Prior to the release of his posthumous debut album, Pop Smoke was not exactly known for his gradual-burning, laid-back again cuts. But the creeping “For The Night” assisted confirm his versatility, as he held court between the twin hurricanes that are all-stars Lil Infant and DaBaby, each of whom delivers succinct shows of just what make them this sort of singular figures in the current hip-hop scene. In the canon of great rap songs anchored by melancholy flute melodies, this one can sit comfortably along with Future’s “Mask Off” and Drake’s “Portland.” — D.R.
54. The Weeknd, “In Your Eyes”
The sleek “In Your Eyes” demonstrates Michael Jackson’s deep influence on a generation of pop and R&B artists, and this longtime acolyte in particular. With a sparkling synth hook and a creamy, melodic chorus, “In Your Eyes” would have in good shape right in on Off the Wall — with the sax solo (by Wojtek Goral on the primary recording and by Kenny G on a remix) introducing to the ‘80s throwback vibe. The Grammys could have snubbed The Weeknd, but “In Your Eyes” reveals why he was one of the year’s leading artists. — P.G.
53. Ava Max, “Kings & Queens”
At confront price, Ava Max’s “Kings & Queens” is a synth-run toast to woman independence, comprehensive with a splashy electric powered guitar solo and garishly cinematic online video. But next its release, the empowering track and its theatrical visual took on a second existence, turning into an unofficial anthem of the parade-cost-free 2020 Satisfaction time and reminding all of the kings and queens preventing isolation in lockdown that — even with celebrations about the planet being cancelled owing to the coronavirus pandemic — “baby, you’re not dancing on your very own.” — G.R.
52. Phoebe Bridgers, “Kyoto”
This heartbreaking rocker, which acclaimed singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers has said is dependent on her intricate relationship with her father, has these kinds of cinematic lyrics that it could be tailored into a dreamily melancholy Sofia Coppola film. About a complicated arrangement of 12-string guitar, horns, autoharp and Mellotron, she masterfully unravels her tangled thoughts about Father: anger and resignation (“I’m gonna destroy you / If you do not beat me to it”) mixed with recollections of a happier past, and ambivalence about the wanderlust she inherited from him. The lyrics are a blend of slicing and wistful, but when the songs rises and Bridgers’ voice soars, the tune leaves its psychological baggage powering. “I really don’t forgive you/ But make sure you never keep me to it,” gives some hope for reconciliation in a tune that remembers Philip Larkin’s vintage line of poetry: “They f–k you up, your mum and dad.” — F.D.
51. Ariana Grande, “pov”