We’re three months into a year that already feels like eternity, but at least we’ve had an abundance of tunes to keep us occupied. From a bittersweet posthumous release to petty breakup bops, here are the best songs 2020 has to offer so far. (Rihanna, we’re waiting!)
“Cool Off” by Missy Elliott
Twerking is an art form, so Missy Elliott, the queen of all things dance, put it in a museum.
“Wasted On You” by Evanescence
Evanescence has an amazing new song and yes, we’re still in 2020. *cries in black converse, skinny jeans, and Tumblr*
“I Want War (But I Need Peace)” by Kali Uchis
Kali Uchis has reached her wits’ end in a relationship and regrets the time she wasted going “crazy” over her old lover. Though she wants to start a war, she has a new man who treats her better and brings her peace.
“You’re Too Precious” by James Blake
Valentine’s Day is long gone but James Blake’s “You’re Too Precious” is hauntingly beautiful song you can sing to your loved ones year-round.
“Shameika” by Fiona Apple
Apple told ELLE the “delayed angst” of childhood defines the songs on her masterful new album Fetch the Bolt Cutters. But the bouncy, joyful “Shameika” celebrates a creative milestone in young Fiona’s life—the time a classmate told her she “had potential.” Play it at top volume in tribute to the real-life Shameika, without whom we might’ve never heard Apple’s electrifying discography. —Julie Kosin
“Song for Our Daughter” by Laura Marling
Marling describes her new album as a “triumph over trauma,” and her soothing vocals and defiant lyrics offer unexpected solace in this time of crisis. The title track, “Song for Our Daughter,” faces down the thorny “bullshit” of coming of age as a young woman, imagining a world where Marling’s hypothetical daughter knows enough to shun it. —JK
“Stupid Love” by Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga is back, y’all—but she never really left. Though 2016’s Joanne saw her dip into a rootsy country sound, her first single of 2020, “Stupid Love,” took her Little Monsters back to the place they first fell in love with her—the dance floor.
“Escape From LA” by The Weeknd
Los Angeles is the place everyone runs to, be it for a head start on their careers or to enjoy the fruits of their labor. But my favorite #SadBoy is fed up with the city and its effect on his relationship, especially the temptation lurking at every corner. He has everything he could ever want—”Got the money, got the cars, got the ceiling with the stars”—but he realizes material things don’t compare to the love he has for…
Bella a special someone?
“Between Us” by DVSN ft. Snoh Aalegra
On “Between Us,” DVSN’s Daniel Daley is ready to skip the small talk and get straight to business. Never one to shy away from broadcasting his sexual desires, Daley sings that even though he and his partner have issues to work out, “I don’t want nothing in between us/Nothing there to stop the feeling.” Snoh, on the other hand, knows this fling probably won’t last forever, but asks that they “keep it honest.”
“Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris” by Hayley Williams
Hayley Williams reminds us that everyone has their own path and grows at their own speed. We just have to be as gentle with ourselves as we would be with a flower.
“Breathe Deeper” by Tame Impala
The best six minutes of your life begin the moment the bright drums of Tame Impala’s “Breathe Deeper” roll in. Fusing R&B smoothness with jazzy, dreamy melodies reminiscent of the ’70s, “Breathe Deeper” feels like the kind of song that soundtracks a scene depicting a character’s dizzying acid trip, which makes sense since the beginning of the song was created when Kevin Parker was “stoned.”
“Physical” by Dua Lipa
If Olivia Newton-John’s classic “Let’s Get Physical” is the quintessential Zumba workout jam, then Dua Lipa’s “Physical” is the darker, sultrier tune suited for an intense Barry’s Bootcamp session. Like the ’80s hit, Dua’s song is about the other form of physical fitness—no resistance bands or dumbbells needed.
“Let Me Know” by Brent Faiyaz
With all the senseless acts of violence happening daily, Brent Faiyaz’s “Let Me Know” is a reminder that to love someone else means to love yourself first.
“Boss B*tch” by Doja Cat
Doja Cat can make just about any type of music; last year’s Hot Pink was proof. But if you need further convincing, “Boss Bitch,” her contribution to the all-female Birds of Prey soundtrack, will surely do the trick. Knowing her critics try to cancel her out, Doja hits back with a sharp bite, a reminder she’ll keep eating up her competition: “Big up yourself ’cause you know they don’t/I chew, chew, chew, ’cause they hope I choke.”
“Good News” by Mac Miller
The late Mac Miller’s pensive “Good News” is like the old saying, “There’s a light at the end of the tunnel.” Miller works through his dark thoughts in the beginning of the song, singing, “Why can’t it just be easy?/Why does everybody need me to stay?” But by the end of the track, he’s optimistic that “that there’s a whole lot more for me waiting.”
“B.I.T.C.H” by Megan Thee Stallion
After a turnt-up summer dropping twerk-inducing tracks like “Realer,” “Cash Shit,” and “Simon Says,” Megan Thee Stallion returned to her Tina Snow roots with the lusty slow-burner “B.I.T.C.H” It makes you want to send a toxic text—or three.
“You Should Be Sad” by Halsey
Being the bigger person after a breakup requires growth, but sometimes you just want to be a little petty and get some things off your chest. Enter Halsey’s country-ish single, “You Should Be Sad” from her new album Manic. Why is this pop princess dabbling in the country sound? “The most petty and heartbreaking songs all come from country,” she explained on Twitter. So she grabbed her guitar and created her own version of “Before He Cheats,” she tweeted, “but instead about after he does haha.”
“Sometimes” by H.E.R.
In the midst of an emotional Grammys ceremony, H.E.R. blessed the stage with a reminder that sometimes things don’t always pan out, but we have to accept life’s ups and downs.
“What a Man Gotta Do” by Jonas Brother
“Cut You Off” by Selena Gomez
“Conversations In the Dark” by John Legend
This Is Us keeps us perpetually teary-eyed with its heart-wrenching storylines, and in the season 4 premiere, Kevin meets a girl with whom he instantly clicks—only to find out she’s in town for a limited time. After learning of her love for John Legend, he uses his celebrity power to whisk Legend to a park to serenade his new boo with what is sure to be the wedding song of 2020.
“Pu$$y Fairy” by Jhene Aiko
Real fans know Jhene Aiko’s sexually explicit lyrics are nothing new—after all, she’s the one behind that “groceries” lyric. But “Pu$$y Fairy” goes much deeper than its steamy lyrics; the song was made using Aiko’s crystal sound bowl in the key of D, which is the sacral chakra—also known as the sexual organs.
“Get Me” by Justin Bieber fi. Kehlani
Justin Bieber said the return of “R&Bieber” was imminent, then released the bubbly, trap-inspired”Yummy”—and had me worried about what the rest of his forthcoming album would sound like. But with “Get Me,” featuring R&B princess Kehlani, my faith in JB has been restored.
Nerisha is the assistant editor at ELLE.com, covering all things beauty and fashion.