What song defined your year? This is always a difficult question to answer, but in 2020, it’s even more challenging. Some years, you can take the easy way out and just pick the song that you heard at every club and party you went to. Not in 2020. Some years, there’s an obvious trend that dominates music, crystallizing itself in a hit song that ends up at the top of everyone’s lists. Not in 2020.
In a year dominated by isolation, cultural moments were splintered. At home, different songs resonated with each of us, and we gravitated to music that hit the hardest within our respective bubbles. So this year, more than ever, the value of a list like this comes from its totality more than any single song. Together, these 50 songs represent the various ways that music guided us through a historically challenging year. Whether these tracks helped us face our own respective obstacles or enabled us to escape from reality altogether, they all soundtracked the past 12 months in their own ways. For the purposes of this list, we only selected songs that were actually released in 2020. These are Complex’s picks for the 50 best songs of 2020.