Hey! Top forty ! This is a nice, normal, manageable list isn’t it? Should I maybe have just limited 2020’s best songs to this workable and succinct top 40 list? What, and not mention Wock in Stock or I Don’t Know, Burn Stuff? I’m not sure I’d ever be able to forgive myself.
That’s all the introduction you’re getting, parts oneand two were more than enough foreplay, there are some absolute modern classics in this final countdown, and if you’re as half as surprised as me at what comes out on top…
A very ‘Fiona Apple’ Fiona Apple song, but that is obviously entirely a Good Thing. Lyrically, it’s untouchable, with Ms Apple taking issue with dinner party conversation and refusing to be silenced (“Kick me under the table all you want/I won’t shut up…I would beg to disagree/But begging disagrees with me”). Amongst the barbed and often hilarious response to tension, she also manages to squeeze in some absolutely amazing lyrical asides:
I’d like to buy you a pair of pillow-soled hiking boots
To help you with your climb
Or rather, to help the bodies that you step over, along your route
So they won’t hurt like mine
I’m going to be really noncommittal and say that Under the Table is definitely one of the best lyrics of the year. Don’t make me choose. No, seriously, don’t make me choose, you know I’d just give it to a 1993 Manics’ lyric and ruin the legitimacy of the whole operation.#
Firstly, let’s just fuck the room’s elephant in the ass and admit that there is really no deep logical point in this reissue. ‘Gold Against the Soul’ may have been released on June 21st, but that release came in 1993, and I don’t think there is a wider habit among the music industry for rereleasing albums on their 27th anniversary. This is a legitimate and gorgeously packaged celebration, yes, but the intentions of its release are simply financial- the band knows that they still have a pathetic, rabid and obsessive fanbase, who will jump at the chance to buy a lavishly packaged and expanded edition of one of the band’s less well regarded albums. Yes, including me. But let’s just stop and look at the optics here- here are the most viewed pages on the Necessary Evil blog this year:
(*fuck, I am so old. Like, properly, well-adjusted and responsible adults were born after this album was released. Your bossat work was born after ‘Gold Against the Soul’ was released! Your weird uncle Freddy’s girlfriend was born after this album was released, and she’s the oldest girlfriend he’s has since his 1998 divorce!)
This can mean only one thing: time to pander to all those pathetic Manics fans again!
Yeah, that’s right, motherfucking double entry. Pssssshow! Did you hear that sound? That’s the sound of your tiny BRAINS being blown, yo! Don’t like it? Wanna lay down? Come at me, bro! COME AT ME!!!!
Ahem… We enter the top 80 [EIGHTY] with an artist whom I’ve long loved who has never achieved the commercial success her AMAZINGNESS deserves, and a debut album by an artist* doing a lot of Marina’s old tricks and the obvious inheritor of the Welsh/Greek Queen’s mantle of master (mistress?? No, can’t use that word, the perverts have ruined it) of pitch perfect pop music that’s unafraid to be a little weird- frequently A LOT weird- and can hide quite profound sentiments behind its bubble gum pop aesthetics, playfully ironic one second but emotionally sincere the next. Yet, rather than challenging Marina for the title of ‘Favourite Cult Alt-Pop Act Who Sells Fuck All Records’, somehow her debut album has sold 1,304,000 equivalent album units (343,000 physical sales), which, yeah, it’s no ‘This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours’ (five. Fucking. Million?!), but it’s about as much as albums sell these days, and was the biggest selling album of 2019 for a long time. It might still be. What am I, Mr. Research? Get fucked. Released a month after Eilish’s debut, Marina’s first album in four years was going to set up a brutal battle between the master and the jumped up apprentice who has managed to commercially outperform her influence more than a hundred times over. Marina officially removing the ‘…and the Diamonds’ suffix from her name was like her removing all shackles, ready to go to war. She even stylises it as ‘MARINA’, like she’s screaming her name to remind these little upstarts who the real OG is! Billie’s gonna get pwnnnnnned!! Grab your popcorn, kids, this is sure to be brutal!