10. Typo – Kuru
My insecurities with recency bias are unfortunately forcing me to place this song at the bottom of the list, but if I wasn’t so concerned with that it would certainly be placed much higher. Kuru is a prodigy of modern pop music, and though I could’ve picked any number of his singles throughout 2020 for this list, he has never made anything quite like “Typo,” plain and simple.
It had to be placed on this list out of respect among anything else. Kuru was able to spin the usually-brash and detail-lacking stylistics of drill music into an atmospheric pop ballad that showcases one of the single best performances from a solely vocal perspective all year. This hook is genuinely unreal — defying all set conventions in order to craft something that will stick in the memories of this entire year as we look back on it in the future. The instrumental carries that exact same demeanor with it as well, just bursting with atmosphere and thematic weight all the same with its soaring synths and aforementioned drill-centric drums. This is a song that is unforgettable in ways that most other tacks couldn’t even comprehend nor at the very least attempt to. It is that good, and it’s a shame that my own insecurities are forcing it this low.
9. Freedom From The World – Meat Computer
The divisive art that Meat Computer creates is entirely justifiable as it is difficult to explain. This is music that will either resonate with you at a completely indescribable level, or sound as though you’re listening to something unfathomable from all angles. For me however, I fall more so into the former category, as I believe this is one of the most talented and of-their-own figures in modern music today.
“Freedom From The World” made the biggest impact on me out of their discography this year, solely due to the fact that it represents all that this inconspicuous artist is about in one single offering. The way this song gives off this aura of escapism and nostalgia – all with passages and riffs alike that ideally match that tone – is seriously unfounded in its own right. This is a track that embodies all things modernity — from its of-its-own demeanor, to its sonic structure, and all the way down to its thematic elements all the same.
8. Crash Tonight – Funeral
Though the acts that make up this new wave of pop musicians online are extremely focused on being progressive in every sense, that does not mean even the most progressive of these acts fail to keep a sense of tried and true pop prowess with them in the process. Among the best examples of these acts who take the established norms of old and translate them into new lanes is the ever-prolific Funeral, who does exactly this just about better than anyone else working today.
His remarkable offering “Crash Tonight” is arguably the best example of his untapped expertise when it comes to translating his inner-experienced sense of artistry. This track not only reflects this notion through its bevy of hooks spread throughout its runtime – some of the catchiest and gripping ones of the year I might add – but also through its outstanding lyrical tones and themes alike. The ways in which Funeral hammers on that atypical contradictory approach to the lyrics on this track is so reminiscent of what made the best of pop’s darker, alternative eras in the mid-90s and mid-00s alike so great by themselves. The fact that this modern figure was able to flip this approach in an equally contemporary light is remarkable on its own, and it produced one of the most fascinatingly perfect tracks of the year as a result.
7. Things U Do – Senses
A figure as fascinating in the manner that Senses is only comes around once in a lifetime in regards to music. Their place in this ever-so-saturated online music landscape is matched by absolutely no one based on their equal aspects of anonymity and talent alike. They make music that transcends the idea of having a “real life” image — instead transporting us to a completely digitized and manufactured world, but one that seems so real due to their rich artistry all the same.
Their 2020 was spent cementing these claims in the minds of so many via single after single with resounding success arising from each, but none had quite the same impact on me than “Things U Do” — a nostalgic, soaring, and gripping display of all that this unignorable act has in store. The sheer atmosphere that this song exudes from an instrumental perspective is one thing entirely, but the ways in which Senses themselves goes above and beyond to deliver one of the most memorable hooks of the entire year across all genres is easily the most integral piece of this outstanding picture they ended up painting.
6. I’m Your Lover – Merely
If I had the choice to make all pop music sound the exact same, I would most likely choose something that sounds exactly like the music Merely makes. Since discovering her amongst the rest of the talented cast at Year0001, she has cemented her place in my mind as one of the absolute most underappreciated talents to grace the entire music scene today.
Her best offering this year was undoubtedly her dream-pop ballad “I’m Your Lover” — a track that equally calls back to the subgenre’s heyday in the 80s just as much as it saturates itself in our current times. It is such an impactful, driving, and momentous offering that has stayed with me for quite some time now, easily due to how those aspects are compounded with the level of passion delivered from Merely herself in her own performance.
5. Leg Room – Alice Gas (feat. Angelus and d0llywood1)
There are an endless amount of new musical angles that have come to correspond with the coming picture of pop music moving into the future, and the fact that this acts that make up this scene use their endless resources as their main calling card tells you all you need to know about the extent of these facets. But even though this very scene is as resourceful and dynamic as these descriptions entail, the purveying trio of Alice Gas, Angelus, and d0llywood1 still have their defining features about them that do nothing else but set them apart from each other even from the widest spectacle imaginable.
That is exactly why a song like “Leg Room” is so symbolic of the scene they have come to define. Seldom tracks could ever give you the best and most all-encompassing image of the work, passion, and artistry that they have manifested for themselves up to its release and beyond — from its energetic and masterfully constructed instrumental right down to these incredibly different, yet cohesive trio of performances that each act gives in the moment.
4. One For Me – Dazegxd and Dirty Bird
The essence of nostalgia has always played a huge role in my interests and overall creative mindset — especially nostalgia that applies directly into the things I held close to me growing up. So the resurgence of tried and true millennium-based house music throughout this year was not just something up my alley, but something that I’ve been subconsciously waiting on for quite some time. Now take that genre and put it in the context of how people born in the 21st century found out about this music in particular – that being the 2000s Internet landscape – and you get music that is beyond tailored to this new generation.
If this rise needed a perfect song to symbolize it, there is nothing better than Dazegxd and Dirty Bird’s “One For Me” off of their collaborative EP “d&db.nfo.” These two are who I consider the best acts taking that aforementioned approach as we currently stand, and both of them have song after song that reflects this sentiment so vividly. But “One For Me” is easily the best of them, and it’s honestly because this is one of the most flawlessly executed house tracks I have ever heard, certainly the best “modern” take there is at least. It is a song that borrows from the past in the most genuine manner imaginable, taking the signature facets of this era in house and paints them with a distinct coat of modernity with all the grace in the world. I really do believe something like this could only ever be created by these two unbelievable creative minds.
3. imallovertheplace- d0llywood1 (feat. Twikipedia)
Picking just one song from my absolute favorite act from the entirety of this year was without question the most difficult task in making this list. These rankings could have very well been 10 Dolly songs plain and simple; that is just how much I cannot get enough of modern music’s next most talented figure by herself. Little more can be said on my end in describing all that makes up her artistry, perhaps I’ve talked enough in other places…
But I had to choose “imallovertheplace” among the rest of her catalog, though practically anything else could have been the choice here. Beyond just enjoying this song on a personal level to end due to its infectious and memorable aspects throughout, I chose it for this list because it symbolizes arguably Dolly’s most defining feature: her tried and true pop appeal. She is one of only a few artists that I’ve ever come to listen to who can take a signature delivery like her own and apply it to nearly any type of instrumental, feature, or any other musical medium across the board. This song is modern pop music at its most pristine and fine-tuned level; nearly every single passage of this song is a gripping hook by itself, from the outstanding and multi-layered chorus right down to Twikipedia’s outstanding guest verse of their own and the magnificent instrumental provided by 4am and Elxnce. It is without question the most memorable and genuinely impressive songs of the entire year, and who else could bring something like this to the table than arguably this list’s most exceptional solo act.
2. Skin Sink – Reserv
In one way or another, Reserv is destined to be an act who goes down in modern musical history as an absolute marvel in every sense of the term. There is no one else who sounds like this, nor could anyone ever dream of even attempting to sound like him. His untapped sonic approach is even made that much more emphatic via his emotionally-dense and effectively biting delivery from a vocal perspective — all surrounding the best songwriting I have heard from someone at his level. Put simply, Reserv turns the surreal into reality from every single angle he possibly could.
Though any number of his outstanding singles could have made my list, “Skin Sink” is the one that had the most profound effect on me more than anything else. Reserv’s aforementioned expertise in the lanes of gravitational songwriting and his typically dejected delivery are on full display here, even creating some of his most memorable hooks on this track as well despite its solemn tones as per usual. The song’s instrumental is truly the most telling aspect amongst everything else however, taking these far off and blatantly nostalgic instruments and combining them into some of the most brutally momentous passages I had the chance to hear all year from an instrumental perspective. Overall, this would have been the year’s most emotionally powerful and magnificent track by itself — that is if not for number one on this list.
1. Oblivion – Osquinn (feat. Blackwinterwells)
A song’s overall relevance plays such a huge role in placing it on a given list or type of ranking — “relevance” in the sense that it’s relevant to the real world, and to the person behind the ranking on a personal level. 2020 has been defined by my life’s greatest dichotomy; I’ve had so many life-changing and genuinely remarkable things happen to me, but I’ve somehow experienced some of the most trying and difficult periods at the exact same time. That divide extends to the growing scene that has risen to prominence before my very eyes, and certainly the entire world that surrounds us all during these unprecedented times. Though success is arriving at our feet quicker than we could have ever imagined, there is still so much terrifying uncertainty and anxiety coursing through us all day by day, leading to the fear that it could all end in an instant. “Oblivion” is the greatest artistic representation of this dichotomy that I could have ever asked for, and this single song means more than the world to me given this context.
Quinn and Wells crafted a song that represents the progression of this burgeoning scene in a variety of manners, mostly in the sense of structure and thematic weight. The song’s rapid shift from passage to passage is an ideal reflection of this scene’s sporadic approach to their craft, and the quality of these passages is obviously spotless knowing the talent that Wells holds within her. Quinn’s lyrical callbacks also achieve the same thing as well.
These baseline factors do enough to reflect the scene by itself, but the track truly takes the most personal step imaginable when taking in Quinn’s performance on the mic. The teenage prodigy is everything that the term calls for, but that title comes with its incredibly unfortunate downsides. Coming up that young and being hailed as such is one thing, but in the context of this year and the circumstances that have come about in her life, the lyrics on this track come to reflect something far more resounding when placed in this context. But these are motifs that extend to the simultaneously bright and grim world that 2020 has given us, and ones that resonate with me personally on such an immense level. The simple phrase “I don’t wanna be the one to take out myself” has repeated over and over again in my mind since hearing this song, knowing that this is exactly how I and many others truly felt this year — knowing that for how many great things have happened, the anxiety of everything else is powerful enough to wipe it all away.
Whether she knows it or not, Quinn wrapped up the feelings of millions with one simple song, and more specifically, the feelings of those who follow in both her and Wells’s wake within the future of music moving forward. This is a song that gets this spot not because it does things better than the rest of the list, but because it does things that these other songs can’t do. It’s the melancholic anthem of 2020, and certainly the anthem of my own life as it currently stands.