There’s so much we’d like to erase about 2020 — but never, ever the elation, élan, empathy, harmony, rich social commentary and dumb fun that the year’s best music brought us. Yes, we do hope the door hits 2020 on its way out, as long as it doesn’t make the needle jump on the songs that carried us through quarantine and will keep getting us through early 2021, too.
There was just one rule for this roundup of 2020’s best songs: only one per artist… even if you got busy and issued 35 first-rank new studio tracks this year, as Taylor Swift did. With full acknowledgement that there is no way to fully acknowledge the hundreds or thousands of soul-saving songs I heard this year (and the hundreds of thousands others did), here, subject to change in a millisecond, is a selection of 2020’s finest. It’s a list where Bob Dylan and BTS are strange bedfellows, because in 2020, strangeness is just what the doctors ordered — Feelgood and Fauci, both.
(To see the music videos for all these songs, just click the “play” symbol on the accompanying photos.)