The Best Songs of Summer 2020


Jake Miller, Assistant Editor

It was a summer unlike any other. So many of the things we take for granted during the season beach trips, state fairs, and midnight movie premieres were postponed indefinitely. One thing that did not stop: music. Self-isolation may have actually increased the amount of music put out this summer, forcing many artists into focusing solely on their craft without the distractions of touring and marketing. Charli XCX released an entirely homemade album only a few months into quarantine, while Troye Sivan got bored and “leaked” his own music. With so much new content over the past few months, I found it fitting to look back on the songs that soundtracked a summer in isolation. 


mirrorball – Taylor Swift 

Taylor Swift’s surprise album “folklore” was undeniably the defining music moment of the summer. Written entirely in quarantine, Swift abandoned her hit-making, commercial pop sound for an acoustic album that showcased her strongest asset as a musician: songwriting. In it was the lush and atmospheric “mirrorball,” a vulnerable track about the longevity of fame and the pressure to stay relevant. She likens herself to a mirror ball, reflecting back what people project onto her in an attempt to appease her critics and fans alike. “Hush, I know they say the end is near,” she whispers, referencing the belief that most female pop stars begin to fall off following their 30th  birthday. It is a song full of fear and honesty, yet it ends on a hopeful note. “I’m still a believer, but I don’t know why/ I’ve never been a natural, all I do is try, try, try,” Swift sings in dreamy, layered vocals. It is safe to say the star is here to stay. 


Girls in the Hood – Megan Thee Stallion 

  2020 is undoubtedly Megan Thee Stallion’s year. The Houston rapper has racked up hits on TikTok and scored a remix with Beyoncé, finally gaining popular recognition after a years-long come up. Her latest solo track, “Girls in the Hood,” flips Eazy-E’s “Boyz-n-the-Hood,” a hip-hop classic filled with misogynistic lyrics, into a reclamation of female independence, both financially and socially. It is not new territory for Megan lyrically, but rather, a perfection of a craft she has been mastering for years. She is witty, proud, and unapologetic to the men whom she offends, showcasing a true understanding of what it means to be a hip-hop icon. In a year where the charts are dominated by almost all male rappers, with repetitive lyricism and lazy production, Megan and many other female rappers (Rico Nasty, Tkay Maidza, etc.) show us that the future of rap is bright. 


Step Into My Life – Jessie Ware 

The best pop music this year has been overwhelmingly influenced by older sounds, from Dua Lipa’s decade-transcending “Future Nostalgia” to Lady Gaga’s 90’s house-inspired “Chromatica.” Jessie Ware’s “What’s Your Pleasure?” is an ode to 70’s disco, filled with dramatic strings and glittery synths that capture the era perfectly. “Step Into My Life” is a standout track that leans into a more funk sound, feeling mature and playful at the same time. Ware’s vocals are beautifully airy over a combination of dreamy strings and synth horns that would make the most disco-averse among us want to dance. 


Kyoto – Phoebe Bridgers

Phoebe Bridger’s “Kyoto” is the kind of heartbreaking song that you just cannot stop listening to. The alternative artist abandoned her usual down-tempo sound for a rock ballad about the complex, often destructive relationship between child and father. She references her travels in Japan as being a catalyst for this somber reflection, but it is really about the power of distance in general. Her writing is arrestingly personal. “I don’t forgive you/ But please don’t hold me to it,” she sings in the second chorus, delivered with a desperation that stops the listener in their tracks. It is a captivating song, one that makes, dare I say, the best usage of a trumpet since…ever. Seriously, just listen to that outro. 



On top of a pandemic, the world has faced a reckoning over the issues of police brutality and anti-Blackness this summer, making for a turbulent and emotionally exhaustive past few months. Despite all this, Black Americans found a day of respite and pride in Juneteenth, a long-celebrated commemoration of the day that those enslaved in Galveston, Texas were finally made aware of their freedom (years after the Emancipation Proclamation). To celebrate, Beyoncé dropped “BLACK PARADE,” an anthemic track reminiscent of HBCU marching bands filled with references to African traditions and Black activists. All the proceeds from the song were donated to small Black-owned businesses, just one of many examples of Beyoncé using her platform for good. The song’s shining moment arrives at the bridge in a call-and-response format. “We got rhythm/We got pride/ We birth kings/ We birth tribes,” she sings, alluding to the power and influence of African diaspora and Black women in particular. It is a song that will be remembered as a defining track in this moment in history.