The top 10 of 2020, we are finally here. After working through 40 of the best tracks of 2020, it all comes down to the top 10. This is the rare top 10 where one artists appears twice, another artist is back with his backing band for the first time in six years and I have to thank Hector Alfonso for turning me onto another artist. Enough mystery, let’s get into the top 10 of 2020:
10. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band: Janey Needs a Shooter
This is the first time Bruce Springsteen has teamed up with the E Street band in six years, but it sounds like they never skipped a beat. Janey Needs a Shooter has the energy that turned Springsteen into a rock god and sounds like an unreleased track off of Born to Run. This is the tightest you will ever hear a backing band and that energy lifts Springsteen’s vocals to the rock fuelled rasp of the 70s and 80s. This record is pure Springsteen rock and has some of the best musical talent on show you will hear this year. The interplay between Bruce and the E Street band makes this record and produces some of the best rock of 2020. Old school Bruce fans will write poems about this track and light candles in the E Street Band’s honour. New fans will use this track as a gateway drug into his albums from the 70s and 80s. Simply sublime music and storytelling.
Listen to Janey Needs a Shooter
9. Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B: WAP
What’s left to say about this track? It inspired countless think pieces, ignited feminist takes on rap and took the world over. For me, it is just great to have music dangerous again. It’s great to have a song cause people to worry about the society, picket the government and cry about the children. Music is meant to be dangerous. It is meant to push the boundaries and force us to ask questions. What is feminism? What is hip hop? Why such a strong reaction to two women speaking frankly about sex when male rappers have done it for decades without much of an uproar? Stallion and Cardi B are owning their sexuality. They have agency. They are in charge and are not simply objects for men. Most importantly, these are two women who are at the top of their game in this track. These are two rappers going for it and not letting anything hold them back. Plus, it is pretty damn catchy trap.
Listen to WAP
8. The Chicks: Julianna Calm Down
This is not the last time we will hear from The Chicks. After about 17 years since their last record, The Chicks have come out with their most personal and courageous records to date. Julianna Calm Down is about how women survive abusive relationships to become stronger. It is about women looking to their past selves and imploring them to hold on. To tap into the strength they never thought they had. This is a track that is about survival and resilience. Women in this track are named and celebrated as survivors. The track works itself into a frenzy as Natalie Maines begins shouting women’s names. These women are named and not simply faceless statistics. Moreover, Maines’ vocal is on point and I love the raw power behind it.
Listen to Julianna Calm Down
7. Orville Peck: No Glory in the West
On the face of it, No Glory in the West appears to be an homage to romantic country music from the 60s and 70s. You can picture yourself riding a horse into the sunset. However, Peck turns this romanic image of the country on its head and explains how there is no glory. Peck’s west is full of isolation, suffering and loneliness. This is a far cry from the paintings of sunsets and heroic cowboys. One can extend this to the US where people glorify the past and whitewash the suffering of marginalised people. There is no glory in this romanticised past and we need to face that if we are to move forward. Musically, Peck’s voice is beautiful and like nothing you will hear in modern country music. He is definitely an artist on the rise and someone you need to start following. Thanks Hector.
Listen to No Glory in the West
6. Megan Thee Stallion ft. Beyoncé: Savage Remix
I said that we would hear from Stallion again. She released this track with Beyoncé earlier in the year to raise money for some Houston charities. I love this track and keep finding myself going back to it. Stallion drives the song forward with her confident verses, but it is Beyoncé’s work that steals the show. I mean, she talks about writing her name in ice and “can’t argue with these lazy bitches / I just raised my price.” I love Beyoncé’s turn into a hip hop flamethrower. This is more than a simple guest vocal, Beyoncé really brings her game. It is also a great contrast between Beyoncé’s honey smooth delivery and Stallion’s raw verses. I just love this track and could listen to it all night long.
Listen to Savage Remix
Man, I need a cold Pepsi Max after that. Who thought you could move from Bruce Springsteen to WAP? That’s what you get on Jukebox. The time is here…prepare yourself for the top 5 of 2020.