2020 was a weird and difficult year.
The coronavirus pandemic shuttered the music industry with one fell swoop as governments issued stay at home and no travel orders in a scramble to keep the raging pandemic under control. Still, artistes found a way to create new music and to present them to the world via internet.
Sometimes it seemed like music was all we had to get us through the most trying times of the year. This year end list is arrived at by considering streaming numbers across reports by four of the major streaming platforms- Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube and Audiomack- cultural impact, nationwide airplay and social media relevance. We present the most popular/streamed songs of 2020.
10. Wonderful- Burna Boy
The dated chaotic stomp of Wonderful seemed like a weird way to open the promotional run for his new record, Twice as Tall. It didn’t matter what the critics thought though, the fans lapped it up.
A riotous mixture of soul, reggaeton, house, and the vocal texture of Kwaito. Producer Telz makes a simple instrumental sing with staccato melodies and a fast-tempo reggaeton percussion.
9. Aye- Naira Marley
The Rexxie-produced number proves to be rather introspective for a Naira Marley hit.
On it, everyone’s favorite non-Yahoo boy explores the meaning of life while encouraging his Marlians to keep pushing even in the midst of challenges.
8. Cash App- Bella Shmurda, Zlatan, Lincoln
Don’t spend much time analysing the suspicious lyrics to this Bella Shmurda breakout monster. The big money talk may or may not be about online fraud, who really knows?
Just give in to the addictive power of the Drey Spenser beat and the gleeful chorus. Making money never sounded this good.
7. FEM- Davido
With FEM, the lead single to his third studio album, A Better Time, Davido once again found a way of capturing the zeitgeist. Who else but Davido would make a toxic song about career rivalry and have it become so outsize, it quickly assumes a second life as the soundtrack to the #EndSARs movement?
No one else.
6. Bop Daddy- Falz, Ms Banks
During the darkest days of the pandemic when the clubs were shut and people could not gather safely, Falz’s Bop Daddy was the unusual soundtrack that kept us sane.
On Instagram and TikTok, Bop Daddy benefited from a viral challenge that had people from around the world play dress up to Bop Daddy’s Afro-house drum sequence.
5. Know You- LadiPoe, Simi
LadiPoe and Simi prove to be a match made in social media heaven with this relentlessly romantic nod to young love and modern day situationships. Know You written far back as 2017 was another lockdown favorite, inspiring countless escapist videos on social media particularly on TikTok where the challenge went viral.
4. Again- Wande Coal
Wande Coal opened his 2020 campaign with a new management, international distribution and this guitar orchestrated, in-your-feelings stunner that hearkens back to his early days as the trusted love maestro.
A streaming favorite, Again may very well be the biggest sleeper hit of the year.
3. Bad Influence- Omah Lay
The standout track from Omah Lay’s five-song ready-for-streaming debut EP, Get Layd starts out innocuously enough with an alt-pop hesitation. Lay is moaning ever so gently about how he has been done dirty by a love interest.
The song goes on like so for a while. At about the 1.17 mark, he raises the tempo with his voice as the primary tool, yelling out a pathetic verse. You know the one. That is Bad Influence’s knockout.
2. Duduke – Simi
In this age of social media ubiquity, it was almost radical that Simi would chose to do her pregnancy reveal the old fashioned way.
As baby inspired songs go, Duduke– which is the heartbeat sound that Simi hears and feels, although medical experts would differ- is no Kuchi Kuchi but it is no slouch either as it manages to unite an entire country in the darkest days of the lockdown. Nigerians sang along with Simi and wished her well, trusting in typical fashion that their own miracle was on the way.
1. Nobody- DJ Neptune, Mr Eazi, Joeboy
From the moment Joeboy enters Nobody and starts up with an unrelenting verse and chorus, it is pretty much clear that we are on to something special.
To nobody’s surprise, Nobody became a huge hit, sound tracking many Instagram and TikTok dance alongs. None of the artistes are big dancers but that didn’t stop them from taking inspiration from Michael Jackson for the video.
Wilfred Okiche is a medic, reader, writer, journalist, culture critic, and occasional ruffler of feathers. One of the most influential critics working in the Nigerian culture space, his writing has appeared extensively in platforms like YNaija.com and 360nobs.com. Okiche has provided editorial assistance to the UK Guardian and has had his work published in African Arguments, Africa is a Country and South Africa’s City Press. He has received trainings and acquired experience in multimedia and online journalism. He also appears on the culture television show, Africana Literati. He has participated at critic programs in Lagos, Durban and Rotterdam.