Tons of artists released music during quarantine. Let’s be honest. The year would have been a lot worse if they hadn’t. Whether you’re a music fanatic or not, you’re sure to agree there are some songs that got us through 2020 more than others.
20 Songs That Got Us Through 2020 (and Everything It Had to Offer)
Go ahead. Add these hits to your rotation, and be on the lookout for new releases in the coming months!
1. “Blinding Lights” by The Weeknd
As the realities of the rest of 2020 were becoming clear in early spring, The Weeknd’s new single “Blinding Lights” took over pop radio charts for four weeks. Even now, with 2020 laid to rest, no other song has been streamed more times on Spotify in the past year.
Both fans and big-name publications have suggested that this song references The Weeknd’s rocky romance with model Bella Hadid.
Neither party will confirm this theory, at least not publically, but the rumors certainly haven’t hurt the popularity of “Blinding Lights.”
2. “Dance Monkey” by Tones And I
Every musical era has that one song you just can’t get out of your head but that you couldn’t name the title or artist to save your life. For a lot of people in 2020, “Dance Monkey” by Tones And I perfectly fits the bill.
This hit first gained traction in Australia — which is, non-coincidentally, the home of singer/songwriter Tones And I. Within a few months, though, the tune gained worldwide recognition.
Despite earning its “viral” status pre-COVID restrictions, “Dance Monkey” still holds strong as one of the top songs that got us through 2020.
3. “Rockstar” by DaBaby feat. Roddy Ricch
After releasing two albums in 2019, DaBaby earned two Grammy nominations back in January. Neither nomination ended in a win. That might change in 2021, thanks to the rapper’s chart-topping single “Rockstar.”
In 2020, DaBaby worked alongside artists like Pop Smoke, Jack Harlow, Dua Lipa, and — of course — Roddy Ricch.
“Rockstar” might have stolen the show, but the rapper also features on three other songs to land on Billboard’s Top 100 this year.
4. “Savage” by Megan Thee Stallion
This year has been huge for female rappers. No one understands this as well as Megan Thee Stallion.
“Savage” deserves special recognition as Megan Thee Stallion’s first number-one single. Back in March and the very beginning of COVID quarantines, it was the most played song on TikTok.
The Texas-native had several chart-toppers this year, many of which also went viral on social media. With any luck, “Savage” was just the beginning for this rap powerhouse’s career.
5. “WAP” by Cardi B feat. Megan Thee Stallion
We can’t talk about women in rap or Megan Thee Stallion without discussing Cardi B’s “WAP.” It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but there’s no denying it was one of the songs that got us through 2020.
Cardi B has a few more years in the industry under her belt than Megan Thee Stallion, but the two artists are both new faces compared to stars like Nicki Minaj or Beyoncé. After the release of “WAP,” though, the duo became one of music’s biggest acts to watch.
There’s no knowing what Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion will come up with next.
While “WAP” certainly earned its fair share of criticism, parodies, and memes, it’s hard to argue any other song was more culturally significant in 2020.
6. “Fake Happy” by Paramore
Paramore’s “Fake Happy” came out in 2017. But the winning combo of TikTok popularity and pandemic melancholy launched the single back into our collective consciousness.
The entire After Laughter album is a raw look at lead singer Hayley William’s divorce and resulting depression.
While the lyrics paint a grim picture, though, the synth backing beats create something you can dance to (regardless of your mood).
7. “Watermelon Sugar” by Harry Styles
Harry Styles split with his One Direction bandmates back in 2015, and it seems those five years working on a solo career (and identity) paid off.
“Watermelon Sugar” wasn’t the singer’s first single of 2020. It wasn’t even his most popular.
Really, though, it was the music video that made “Watermelon Sugar” one of the songs that got us through 2020. Following its release in May, critics and fans alike quickly fell in love with the video’s visuals, styling, and euphemisms.
The video was so beloved, in fact, that Billboard’s readers voted it their favorite music video of the year.
8. “Juice” by Lizzo (covered by Harry Styles)
Another of our favorite examples of Harry Styles coming into his own is in his cover of “Juice” by Lizzo — whose songs, by the way, got us through 2019.
This cover was never turned into a studio recording. Instead, Harry Styles featured the song in a BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge concert in December 2019.
In January 2020, Lizzo invited him onstage to duet the song at a live Sirius XM concert. So she seems to be as big a fan of the cover as we are!
9. “No Time to Die” by Billie Eilish
Billie Eilish proved she wasn’t just a young pop singer with her recording of the James Bond theme song “No Time to Die.”
The song was first shared in February 2020. Sadly, some Bond fans expressed criticism over Eilish’s style and age.
In many ways, though, showing this more serious and mature side set the stage for the rest of Billie Eilish’s career through 2020 and (hopefully) the coming years.
10. “Therefore I Am” by Billie Eilish
Admittedly, “Therefore I Am” is one of the year’s newest hits. Still, its release in mid-November was perfectly timed for 2020’s unique holiday stress.
Rumors claim that Billie Eilish’s most recent single addresses body shamers on social media and in the traditional press.
Even the accompanying music video sticks to the theme by featuring “candid” footage of the singer wandering through and stealing food from an empty shopping mall.
Whether or not you can sympathize with Billie Eilish’s struggles as not just a young woman but one thrust into the public eye, her confident attitude in “Therefore I Am” makes it one of the songs that got us through 2020.
11. “I Hope” by Gabby Barrett feat. Charlie Puth
For pop country fans, no list of the songs that got us through 2020 would be complete without “I Hope” by Gabby Barrett.
Gabby Barret finished third on American Idol’s second-to-last season. Like many finalists before her, though, losing the singing competition did little to hamper her eventual career.
“I Hope” originally came out in 2019. But the re-release featuring Charlie Puth topped the charts for 16 weeks in 2020.
Even if country isn’t your music style of choice, Gabby Barrett’s hit single broke records and bridged genres for a reason.
12. “Say So” by Doja Cat
First released at the very end of 2019, “Say So” by Doja Cat never made it past Billboard’s Top 50. It did, however, stay on the charts for over four consecutive months.
That all changed in May 2020, when Doja Cat released a remix of the song featuring Nicki Minaj. In just a few short days, the “Say So” remix was at the top of the Billboard chart.
This remix was the first number-one song for both Doja Cat and, surprisingly, Nicki Minaj. Several months and countless TikTok dances later, it’s safe to say that “Say So” was one of the songs that got us through 2020.
13. “Roses” by SAINt JHN (Imanbek Remix)
“Roses” by SAINt JHN has an interesting history that’s extremely reminiscent of the current music industry.
First released in 2016, the song didn’t gain much traction. In 2019, a 19-year-old music producer remixed the song and seemingly launched a viral sensation overnight.
Whether trying to maintain some semblance of a morning routine or fighting off those quarantine pounds, “Roses” by SAINt JHN is an unexpected hit that never fails to get us moving.
14. “Someone You Loved” by Lewis Capaldi
Another One Direction alumnus, Lewis Capaldi, carved out a successful solo career that rivals Harry Styles’.
Capaldi’s style is a bit more subdued than his fellow bandmate’s, however, almost comparable to Ed Sheeran’s debut album “+.”
Lewis Capaldi might not have the name recognition of Harry Styles (at least outside of old One Direction fans), but his song “Someone You Loved” sits comfortably at number-ten on the Billboard Hot 100 Year-End Chart.
15. “Ghosts” by Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen’s heyday might have been the 1980s, but that hasn’t stopped the so-called “Boss” from releasing almost two dozen albums throughout his career.
“Ghosts” is the lead single from Springsteen’s most recent album, released in October 2020. The song is emotional and powerful, a perfect complement to some of the more upbeat songs on our list.
The song received praise from long-time fans and critics and spent two weeks at number five on the Billboard Global 200 charts.
16. “Betty” by Taylor Swift
We recently saw the release of Taylor Swift’s second — yes, second — quarantine studio album, Evermore. But this new album fails to outshine the one before it, Folklore.
The other part is largely a result of “Betty” paying homage to Taylor Swift’s country roots. A fact made abundantly clear in her live performance of the song at the Academy of Country Music Awards.
17. “Bloody Valentine” by Machine Gun Kelly
While balancing dual-careers as a musician and an actor, Machine Gun Kelly recently put out a new album. The lead single of this album, “Bloody Valentine,” kicked off Spring 2020 for lovers of rap and pop-punk with a May release date.
“Bloody Valentine” instantly gained the attention of Machine Gun Kelly fans following its release. But the track and video also drew media coverage because of the artist’s collaborations.
Machine Gun Kelly created “Bloody Valentine” with Travis Barker, the drummer of Blink-182. In the official music video, “Transformers” star Megan Fox takes on the titular role opposite Machine Gun Kelly.
18. “How You Like That” by Blackpink
K-pop has been on the rise for years. With the explosion of Blackpink both at home in South Korea and abroad, there’s no more questioning whether the genre can compete with the western music industry.
The girl group Blackpink had multiple hits come out this year, many of which we’d classify as pop songs that got us through 2020 and all it threw at us. But nothing compares to the group’s song “How You Like That.”
Even if the song weren’t a banger, the music video almost immediately broke Youtube streaming records with its June 2020 premiere.
“How You Like That” gained more views within 24 hours than any other music video (the record-holder was another K-pop group, BTS). With 2020 coming to a close, the video now sits at over 700 million views.
19. “Heart of Glass” by Blondie (covered by Miley Cyrus)
Miley Cyrus, who has been working for years to distance herself from the Disney Hannah Montana persona, dropped jaws this year with her live cover of Blondie’s “Heart of Glass.”
The song, performed at the iHeart Music Festival in October, is not the singer’s first foray into covers. All the way back in 2012, she gained recognition for a cover of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.”
Like many of the songs that got us through 2020, Miley Cyrus’ cover was boosted by users of TikTok and similar social media platforms. But don’t let the song’s viral status take away from Miley Cyrus’ skilled, breathtaking performance!
20. “Positions” by Ariana Grande
As pop music’s darling, it would be near-impossible to exclude Ariana Grande from our list. She may not have had a meme-worthy hit like “thank u, next” this year but did release a studio album in October.
The single “Positions” became the top song globally within a few days of its debut. By November, every song on the album claimed a spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
If you’re looking for pop songs to get you through 2021, Ariana Grand’s newest album is a great place to start.
It’s Time to Start Your Playlist for 2021
Everyone is crossing their fingers that 2021 will be a better year than its predecessor. But that doesn’t mean your playlists should be any more stale.
What songs have helped you deal with the 2020 blues? Are you adding any of the songs on our list to your own playlists? Let us know in the comments below!