The 20 best singles of 2020
11 December 2020, 17:18 | Updated: 11 December 2020, 17:34
From Harry Styles' 'Golden' to Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion's hit 'WAP', here's PopBuzz's Top 20 singles of 2020.
2020 is almost over and while we're happy to see the back of her, we can't help but reflect on some of the musical gifts this year has given us. Yes, you guessed it, it's time to rank our favourite singles of the year.
It's been a strange and life-changing year for many but whilst many movies and TV shows were put on hold, the music didn't stop.
Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, artists were locked in their homes, which meant more time to churn out music. From Chloe x Halle delivering the most phenomenal live performances to Megan Thee Stallion finally getting her flowers, it's been an exceptional year for music. Sadly, we won't hear a single one of this year's bops played in the club anytime soon but that doesn't take away a shred of their impact.
So it's the moment you've been waiting for (drum roll, please)… Here are PopBuzz's Top 20 singles of the year.
READ MORE: The 20 best albums of 2020
20) Billie Eilish – 'Therefore I Am'
Billie Eilish has released three singles this year, all worthy of acclaim. However, it's 'Therefore I Am' which stands out. Not only does it see her effortlessly drag people who use her name for clout but the production is signature Billie. It has the same cocky energy of 'bad guy' with equally iconic lines. The way that Billie deadpans 'I'm sorry I don't think I caught your name' in the bridge is perhaps her most savage delivery to date. – Sam Prance
19) Ashnikko – 'Daisy'
For those in the know, Ashnikko’s sucess with TikTok mega hit ‘Daisy’ was not unexpected, in fact it was a littler overdue for the blue haired writer/artist powerhouse who had been quietly killing it for a while out of the mainstream reach.
Following up from 2019 underground smash ‘STUPID’ featuring Yung Baby Tate, ‘Daisy’ is a perfect example of why Ashnikko deserves to be massive: it's unapologetic, empowered, a little surreal, and all sprinkled with her unique humour and perspective. – Emily-Jayne Beard
18) Joel Corry x MNEK – 'Head & Heart'
Let's be honest, you probably wouldn't put Joel Corry and MNEK together, but it works oh so well. MNEK's soulful vocals marry perfectly with the uplifting dance beat. You literally can't help but dance to this song. – Jazmin Duribe.
17) Doja Cat – 'Boss Bitch'
Doja Cat did what had to be done when she made 'Boss Bitch'. The feisty electronic track is the perfect addition to the Birds of Prey album, with killer lyrics and a catchy chorus that you'll find yourself screaming back at yourself in the mirror (don't worry, it's definitely self care…) – JD
16) Arlo Parks – 'Black Dog'
If you’ve ever cared for someone going through a bout of poor mental health, then ‘Black Dog’ will speak to you in way few other songs can. 20-year-old Arlo sings from the perspective of a concerned friend: “Let’s go to the corner store and buy some fruit / I would do anything to get you out your room”, she pleads. It’s heartbreakingly beautiful and feels like a song that will stand the test of time. – Woodrow Whyte
15) Chloe x Halle – Do It
Chloe x Halle know their way around a tune and 'Do It' is an incredible song. Produced by Scott Scorch, the track sees Chloe x Halle intertwine their flawless harmonies with their most radio friendly hit to date. Don't worry though, the girls haven't sacrificed any of their artistry for commercial success. 'Do It' is a pre-drinks anthem that sounds like a song only Chloe x Halle could make. When we're finally able to go clubbing again in 2021, this will be the first song we play on any night out. – SP
14) Dua Lipa – 'Levitating'
The truth is that any Dua Lipa single this year could have made this list but 'Levitating' reigns supreme. From the hand claps to the 'you can fly away with me tonight' refrain, the entire song is joy personified. Phrases like 'sugar boo' could sound jarring in another artist's hands but Dua is having so much fun that it's impossible not to "fly away" with her. The original, the Madonna and Missy Elliot remix and the DaBaby remix all slap. An instant classic that will go off for many years to come. – SP
13) Troye Sivan – 'Easy'
It’s been an important year for Troye Sivan. He split up with his boyfriend, released a new EP and, most crucially, grew a mullet. On the In A Dream EP, Troye upped the ante and brought a new level of maturity and sophistication to his sound, with ‘Easy’ being a clear stand out track and fan favourite. We absolutely have to stan. – WW
12) Harry Styles – 'Golden'
Harry Styles wrapped up his Fine Line era in the best way possible: with the song that started it all. The duality of hopefulness and vulnerability on the track sets up his second album perfectly and ‘Golden’ does exactly what it says on the tin: it’s a shot of pure sunshine. Nothing but immaculate vibes, honestly. – Katie Louise Smith
11) Bree Runway – 'Little Nokia'
If you don’t know who Bree Runway is then you will very soon. Bree is THEE moment and her 2000AND4EVA EP is basically a statement of intent: she’s coming for the crown, bitch. All of Bree’s singles this year were worthy of a place on the list but ’Little Nokia’ goes that extra bit harder, and showcases how Bree can bring something fresh and new to the table. It’s also the first song we’ll request when we’re allowed back in the club. – WW
10) Victoria Monét – 'Experience (feat. Khalid & SG Lewis)'
There have been many disco bops this year but none are quite as remarkable as 'Experience' by Victoria Monét, Khalid and SG Lewis. It may seem understated at first but it quickly blossoms into one of the most euphoric songs in recent memory. Victoria and Khalid trade lines about a failed love but there's no bitterness. They're "hoping that experience can get you to change" and listening to them, you believe that change is possible. In a just world, this song would have been Number 1 all summer long. – SP
9) Ariana Grande – 'positions'
2020 was the year Ariana Grande got horny on the main and, hello, let’s celebrate that! ‘Positions’ is not only one of the best sex bops released this year but it’s also hella catchy - the kind of song that just doesn’t leave your head for weeks on end. And when all is said and done, isn’t that what we want from our biggest pop stars? Thanks Ari for keeping the girls well and truly fed in our darkest hour. – WW
8) Halsey – 'You should be sad'
If there was ever a case that Halsey should drop a Country-Pop album, ‘You Should Be Sad’ is it. Partly inspired by Carrie Underwood’s ‘Before He Cheats’, Halsey sings about how lucky she is to have escaped a toxic, unfaithful ex with lyrics so deliciously petty they make you wanna call out a man you never even dated. And that video?! UGH! Come on now! – KLS
7) Rina Sawayama – 'Comme des Garçons (Like the Boys)'
Rina Sawayama dropped this banger 17 days into the year, followed it up with a stunning debut album in April and never looked back. In the lyrics, Rina explores celebrating empowerment while also sending up male confidence. Who knew a song inspired by Beto O’Rourke’s arrogance would be so! fucking! GOOD?! – KLS
6) Little Mix – 'Sweet Melody'
'Sweet Melody' is relentless. Every single second of the song offers something new. There's Jade's lower register in the opening verse, the hypnotic weirdness of Jesy's 'doo doo' refrain, Perrie's delivery of the line 'he would lie, he would cheat, over syncopated beats', Leigh-Anne's show-stopping bridge... the list goes on. Not to mention, the chorus is so infectious that it keeps you coming back for more. We knew that a Little Mix song written and produced by Tayla Parx and MNEK was going to be brilliant but we weren't prepared for it to be this brilliant. – SP
5) Miley Cyrus – 'Midnight Sky'
Miley Cyrus did what needed to be done with 'Midnight Sky'. The song is an arena pop rock anthem designed to be screamed at stadiums and Miley has never sounded more at home. Lyrically, she opens up about the breakdown of her past relationships as she celebrates her freedom. When she sings 'I don't need to be loved by you' in the chorus, you believe it. The single interpolates 'Edge of Seventeen' by Stevie Nicks and there's a remix featuring Stevie herself. Miley's past work has always hinted that she could become a modern day rock icon; on 'Midnight Sky' she fulfils her destiny. – SP
4) The 1975 – 'If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)'
To say this song was hotly anticipated by The 1975 fans would be a vast understatement - even casual fans knew all the words before it dropped thanks to several fan recordings from shows in 2019. And yet, this song’s euphoric qualities do not wane even now. When that big chorus hits and the horns come in, it is sheer bliss. The accompanying album might not have been as well received by some but ‘If You’re Too Shy’ is easily one of their best singles yet. - WW
3) Megan Thee Stallion – 'Savage Remix' (feat. Beyoncé)
'Savage' is truly the gift that keeps on giving. Not only did we get Megan Thee Stallion, we got the original Houston Hottie Beyoncé too? On her rapping wave?! We truly don't deserve. When this song dropped it was played on repeat, it had people randomly shouting "classy, bougie, ratchet" at the top of their lungs and it started a viral TikTok challenge. If you can get Honey (aka Jessica Alba) to dance again then you're onto something. 'Savage' also become Megan's first number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and marked the start of her chart-topping success. – JD
2 ) Lady Gaga & Ariana Grande – 'Rain On Me'
There’s no other way to put it: ‘Rain On Me’ is a pop masterpiece. It’s the complete and utter burst of euphoria that this tragic little year so desperately needed. It’s almost as if Lady Gaga and Ariana (an actual iconic duo) literally said: “You guys are in a crisis, we’re on our way.” Both superstars at the top of their game, Gaga and Ari’s efforts to lift us up were also deeply personal to them too, exploring their own personal traumas throughout the lyrics. At its core, ‘Rain On Me’ is an anthem that tells us that it’s okay to celebrate just being alive, despite it all. Now everyone say, “thank you Gaga and Ariana!” – KLS
1) Cardi B – 'WAP' (feat. Megan Thee Stallion)
When Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion dropped 'WAP' it felt like the world stopped and actually listened. Two women boldly discussing their sexuality over Frank Ski's 1993 single 'Whores in This House' was so shockingly brilliant and the perfect summer hit.
Cardi had taken a brief hiatus from the music game but it proved that she still had chart-topping power with this track. A song that has the power to anger conservatives, trigger debates over female sexuality from so-called scholars and have people literally breaking their bones on TikTok has to be number one of the year.
Can we talk about the music video too? 'WAP' broke the record for the biggest 24-hour debut for an all-female collaboration on YouTube. With cameos from Rubi Rose, Normani, Mulatto, Sukihana, Rosalía and… Kylie Jenner?! A petition was literally started to remove Kylie from the music video, that's how much people cared about this song. 'WAP' wasn't just a song – it was a cultural reset. – JD
Interested in seeing how your fave singles from previous years ranked? Well, you can check them out here: