THE FIRST INSTALLMENT OF FLIPSIDE’s TOP 100 SONGS OF 2020.
In December, one-hundred and fifty songs released in the strange year of 2020 were added to a long list before being rated from 0-10 and ranked via a rather maladroit spreadsheet. Fifty were culled and the remaining inventory was painstakingly rearranged, racionated, and mulled over to hopefully provide a sequence of sounds that enthralls and/or stirs.
This list does not make any claim to objective truth and rests principally on the changing moods of its compiler. Music was at its beautiful, experimental best in 2020 and I sincerely hope that this collection serves to support that. The rules: only one song per artist (incl. features), no covers, no reissues, listen loud and enjoy!
#100 Golden Pothos – Geography
Album: The Indoor Gardener
Released: Jul 27, 2020
Duncan Thornley (recording under the name Double Geography) utilises his skills as a professional audio engineer to create a booming 80s sound on this track, combining the floral and the psychedelic masterfully.
#99 Moment Hung – Navy Blue
Album: Songs of Sage: Post Panic!
Released: Dec 21, 2020
Navy Blue’s casual flow manages to capture the cold of 2020 without sinking into apathy. A smooth beat accompanied by smart lyrics, make this tune irresistibly listenable.
#98 E’s – Pinty
EP: Midnight Moods
Released: Apr 25, 2020
South London rapper Pinty coalesces his garage background with a dialled down tone to create a formidable track and EP, strengthening his promising upcomer status.
#97 Don’t Stop – Bella Boo
Album: Let’s Go Out
Released: Dec 4, 2020
Stockholm-based DJ and producer Bella Boo continues to impress with her latest album. Track 7 of 8 encapsulates her ability to blend several strands of electronic music, with the dub influence shining through convincingly.
#96 Coral Jazz – Ozoyo
Released: Nov 27, 2020
Never have I felt so persuaded by a song’s title. Something inexplicable on this track truly feels underwater – is it the muffled beats in the background? The occasional electronic splashes? In any case, this Radio 6Music favourite is a righteous gem.
#95 Nasnusa – Sababa 5, Yurika Hanashima
Single (the A-side is the equally lovely Tokyo Midnight)
Released: Sept 18, 2020
Tel-Aviv group Sababa 5 and vocalist Yurika build upon a gorgeous guitar solo at the start of the track to inspire a hypnotic disco vibe in a traditional Mizrahi style.
#94 Morning Matters – Yazmin Lacey
EP: Morning Matters
Released: Mar 27, 2020
Yazmin Lacey achieves her soothing and soulful jazz sound once more on this record. Discovered as part of Gilles Peterson’s Future Bubblers talent scouter scheme, Lacey has repaid the faith time and time again. Perhaps her next record will show a little more experimentation, but for now, this is just right.
#93 Movementt – Emma-Jean Thackray
EP: Rain Dance
Released: 18 Nov, 2020
Emma-Jean Thackray is a DJ, producer, instrumentalist, singer, and likely many other things. This track comes directly from her brand-new label of the same title, with the explicit intention to ‘move your body, move your mind, move your soul’. I think that explains this one better than I possibly could.
#92 Imminent – The Comet Is Coming, Joshua Idehen, Marcel Jean Baptiste
Released: Nov 20, 2020
Each composite part of this track is working at full intensity to form a memorable collaboration that will ring in your eardrums for the rest of the week. A jazz blitz, slamming rap and a futuristic orchestral finale make this a difficult, but worthwhile listen.
#91 Superhumans – The Professionals, Oh No, Madlib
Album: The Professionals
Released: Jan 17, 20
Recorded over one of Madlib’s rougher, choppier beats, The Professionals succeed in creating an unnerving and hard-hitting track through unusual bars and a high octane flow.
#90 Will You Return/When You Come Down – The Flaming Lips, Particle Kid
Album: American Head
Released: Sept 11, 2020
The opener to The Flaming Lips’ latest LP is quite stunning. The vocals are given particular importance above the slow-tempo instrumentals; both the backing and the lead construct a tone- collection of sound.
#89 Prove Yourself (Byron the Aquarius Remix) – Fede Lng, Mojeaux, Byron the Aquarius
Released: Oct 9, 2020
Simple, but well-structured, this remix moves effortlessly through its various layers of intensity, culminating in a quality dance track. I urge you, – turn the volume up for this one!
#88 Play the Shadows – Sweatson Klank
Released: Dec 9, 2020
Prepare to fall in love with/make love to this tune. The piano is never rushed, the drums need not go too hard and the synths simply pulsate in this background. Sex on toast.
#87 Palavras – Caixa Cubo
Released: Nov 27, 2020
Another fantastic release from the capable and talented jazz-fusion trio Caixa Cubo. Palavras is an unpretentious nod to the Brazilian music of the 60s and 70s. Like the rest of the album, the track manages to sound both spontaneous and considered due to the technical precision of its players.
#86 Pacific Dream – Aussteiger
Album: Cosmic Casa
Released: Dec 18, 2020
Either stick a pin in this and save it for the summer months or close your eyes and pretend it’s that time already. This track from Dub Disco founder Aussteiger will not blow your mind, but if played loud enough, it is said to have transportive qualities deriving from the atmospheric synths and funky basslines.
#85 Mazes – Fantastic Man, Memphis LK
Released: Oct 23, 2020
Track #2 from Fantastic Man’s debut LP is probably one of the more straightforward on a heavy record. The rhythm is extremely get-down-able and, together with the dub that runs through, makes for a beautiful sci-fi influenced club track.
#84 Let’s Move to the Country – Bill Callahan
Album: Gold Record
Released: Sept 4, 2020
This track will surely, as it did for me, arrive as a quaint novelty. Give it several listens and you will feel the simplistic beauty of Callahan’s vocals and lyrics. The singer does not ask for much from the listener or his fictional wifey in this track and that is precisely where he succeeds. “My travels are over, my travels are through, let’s move to the country, just me and you,” is the final line – imagine singing this around a campfire and ask me again why it’s so damn high on this list?
#83 Waves Know Shores – The Vernon Spring
Released: Nov 27, 2020
Embarking on his first solo venture after over a decade of collaborations with Amy Winehouse, Blood Orange and many others, Sam Beste secures a beautiful sound as The Vernon Spring. The piano playing is soft and measured and manages to tell an entire story with just a few words and ever fewer notes.
#82 Fourties Are Getting Restless – Normal Bias
Released: 21 Feb, 2020
Normal Bias of the Polish U Know Me record label demonstrates a precise ability to use a dub rhythm effectively, carefully choosing when to insert a break and when to hit hard with the inherent bass of the music itself. This track teleported straight out of Croydon circa. 2004 and when a tune is so convincingly an ode to the genre’s history, it deserves to be considered alongside it. History rhymes, as they say.
#81 Lockdown – Anderson .Paak
Released: Jun 19, 2020
California-born rapper Anderson .Paak strikes an interesting tone on this track, contrasting the upbeat bass and funk with stories of a country out of control. The message is crucially not diluted and his best track of 2020 will surely stand out as one of the finest to capture the chaos of a horrible American summer.