The final year of the decade saw A-list superstars relatively quiet on the singles front; instead we saw newcomers shine, and more established artists revived, re-energised and reinvented. Here are the tracks that topped our playlist, setting the scene for an exciting decade to come. You can listen to all 20 tracks here Warning: Contains some language that may offend.
The meme that turned into a movement; the song was an unapologetic call to have a good time and not give a flying flamingo about what anybody thinks. The guitar solo, or more accurately a guitar roar, is worthy of Neil Young at his peak. FKA twigs, Cellophane. Solange, Almeda The sound of black pride in Playboi Carti and The-Dream joined the celebration, adding weight and joy to the mood. A snarling, pessimistic portrait of Britain from the street — covering Brexit, class warfare, and widening inequality — but told with bluntness, wit and wordplay.
One of its most stunning and human moments came on Frontier. Inspired by Appalachian Sacred Harp singing, a single voice builds to a vocal crescendo that blurs the difference between human and machine in ways that feel comfortable, disorientating and heart-warming all at once.
Brandi Carlile subverts country ballad tradition, sending a warning to a male cowboy who has an eye on her female partner, which also felt like a welcome rejoinder to the machismo that can pervade the genre. Lewis Capaldi, Someone You Loved Scottish singer-songwriter Capaldi became the somewhat improbable break-out star of the year.
Little Simz, Selfish. It may have been a long time coming, but the London rapper is finally achieving the success that has been predicted by everyone from Kendrick Lamar to Forbes magazine. And who are we to argue? Dave, Black From the groundbreaking Mercury Prize-winning album came a track that was a laser-sharp examination of contemporary racism and racial identity. The south London rapper tackles colonialism, social mobility and media coverage, but like Solange, the song is also peppered with pride about his blackness.
Sometimes a partnership makes more sense on paper than in the studio, sometimes it more than delivers on the promise. Gone is firmly in the latter camp, the two pop mavericks creating an uncompromising, existential anti-social anthem.
Am I the sun? Who decides? Tyler, The Creator, Earfquake Originally written with Justin Beiber in mind, and later offered to and rejected by Rhianna, Earfquake finds the rapper singing in heartbreak mode, pleading a lover not to leave over summer sounds and harmonies.
Sharon Van Etten, Seventeen. Lana Del Rey, The greatest. Lana Del Rey, The Greatest. A comedown anthem for the burned-out generation. Del Rey focused her swooning cinematic style on the American Dream, or what she thinks is left of it. The Greatest takes a sombre and elegiac view of a country swamped by political anxiety, climate change, celebrity culture, and even the false alarm of a nuclear attack on Hawaii.
Clairo, Bags. Breaking up is hard to do, and sometimes even harder to explain. Low-key, touching and heart-felt, the song elevated the year-old from You Tube phenomenon to bona fide pop star. It should never have worked, but it did. Lizzo, Juice. A riot of retro-funk filled with soul and sexiness, Lizzo gives Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars a joyous run for their money with this hit.
Along the way, Lizzo praises the woman in the mirror, sips Grey Goose and makes fun of a man sliding into her DMs. Billie Eilish, bad guy. Of all the songs that propelled the remarkable rise of the year-old pop prodigy this year, bad guy was the biggest and most subversive, and was the song that eventually toppled Old Town Road from the number 1 spot.
Thumbing a nose at the way people present themselves, the song has it all: Lo-fi swagger, sass in spades, and a surreal music video that got the meme treatment online. The dark side had never felt more fun. If you liked this story, sign up for the weekly bbc. Share using Email. Bookmark this article. You can listen to all 20 tracks here Warning: Contains some language that may offend Around the BBC.