10 Songs and Videos that got us through 2020
We need the great tunes now more than ever.
By Sarah Dyer
1. Safaera – Bad Bunny x Jowell & Randy x Ñengo Flow | YHLQMDLG
This is the year of Bad Bunny. In a year where the young Puerto Rican artist put out three albums during a pandemic, it’s hard to pick just one song to highlight. Safaera’s crunchy bassline is the one I’ve played over and over again, and this sort of moody tableau/music video accurately reflects the sort of soothing lofi playlists I’ve had on repeat all year. Enjoy.
2. jackie – Unspun
Unspun is my #3 song of the year on Spotify. jackie [sic] is the sort of band I’d have worshipped in high school, and teenager-me is digging their female-lead-vocal, Silversun Pickups vibe. Let me drive around the city with my windows down and the volume maxed out. “I’m not in the mood for wasting time / Knew when I saw you you’d be mine.”
3. SAINt JHN – Roses (Imanbek Remix)
Imanbek’s remix of Roses didn’t come out this year, you say? WELL, this music video did and that’s what I’m counting. Also, embarrassingly enough, I didn’t even hear the song until very recently. But since then I’ve had Roses on repeat. (I’m pretty sure I even have the head bop choreography memorized.)
Bieber wormed his way into my top 5 Artists on Spotify this year, and I think this video may deserve credit for at least half of those plays. Parris Goebel deserves every good thing in this world. If you didn’t know the Kiwi choreographer already, learn it now. She’s probably responsible for some of your favorite choreography from the last 10 years, if that’s a thing you pay any attention to. This choreo is just… yummy.
5. WAP | Created by: Nicole Kirkland & Mac Daddyy
You thought I wouldn’t put another choreography video on here, right? Full offense, this video is better than the original. This video SLAYS. I think even Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion would have to agree. Nicole Kirkland and Mac Daddyy did this for the culture. The Adam Levine lookalike at 1:20. The sequence at 1:31. This video is TOO GOOD, just go watch it.
6. KAYTRANADA – 10% (Official Video) ft. Kali Uchis
This pre-lockdown jam has lived rent-free in my head all year. Listen, and dream of the day we all get to dance together in a too-hot basement room and forget all pandemics and politics and money.
7. Gorillaz – Désolé ft. Fatoumata Diawara (Episode Two)
If I had to pick one word for this year, désolé may suffice. How did they know we’d need this song this year? The way Fatoumata Diawara’s colorful voice weaves and dances through the Gorillaz’ gentle guitar and pairs 2D’s harmonies is just gorgeous. Feel free to also check out Diwara’s performance on the Colors + Studios series.
8. Tash Sultana – Pretty Lady
One of the first official music videos to drop post-lockdown—Tash invited friends, family, and fans to collaborate and send in homemade dance videos. It’s a surprisingly heartwarming piece—and an earworm. “Where you going so fast / Try to make a moment last” is the anthem of our age.
9. Washed Out – Too Late
The video—which also entirely consists of fan submissions—paired with Washed Out’s dreamy pop puts me in a wistful, nostalgic mood. I never said this list would be all happy music. “Is it too late for love?” I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling pretty washed out this year.
10. Run The Jewels “Yankee and the Brave (ep. 4)” (Music Video) | adult swim
Run the Jewels is the political rap we need, not the rap we deserve. There’s a reason Zach de la Rocha works with them–RTJ4 and Rage Against the Machine’s Battle of Los Angeles got blasted from my car on multiple occasions this year, and I imagine they’ll be mainstays for years to come. “We don’t mean no harm / But we truly mean all the disrespect”
Ty Dolla $ign: Tiny Desk (Home) Concert
Is it cheating to put an entire Tiny Desk (Home) Concert? I don’t know how I slept on Ty Dolla $ign, but I guess I’m old enough to admit that NPR is where I’ve discovered a lot of my favorite artists. These guys are clearly having so much fun jamming—it reminds me of how much I miss live music.
My hot take: this version of Ego Death at 7:00 is better than the recorded track. Sorry, Kanye.