Flipside Top 100 Songs of 2020: 60-41

#60 People on Sunday – Domenique Dumont

Album: People on Sunday

Released: Nov 13, 2020

This album was created to provide a soundtrack to a remastered 1930s German film entitled Menschen am Sonntag. Throughout Dumont’s masterful synth-electronica, the classical influence is constantly twinkling in the background. The title track is closer to the work of Steve Reich than anything Dumont has done before and the capability with which he controls the emotions of his music points to a dense and interesting future for the now solo producer. 

#59 Bunker – Nazar, Shannen SP

Album: Guerrilla

Released: Mar 13, 2020

Nazar’s brutal listening experience on Bunker seeks to elucidate, or at least highlight, the lasting scars of war and injustice. For the artist, the inspiration comes from his home in Angola and the civil war that plagued his country for decades. In each sound of this track, there is an industrial glaze; whether it is through helicopter whirs, gun clippings, or scattered gunshots, Nazar creates a world for us to listen in and we would be foolish to ignore him. 

#58 Incapable – Roisin Murphy

Album: Roisin Machine

Released: Oct 2, 2020

I am always impressed by anyone who can accurately or interestingly obtain a disco sound in this age. On Incapable, Murphy not only captures it but then has the confidence to turn the fundamental buoyancy of the genre’s lyrics on their head. Cast your mind back to any disco track you’ve ever heard – how many of them premise on an inability to love? Murphy’s vocal protagonist is both inside and out; in the midst of a Euro-disco beat, but unable to ride its wave. 

#57 Idontknow – Jamie xx

Single

Released: Apr 28, 2020

Jamie xx’s first solo release since 2015 inhabits a world where the tempo is malleable, vocals are made to be distorted, and drums are a weapon to be brandished. Light Years away from the delicate, minimal sounds of The XX, Idontknow is intent on hitting the heart and ears with everything it has in the artist’s locker. The track does so with an awesome ability to make drastic changes seamlessly. 

#56 I Miss Having Someone To Talk To – Folamour, Liv East

Single 

Released: May 8, 2020

Folamour’s 2019 release Ordinary Drugs was one of the most consistently impressive LPs of the year. The French producer’s follow-up single is smooth, inviting, and effortlessly cool. Juxtaposing lonely lyrics with upbeat bass lines was a feature of 2020’s musical offerings and this track is one of the grooviest examples. It has the tone of a corporate advert selling lockdown as an opportunity to obsessively consume products, with the self-awareness to recognise how laughably awful this collective loneliness has been.

#55 Heavyweight Sinner – Loure

EP: Outta 106

Released: Jul 17, 2020

In the haze of a very standard house EP from Melbourne producer Loure, this wonderful jazz cut shines brightly. Throughout its six minute length, the track is illuminated by one of the most interesting bass performances the world will have heard in 2020, culminating in a wailing solo towards the end. The percussion is stunning and the guitars are used appropriately and freely. The previous track The Walk Home similarly displays an ability to mix jazz and house, but to date, Loure’s successes are restricted to these two songs. In any case, Heavyweight Sinner is a definitional anthem: one worth basing a sound around, Mr. Loure. 

#54 TNT – NAYANA IZ

EP: SMOKE & FLY

Released: Aug 7, 2020

Part of the swelling West London creative collective NiNE 8, NAYANA IZ, in her first collection of releases, has demonstrated an impressive ability to utilise her voice for jazzier tones and slick, polished bars. On TNT, the final track of her debut EP, IZ maintains a confident tone in her rapping and an ear for melody on the extremely catchy chorus. The track flirts with distortion without divulging into any unnecessary chaos. Towards the end of the song, the artist repeats ‘I will erupt’ which, when the song is over, one is inclined to believe. 

#53 Gospel For a New Century – Yves Tumor

Album: Heaven to a Tortured Mind

Released: Apr 3, 2020

Gospel For a New Century is not an ordinary rock song; nor is it an ordinary pop song; nor is it an ordinary hip-hop song. Through one of the most unique sounds that swum in 2020’s mainstream, Yves Tumor coalesces the booming brass samples of golden age hip-hop with the singer’s own cocky vocal drawl. The opener to an impressive album, GFANC remains an original piece of music emblematic of the year’s widespread creative experimentation. 

#52 Give Back What U Stole From Me (Nightmares on Wax Remix) – Oscar Jerome, Nightmares on Wax

Album: Breathe Deep Remixes

Released: Nov 20, 2020

Oscar Jerome has surrounded himself with excellent company throughout a burgeoning music career; Moses Boyd, Glenn Astro, Lianne La Havas, and Joe-Armon Jones are several notable collaborators. Now, with a Nightmares on Wax rework of his excellent Give Back What You Stole From Me, Jerome sounds comfortable being grouped in with, rather than mentioned alongside, a talented London-based musical community. This remix offers something which the original lacked ever so slightly, which was a more restrained groove. With several renovations, #52 marks an excellent collaboration and a worthwhile addition to an already great track. 

#51 Didn’t You Say? – Holy Hive

Album: Float Back To You

Released: May 29, 2020

This song is a warm hug; a cup of tea on a frosty winter morning. Typical of Holy Hive’s sound, a stripped-back, soulful approach gives way to a textured chorus and smooth vocals. There is a definite 60s influence, with Colin Blunstone of the Zombies channelled at times through the vocals, but the track never feels novel or faux. Despite being from Brooklyn, Didn’t You Say? might, on a scratched record, sound as close to the calmer side of British invasion music as it does to their usual indie rock. This is straight up good music from fine players with a clear vision for their sound. As for the rest of the album, urgently seek it out. 

#50 Don’t You See It? – Lorraine James, Jonnine Standish

EP: Nothing

Released: Aug 27, 2020

One of Hyperdub and British electronic music’s most promising figures has once more employed her distinctive drums with a stirring effect. This is perhaps Loraine James’ most tender release to date, with a newfound delicate touch permeating the entire five and half minutes. There is a lot to be said for James’ scattered drum thrashes, especially for the technical ability required to tame them, but it is refreshing to hear her operate in a quieter setting, where her talents are less overtly, but very definitely, on display. Jonnine Standish has certainly brought out the best in the producer. 

#49 Black Dog – Arlo Parks

Single 

Released: May 4, 2020

In a breakthrough year for the recently turned 20-year-old, Arlo Parks displayed a maturity in both her songwriting and her topics of choice (in this particular instance, depression), that paralleled anyone on the musical market. Throughout the over pouring sadness of Black Dog, we are accompanied by a harp-like guitar that sets a tone of despair. However, there remains a strength to the song and Parks allows the songwriting to speak for itself, accepting that she/one can only do so much to help a friend though she/one wants to do anything and everything. 

#48 The Chocolate Conquistadors – BADBADNOTGOOD, MF DOOM 

Single

Released: Dec 18, 2020

MF DOOM died on October 31st, 2020. After he peacefully departed, but before anyone knew of his death (the family kept the news to themselves for a couple of months) the masked hip-hop legend released this track with Canadian jazz-funk group BADBADNOTGOOD. The song, produced for Grand Theft Auto Online: The Cayo Perico Heist, is a jazz-rap epic lasting a little over seven minutes and containing a whirlwind of instrumentals behind DOOM’s typically eccentric bars. Certainly, given the rapper’s prolific career, this is sure to precede several posthumous projects. At the time of writing however this is MF DOOM’s final release and for his colossal fanbase, it will remain something to cling onto. 

#47 Deeper Love – Stone Foundation, Paul Weller

Album: Is Love Enough?

Released: Sept 11, 2020

One of British music’s most-loved figures is still delivering aged 62. The truth is, Paul Weller’s age has never been a barrier (see also: a beautiful acoustic version of Town Called Malice for Radio 4 from 2013) and he sounds as smooth as ever on this track with Stone Foundation. His collaborators are a soul outfit from Warwickshire and they provide the cool funk background to a wonderfully suave and sophisticated tune. 

#46 Pig Feet – Terrace Martin, Denzel Curry, Kamasi Washington, G Perico, Daylyt

Single

Released: Jun 1, 2020

Pig Feet is more feeling than a song and its collaborators ensure their feelings are open and unfiltered. The ensuing music is 2020’s anthem to the fight against racism. Do not be fooled by slogans, adverts, corporate apologies – this is the sound of real anger in a real fight. It is not made for the pallets of perpetrators or the comfort of the comfortable. It is a vigorous wake up call – three espressos crystallised in one drop. 

#45 2 Far Gone – Moses Boyd, Joe Armon-Jones

Album: Dark Matter

Released: Feb 14, 2020

UK drummer Moses Boyd’s third album showcases his delve into the experimental. Dark Matter is snappier and sharper than anything the double MOBO winner has put out to date; his work on 2 Far Gone is indicative of a technically supreme musician branching out with great capability and assurance. As Joe Armon-Jones’ piano sprinkles elegance over the track, Boyd’s foundation of heavy drums set a tempo and a beat that sounds pinched from the pocket of 2010-era Flying Lotus. The result is an anthemic sound. 

#44 Un Caid (video version) – Aksak Maboul 

Album: Figures

Released: Dec 11, 2020

I’m afraid I must confess to a slight bias contained in my ears: anything, anything, sung in that 1960’s French treble voice holds an immediate appeal to me. In any case, I like to think this track has a great deal of technical and aesthetic value beyond the (quote, unquote) loveliness of the vocals. Aksak Maboul has invariably cultivated different genres and different sounds with each new musical release. Their first, Onze Danses Pour Combattre La Migraine (1977) was a fantastically inventive record suffused with improvised jazz and Belgian classical throughout its 17 tracks. Un Caid is a long way from the madness of their early recordings but, forty-three years on, the band retains their humorous, artistic streak. 

#43 Symphonie Pacifique – Greg Foat 

Album: Symphonie Pacifique 

Released: Jul 3, 2020

Greg Foat finds a killer sound on this song, but crucially he does not rush into revealing it. Instead, the British-keyboardist-composer pieces the track together without any distracting, cluttered elements. This consideration allows the track to float tidily through the ethereal, lush sounds of its beginning, the intensity of its middle, and finish alone with those sumptuous piano ripples once more. 

#42 Kiss Me – Fellini Felin, Camel Power Club

Single 

Released: Sept 25, 2020

Kiss Me is a track undoubtedly wedded to the summer. The luxurious reverb of the opening elevates via a simple, but endearing guitar riff; when the vocals arrive, they are unsurprisingly gentle. All of a sudden, the track becomes taken over by an Etienne De Crecy-like house mix. It is wholly unexpected and feels somewhat immature – it might well be if it didn’t sound so bloody nice. 

#41 Jam – Darkstar

Album: Civic Jams

Released: Jun 19, 2020Darkstar released one of the best tracks of the 00s with Aidy’s Girl is a Computer during their early, electronic/garage years (I implore you to check it out if you aren’t yet familiar). Ten years on, the duo, consisting of James Young and Aiden Whalley, have developed their sound into fractured, experimental pop. The result is mixed: some tracks on Civic Jams are let down by the careless drowning out of the vocals and an altogether wooly production. Jam beautifully evades this by reducing the importance of the vocals to the track itself; they simply operate as another instrument highlighting the gorgeous melodies contained in the music.

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