The 30 Best Pop Songs Of Q1, 2020
The first quarter of 2020 was a hell-ride of historic proportions, but at least it had a good soundtrack. From the reemergence of dance-pop thanks to Dua Lipa and Lady Gaga to the ever-widening reach of Latin music, there has been no shortage of bops. After the dark days of introspective whispering (i.e. 2019), hitmakers suddenly gave themselves permission to have a little fun — dipping into disco, country or whatever else tickled their fancy without the need to remind us that they are indeed a Very Serious Artist.
That’s not to say that it was all rainbows and unicorns, but pop did more than its fair share of heavy lifting when it came to raising our spirits. Now comes the hard part. How do you condense three months of very good music into a list? Well, by going with your gut and by paying close attention to the songs that keep calling you back over and over again. Without further ado, here are my top 30 pop songs of Q1, 2020. Just don’t pay too much attention to the rankings, everything here is top-tier pop.
30. “Love Em Leave Em” — Amindi & Kari Faux (review)
A sunny blend of dancehall, R&B and pop, Amindi & Kari Faux’s “Love Em Leave Em” is a sing-along bop about securing the bag. This slept-on gem comes from the Like A Boss soundtrack.
29. “Lento” — Lauren Jauregui (review)
As soft and soothing as an island breeze, Lauren Jauregui kicked off 2020 with a sultry tune called “Lento.” I think she finally found her sound.
28. “Stupid Love” — Lady Gaga (review)
Lady Gaga’s “Stupid Love” wore out its welcome a little faster than I expected, but it’s still a fluffy pop oddity that is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
27. “LOVE ME HARD” — Elly Duhé
When is the world going to wake up to the pop virtuosity of Elly Duhé? She rolls out impeccable songs at an alarming rate and continues to surprise lyrically and sonically. “LOVE ME HARD” deserves your full attention.
26. “Break Up Song” — Little Mix (review)
The world’s biggest girl group takes us back to the ’80s on this shimmery, synth-dappled “Break Up Song.” Little Mix is officially back on track after the forgettable “Bounce Back.”
25. “Goodlife” — Agnes (review)
After a seven-year hiatus, Agnes (of “Release Me” fame) finally returned in 2019 with a new EP. The Swedish pop star kept her foot on the gas in 2020 this gentle, instantly-hummable ’70s throwback.
24. “Didn’t I” — OneRepublic (review)
Ryan Tedder and his golden pen strike again! Everything from OneRepublic’s upcoming Human album has been good, but this gut-wrenching ballad is God Tier.
23. “The Difference” — Flume & Toro y Moi
While some electronic producers strive for crossover hits, Flume seemingly makes them by mistake every couple of years. His latest, “The Difference,” features chillwave pioneer Toro y Moi and is the perfect addition to literally any playlist.
22. “Like It Is” — Kygo, Zara Larsson, Tyga (review)
Co-written by Dua Lipa, Kygo’s “Like It Is” is a genre-mutating banger that boasts a fiery, sing-along chorus courtesy of Zara Larsson and one of Tyga’s best features. All in all, it sounds like a summer smash.
21. “Never Worn White” — Katy Perry (review)
Sincere, heartfelt and admirably over-the-top, Katy Perry’s “Never Worn White” might just be the best pregnancy announcement of all time.
20. “Me Gusta” — Shakira & Anuel AA (review)
The ultimate grower. Shakira and Anuel AA’s “Me Gusta” didn’t grab me at first, but something clicked — I blame the ingenious sampling of Inner Circle’s “Sweat (A La La La La Long)” — and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head ever since.
19. “Come Over” — Dagny (review)
Norwegian pop goddess Dagny has been blessing us with perfect songs since at least 2016 — and the fun, flirty “Come Over” is no exception.
18. “Arms Of A Stranger” — Niall Horan
I could have picked any number of songs from Niall Horan’s Heartbreak Weather LP for this list, but “Arms Of A Stranger” is the track I keep coming back to time and again.
17. “Wait On Me” — Siena Liggins (review)
Pop needs more lesbians! Particularly lesbians of color, who casually create instantly-catchy, R&B-tinged tunes like “Wait On Me.” Siena Liggins’ time is now. Don’t be late to the party.
16. “Life Of The Party” — Ingrid Andress
Ingrid Andress’ Lady Like LP is a treasure trove of relatable country anthems with a distinct pop sensibility. If I had to choose a favorite, it would be the wonderfully depressing “Life Of The Party.”
15. “Know Your Worth” — Khalid & Disclosure (review)
All bow down to King Khalid. A human hit-machine with one of the most instantly-recognizable voices in popular music, he still manages to delight and surprise with the clubby “Know Your Worth.”
14. “React” — Pussycat Dolls (review)
The return of the Pussycat Dolls was one of the very few good things to happen in 2020. I would have been happy with any old tat, but Nicole Scherzinger & Co. pulled out a stone cold bop that will be in high rotation in gay bars for decades to come.
13. “Caution” — The Killers (review)
I really loved The Killers’ last album, but there’s something about Brandon Flowers wallowing in Americana over synths and jangly guitars that just feels right. Which makes “Caution” a rare treat.
12. “Drinks” — Cyn (review)
Who knows if Promising Young Woman will ever be released theatrically? Happily, it’s destined to live on via a killer soundtrack that includes CYN’s obscenely catchy “Drinks.”
11. “Deal Wiv It” — Mura Masa & slowthai
Fun fact. Mura Masa’s R.Y.C is one of the best albums of 2020 and home to a killer collaboration with slowthai called “Deal Wiv It.” This is the Blur-evoking EDM/hip-hop hybrid of my teenage dreams.
10. “Man” — JoJo (review)
It’s a shame that JoJo decided to relaunch during the apocalypse, but she is doing His work with relatable soul-pop anthems like “Man.” This is the kind of song that lodges in your brain like a tumor and refuses to leave.
9. “kate’s not here” — girl in red
The Turning is a truly terrible movie with one redeeming feature — i.e. an incredible soundtrack. There are a lot of hidden gems on the album, but girl in red’s gloomy, The Cure-channeling “kate’s not here” is the highlight.
8. “Physical” — Dua Lipa (review)
I’ve run out of superlatives for Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia era. From the visuals to the music and single choices, everything has been utterly flawless. I submit “Physical” as Exhibit A.
7. “Till There’s Nothing Left” — Cam (review)
The clowns at country radio really need to start paying more attention to Cam. She’s out here serving vocals and pure emotion on next-level crossover anthems like “Till There’s Nothing Left,” while they’re playing songs about cold beer and dirt bikes. Shame.
6. “Forever” — FLETCHER (review)
Few artists convey heartbreak as candidly as FLETCHER, which makes “Forever” something of a surprise. This time around, she’s the one hurting feelings — over slinky synths to boot! Bring on the album.
5. “Boyfriend” — Mabel (review)
I thought Mabel might struggle to repeat the fiery pop brilliance of “Don’t Call Me Up,” but the Brit soars to even greater heights on “Boyfriend.” If you miss ’90s club bangers, this is the song for you.
4. “24 Hours” — Georgia
After winning my heart with “About Work The Dancefloor” in 2019, Georgia returned in early 2020 with an even better track called “24 Hours” from her similarly-titled sophomore album. This sounds like Robyn circa Body Talk, which is the highest compliment you can bestow.
3. “Vulnerable” — Selena Gomez
Three months have passed and I still have Selena Gomez’s Rare on repeat. Any number of songs warrant a spot on this list (“People You Know,” “Ring” and “A Sweeter Place,” for starters), but “Vulnerable” is the crowning jewel of the outstanding opus.
2. “Spotlight” — Jessie Ware (review)
Jessie Ware took a little break to start a family and then returned in March with a divine disco anthem called “Spotlight.” Pop this soulful and sophisticated only comes around once or twice a year, so you better soak it up.
1. “Bikini Porn” — Tove Lo (review)
Unhinged and uninhibited, “Bikini Porn” is what happens when you combine pop’s freest spirit with the genre’s hottest producer. Tove Lo x FINNEAS is truly a match made in heaven.