In , with one killer track, an artist could become a household name, sparking infinite conversations and even more memes. In addition to all the new names, established artists like Lana Del Rey and Vampire Weekend redefined themselves and reset the trajectories of their careers. At the end of one year, and looking ahead to the next decade, here are the tracks we believe will stand the test of time. Listen to selections from this list on our Spotify playlist and Apple Music playlist. Shawn Mendes seems beamed in from a pop era before face tattoos and pink hair and cursing: Last year, when the Canadian heartthrob revealed he liked to— gasp!
Shawn Mendes: “If I Can’t Have You”
99. DaBaby – “Suge”
The past and the future combined in , a year of satisfying comebacks from veteran artists and exciting breakouts from newer ones. Read the list below, with a Spotify playlist of all at the bottom. An unlikely combination of three very different alt-leaning acts, "I've Been Waiting" is far more seamless than it has any right to be, finding common ground in the artists' shared pop sensibilities. As it toggles between vocals from all three, it's impossible to tell where the verses stop and the chorus starts -- it's all hooks, really, a song where every part feels like That Part.
100. Mdou Moctar – “Ilana”
Did any songs exist in besides "Old Town Road"? Contrary to what every open car window for the last nine months might suggest, the answer is: yes. And what this year had to offer is a continued expansion of what makes a song, a song. Oh, and there were bangers galore, from Megan Thee Stallion's aspirational boasts on "Cash Shit" and Billie Eilish's sweetly sinister self-proclamations on "bad guy" to Koffee's infectious, understated dancehall hit "Toast. What the hell were the s? We're still figuring that out. But in the meantime, we have this —a collaboration between: a very good rapper who for some reason is more famous for having a baby with one of Kris Jenner's cursed spawn; a mysteriously charming, heavily face-tattooed white rapper who dresses like a cowboy on acid; and [checks notes] Ozzy Osbourne please do not forget that pre- The Osbournes, he was best known as both the Prince of Darkness and Godfather of Heavy Metal. There's Auto-Tune, a fat beat, Ozzy's reliably wail-y vocals, and lyrics that include both "I feel you crumble in my arms down to your heart of stone" and "I brought up ten hoes, this coupe only made for two.
Some of our favorite songs this year were strikingly vulnerable offerings from artists who seemed bulletproof. Some of our favorite songs this year were moments of absurdity and utter weirdness that helped redefine what we knew about style and genre. Some had great guitar solos. Some had nasty beats.