Terrible, horrible, no good, very bad 2020 did have a lot of great songs as a soundtrack. Here are my top 10 favorite songs of the year: 

I Know the End by Phoebe Bridgers: In the year of Phoebe Bridgers, the closing track of her terrific album Punisher is also my favorite track of the year, and in my top 5 all-time closing album tracks. That crescendo at the end gets me every time, and I’ve caught myself wanting to primal-scream along often (including while at work.) 

Scram by Jeff Rosenstock: This year had a lot of frustrating moments, and the breakdown in Scram is a perfect antidote (unfortunately not a vaccine.) 

End of the World by Worriers: Basically every song on You or Someone You Know could be on this list, but End of the World is my favorite if you put a gun to my head. Or is it Big Feelings? Grand Closing? Definitely my favorite record of the year.

This Year by The Mountain Goats: “I will make it through this year if it kills me.”

Was Willst Du by Muff Potter: The surprising single by my all time favorite German band that was released while 2020 still seemed salvageable. A surprise album by Muff Potter would be a great start to 2021. Just saying. The singer Thorsten Nagelschmidt also wrote Arbeit, one of my favorite books of the year.

Ohh La La by Run the Jewels feat.Greg Nice & DJ Premier: Equal parts party and soundtrack-to-a-drug-dealer-getting-shot. Once the pandemic is over, I will open a case of champagne with all my friends to this. 

Normalization Blues by AJJ: The first song I’ve added to my running song of the year Spotify playlist. It’s the perfect acoustic punk song about the enraging normalization of facist discourse.

Thirteen by Bedouine, Waxahatchee, Hurray for the Riff Raff: This cover of the Big Star hit is the beautiful summer song of the year. Also melts the frustration away without being sugary-sweet.

Myths by I’m Glad It’s You: “And there’s a hallelujah/ And I’m learning how to sing/It’s a growing chorus/ bleeding into everything” I’ve lost count of how often I immediately hit repeat just to sing along with this chorus. 

Born Confused by Porridge Radio: I discovered Porridge Radio on Deutschlandfunk Kultur while driving home my mother-in-law’s car after our move ages ago last February. Is it confusing to happily sing “Thank you for leaving me/Thank you for making me happy” with your wife and “I’m bored to death/ Let’s argue” with a good friend? Yes. Guess I’m born confused.

Honorable mentions: 

Dream Wife – So When You Gonna…

John K. Samson – Fantasy Baseball At the End of the World

Laura Jane Grace – Old Friend (Stay Alive)

Tocotronic – Digital ist besser

Alanis Morrisette – Smiling

Fontaines D.C. – A Hero’s Death

Mavi Phoenix – Fck It Up

..and every other song on my “2020: Normalization Blues” Spotify Playlist.

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