As an ugly 2020 trudges on, music continues to figure out how to exist in absolutely uncharted territory. From Meg Thee Stallion to Flo Milli, women are dropping music that demands attention and respect, as they own their sexuality and find pleasure in a time when it seems impossible.
Here, we’re rounding up the hottest tracks of 2020, from sultry simplicity off Liv.e’s debut album to stadium-size heavy-hitting jams via Dua Lipa and Jessie Ware.
“Weak” by Flo Milli
On “Weak,” Flo Milli rolls through the pros and cons of hitting up past and present flames, as she simultaneously dodges texts from unwanted members of the roster. It’s a satisfying display of sexual ownership that has Flo Milli skipping candidly over a melodic beat, as she reiterates the bad-bitch status that she initially introduced the mainstream to with her breakout single, “Beef FloMix.”
“What’s Your Pleasure?” by Jessie Ware
Jessie Ware’s What’s Your Pleasure? was one of a handful of projects that ushered in a new wave of reenergized disco into 2020. The record’s title track is a neon-infused cut that sounds like it’s supposed to be blaring through a roller rink, with Ware centering herself as the queen and host of the dance floor. “Here together, what’s your pleasure?” she purrs.
“White Tee” by Summer Walker featuring NO1-NOAH
In somewhat of a surprise left turn from her usual ethereal, stripped-down R&B cuts, Summer Walker comes through with a spoken word, half-sung/half-rap verse on “White Tee,” the sultry cut from her Life on Earth EP. “White Tee” is overtly sensual as it utilizes the metaphorical benefits of a favorite white tee.
“Savage Remix” by Megan Thee Stallion featuring Beyoncé
The two undisputed queens of Texas appeased the fantasy of every fan in 2020 by linking up. In a ceremonious crowning, Beyoncé symbolically passes the pop culture icon torch to Meg, as she hops on a verse of the already smoldering single “Savage.”
“Physical” by Dua Lipa
Dua Lipa taps into the sweaty, headband-filled aesthetic and sound of the '80s on “Physical.” Following the lead of The Weeknd and other artists who have leaned into the synth-ridden corners of pop’s yesteryears, “Physical” is drenched in allusions to the relentless pursuit of a high pulse.
“Watch” by Arca featuring Shygirl
With overwhelming waves of vocal distortion paired with lyrics that tout unfazed self-affirmation, British garage rapper and captivating up-and-comer Shygirl warns of the plights of getting with a bad bitch on “Watch.” The track finds Arca and Shygirl carelessly flowing over a deranged house beat, as the pair showcase their inherent chaos.
“You the One Fish in the Sea” by Liv.e
Liv.e’s debut project, Couldn’t Wait to Tell You, is an atmospheric curveball of a trip, gently gliding through regional soul, jazz, and R&B influences that have been pressed and distorted through her signature lo-fi pressure cooker. “You the One Fish in the Sea” is one of the album’s less abstract musings, as Liv.e explicitly embraces her certainty of someone’s staying power.
“TKN” by Rosalía feat. Travis Scott
Supplemented by an inescapable TikTok dance, “TKN” is a sultry exchange between two of the year’s heaviest hitters. Rosalía nabs her own coproducing credit on the track, which finds her deeply leaning into a reggaeton sound, likely in part to the track’s other producer and Puerto Rican reggaeton pioneer, DJ Nelson (along with frequent collaborator El Guincho). The cut even finds Travis Scott rapping a few bars of his own in Spanish.
“WAP” by Cardi B featuring Megan Thee Stallion
Two leading ladies in rap trade verses in this explicit collab, which launched both a discourse on women’s sexuality and a viral TikTok dance with high kicks and splits. Cardi doesn’t skimp on the X-rated details, and Stallion doesn’t hold back with her hard-hitting rhymes. Does the bombastic track deserve a spot on your “getting it on” playlist? That’s up to you. But does it make you feel sexually empowered as hell? For sure.
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