Burt’s Favorite Songs of 2020

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SZA and Ty Dolla $ign on set for the “Hit Different” music video. (Courtesy YouTube)

By Oakley Burt, Arts Editor

 

Now that 2020 has come to an end, it’s time to reflect on the songs that defined this unprecedented year. With the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the world in early March, many artists halted releasing new music at first — as the entertainment industry headed into uncertainty. However, despite this challenging year, 2020 saw artists come into their own with new and surprising releases — from Miley Cyrus’ rock reinvention to Taylor Swift’s acoustic, fantasy folklore. Here are my top 10 favorite songs from this year.

10. “Guilty Conscience (Tame Impala Remix)” by 070 Shake & Tame Impala

Rising hip-hop artist 070 Shake recruited Kevin Parker of Tame Impala to remix her song “Guilty Conscience” into a psychedelic, hypnotic track featuring Parker’s signature distorted synths. Released in late July, this track made the cut for my summer playlist and was one of my most listened to songs of the year.

9. “OK” by Wallows

Following the release of their debut album, “Nothing Happens,” this indie band dropped “OK” in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. A refreshing take on the band’s style, “OK” is a mix of alternative, pop and R&B genres. It’s a fun, feel-good track that is meant to be listened to on a summer night drive with the windows down and volume up. 

8. “Tomorrow’s Dust” by Tame Impala

When I first listened to Tame Impala’s new album “The Slow Rush,” I was instantly hooked on this song. The kaleidoscopic instrumentals and lyrics alluding to the comfort of nostalgia create an overall feeling of calmness while listening. 

7. “In Your Eyes” by The Weeknd

The Weeknd brought back the ‘80s with “In Your Eyes,” from his latest album “After Hours.” The groovy electro-keyboard synths, mesmerizing saxophone and The Weeknd’s velvet voice capture the listener’s attention — making you want to get up and dance.

6. “Cardigan” by Taylor Swift

This is the first time in my life that a Taylor Swift song has made it onto my top 10 list of favorite songs for a year, but “Cardigan”  rightfully deserves a spot. Swift surprised fans all around the world with the release of her eighth studio album “folklore,” a beautiful work of art that I would argue is her best and most honest work to date. I was drawn to “Cardigan” for its emotional, on-and-off, young love story portrayed through Swift’s earnest lyrics. 

5. “If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)” by The 1975

Now, it wouldn’t be my top 10 favorite songs list if I didn’t include a track from one of my absolute favorite bands, The 1975. Released as a single from the band’s latest album, “Notes On A Conditional Form,” “If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)” is the most 1975 sounding track to date. I remember hearing this song for the first time, anticipation rising from the slow-building intro before exploding into a full-blown stadium anthem. It’s an upbeat, indie-pop song that’s meant to be sung at the top of your lungs.

4. “Woods” by Mac Miller

Mac Miller offered his final goodbye to fans with the release of his posthumous album “Circles.” As someone who has been a fan of his since the “K.I.D.S.” mixtape, the tracks on “Circles” are a departure from the upbeat, goofy kid from 2010. With “Circles,” Miller gives listeners a glimpse into his mind and thoughts — detailing his struggles with his demons and subsequent pain. On “Woods,” Miller describes a broken relationship that is beyond saving singing, “Hate love, heartbreak will have you bankrupt / Too many days in a haze, better wake up.” 

3. “Pretty Boy” by The Neighbourhood

I’m somewhat surprised that I’ve chosen “Pretty Boy” as one of my favorite songs of 2020. When The Neighbourhood’s new concept album “Chip Chrome & The Mono-Tones” was first released, I initially leaned more towards tracks “Cherry Flavoured” or “Devil’s Advocate.” But as time has gone on, I’ve fallen in love with “Pretty Boy,” a tender love song reflecting on the importance of having a significant other, set to a soft indie-rock track. 

2. “Midnight Sky” by Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus has finally come into her own with the release of her first overall rock album “Plastic Hearts” — and I could not be more thrilled. Released as the first single from the album, “Midnight Sky” is Cyrus’ unapologetic telling of her past mistakes and failed relationships. Cyrus’ powerhouse vocals and the disco-pop backing track illuminate her lyrics — making you want to keep the song on repeat. 

1. “Hit Different” by SZA ft. Ty Dolla $ign

After audiences have waited patiently for over three years for SZA to release something since sophomore album “Ctrl,” she graced listeners’ ears with “Hit Different,” a dreamy R&B track produced by The Neptunes. “Hit Different” is a serene ballad — thanks to SZA’s silky vocals — exploring the trials and tribulations of a no-strings-attached relationship and how it can all go awry, leaving one feeling alone in the end. 

 

Here’s to closing the chapter on 2020 and looking forward to all the new music set to release in 2021.

 

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