Best songs of 2020
Blinded by the Floodlights has spoken, here's the list of our favourite 25 songs from what has been a crazy year!
25. Taylor Swift - exile ft. Bon Iver
Taylor Swift surprised us all back in July when she suddenly dropped her indie-folk record folklore. The album featured a host of collaborators, from The National's Aaron Dressner to Bleacher's Jack Antonoff, however it was the post-breakup duet with Bon Iver's Justin Vernon which stole the show.
24. Myd - Moving Men (ft. Mac Demarco)
In October, French dance producer Myd and Canadian singer-songwriter Mac DeMarco joined forces for the whistle friendly chilled banger 'Moving Men', accompanied by a playful animated video. The song took a different turn entirely when legendary House producer Bob Sinclar released a remix fit for the dancefloor!
23. Gorillaz - Aries ft. Peter Hook & Georgia
Twenty years after first releasing music, Gorillaz - which features Blur frontman Damon Albarn and artist Jamie Hewlett - proved this year why they're still on the top of their game. New album Song Machine featured a varied range of collaborators over many genres, the highlight being melancholic, New Order-inspired 'Aries'.
22. The Streets - Call My Phone Thinking I'm Doing Nothing Better ft. Tame Impala
Having not released an album since 2011, UK Garage favourites The Streets returned with a bang this year. In April, Mike Skinner joined forces with Tame Impala on 'Call My Phone...' which deals with themes of social distancing, self-esteem and our over-reliance on technology.
21. Another Sky - Brave Face
Another Sky are a London-based post-rock band who released their debut album back in August and they're one we've been championing for quite a while. 'Brave Face' is proof of why the hype is justified. It's a beautiful song about facing up to your problems in the face of adversity. Featured as Radio 1 DJ Greg James' single of the week back in February, it's one which has pulled on our heart-strings many times this year!
20. Matt Berninger - Distant Axis
Baritone voiced frontman of The National Matt Berninger went solo this year, releasing Serpentine Prison back in October. One of the first songs written for the album was also one of the most impactful. 'Distant Axis' deals with the feeling of distance you feel with someone you thought you'd be forever close to. Simply brilliant.
19. Dream Wife - Sports!
Brighton dance-punks Dream Wife carried the spirit of Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Karen O through 'Sports!', the opening track on their latest album So When You Gonna... It's energetic, it's quirky and it's a lot of fun!
18. Circa Waves - Sad Happy
Liverpool indie-pop band Circa Waves are better known for upbeat, sun-kissed bangers, but it was the title track of their new double album which showed a different side to them. Are they sad? Are they happy? Or are they both? It's melancholic, uplifting and one of our favourites this year.
17. The Snuts - Always
Scotland's The Snuts have been flavour of the month in the indie world for quite some time now, with a host of EPs gathering buzz and millions of streams. With a new album anticipated in 2021, it was songs like 'Always' - with it's blues-rock and delicious riff - which showed us just why the hype is justified.
16. Doves - Carousels
In June, Doves dropped the fairground inspired 'Carousels' after an 11-year absence. Jangly and nostalgic, the Manchester giants snuck back into the limelight and blew everyone away. It's a beautifully crafted, psychedelic song featuring a soulful groove and looped drums over their traditional melancholic indie rock sound. Out of the game for over a decade, but Jimi Goodwin and co hadn't lost their touch!
15. DMA's - Life is a Game of Changing
2020 was the year Australian trio DMA's finally exploded. Their third album 'THE GLOW' was packed with great hooks, Britpop-inspired indie anthems, delicate moments and electronics. This track was the most ravey on the album, a thoughtful indie-dance banger which quickly became an addictive listen.
14. Idles - Carcinogenic
'Carcinogenic' from third album Ultra Mono is classic IDLES. It's fast-paced post-punk with overtly political lyrics, a pounding bassline and a build-up to an explosive and anthemic chorus. You can just tell it's going to be a live favourite on the Bristol band's live tour next year!
13. Washed Out - Time To Walk Away
Chillwave godfather Washed Out released 'Time to Walk Away' as the second single to new album Purple Noon and it's another sun-kissed, melancholic, dream-pop banger. It's one we couldn't get enough this year!
12. CamelPhat, Yannis, Foals - Hypercolour
The world of dance and indie rock collided in June when Yannis Phallippakis - the frontman of Oxford indie rock legends Foals - joined forces with Liverpudlian House duo CamelPhat to produce ‘Hypercolour’. It's a hypnotic House tune with summer vibes!
11. Soccer Mommy - yellow is the color of her eyes
Soccer Mommy has undoubtedly been one of the biggest successes this year after releasing color theory, her second album which was defined by brilliant hooks and lo-fi 90s indie rock. Many of the songs touch on mental health and personal issues, and it was this sentimental song which was a clear highlight as she addressed her mother's terminal illness.
10. Fontaines D.C. - A Hero's Death
Back in May, the Dublin post-punks made a return with new music only a year after debut Dogrel had hit the shelves. The title track to their new album (which was released in July) showed a new, darker side to the band which we hadn't seen before. There are even Beach Boys-inspired vocal harmonies and sharp lines, as usual, from frontman Grian Chatten. Life ain't always empty!
9. Gerry Cinnamon - Where We're Going
Gerry Cinnamon's first single from his second album The Bonny had him winning over many of his former critics (of which I was one of them). In 'Where We're Going', the Glasgow singer is impassioned, melancholic, and yet still able to remain the same anthemic and authentic performer that his early fans identified with.
8. Idles - Model Village
IDLES best song from new album Ultra Mono is also amongst the best songs they've released. It's radio-friendly punk rock about a fictional English village where racist, homophobic and sexist attitudes lie. Joe Talbot describes a small town full of "half-pint thugs", "nine fingered boys" and misguided nationalism. The song itself drew criticism for its use of the divisive word "gammon" to describe men in this 'village', whilst bands like Sleaford Mods and Fat White Family have accused IDLES frontman Joe Talbott of class appropriation. Despite the controversy, you can't deny it's been one of the biggest indie rock songs of the year.
7. The Weeknd - After Hours
In March, just as the world was getting crazy thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Weeknd released After Hours, an album I then described as the 'most enjoyable of the year so far'. The reason for this wasn't just the massive 80s synth-pop hits it produced in 'Blinding Lights' and 'In Your Eyes', but for the cinematic storyline that he paints through the running narrative of the album. The best song on the album is easily the penultimate track, the dark 'After Hours'. In the first verse, Abel Tesfaye's admits his mistakes towards a former lover (which is the theme running throughout the record) have caused him unbearable pain and misery. As the production gets darker and the beat kicks in, he recalls his "darkest hours" and "turning into the man I used to be" (the drug-taking womaniser he revels in elsewhere). It's a song all about relationship regret and ultimately the greatest moment on one of 2020's best albums.
6. Phoebe Bridgers - I Know the End
Arguably the best indie album released this year was Phoebe Bridgers' Punisher. The great thing about the album is just how honest the Californian singer-songwriter is in her lyrics, covering topics from tour depression, failing relationships to her overzealous obsession with Elliot Smith. As far as climaxes to an album go, you'll be hard-pressed to find a better closer than 'In Know the End'. An epic finale which builds up before an explosive finish. The end of the world never sounded quite this good.
5. Tame Impala - One More Year
'One More Year' is the opener to Tame Impala's fourth album The Slow Rush. The Australian electro indie-pop artist's new record discusses time, encouraging the listener to stop worrying about the past and approaching the future with positivity. The hypnotic opening track 'One More Year' is about being stuck in a rut and worrying that time passing you by. In a line strikingly familiar to many working adults, Kevin Parker sings about being on "rollercoaster, stuck on its loop-de-loop, ‘cause what we did, one day on a whim, has slowly become, all we do". Through the song, Parker offers a solution, why not just say you'll only do what you do for one more year and then move on? The fix is gradually working towards your goal. As well as sounding great, the message behind it definitely inspires!
4. Run The Jewels - walking in the snow
Released only a week after the tragic murder of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis Police Officer- which sparked Black Lives Matter protests across America - the fourth track from hip hop duo Run the Jewels' fourth album couldn't have been more relevant. Rappers Killer Mike and EL-P call out police brutality, racism, the media, apathy and oppression. In what is perhaps the most hard-hitting verse in the song, Killer Mike raps "And usually the lowest scores the poorest and they look like me, and every day on the evening news, they feed you fear for free, and you so numb, you watch the cops choke out a man like me, until my voice goes from a shriek to whisper, "I can't breathe". Powerful stuff.
3. Future Islands - For Sure
'For Sure' might just be the best song the Baltimore synth-pop band have ever produced. With a signature Future Islands sound featuring powerful vocals, dreamy synths and a funky bass-line, it's a heart-warming track about "love and trust"'. Upon release in July I loved it so much I named it my second favourite Indie song of the summer. Watching the band live is a proper chest-pumping, joyful experience and this track brings the best elements of Future Islands together in 3 and a half minutes uplifting minutes.
2. Bleachers - Chinatown ft. Bruce Springsteen
With its 80s Springsteen vibes, dreamy, lo-fi vocals and upbeat melody, 'Chinatown' dropped in November, becoming an instant favourite. Bruce Springsteen joins us two-thirds in and just the sight of him in the video alongside Bleachers singer Jack Antonoff brings upon a celebration. Bruce repeats the earlier chorus of "But a girl like you, could rip me out of my head", before a heartfelt "Cause I wanna find tomorrow, yeah, I wanna find tomorrow". Jack Antonoff promises to "take the sadness right out of our Saturday night" and right he does, it's just the vibe to close out 2020. Upon release, I wrote about how the track was the best song I'd heard in a long time and, despite its short life span, it's up there with the most played tracks of the year.
1. Fontaines D.C. - Televised Mind
So here we are, the favourite song of the year title goes to (drum roll...) 'Televised Mind' by Dublin post-punks Fontaines D.C. The song came out of nowhere one sunny June evening and on first listen I knew it was one I'd be obsessively listening to for weeks to come. Like 'A Hero's Death' before it, the band provided us with a sound we didn't expect, a rough hypnotic sound providing a real eerie atmosphere to the track. Frontman Grian Chatten is a man possessed as he chants "that’s a televised mind", the droning guitars and heavy drums combining perfectly in support. It’s a song about people using echo chambers to get approval for their own opinions, inspired by both The Prodigy and The Brian Jonestown Massacre. It won't be for everyone, but what a mood. What a song.
Some songs worthy of mentions this year include:
The Skinner Brothers 'Away Days' for getting the football fans amongst us all nostalgic for the buzz of following your team, the beautifully addictive dream-pop of Palm Ghosts 'Wide Awake and Waiting' and the punchy psychedelic rock banger that was 'Be My Friend' by Manchester's THE GOA EXPRESS.