The 6 best songs of 2020 so far

Jlin, Tame Impala

Jlin, Tame Impala Ebru Yildiz, Associated Press

Time to start a new playlist.

Yesterday, I shared the fruits of my yearlong adventures in tune prospecting with a playlist of my 2019 favorites. Now it’s time to get back to the weekly grind of finding the best new songs—and here’s the cream of what the young year has given us so far.

Jlin – “I Hate Being an Adult”

The Gary, Indiana footstep genius is at her most accessible and least ominous on her Adult Swim-commissioned singles: “No Name” in 2019, and now this. Keyboards groan-belch with nearly voice-like indignation; rhythms subtly mutate without getting too far out. It’ll hold me over till a full-length follow-up to the brilliant Black Origami.

Gil Scott-Heron – “Where Did the Night Go”

The gruff political poet has had a pretty fruitful musical afterlife. He released his final album I’m New Here in 2010, which Jamie XX remixed brilliantly the following year as We’re New Here, and “I’ll Take Care of U” became the basis for Drake’s “Take Care.” Now jazz drummer Makaya McCraven is taking those tracks in a different direction with We’re New Again, and here’s the first promising taste of that reworking.

Wire – “Primed and Ready”

Singer/guitarist Colin Newman jokes that this was “written in less time than it takes to play it” and that’s its charm—it whizzes past with a simplicity and directness that younger retro postpunks struggle to achieve.

Disq – “Daily Routine”

These Madison fellas play good old fashioned indie-rock—tuneful and discordant, resentful and resilient in all the right places. They’re tired of looking at screens all day. Me too! Fuck screens!

Pet Shop Boys – “Monkey Business”

Does anyone under 30 even know who the Pet Shop Boys are? Who cares? I turn 50 next week and this is my column! Neil Tennant struts through a maze of electro beats and extravagant disco strings that sounds like a homage to all the music he ever loved. There’s even a vocoder bit.

Tame Impala – “Lost in Yesterday”

Kevin Parker sings simple, unprepossessing tunes in a simple, unprepossessing tenor, leaving all the complexity to the tracks themselves, which are never quite busy or fussy but sometimes do seem to overcompensate a touch. I can hear why you all love him so much. I find him intermittently beguiling myself.

Every week, music editor Keith Harris scours the vast musicscape for six worthy tracks to add to City Pages' ever-expanding 2020 playlist.