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2020 was weird like no weirdness we’d experienced before. Thank goodness the music didn’t let us down. Paraphrasing some 1970s disk jockey, the should-be hits just kept on coming! My top 50 singles for 2020 covers the usual range of styles I jam into the poprock category, from Buddy Holly 1950s to Buck Owens country to various shades of jangle and new wave. I’m not saying these are the 50 best songs of the year, I’m saying these 50 had the hooks to keep me hitting repeat again and again. If Poprock Record were a radio station these tunes would have been in heavy rotation all this past year. The hyperlinks below will take you to the original post about each artist as they first appeared on the blog.

So let’s get to it, Poprock Record’s should-be hit singles for 2020:

1. Mo Troper “Your Boy”
2. Gregory Pepper and his Problems “Unsolved Mystery”
3. Dave Kuchler “Slave to Katy”
4. Emperor Penguin “You’ll Be the Death of Me”
5. Brian Jay Cline “Two Left Feet”
6. Hanemoon “Sunday Afternoon”
7. Danny McDonald “Cordyline”
8. Chris Church “Something’s Coming Fast”
9. Peralta “In Your Mind”
10. Steven Wright-Mark “Underground”
11. Brett Newski “Grow Your Garden”
12. Lolas “Wrecking Yard”
13. Peggy Sue “Motorcade”
14. Searching for Sylvia “SEMA (Sunday Evening Misery Attack)”
15. The Vapor Trails “Behind You”
16. The Well Wishers “We Grow Up”
17. The Top Boost “Tell Me That You’re Mine”
18. The Click Beetles “Don’t You Call My Name”
19. The Memories “Second Try”
20. The Bye Bye Blackbirds “Watch Them Chime”
21. Lisa Mycols and Super 8 “Honey Bee”
22. Nite Sobs “I Could Tell You”
23. Nick Pipitone “Hear Me Out Thienville”
24. David Myles “Loving You is Easy”
25. El Goodo “Home”
26. Steven Bradley “Pre-Emptive Strike”
27. The Happy Fits “No Instructions”
28. Greg Pope “Jump Back from the Light”
29. Mom “I Want You to Feel What I Feel”
30. The Amplifier Heads “Man on the Edge of a Ledge Contemplating a Jump”
31. Blitzen Trapper “Masonic Temple Microdose #1”
32. Dave Rave and the Governors “I Don’t Think So”
33. The Rockyts “Break My Heart Again”
34. The Feels “She’s Probably Not Thinking of Me”
35. Nuevos Hobbies “No Puedo Esperar”
36. David Woodard “Grand Scheme of Things”
37. Esther Rose “Keeps Me Running”
38. Talk Show “This Monologue”
39. Geoff Palmer and Lucy Ellis “Swim”
40. Irene Pena “Own Sweet Time”
41. Ed Woltil “When We Fall in Love”
42. Papills “What to Call It”
43. The August Teens “Crestfallen”
44. Richard Turgeon “Higher”
45. Nick Piunti and the Complicated Men “Bright Light”
46. Tom Curless and the 46% “Just Wanna Talk”
47. Brandi Ediss “Bees and Bees and Bees”
48. Mothboxer “Accelerator”
49. Honeywagen “For Love”
50. Nicholas Altobelli “Ghost”

So many great songs! So hard to make distinctions amongst them … But this year’s chart topper Mo Troper has got something really special going on with “Your Boy.” The track is a case study in should-be hit single construction and execution, from the opening guitar hooks to the silky smooth pop vocal to the exquisite synthesis of musical elements, like the plinky piano, the dash of distorted guitar here and there. The song is the earworm equivalent of a Dutch masters miniature painting. A very close second this year came from the boundlessly talented Canuck Gregory Pepper and his Problems with “Unsolved Mystery.” I can’t get enough of Pepper’s creative songwriting and unique approach to instrumentation. The song is a hook cocktail, a nonstop aural assault of vocal and instrumental melody. Former Soul Engines member Dave Kuchler slots into number 3 with an amazing comeback single, “Slave to Katy,” a song that ripples with Springsteen organ and hooky guitar leads. This is melodic heartland rock and roll at its best. Releasing an album and three EPs in 2020, Emperor Penguin definitely win the productivity award. But I’d have been happy if they’d just released one song, the Byrdsian “You’ll Be the Death of Me.” Rounding out the top 5 Brian Jay Cline “Two Left Feet” gives the harmonica a work out on a great driving poprock number. And I could go on about the remaining 45 should-be hits but for more on the rest of the list hit the hyperlinks for my original write-ups on each.

This year’s special mention award goes to Mondello for his wonderfully quirky one-off single “My Girl Goes By.” After taking 20 years putting together his debut album one year later there’s no sign of a sophomore slump with this follow up single. From the Tijuana horns to the unique guitar work to the way the hooky swinging chorus emerges out the discordant and offbeat body of the song, it’s magic. More? Yes please!

2020 has been devastating for artists that rely on live performances to make ends meet. Now more than ever it’s crucial that we all pull together to support music and the music-makers financially. Give what you can, buy directly from artists whenever you can, and share links for the music you discover with your friends and acquaintances.