Purple Sneakers’ Best Songs of 2020
To say 2020 has been a wild ride is one hell of an understatement. You don’t need me to run you through the “unprecedented” times again, but it is worth remarking just how much life has and hasn’t changed in just twelve months. We started the year with an environmental catastrophe before the world was hit by a global pandemic, thrusting us into isolation and an economic and health crisis. We saw civil uprisings, elections, more environmental destruction, and we had to figure out the very basics of life again in the time of social distancing. We were more connected, but also disconnected, than ever, and while some industries are back to full strength, others have been forgotten completely.
In amongst everything else happening though, we’ve had some sensational music. 2020 has not only changed the way we connect with artists and their work, but also the way they create in the first place. Some relished in the challenges lockdown presented while others flipped the script completely, coming into their own more than ever before. We’ve seen career-defining releases, releases about life, love and loss, breakout names completely defy expectations, and living legends return to our ears when we needed them most. We’ve had necessary political statements, electrifying comebacks, exceptional collaborations and artists demonstrate their untouchable artistic visions.
The Purple Sneakers team recounted our favourite songs of 2020 so far back in May, and with the year finally winding down, we put our heads together again for a final recap of the year that was. Check out the Spotify playlist and all our picks below! Here’s to a bigger, brighter and better year in 2021!
Emma Jones, Purple Sneakers Editor and the Purple Sneakers team
Kwame – TOMMY’S IN TROUBLE (Ft. Phil Fresh & Clypso)
TSHA – Sister
Jesswar – Venom
Ninajirachi – Cut The Rope
Sampa The Great – Time’s Up
Each of these songs mean something more special than the countless other songs I’ve fallen in love with this year. They’re all so powerful, authentic, and represent each artist levelling up. The actual venom in Jesswar’s delivery, Ninajirachi‘s embracing of her own vocals and her ambitious approach to production, TSHA‘s sheer emotion in every single second in her music and Kwame‘s unparalleled artistic vision he displays in everything he does — but particularly in this single — all make for some seriously impressive, impactful and exceptional music. But, it was Sampa The Great who delivered this year’s top song for me. Calling out the entire Australian music industry including the ARIAs and then going on to win a whole heap of them as well as continuing to remain at the very top of her game so much so she is in a league of her own, ‘Time’s Up’ proves it’s Sampa‘s world and we’re just living in it.
Phil Fresh – Glow
hearteyes – spray painted tshirt
Skeleten – Mirrored
Liyah Knight – Somebody, You
Bellydance – 3 Days Man (3AM Mix)
While not originally recorded for 2020, this record has achieved legendary status this year. Re-released by Efficient Space out of Melbourne, the track soundtracked 2020 for a lot of Australia’s dance underground. It’s euphoric build, soulful keys and constant groove combined with an extremely unique and close to home story make this track a certified classic. Good luck getting through it’s bridge without tears rolling down your face. This one just hits different.
SETWUN – Fade
OMAR S – Gonna Luv You
MILDLIFE – Rare Air
K-LONE – Cape Cira
ERIKA DE CASIER – No Butterflies, No Nothing
Coming off the back of Essentials, ‘No Butterflies, No Nothing’ is an endearing follow-up for Erika De Casier. It’s romantic, its dreamy, and the ultra-calm nature of the track effortlessly maintains her complex brand of RnB.
Yelzin – Basic Instinct
Coco Bryce – Ma Bae Be Luv
Shanique Marie, Finn – Lifey
Alex Kassian – Oolong Trance (Paradise Mix)
Human Movement – Waiting (D. Tiffany Remix)
Sydney-based producer Edward Macdonald has breathed new life into his Human Movement project across the entirety of a very productive 2020. Formerly operating as a duo, the solo Human Movement venture has seen Macdonald confidently foray into a seamless blend of house, UKG and techno influenced music with dance floor propulsion in mind. The rework of ambient breakbeat track ‘Waiting’ on Of Leisure Records by Planet Euphorique labelhead D. Tiffany radiates playful, cosmic energy, with stomping kicks and a hefty 303 acid line that sits seamlessly in any summer setlist.
Cable Ties – Hope
Sycco – Dribble
Kero Kero Bonito – It’s Bugsnax!
Faye Webster – Better Distractions
Protomartyr – June 21
In ‘June 21’, Detroit based post-punk band Protomartyr refresh their brand of shouty, political musings with the flair of added woodwind instrumentals. Vocalist Joe Casey in good company among featured singer Half Waif – who’s tranquil vocals add a tense, mysterious quality to the krautrock inspired cut. As the song progresses, clashing instrumentals and lyrics that depict aging and “Summer in the city” are caught halfway between the work of Nine Inch Nails and ABBA.
Caribou – Never Come Back
Yb. – Waiting
Biig Piig – Oh No
Lastlings – No Time
Choomba – La Luh
Sticking the middle finger in the face of Miss Rona and wiping away of those iso-blues is Choomba’s electromagnetic bop ‘La Luh’. Cranking up the heat with tech heavy house beats, propulsive bass and broody synths, this undeniable banger has me on my toes as the party slowly returns to 2020.
Jackie Onassis – ELIO
If I Was The Priest – Bruce Springsteen
Carry Me Away – John Mayer
Overkill – Holly Humberstone
Say It Right (Nelly Furtado) – Tame Impala
It’s fair to say that Tame Impala was the soundtrack to 2020. Sifting through his collection of hits, shows, and covers is his take on Nelly Furtado’s “Say It Right”. With Timbaland’s glassy synths and distinct percussion, and Furtado’s swirling melancholic vocals, the almost-forgotten 2006 hit is the perfect sonic playground for Kevin Parker, who covered the 2006 song for BBC Radio1 in November.
Jessie Ware – What’s Your Pleasure
Future – Life Is Good (Ft. Drake)
The Weeknd – Blinding Lights
Cardi B – WAP (Ft. Megan Thee Stallion)
Pearl Jam – Dance Of The Clairvoyants
Pearl Jam surprised everyone with ‘Dance Of The Clairvoyants.’ While die-hard fans weren’t exactly impressed with the change in direction, I’m all for Eddie Vedder and co merging their 90s rock schtick with modern electronica. Vedder hasn’t sounded this invested in a song in years, with his familiar gravely voice spruiking thoughts of positivity and living in the moment as Stone Gossard, who usually plays the guitar, weaves a tantalising bassline through Matt Cameron’s electronic flourishes. Although it came out way back in January, ‘Dance Of The Clairvoyants’ is my most played song on Spotify and worthy of the top spot for my list of favourite songs released in 2020.