80 – Bad Habits by Usher
If you are in need of music to take you back to the 2000s, then Usher is a safe bet. It’s almost like “Bad Habits” was part of a deluxe release for Confessions. And true enough, he is planning on releasing the album’s sequel in 2021. Many have moved on from the sound and evidence to that is the lukewarm reception of critics and the charts to this single. But I still find his autobiographical account of his romantic shortfalls sexy.
79 – If the World was Ending by JP Saxe featuring Julia Michaels
For all of life’s talk about living in the moment and going after what’s important, we sure reminisce about the past a lot and simulate the big “ifs” of our lives. And while I preach, I am also guilty as charged. It doesn’t help that tracks like “If the World was Ending” gets your guard down and makes you want to ruminate. What I do not have the will for, I let music transport me to that alternate reality.
78 – Original by Sia
Dolittle got released prior to the pandemic. It had a cast that rivals Avengers: End Game. The cost was close to $200 million. Yet, the movie flopped. I haven’t seen it so I will reserve my judgment. But for the soundtrack, Sia created another anthem for children who are trying to break out of moulds society created for them. And as an adult, I’m still in the same boat. I need cheesy songs like “Original” to motivate and push me to do better.
77 – Anyone by Demi Lovato
Demi Lovato should be proud of “Anyone.” It’s the kind of track that earns musicians like her a slot on VH1 Divas Live. It’s mostly piano backing and her big voice does the talking. And the subject matter (mental health) is more relevant today than any other time. But I do wish she’d have more harmony in what she sings about and how she acts in real life (shady instagram accounts, picking fights with fellow women, etc.)
76 – Dance Again by Selena Gomez
The queen of whispers had a good year. If only her contemporaries Taylor Swift and Dua Lipa didn’t do so well, Selena Gomez might have just had the pop landscape to herself. But similar to Dua, Selena offers us music that we can move to – if not on the dance floor, at least on the office chair. “Dance Again” would’ve been a nice addition to club playlists. And I hope it gets its due one day.
75 – P*$$Y Fairy (OTW) by Jhene Aiko
If you are looking for a slower tempo and R&B version of “WAP”, then “P*$$Y Fairy (OTW)” is the song for you. While the latter is less in your face, not for one second will you doubt that it is about sex. Jhene Aiko’s track is the birth child of The Weeknd’s sexually themed songwriting, Miguel’s tone and sensuality, and Solange’s laidback, relaxed and confident attitude.
74 – Break Up Song by Little Mix
As if 2020 wasn’t hard enough, Jesy Nelson has left Little Mix due to mental health issues. The awesome foursome is now a trio. But before all this occurred, the start of the year had the group release another break up anthem “Break Up Song.” Though this isn’t a new subject for their music catalog, this track feels the least angry and the most hopeful they’ve been over any separation. Maybe it’s partially driven by the label split.
73 – Ice Cream by BLACKPINK and Selena Gomez
Among the collaborations that BLACKPINK has done (Lady Gaga, Cardi B, etc.), the group’s single with Selena Gomez feels the most organic. If I didn’t see the music video, or actively listened, I would mistake the output as just of one artist. Now, “Ice Cream” is one of my first listens to K-Pop. In any aspect, I wouldn’t classify the track as mind-blowing. But it’s definitely catchy, especially if it plays endlessly at Korean restaurants I visit.
72 – One Too Many by Keith Urban and Pink
Even though I feel collaborations are abused by record labels to maximise mileage for the artists involved, the trend has the benefit of people experimenting beyond their genre. In general, I feel Pink has used this tool with good discretion. Venturing into country with Keith Urban suits her voice well. And like Maroon 5, I would say she’s a reliable hitmaker that will at worst do average on a track. And here she did great.
71 – You Should Be Sad by Halsey
Sometimes, I feel bad for the people at the centre of hits by pop stars. But that’s normally an after thought as the rage by artists are sentiments we can relate to. Can Halsey be more direct? She’s saying she’s happy she never had a baby with him. I initially found her choice of words awkward. But I guess if she was going for raw, then there’s no better way to put it than how the situation actually played out (or in this case, didn’t.)
70 – Life is Good by Future featuring Drake
“Life is Good” are two separate songs sung/rapped by Drake and Future respectively. And it doesn’t make sense why the different sections are put together. But it surprisingly works. It’s the same tactic that Travis Scott and Drake employed on “SICKO MODE.” Though I would argue the Travis collaboration had catchier loops. But it’s a choice between hip-hop giants so you can’t go wrong.
69 – Now I Don’t Hate California After All by Carly Rae Jepsen
I’m glad my friends are obsessed with Carly. Otherwise, I would not have given the side B of a 2019 project a chance. Even listening to an album from start to finish is not something I do for all artists. But I absolutely love the final track of Dedicated Side B. It has a breezy, dreamy and lazy vibe that we all need nowadays. And if I would be stuck at home the entire year, at least I had Carly take me to places through her music.
68 – What’s Poppin (Remix) by Jack Harlow featuring DaBaby, Lil Wayne and Tory Lanez
The remix of “What’s Poppin” is the hip-hop version of “Lady Marmalade”. Everyone came to play and pulled their weight (or maybe not Lil Wayne?) But everything is just delicious – the addictive piano loop that the producers made, Tory Lanez rapping and not breathing for one straight minute, and Jack Harlow talking about his New Balance endorsement and proudly proclaiming he got rid of his vices to be at the top his game.
67 – everything I wanted by Billie Eilish
Who wouldn’t be envious of the partnership that Billie Eilish and Finneas share? Not only do they create magic in the recording studio. But they’ve helped each other through the darkest moments of Billie’s depression. And I salute the duo for making music that is as dark as “everything i wanted” but gives much needed light to ones whose thoughts can be overwhelmingly powerful.
66 – Black Parade by Beyonce
I did say that even if Beyonce farted on a record, she would still get all the Grammy nominations that “Black Parade” earned her. But even if that’s true, the song in itself is a pleasure to listen to. It finds her discussing black pride that’s been at the centre of her last few albums with the production similar to her first records. And that creates a dissonance that may appease me but falls on deaf ears for the rest.
65 – mirroball by Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift just captures all my insecurities and the way I make up for it. Having born with the disease to please, the song is the way I’ve lived my life in the relationships I’ve been in, or wish I was in. And to sing with such self-awareness and vulnerability is #goals. To top it all off, yet again, she increased my vocabulary with a word I didn’t know existed until she released folklore.
64 – Levitating by Dua Lipa
If I had a record as brilliant from start to finish as Future Nostalgia, I would work as hard as Dua Lipa to make sure it got the attention and recognition it deserves. But am I alone in the “She should have left the original untouched” camp? I get collaborating with DaBaby for the hip-hop audience, and Madonna and Missy Elliott for the gay following. But there is no need girl. You’re rocking it out on your own and “Levitating” is perfect.
63 – Ooh La La by Jessie Ware
Britney Spears is a legend. But Jessie Ware’s “Ooh La La” is way superior to the Smurfs soundtrack single. Now, what I’ve heard from Jessie prior to 2020 was a melancholic sound best marked in my memory with “Wildest Moments.” But her album, including this single, takes us to retro disco without having to modernise any aspect of that era. The old playful soul in this track will get you moving and ready to hit the clubs again.
62 – Toosie Slide by Drake
2020 felt so long that I forgot “Toosie Slide” was from the same year. And this was released during the peak of lockdowns and quarantines in the world. I’m sure Drake is the father of rap/sung sound with his unique ability to make his songs viral. Sonically, “Toosie Slide” picks up where “In My Feelings” left off – brainless and entertaining catchy music, one we are in desperate need of in the Covid-19 era.
61 – Diamonds by Sam Smith
The world’s dwindling appreciation for Sam Smith is one of my biggest beefs with humanity. The more they actualise, the less they are seen. But that won’t get in the way of them giving us the best kiss-off track for one the one who used you. There’s so much class and glamour to the bitter goodbye that they express and that we should all mirror.