While we were all spending much more time at home, because of the Covid pandemic, our pop artists did their absolute best to keep us entertained with loads of new music. A Bit of Pop Music selected the best 40 pop singles, released in 2020!
Scroll down for the Spotify playlist!
40. James Bay – Chew On My Heart
James Bay kicks off this year’s list with ‘Chew On My Heart’, his only proper release of the year. I have always liked it when James goes uptempo (‘Pink Lemonade’ remains my favorite), so it should be no surprise that the big singalong chorus to ‘Chew On My Heart’ was right up my street. Such a well written, unconventional and oh so catchy love song!
39. Charlotte Lawrence – Joke’s On You
At the start of the year, Charlotte Lawrence contributed her song ‘Joke’s On You’ to the soundtrack of the Harley Quinn movie Birds of Prey. The song is sassy, compelling, playful and serves drama, so it does not only fit right in with the movie, but also ticks all the boxes for an irresistible pop hit.
38. The Pussycat Dolls – React
The comeback of The Pussycat Dolls more than ten years after their last release might have raised some eyebrows, but ‘React’ is up their with their best hits from their peak years. This sexy bop is tightly produced and Scherzinger’s lead vocals are seductive as always. The drop after the chorus thing might not be in fashion anymore, but this track does it absolutely right. And let’s not forget that smoking hot video!
37. Foxes – Friends In The Corner
British pop artist Foxes disappeared from the scene for about four years, but finally made her comeback in 2020. She released a handful of singles of which ‘Friends In The Corner’ was the clear standout to me. We already knew she could write a mean melody for a rousing chorus and the emotive belter of ‘Friends In The Corner’ is one of her finest yet.
36. Justin Bieber – Lonely (feat. Benny Blanco)
After a break from releases for a few years, Justin Bieber returned with a new album and did not stop releasing new singles for the rest of the year. The most recent, piano ballad ‘Lonely’, thoroughly deserves a place in this list with some of his most honest lyrics and heartbreaking vocal work to date.
35. Ava Max – Who’s Laughing Now
Ava Max graced us with a long string of hit singles this year and dropped her poptastic debut Heaven & Hell. ‘Who’s Laughing Now’ has one of the most instantly catchy choruses I have heard all year. The laid back rhythm paired with Ava’s playful lyrics and empowering message, makes for a song to hit the replay button to, over and over.
34. Yungblud – God Save Me, But Don’t Drown Me Out
Yungblud never forgot about his fans this year. The punk pop rocker released a long string of singles, ending with the launch of his second album weird!. Lead single ‘God Save Me, But Don’t Drown Me Out’ is an anthem for everyone who has ever experienced feelings of anxiousness or depression. Turn it up and sing it at the top of your lungs!
33. Loïc Nottet – Heartbreaker
Belgian pop star Loïc Nottet finally dropped his second album Sillygomania this year of which the disco inspired single ‘Heartbreaker’ was a clear standout. This track swings from the first second to the last and the hook of the chorus is undeniable. As a cherry on top, Loïc also gets to show off the incredible range of his vocals.
32. Adam Lambert – Roses (feat. Nile Rodgers)
Another male pop artist who treated us to an irresistible disco bop was Adam Lambert. The American pop star launched his fourth album Velvet, on which he developed a sound, free from trend chasing and searching for radio hits. It is a shame that ‘Roses’ didn’t reach a large audience, because this collaboration with Nile Rodgers is easily one of the best things he ever put his name to!
31. Lakshmi – Lullaby
Dutch electro pop artist Lakshmi released possibly the best single of her career so far with ‘Lullaby’. Don’t be fooled by the title, because this intense electro pop banger is anything but a ‘Lullaby’. There is sexual tension in this track that explodes with the loud breakdown in the chorus. A moment!
30. Billie Eilish – No Time To Die
While the release of James Bond movie No Time To Die still hasn’t happened because of the Covid pandemic, the soundtrack by Billie Eilish already came out before everything changed. Not great for the roll out of the movie release, but at least we did get to enjoy this classy, sophisticated Bond soundtrack with some of Billie’s strongest vocal work yet.
29. The Weeknd – In Your Eyes
The Weeknd ruled 2020 with his massive hit ‘Blinding Lights’, which was already released at the end of 2019. The follow up certainly wasn’t a let down either. Everything about ‘In Your Eyes’ is addictive: the synths, the sax, The Weeknd’s sultry voice and that soaring melody. And the music video for it was one of the best of the year too!
28. Tove Lo – I’m Coming
Tove Lo covered a song from fellow Swedish artist Veronica Maggio, translating the lyrics to her hit ‘Jag Kommer’ to Swedish. She gave the insanely catchy tune an electro pop make over to fully fit her own style and it sounds nothing short of fabulous. The chorus hits different this time and Tove’s vocals are drenched in all the feels like they always are.
27. Rhys – Better Break My Heart
Swedish pop singer Rhys made a glorious return with her pop anthem ‘Better Break My Heart’. In the song, she begs for her lover to give her clarity and end things and break her heart if they must. ‘Better Break My Heart’ is one big collection of hook after hook. This song could and should have been an international hit if you ask me.
26. London Grammar – Baby It’s You
London Grammar will make us wait for their third album until 2021, but they did make our 2020 a bit brighter by releasing the first two singles. Lead single ‘Baby It’s You’ was both quintessentially London Grammar and a new turn in their sound. It is fresh, upbeat, dreamy and absolutely captivating!
25. Linde Schöne – Ergens In Mijn Hoofd
Although as a Dutchie, I hardly ever write about Dutch languaged pop music on here, I had to make an exception for ‘Ergens In Mijn Hoofd’ (Somehwere In My Head) by singer-songwriter Linde Schöne, as it is simply one of the most beautiful songs I have heard all year. It is heartbreaking and soothing at the same time with a little hint of country music. If you don’t speak Dutch, look up a translation of the lyrics, because they are gorgeous!
24. Maria Mena – Not OK
Maria Mena returned to music after a lengthy break and she did so in style. In 2020 we all needed someone to tell us that it is ok to admit that we are not doing ok. Maria Mena did that with a beautifully anthemic comeback single that shows her vulnerability and strength at the same time. And she still writes the most wonderful melodies after all those years!
23. Kim Petras – Malibu
Kim Petras has been one of the most consistent bop queens of the past few years. Whether it is Halloween or summer, she always manages to turn the party. This year she warmed up our summer with the smoking hot ‘Malibu’. A warm, breezy and sexy bop with a massive chorus. Kim Petras never disappoints.
22. Annie – American Cars
After more than ten years since dropping her second record, Norwegian pop artist Annie finally returned with album #3 titled Dark Hearts. She kicked off the era with the shimmering synth pop tune ‘American Cars’. Such a delicate, dreamy and delightful little song. The spoken word bridge is one of the most brilliant pop moments of the year!
21. Dua Lipa & Angèle – Fever
Everything Dua Lipa touched, turned to gold this year and she touched a whole lot. After the release of her outstanding album Future Nostalgia, she continued releasing some singles. One of those was ‘Fever’, a duet with Angèle. With hooks in all the right places and a mixture of English and French lyrics, the two ladies made sure that this track was on our mind for hours every single time we heard it.
20. Chung Ha – Stay Tonight
With the success of groups like BTS and Blackpink, K-pop became bigger than ever before in 2020. Other than those immensely popular groups, I was blown away by female pop star Chung Ha when I first saw the music video to her single ‘Stay Tonight’. But it wasn’t only the slick choreography that impressed me. ‘Stay Tonight’ is a massive bop with a flawless production. That middle-eight is such a moment!
19. Kylie Minogue – Say Something
Kylie Minogue made a return to disco music in 2020 and kicked off the whole project with the heartwarming single ‘Say Something’. Some love and positivity was what we all needed and Kylie served it on a platter with a beautifully soaring chorus, a full choir to underline the feeling of togetherness and a groovy guitar riff to top it all off. The live performance during her Infinite Disco streaming concert took it to a divine higher level!
18. Fletcher – Shh…Don’t Say It
Fletcher dropped her third EP The S(ex) Tapes this year, dropping the songs one by one, week by week leading to the full release. The track that immediately stood out to me was ‘Shh…Don’t Say It’. This confident, sexy tune has an irresistible pre-chorus and the punchy chorus itself ain’t too shoddy either. A proper banger!
17. Mahmood – Rapide
After finishing second in the Eurovision Song Contest and releasing his debut album in 2019, Italian pop star Mahmood continued to deliver in 2020 with a handful of successful singles. The first of those, ballad ‘Rapide’, is one of the most beautiful things he has released yet. The melodies and his vocals are absolutely gorgeous and those vulnerable lyrics do hit home (look them up if you don’t speak Italian like me).
16. Lady Gaga & Ariana Grande – Rain On Me
Don’t we all love it when two pop powerhouses come together to create an iconic pop moment together? Lady Gaga surely delivered when she invited Ariana Grande to join her on ‘Rain On Me’, the second single taken from her album Chromatica. Sure, the production doesn’t necessarily scream 2020 with the post-chorus drop and dance pop vibes, but it is so well done. Just makes you want to go outside when it’s pouring and say”RAIN. ON. ME” in a deep voice.
15. Jessie Ware – Spotlight
Jessie Ware finally did in 2020 what heaps of her fans had been hoping for for years: she made an upbeat disco inspired album! Album opener and single ‘Spotlight’ might well be the best track on there. It is sexy, sophisticated and stylish in a subtle and understated manner. There is no point where ‘Spotlight’ fully goes off but it slowly burns into a super satisfying climax. So classy!
14. Doja Cat – Say So
Doja Cat had her big break in 2020 when her hit single ‘Say So’ shot to the top of the charts internationally. The rapper and her infectious bop did get a push from a TikTok choreography and a remix featuring Nicki Minaj, but ‘Say So’ is a strong enough pop song in itself to deserve world domination. This will be remembered as one of THE songs of 2020.
13. Duncan Laurence – Someone Else
After winning last year’s Eurovision Song Contest, Dutch singer-songwriter Duncan Laurence had the tough task this year to prove that he is not a one-day-fly. He did so convincingly on his debut album Small Town Boy, but we could have already known when he released the single ‘Someone Else’. The track has a contemporary electro pop production with a rousing chorus and a similar emotive power to for example ‘Arcade’.
12. Shawn Mendes – Wonder
Shawn Mendes used 2020 to record and release his fourth album titled Wonder. Although the lead single and title track might not have become one of his most commercially successful singles, to me it just might be his best work to date. There is something about the big orchestral build up, the anthemic chorus and his larger than life belting on this tune.
11. Taylor Swift – willow
Taylor Swift released not one, but two surprise albums in 2020. As the releases were unannounced, there wasn’t any single release beforehand, but both records did have one tune being pushed with a music video. For the second album evermore, released in December, this was ‘willow’. This warm mid tempo track is a showcase of both Swifts melodic and lyrical brilliance. A tune I will play many times more in the new year.
10. Dagny – Somebody
Norwegian pop star Dagny finally released her proper debut album Strangers / Lovers and this collection of excellent Scandipop only just missed A Bit of Pop Music’s list of best albums. She cracked the top 10 on the singles list with ‘Somebody’ though! This song grabs you within its first seconds and doesn’t let go after. The melodies in the verses are just as strong as the chorus and the uplifting vibe just makes you want to fall head over heels in love.
09. Troye Sivan – Easy
Although Troye Sivan didn’t release a full album in 2020, he dropped some of the best singles, which he put together on the EP In A Dream. ‘Easy’, the second take from said EP, is a dreamy, upbeat electro pop song with some truly heartbreaking lyrics. You feel the pain and regret of the seemingly inevitable end of a relationship in every single word, while the melody takes us to synth pop heaven at the same time. Troye lets us dance the heartbreak away and that is all we need!
08. Maria Mena – Lies (They Never Leave Their Wives)
Norwegian singer-songwriter Maria Mena was brave enough to release a collection of seven songs about the time she had an affair with a married man and titled it They Never Leave Their Wives. On the single ‘Lies (They Never Leave Their Wives)’ she sings about the realization he is never going to choose her. The ‘hardest ever lesson learned’, but a stunning piece of soaring singer-songwriter pop.
07. Taylor Swift – cardigan
Taylor Swift did not just top our Best Albums of 2020 list with folklore, but lead single ‘cardigan’ also thoroughly deserved a spot in the top 10 in the Singles list. There is something so soothing, warm and delicate about this slow burning folk infused pop song. It is one of the first songs in her career Swift ever wrote from someone else’s perspective (it is part of a three song story about a high school love triangle) and she’s bloody good at it.
06. Dotter – Bulletproof
Swedish pop artist Dotter almost won the ticket to go to Eurovision for her country this year, by finishing second (by just one point!) in the hugely popular national final Melodifestivalen. The international contest got cancelled in the end and Dotter still had a big hit in her home country with ‘Bulletproof’, a contemporary pop song with a Sia-esque anthemic chorus. The already outstanding composition got elevated by the brilliant performance with a laser show. And the good news, she is giving Melodifestivalen another try in 2021!
05. Troye Sivan – Take Yourself Home
Troye Sivan’s timing was on point this year. Just as the world was shutting down and going into lockdown because of the covid pandemic, he released his more than suitable anthem ‘Take Yourself Home’. The track starts out understated with guitar, but builds to a massive climax with a house infused production with an unexpected outro, a chanting post-chorus and lyrics about a tough period in which Sivan just wanted to go home. On paper it shouldn’t work, but the result is strangely addictive.
04. Dua Lipa – Levitating
Dua Lipa ruled 2020 with her Future Nostalgia album and the long string of hit singles taken from it. ‘Levitating’ was released most recently and received a new version with a rap by Da Baby and a remix with Madonna, Missy Elliott and the Blessed Madonna. Nothing could top the original album version with its fantastic disco vibe though. The carefree, uplifting post-chorus (‘You can fly away with me tonight!) single-handedly got me through 2020.
03. Zara Larsson – Love Me Land
‘Love Me Land’ by Zara Larsson not becoming a massive hit outside of Sweden must be one of the biggest pop injustices of 2020. On first listen I thought the song was too rushed and did not let the listener breathe between verse, chorus and middle-eight, but time taught me that part of the brilliance of this 2.40 minute long pop song is in how rushed it feels. Zara’s vocals are bold, the hook in the chorus is to die for and the production is off the chain.
02. Miley Cyrus – Midnight Sky
Miley Cyrus scrapped a whole album to move forward in her career and ‘Midnight Sky’ was proof she was on precisely the right track. She dives right into eighties inspired synth pop with a rock edge and some hints of disco. She even interpolates the melody of ‘Edge of Seventeen’ by Stevie Nicks into the chorus. The track is tightly packed with some of the strongest pop hooks I heard all year and her raw delivery of the personal, yet confident lyrics tops it off nicely. This might well go down in history as one of Miley’s biggest and best songs.
01. Dua Lipa – Physical
No surprise that Dua Lipa ended on top of the list this year. She really elevated her whole career from the moment she dropped ‘Don’t Start Now’ at the end of last year and continued right at the start of this year with her 80s synth pop anthem ‘Physical’. The track has one of the best middle-eight bits (‘Hold on, just a little tighter…’) ever in a pop song. This track ruled my year whether I was dancing through my living room, working out or working from home. Thank you for your service, Dua!