In a time of persistent crisis, people are instinctually drawn towards anything resembling comfort and normalcy. That’s why more than half of the top 10 songs in the United States are currently dominated by classic Christmas songs. That’s why the supply chain for flour was temporarily obliterated after people baked an unprecedented amount of pastries this year. Most importantly for the sake of this argument, that’s why the music published over last few months of the year was fairly predictable for the first time in quite awhile.

Normally, predicting the kinds of music released over the last few months of the year would be a crapshoot. Most artists avoid releasing anything after the Grammy nomination deadline comes and goes at the end of August, and almost no one wants to compete with holiday songs that consistently dominate December’s Billboard charts. As a result, the music published after September is typically very random. The small handful of songs published over the last few months of the year are an often futile attempt to grab the spotlight when very few artists want to risk sticking their neck out towards an audience that clearly isn’t paying attention to them.

But this year, hardly any exhausted artists were focused on garnering an end-of-year spotlight that’s dwindled dimmer than ever. There were no tours distracting artists from writing, recording, and personal reflection. The only things artists had to fall back on were their music, the music of their idles, and time to think about the things that matter most to them.

With that in mind, consider this: these artists had all the time in the world to focus on the music that they/their fans lean on to preserve their sanity in a time of crisis, AND very few artists are making money from anything other than streaming right now. Ergo, has there ever been a better time to dig into the archives and showcase new versions of the old songs that have proven to offer a sense comfort and normalcy when they’re needed most?

The answer to that question led to cover songs, remixes, live albums, acoustic tracks, demos, and unpublished content alike flying onto streaming services’ proverbial shelves faster than ever. Whether it was a new version of an artist’s own song, cover of someone else’s, or songs previously stuck between the virtual walls of an artist’s old hard drive, artists large and small were unsurprisingly compelled to pay homage to the songs that kept them and/or their fans sane in year that was anything but that.

Don’t get me wrong, this quarter’s playlist has plenty of brand new songs as well. But the extraordinary amount of reimagined tracks released over the past few months are worth celebrating as an anomaly that hopefully won’t happen again for quite some time. To that point, one can only hope artists and their listeners won’t need to use music to revert back to time of comfort and normalcy for much longer. Until then, think of this playlist as a snapshot of what this moment in 2020 meant to both ourselves and the artists who kept us sane during this wild year. The following playlist contains 40 of my favorite songs released over the past three months. As always, the songs are in no particular order with a restriction of only one song per artist.

I know I know, it’s the big year-end playlist y’all really want. Well patience is a virtue, and revisiting the 2019 end-of-year playlist will have to tide you over for now! FeenyFaves – Top 100 Songs of 2019

If you missed last quarter’s top songs and have the stomach to take a trip down 2020’s memory lane, now’s a great time to take in the sounds of a quarantine summer with the third quarter’s playlist: FeenyFaves – Best Songs of 2020: Q3 (July-September)