2020 may have been one of the toughest years faced but music was what got most of us through some of the most difficult times. Keeping us company in our home offices to keeping us motivated, when times got tough, to just giving us something to smile about, we look back at the year that was through music.
Jerusalema – Master KG featuring Nomcebo Zikode
The gospel-influenced house song by DJ and producer Master KG with Nomcebo on vocals.
Why it was such a hit: Master KG recorded the song in 2019 but it went viral midway through the year after the Jerusalema Dance Challenge took the world by storm. Everyone from nuns in European convents to frontline healthcare workers were dancing to the catchy song. It topped the Shazam charts, charting globally, dominated streaming services – surpassing over 100 million views – and won numerous awards.
Blinding Lights – The Weeknd
Electropop chart-topper featuring singer/songwriter The Weeknd’s signature falsetto.
Why it was such a hit: Besides his incredible vocals on the song, the dance synth-pop arrangement and all-round 1980s vibe guaranteed him a global hit. The song peaked at number one in 34 countries, was one of the highest streamed songs of 2020, winning him six awards including two MTV Video Music Awards for Best R&B and Video of the Year.
Savage – Megan Thee Stallion
Hip Hop, tongue-in-cheek song by the music industry’s newest rap royalty.
View this post on Instagram
Why it was such a hit: Despite being around for a few years, 2020 was definitely her year as the song went viral thanks to content sharing app TikTok, when users began dancing to Savage. A month later, Beyonce jumped on the remix and the song became her first top 10 hit in the US.
Dynamite – BTS
Korean pop music at its absolute best from this seven-member South Korean boyband.
Why it was such a hit: Korean pop music has seen tremendous growth in the music industry over the past few years and none are as popular as chart-toppers BTS. This song was the biggest global song debut with a whopping 7.7 million first-day streams. The band are the biggest selling Korean artists and amassed millions of fans worldwide who eat up every song they release.
Rockstar – DaBaby featuring Roddy Ricch
Powerful trap offering from US rapper DaBaby, who rose to prominence last year after several successful mixtapes.
Why it was such a hit: Rockstar is DaBaby’s biggest hit to date and many attribute this to a change in his sound, incorporating a more pop approach in the chorus and including an equally amazing rising star Roddy Ricch (who had success this year with his hit album The Box). He also released a remix a couple months after the release that specifically speaks to the Black Lives Matter movement.
eMcimbini – Kabza de Small and DJ Maphorisa
Dynamic production duo Kabza de Small and DJ Maphorisa can’t seem to put a foot wrong with the best in amapiano sounds
Why it was such a hit: From the album Scorpion Kings Live, this duo created hit after hit. The most popular was definitely this more mid-tempo eMcimbini. It features a range of talented vocalists too, Samthing Soweto, Myztro, Aymos and Mas Musiq.
John Vuli Gate – Mapara A Jazz
Newcomers onto the South African music scene duo Mana Nephawe and Leonard Malatji produced a catchy amapiano track
Why it was such a hit: The track that spawned the viral John Vuli Gate challenge was one of the biggest of the year. It was a first-class lesson in how to crate a viral record. The song emerged with a Top 50 Global Shazam single and over 500,000 streams on Spotify.
Say So – Doja Cat
Catchy pop tune by half American, half South African artist Doja Cat, real name Amala Ratna Zandile Dlamini.
View this post on Instagram
Why it was such a hit: She may have been born in the US and never visited South Africa before, but we have claimed Doja Cat as one of our own. Her success in 2020 can also be highly attributed to TikTok. Her song Say So was used in one of the hugely popular dance challenges and catapulted her further into the limelight. Outside of picking up a few awards this year, she’s also been nominated for three Grammy Awards.
Intentions – Justin Bieber featuring Quavo
Justin Bieber has matured into a confident artist, releasing pop and R&B tracks consistently, like Intentions, which was an ode to his wife Hailey.
Why it was such a hit: A real feel-good song with an equally emotive video (shot at a women’s shelter), Intentions showed off Bieber’s great vocals all the while giving off a positive message in the lyrics. Bieber later announced an Intentions Fund that donated $200,000 to the shelter, encouraging others to do the same.
Roses (Imambek Remix) – SAINt JHN
First recorded in 2016 by US rapper SAINt JHN, dance song Roses got a remix by Kazakh musician and producer Imanbek Zeikenov.
Nominated for Song of the Summer at the MTV Video Music Awards this year, this track came out of nowhere, again, thanks to TikTok (where it received over 4.5 billion plays) and gained momentum as 2020 progressed. The rapper took the budget for the video and donated it towards the Black Lives Matter movement.
What we can expect in 2021
- American rapper Golden Landon Von Jones, better known as 24kGoldn was a breakthrough artist this year. His song Mood, which features rapper Iian Dior topped the Billboard Hot 100 upon debut.
- South African R&B sensation Elaine had an incredible year, topping the Shazam charts for her song You’re the One and becoming the most streamed artist on Spotify. She’s had immense success of her album Elements and was signed to international label Columbia.
- UK singer/songwriter Alfie Templeman offers up some sugary pop-rock and has been named one to watch by various music outlets and making it to The Amazon Music Ones to Watch 2021 list and VEVO’s DSCVR Artists To Watch 2021 list. And he is just 17 years old.