Few of the shoegaze revivalists of recent years carry the instrumental brawn of Philly-based Reprise Records quartet Nothing, whose crushing gauzefests owe as much to cloud-pop industrialists HEALTH and alt-metal deep divers the Deftones as to Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine. "Say Less" is maybe their most propulsive single to date, particularly as they take the track's advice on the song's late instrumental break, for what might qualify as the first true beat drop in dream-pop history. -- A.U.
22. Porridge Radio, "7 Seconds"
This banger sounds like CRISPR technology was used to splice together DNA from Gang of Four and the Go-Go's to create a song as dark as it is danceable. Frontwoman Dana Margolin has said “7 Seconds” is about “the end of something that was never right,” but she doesn't sound like she's kicked her addiction when she sings, “I can’t tell you that I am wasted on you." The line has double meaning though, and as pounding drums and sludgy guitars battle with uplifting ‘80s-style synth curlicues and rim rolls, Margolin breaks free of her Kraken-like lover. Or does she succumb one more time? “Sink into it, rise above it/ Climb into the sky, I love it,” she sings on the bridge — finding release, one way or the other. — FRANK DIGIACOMO
21. Claire Rosinkranz, "Backyard Boy"
Five, six, seven, eight: young artist uploads song to the internet; song goes viral on TikTok thanks to an eight-second dance challenge; artist inks major label record deal. It’s a familiar story by now, and it’s exactly what happened to 16-year-old California native Claire Rosinkranz, except that her summery “Backyard Boy” has proven to have legs outside of a few-seconds byte on the platform. It has taken many forms over the course of 2020 -- it’s fun with or without the addition of Jeremy Zucker, and stripped down or not -- and sounds as great in December as it did in June. -- GAB GINSBERG