What a year 2020 has been. It’s little surprise that most people have been playing “global event bingo” over the past twelve months (we missed out on a full house with ‘alien invasion’). However one constant that kept the world sane was music, always present to energize us when we needed a boost. Through lockdown, we saw the electronic music scene come together to support each other, and artists step up to the mark to provide us with some year defining gems.
Picking the best or the top tracks of any year is a difficult process. To gather public opinion on the matter, we approached The Inner Circle, Our Houz and Tune Drop communities to ask what has been the best tune of 2020? There were some clear winners across the board, including a few interesting nominations. Combined with some research of our own, we compiled the “Top 40” into a Spotify Playlist so we can dance through NYE and into a (hopefully) prosperous 2021.
But if your up for some pre-party readin’, then head below to find out about the ones which stood out for us and gained acclaim amongst disciples of dance in twenty + twenty.
Bicep – Apricots
Bicep following up from their massive debut album wasn’t going to be an easy feat by any means; it seems though the Belfast boys have hit the mark with their second lead single Apricots. When the duo previewed a collection of beautiful big beats via their immersive live stream back in September, peak anticipation levels were set for the next big part of the story. The following month we were gifted something to look forward to in the new year; A 10 track album called ISLES, out on Friday 22nd January.
Bonobo & Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs – Heartbreak
As you will see with this list, 2020 was the year of breakbeat. One testament to that fact was a grand collaboration (selected by The Inner Circle) between electronica gods, Bonobo and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs. The first release for Bonobo’s label OUTLIER, Heartbreak pays tribute to the NYC disco scene with elevated synths, gorgeously layered around a sample from ‘Weekend’ by Class Action. After 8 months of the clubs being closed, this track was a much-needed reminder of those hands-in-air moments and the feeling of ecstasy afterwards.
Burial – Chemz
A very late contender at the time of writing as it’s only been out 11 days. But come on, it’s Burial. The 12 minute symphony of juxtaposed and intertwined sounds is as one youtube comment put it: “a eulogy for all the raves that didn’t happen this year.” Close to a mini mix in comparison, as you undertake a listening session you can distinctly catch the auteur elements that make this enigmatic artist legendary. Returning when we needed him the most, Chemz is a flash of light at the end of the 2020 tunnel.
Jamie XX – Idontknow
In releasing his first solo work since his ‘In Color’ debut album, this Jamie XX production grabbed instant attention. Popping up as an ID question mark in sets from Ben UFO, Four Tet, Caribou, HAAi, and Bicep, Idontknow was a mystery track for some time. When released in April, the emotionally-stirring track was perfectly presented along with a captivating music video. The minimalist imagery features northern-Irish choreographer Oona Doherty dancing through Belfast the night before the city went into lockdown.
Overmono – Everything U Need
Straight out of Bromley are the dynamic and talented producing partnership known as Overmono. Having turned heads with Le Tigre and their remix of Teenage Birdsong in 2019, the year ahead was filled with promise. Like many, their full-to-the-brim gigging schedule was stopped dead in its tracks by the coronavirus crisis, but this didn’t stop the pair from pulling out the stops on their 2020 Everything U Need EP. Infectious rhythm at its core, the title track sees Overmono conquer a sound that’s entirely their own.
Pearson Sound – Alien Sound
We like to take the opportunity to thank Our Houz for picking this banger out of the bunch. Mainly because, with the year that Hessle Audio has had, it was almost impossible to choose ourselves. Rarely, a label nails its releases so consistently, but this sledgehammer breakbeat offering just confirms that label co-owner, Pearson Sound has his finger on the pulse. Don’t worry though, Anz – Loos In Twos (NRG) and Pangaea – Like This have also been naturally added to the Twenty + Twenty playlist.
Richie Blacker – Summer of Rave
Another son of the Irish underground shining through with 90s rave sounds is Richie Blacker. In his Summer of Rave EP press release he reminisced on his connection with rave culture; “I always looked up to my brothers when I was younger. They used to go raving every weekend and I used to listen to all their rave tapes before they went out to raves. So rave music and the culture is in my blood and it always will be.” His take on the era conjures up feelings of pure nostalgia, whilst crisp and modern production techniques really bring this uplifting melodic smasher together.
Tommy Farrow – Let’s Just
It’s always wonderful to see an artist breakthrough and become instantly loved in the electronic music scene. Tommy Farrow did just that in May with his chart-storming sensation, Let’s Just. Signing up to Stress Record‘s renaissance roster, the Sheffield producer is now part of an exciting new generation of electronic creatives who are pushing a progressive celestial sound. With Farrow now remixing for the likes of Rudimental, we would say he’s ‘most likely to dominate the scene’ in 2021.
Viper Diva – Born To Be Slytherin (Tbilisi Mix)
Tune Drop‘s favourite selection comes in the form of a hard techno monster from Viper Diva. A joint project between French producers Shlømo & Hadone, the duo teamed up to supply anthemic beats which remained faithful to the dancefloor out of their new label start-up, SAIKE. With ‘Snake Does Cry’ [SAIKE+02] up next on the Parisian powerhouse, there’s little to slow the furious accent of this vigorous venture in the new year.
Honourable Mention | Groove Armada – He’s On My Heart
This last selection was a personal one from ZF, dedicated to all the charity compilations that were released in 2020. It raises spirits to see the electronic music community around the world unite to do good and help those in need. CARE4LIFE was just one of many that helped raise money to aid the NHS through the pandemic and Groove Armada’s track stood out (to us at least) as a perfect chill out in lockdown tune. In laid back lounge style, it wouldn’t be out of place at Café del Mar playing out as the sun goes down.