Remember 2020? Yeah, I know. Well here is the list you’ve been waiting for.
As usual: a you get couple of words and a YouTube video. All killer, no filler. I promise.
Note: I only noticed when I compiled the list that a lot of songs are about death…
Let’s kick it off with Molchat Doma. What’s that? Glad you asked! Molchat Doma is russian doomer music and the perfect soundtrack for 2020. Their album Etazhi is probably my most played album of 2020. It’s a rare album in its complete tonal consistency and overall freshness. This next track Volny is one of the highlights. The video alone should receive all sorts of prizes. Enjoy, and don’t worry there is more Molchat Doma on the list.
Small song, country feel. 272 views. Steph Copeland ft. Chris Wong. When I lay my head to rest, there will grow a garden from my chest.
This next song is quite the trip! If the first few notes don’t grab you by the throat, maybe Ben’s performance will. This is actually three songs into one. Take your time, this is a very intense performance. And do stick around for what happens after four minutes.
I like me some Bruce and you know it. Bruce is like a machine and delivers, always. And the title track for the docu/album is as Springsteen as they come. Banger!
While we’re on the subject of old rockers with guitars, let me just share this rendition of an old folk song. I can picture this song to be the last song in every Irish pub before closing time (you know, pre-covid etc.). You cannot not love this.
Ok last old guy with a guitar. I can’t quite put my finger on it but the remaster of Pocahontas is much better than the original?? It’s the tempo, maybe. I don’t know. Anyway here is Neil Young singing he wished he had a thousand pelts so he could sleep with Pocahontas (?!), read the wiki if you want to know more. It’s quite the trip.
Lets pick up the tempo. I am a sucker for urgent sounding songs like this. The pacing here is terrific. And only 278 views. How?! This song is STRAIGHT FIRE. Time! Let the room untouched!
Talking about urgency, Fontaines D.C. know everything about that. The band with multiple entries on last year’s list just keeps producing one great track after. This band is everything a band should be. And if this next track doesn’t convince you, I am sorry for you.
One of the few women on the list. Katie Pruitt. Poppy but she has skills. I like it! The Fleetwood Mac is strong in this one.
Back to the UK. If you are still wondering where Arctic Monkeys got their inspiration, look no further. I was thoroughly surprised when I found out this song actually predates the Arctic Monkeys because this song is MOST definitely the inspiration for Teddy Picker. Not the other way around. Alex Turner you cheeky bastard!
Let’s stay in the UK shall we. Bands like the Enemy, with clear tracebacks to the Jam can only spring from the UK. A quintessentially British song.
Here is a very special song by Empress Camelian. This song has everything you would want from a laptop artist. Or any artist for that matter. And this is exactly the kind of song I hope to find when I scour the internet. Intimate and melodic. You’ll be surprised.
Ok I lied, here is another old guy with a guitar. Bob Dylan. Of course. Dylan released his 39th studio album in 2020 Rough and Rowdy Ways. And a few alternate takes and reissues surfaced. Good stuff for fans of the man that’ll turn 80 (!) soon. But the one song that had everybody talking, because of its length and content, was Murder Most Foul. There is a lot to unpack here, because not only is it a Bob Dylan song, it’s also almost 17 minutes. Clear your schedule please.
Ok so this is a Dutch track, but I can’t not include this. These boys hit all the right notes. The guitar is definitely a callback to best Dutch popbands of the 80s. But don’t be fooled, there is more here than what it looks like, and it already looks just terrific.
Paul Simon is and will always be one of my favorite songwriters. This song was written just after Nixon got elected and is probably one of his most political songs. And I only recently learned what makes the melody for American Tune so great. Can you hear it?
I am sorry what’s that? You want sci-fi m83-ish sounds? Say no more.
I promised a little bit more of Molchat Doma. Well here it is, for the acquired taste palette. This track is just completely bonkers, but in a good way, image what that sounds like live.
Oh, Bright Eyes how I love thee. This guy can hardly do wrong and just keeps churning out instant classics. And this is a fantastic live rendition of a fantastic song. Handsdown the best Covid performance I saw this year. For the daily double bonus: can you tell who the drummer is?
This track was removed from Youtube. So I’ll share another rather similar one.
You know what, that is a GREAT question Jason Isbell?! What have *I* done.
Declan McKenna was on my list in 2015, when he was just a 16 year old kid, because the talent was so obviously apparent. This next track — 5 years on — proves that his talent has not been wasted. He already has quite the following and is on his way to becoming a bona fide popstar. This is his 2020 hit. Poppy, sure. Delicious, yes. You can’t hide talent like this.
Save the best for last. This is hands down the best song of 2020 for me (Molchat Doma takes home the album award). Wolf Parade. The video, well it’s… something and the artist went ALL out. The song itself is a grower. And I admit It didn’t click on my first listen. But hidden in this song is something quite remarkable. There is no greater build up to an outro break in all of 2020 — or maybe even the decade — than the 3:28 mark in this video. Just when you start wondering where this song is going, the essence of this track lays it soul bare. It is astounding and it’s the absolute pinnacle of an already absolutely incredible song. One for the ages. Turn it up to 11. Please do also check out the some of the live versions. The live performances really punctuate what this song is about. Drums, keys, guitar and a singer who doesn’t hold back. A delight to watch. This is what it is about. To say that he loves you, would be unfair towards you.
Also published on Medium.