Billboard Top 100 Songs of 2020 – Hit or Miss?
Written by Adela Skowronski on December 11, 2020
All opinions expressed in this article are just the author’s thoughts, not anyone else from WPNA.
It’s that time of year again…. the time when the biggest music magazines of the United States release lists for their top 100 songs of 2020. Do these lists really matter? Who knows. The songs people always think will be remembered for years end up fading into obscurity 50% of the time anyways.
Despite this, I think its fun trying to guess what will be remembered as the songs of 2020: it’s been a weird year to remember. Here is what I agreed (and didn’t agree with ) of the Billboard’s Top songs of 2020.
Billboard rated the following as top songs of the year …. let’s start from #20
20. Machine Gun Kelly, “Bloody Valentine”
19. The Chicks, “Gaslighter”
18. Bad Bunny, “Yo Perreo Sola”
17. BENEE feat. Gus Dapperton, “Supalonely”
16. Miley Cyrus, “Midnight Sky”
15. Lil Baby, “The Bigger Picture”
14. Billie Eilish, “Therefore I Am”
13. Roddy Ricch, “The Box”
12. Maren Morris, “The Bones”
11. Taylor Swift, “Cardigan”
10. Dua Lipa, “Break My Heart”
9. DaBaby feat. Roddy Ricch, “Rockstar”
8. 24kGoldn feat. iann dior, “Mood”
7. BTS, “Dynamite”
6. Doja Cat, “Say So”
5. Cardi B feat. Megan Thee Stallion, “WAP”
4. Harry Styles, “Adore You”
3. Megan Thee Stallion feat. Beyoncé, “Savage” (Remix)
2. The Weeknd, “Blinding Lights”
1. Lady Gaga & Ariana Grande, “Rain on Me”
I can say with complete honesty that I enjoy most of these songs from a purely pop-aesthetic. They’re catchy, incredibly versatile in genre and increasingly multi-lingual: an accurate representation of pop-culture & general public sentiment in 2020. No one’s going to argue, for example, that 2020 was a breakout year for BTS, and K-pop in general, throughout the U.S. The Chicks’ decisively different comeback is worth making the list, and its important to recognize Puetro Rican rapper Bad Bunny’s crazy popularity in 2020 too.
Yet there is definitely a Billboard charts bias that needs to be addressed here.
While all of the songs on Billboard’s list were certainly popular on the charts in 2020, Billboard relied on the charts a little too heavily and placed certain songs much higher than they needed to be placed. This is a list of the top songs in a year that has been unlike any other. In this author’s opinion, picking the top songs of 2020 requires choosing those songs most reflective of both collective public turmoil & how people have overcome that turmoil.
For example, the #1 song of 2020 according to Billboard is to me a complete fail.
While a great dance song with relatable lyrics, “Rain on Me” by Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande doesn’t do nearly enough to capture the general mood of the year. Having two pop queens on this song is not enough to sell it either. The lyrics talk about dancing through your tears and being resilient but don’t convey any of the confusion, desperation, or mood swings that we’ve experienced as a nation this year. 2020 has been too wild of a year to have a simple dance song about surface-level resilience define it. I could say similar about songs like Machine Gun Kelly’s “Bloody Valentine” , Doja Cat’s “Say So” (though it is a damn catchy song), and Harry Styles’ “Adore You”. Great tracks in general, but not songs that define 2020.
In contrast, Weekend’s Blinding Lights taking the #2 spot makes a little bit more sense. It’s still a heavily dance-geared track, but the combination of throw-back 80’s, distinctive vocals, and the way the joy is described in the song – a blinding, overwhelming, sometimes desperate joy – is markedly more “2020” than Gaga & Grande’s collaboration.
Some final thoughts before I make this blog wayyy too long: while they’re not necessarily my taste in music, I surprisingly do agree with the two Megan thee Stallion Songs appearing on the Top 10 Songs of 2020. We have to keep in mind that the main purpose of Billboard making these lists is to show what songs were most popular, interesting and impactful during any given year.
“WAP” for example is a song that is shockingly graphic for Top 40 music, throwing back to dark & sexual adult comedy, and most surprisingly – not sung by men! But by women! We could argue all day about whether or not we should allow this song to play on the radio….however it is a song that everyone knew in 2020, and sparked MASSIVE conversations about censorship, Top 40 music, and women’s sexuality.
Similarly, Megan thee Stallion’s song “Savage” was also incredibly important in pop culture this year. While more along the lines of typical rap / pop in terms of content, it was catchy and one of the songs that caused TikTok to really explode in popularity this year.
If you feel like looking through BillBoard’s Full List of 100 Top Songs, you can check it out here
… and who knows? Maybe the WPNA Team will release our own Staff Picked Songs very shortly.