If this year has taught me anything, it’s that no matter how crazy things get, there’s always a song out there to keep you grounded. A little musical oasis to take sanctuary in when you lose your way. Each track here has in some way provided just the escape I needed at some point this past year, and hopefully they can offer you the same:
10. AJIMAL – I’ve Known Your Heart
Elegant and uplifting, I find myself enthralled by every facet of its immaculate arrangement. The lush orchestration, tender lyricism and angelic vocals at work on this track make it truly something to behold. It’s the kind of song that will forever pull at your heartstrings, whether it’s your first listen or the hundredth.
9. Bartees Strange – Stone Meadows
With his acclaimed and eclectic debut offering up such a diverse range of brilliantly executed ideas, Bartees Strange was bound to make an appearance in some form on this list. Ultimately ‘Stone Meadows’ was the song that ticked the most boxes for me, packing echoed folk and stunning synth soundscapes into this driven indie rocker.
8. Drew Angus – Mr. Gemini
This unrelenting old-school rocker appeals to the care-free spirit in all of us. It’s one of those sublime “speeding down the highway with the top down” kinda songs that makes you feel like you could take on the whole world. While Geminis are well known for their mercurial nature, I can rely on this track to put a smile on my face every time.
7. Hannah Grace – Blue
If I were to give out an award for the biggest bop of 2020, then ‘Blue’ would be a clear frontrunner. With it’s infectious understated groove and effervescent earworm melodies, it’s simply overflowing with feel-good energy. It’s the perfect pick-me-up, and the centrepiece of my playlist for the foreseeable future.
6. The Killers – Caution
Such a boundless and triumphant track. The Killers are truly firing on all cylinders with this stunning lead single. Between the anthemic chorus, its sublime synth driven Americana sound, and the fantastic guitar work courtesy of the legendary Lindsey Buckingham, ‘Caution’ is the kind of song that demands to be played loud.
5. Phoebe Bridgers – I Know The End
The stunning slow-burner that ended her sophomore album on a high. I just adore the way it slowly builds from the hazy hum of a daydream to its final moments of captivating cacophony, all the while packed to the brim with some of Phoebe’s most tattoo worthy lyrics. It feels unknowable and mysterious, and yet profoundly familiar in equal measure.
4. Dizzy – Roman Candles
With its dreamy arrangement, relatable lyrics and addictive chorus, this song has been the lynchpin of my summer soundtrack. It burrows its way ever deeper into my affections each time I hear it, and its gorgeous melodies will stay swimming round my thoughts for days afterwards. Such a delightful track to have stumbled upon.
3. The Howl & The Hum – Sweet Fading Silver
This was the song that made me fall in love with this band when I first heard them play it live a few years ago. It feels like an age has passed between that day and the band finally releasing a studio version, but by god it was worth the wait. The sparse atmosphere, the singular lyricism, the shudder of drums and the soaring guitar – it’s every bit as enchanting as the first time I heard it.
2. The Amazing Devil – Battle Cries
My most listened to song of the year by a country mile. I’ve adored pouring over all the little lyrical quirks and details in the counterpointed verses, while letting my spirit be carried by every rise and fall of the harmonies. And that chorus – by God, you just want to stand on a mountaintop with your arms wide and sing it out at the top of your lungs for all the world below to hear.
1. Sophie Morgan – Unwinnable War
A last minute addition, and the perfect reminder as to why I leave my end-of-lists until the actual end of the year. Plenty of songs on this list have had months to grow on me, but ‘Unwinnable War’ made such a strong impression that even from the very first listen I felt the spark of something special. It’s the best work yet from rising star Sophie Morgan, and my favourite song of 2020.