me who said “technically Jay’s verse on Control is better than Kendrick’s.”

31. Delete Forever — Grimes

Unfortunately, I was a big fan of the new Grimes’ album.

30. This Love Isn’t Crazy — Carly Rae Jepsen

Every album she releases, I get afraid Carly will finally succumb to Interpol Syndrome where we start to think all her songs sound the same but she’s better than that. Do I like Carly Rae more than Interpol now? That’s for me to talk about in therapy.

My girlfriend says she listened to this song a lot when we first started dating and that makes my heart flutter.

29. What’s Your Pleasure — Jessie Ware

JESUS FUCKING CHRIST LET US DANCE AGAIN. I just want to be around coke; I don’t even want to do it anymore.

28. Hell — Shamir

While I am yelling WE DON’T DESERVE SHAMIR.

27. Piltdown Man — Frances Quinlan

The compassion and ruefulness in Frances Quinlan’s voice as well as the sparse piano at the beginning of “Piltdown Man” instantly transport you to your childhood. As the chorus unexpectedly meets you again for a third time, you melt into your memories.

26. montgomery forever — The Front Bottoms

I would pay so much money to scream this chorus at a show with a bunch of other dudes in jean jackets.

25. You and I — Caribou

Every time I listen to Caribou, I think “dude is so fucking smart he’s a doctor of math.”

24. Me & You Together Song — The 1975

Teenage Fanclub doesn’t churn out the hits like they used to, so I was extremely happy that The 1975 did them a solid and made one for them.

23. Don’t Make It Harder On Me — Chloe x Halle

I am beyond excited to follow Chloe x Halle’s career especially since Halle is earmarked for stardom.

Did they even have Chloe audition for The Little Mermaid? I can easily google that but rather ask the hard questions here.

22. May I — Flo Milli

I’ve just been informed that making a list of your 100 favorite songs of the year is indeed Flo Milli shit.

21. Yellow is the color of her eyes — Soccer Mommy

Amazing song but do you remember Jim Carrey’s yellow eyes in How The Grinch Stole Christmas?

Apparently his contacts were so painful to put in that Ron Howard had to get a guy who trains Navy Seals through tortue exercises to coach him during the application of them.

20. U.S. Girls — 4 American Dollars

U.S Girls sounds so much like Madonna it’s insane.

19. End of the World — Worriers

The world do be ending tho.

I only started listening to this song and Worriers in November but I think this song is so insanely well written that it would be much higher if I had more time with it.

18. Gaslighter — The Chicks

Early into quarantine, I watched Near Dark for the first time and I didn’t love it. This song made me so mad at Adrian Pasdar after what he did on her boat.

17. anything — Adrianne Lenker

The inescapable pain of loves lost and moments that felt so alive but were always fleeting. Attempting to resurface distant memories, only to get the fragments while the pangs remain.

That is also Flo Milli shit.

16. Mustang — Bartees Strange

My pal Arielle introduced me to Bartees Strang and it reinforced that my friends actually have my best interest at heart.

15. Freequent Letdown — illuminati hotties

I am so goddamn charmed by the “mm, mm” parts.

Free I.H: This Is Not the One You’ve Been Waiting For is my second favorite album of the year.

14. OHFR? — Rico Nasty

Rico Nasty could beat the shit out of me and in a way that just feels so smooth and almost rehearsed. I’m talking a hair pull into a knee to the groin to a DDT.

13. Cut Me — Moses Sumney

“Cut Me” is the most compelling song from græ. Initially it is so gripping and quickly builds into a masterclass in dynamics. Sumney guides you in this journey with such grace and patience. Moses Sumney is going to own the world soon.

12. Isabella -Hamilton Leithauser

What a gorgeous song about a person that probably sucks.

11. Desire — Dehd

Dehd claims Roy Orbison as key influence for Flower of Devotion. This is extremely evident on the operatic banger “Desire.” The shouts of “DESIRE” are punctuated so perfectly within the music they invoke Orbison hits like “Falling.”

10. Hard to Forget — Sam Hunt

The prom king’s final plea.

God, if the former quarterback, Sam Hunt, sang this song to me (the nerd who he only asked out on a dare but actually developed feelings for when he saw her in a dress with her hair down and glasses off) at a school talent show I would be sucking his dick in the back of his parent’s GMC Yukon so fast.

9. WAP — Cardi B (feat. Megan Thee Stallion)

Immediately after it’s release, WAP claimed and never relinquished the title of consensus Song of the Year and for good reason. Other than Ben Shapiro, who doesn’t like a good wet ass pussy?

When Megan Thee Stallion says “he bought a phone just for pictures/of this wet ass pussy” it reminded me of The Office finale where Pam says that Michael got an extra phone just for photos of his kids. That was really sweet.

I

8. Automatic Driver — La Roux

La Roux is back and it’s about fucking time.

7. Promises — Beach Bunny

I never was big into physical fitness but in order to make up for the lack of steps and movement I wasn’t getting from work anymore, I started running this year. “Promises” was the song I ran to the most and it was the song I turned to when I had that last little stretch left.

I did not think that song would be written by a bunch of DePaul kids.

6. Become a Mountain — Dan Deacon

“Become a Mountain” sonically reminds of a more accessible and more mournful version of Deacon’s 2007 banger “Wham City.” While Deacon’s music never needs to be efficient, the latter is a nearly 12 minute journey while the former accomplishes more in a third of the time.

5. Ladies — Fiona Apple

Fiona Apple is my favorite artist of all time and obviously this is my favorite album of the year. This is my favorite song from the record plain and simple.

4. On the Floor — Perfume Genius

I want Perfume Genius to eventually do a big stage show with costumes and dancers. If and when, a performance of “On the Floor” can be as resonant as “This Must Be the Place” in Stop Making Sense.

3. Dressing America — TORRES

Mitski tried to be the cowboy but TORRES is the cowboy.

I’m sorry Mitski. That was rude of me. I’m a big fan of your work.

2. Fire — Waxahatchee

When I quit narcotics, I wrote this sentence on loose leaf that I’ve since, of course, misplaced that read “You would not let your life be controlled by drugs.”

That was in 2017 and there were stumbles, naturally. Not relapses or false starts but I just didn’t know who I was and who I wanted to be. I would look at that sentence every day and wonder why I didn’t feel any better. Women, jobs, money, opportunities, friends, family all came and went as I navigated a listless existence. I would look for the solutions to solve whatever this ennui was.

The issue was obviously that I never loved myself and until I started doing that I was never going to make any real progress.

“Fire” is a song about Katie Crutchfield getting sober. When you’re kicking habits you do a lot of promising to yourself and a lot of worrying that it will fall on deaf ears. There’s only one real verse on “Fire” but sometimes you just need one sentence to keep yourself going.

1. Dancing — Katie Dey

“I am myself a shelter”

So there was a little pandemmy this year that left all of us feeling isolated and unfulfilled. I moved back home and felt loved and privileged but still sad as shit. As much as I cared for the people I was with, I mourned the memories that I could have been making.

Katie Dey made music about love in the digital age and approached it with a shadowy disposition. Her 2020 output, Mydata, by contrast, offered hopeful insights as we collectively entered isolation.

“Dancing” wants us to surrender to self compassion. We should treat ourselves with the love we feel for others. In order for all of this to be positive moving forward we have to be our own private dancer.

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Joshua D. Razo was born & raised in Chicago and has lower back issues

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Joshua D. Razo was born & raised in Chicago and has lower back issues

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