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Nialler9’s Top 50 Irish songs of 2020

Nialler9’s Top 50 Irish songs of 2020


See all best of 2020 coverage.


Biig Piig

Feels Right

Biig Piig keeps smashing it with new music that moves away slightly from her jazz rap roots. ‘Feels Right’ is a big tune about a night out one that moves between anthemic pop and a funk dance banger.




Bicep’s ‘Apricots’ is built on two vocal samples. One from traditional Malawian singers recorded in 1958, originally released via the label Beating Heart, whose profits go towards supporting the ongoing music conservation work of the International Library of African Music) and a 1950’s performance by The Bulgarian State Radio & Television Female Vocal Choir.

The song is a classic shimmering Bicep song, forlorn, emotive and euphoric. It really makes you want to hear it in the dark open air of a late-night festival.

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Gemma Dunleavy

Up De Flats

 ‘Up De Flats’ is a beaut, a track that celebrates the Sheriff Street community that Dunleavy grew up in,that deftly melds garage, R&B and Four-Tet-style melodic flourishes as a foundation for Gemma’s honeyed voice.

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Cork artist Graham Cooney music as Yenkee sparkles with detail. ‘Lucy’ wears the coat of a lo-fi bedroom-pop song but there’s so much nuance in its construction that it keeps you coming back. From its laidback breezy tones to its funk guitar line and its catchy chorus, it’s a song that has been on repeat since February.

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Pillow Queens

Holy Show

The anthemic opener to my Irish album of the year. A hands in the air colloquial masterpiece. Or as the top comment on Youtube puts it “I’m crying on the Luas, cheers”.


Róisín Murphy

Something More

Few can imbue yearning in lines like ‘A crown upon my head / ten lovers in my bed
But I want something more,’ than Róisín Murphy. ‘Something More’ is a disco-flecked rumination of desire that is content to let those feelings sit within a song that isn’t in a rush to conclude as it grows in stature with strings, piano chords and Murphy’s calls for “something more”.



I Wanna Be A Cowboy, Baby

2020 is lucky to have CMAT. The artist’s third single ‘I Wanna Be A Cowboy, Baby!’ was inspired by a six-second Vine, and turns that viral short into a real lasting sentiment that trades in CMAT’s love of Americana. The song’s message of social anxiety is couched in a thoroughly magnetising vocal, a memorable chorus and the bright simple instrumentation that would almost make you gleam over darker lines like ‘I wanna stop relying on men who are bigger than me’

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Denise Chaila


2020 was a year that Denise Chaila’s energy, thoughtful and power was present for all to see and hear. While ‘Chaila’ was the breakthrough song for the Limerick rapper, a celebration of the self in a grand tradition of pop song introductions, ‘Anseo’ (which got a new version featuring Jafaris just last week) was the track from Go Bravely that went harder. With memorable lines like “I’m your black James Bond / Anseo / Spice box, taxi by the Centra / Anseo / Sailor Moon remixed by Fela / C’est moi / I’m not a queen I’m a Pharoah sha,” Chaila asserts both herself while representing a thoroughly modern and unique Irish perspective.


For Those I Love

I Have A Love

The background to the For Those I Love project has been well documented here. ‘I Have A Love’ is a song about David Balfe’s friend Paul Curran who passed away and the grief-filled hole that was left in his wake, a devastating and evocative artful tribute.

The album will be officially released in 2021.


God Knows

Who’s Asking? (South West Allstars Remix)

Roll call for God Knows, Denise Chaila, Hazey Haze, Citrus Fresh, Gavin DaVinci and Strange Boy Nature and producer SertOne. As a startling example of collaborative energy, everybody brings their A-game on this track. Every line is a hook, an infectious heater of a track that gave me so much joy this year.

The ‘Who’s Asking Remix’ is a testament to the power of an undeniable beat with seven rappers absolutely slaying the track and playing off each other creating a posse cut that not only is a grade A on-repeat banger but a culmination of the connector role that God Knows has been quietly playing for years in Limerick and beyond. So much so that there’s an East Coast version too.

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See all best of 2020 coverage.

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