Home Music Music Lists

The Best Pop Collaborations of 2020

Photographs used in illustration by Victoria Will/Invision/AP; Kevin Winter/MTV VMAs 2020/Getty Images; Atlantic Records; Epic Records

In a year that was most notably marked by isolation, self-quarantine, and feelings of loneliness, it’s essential to celebrate how talented artists found ways to collaborate that brought us some some great vibes and legit moods to get us through 2020. This roundup of bangers and bops spans all genres — rap and reggaeton, country and K-pop — but the thing that it hopefully helps prove is that folks from all backgrounds, geographical locations, and perceived barriers can crossover and find creative partnerships.

From Rolling Stone US

Play video


DaBaby & Roddy Ricch — “Rockstar”

“Rockstar” is indisputably one of the biggest tracks of 2020 and represents DaBaby and Roddy Ricch at the height of their powers as two of hip-hop’s biggest stars. Its distinct guitar-driven beat is a refreshing stylistic changeup for DaBaby, who broke from his signature flow to expand on a sound that was verging on homogenous. Meanwhile Ricch’s melodic slippery vocals in the song’s latter half help put the song over the edge. Like so many other hits this year, the meteoric rise of “Rockstar” can be attributed to TikTok, where it got its own viral dance. Such a distinction almost guaranteed a hit this year, and it was only a matter of time before breaking through radio and streaming charts a few weeks later. Topping the RS 100 chart for seven weeks, “Rockstar” is by far DaBaby’s biggest hit and the second Number One Single for Ricch, whose 2019 single “The Box” is the only better-selling rap song of the year. Dababy didn’t seem to expect any less: “The second I made the song, I knew [it was a hit],” he told Rolling Stone in September. “I probably have that on camera — me saying what this song was going to be the second I made it.” E.M.

Play video


Kelsea Ballerini & Halsey — “The Other Girl”

Kelsea Ballerini took a major step into pop-star territory with this mesmerizing collab with Halsey. They performed it on CMT a few times, but it’s the original version, off the country singer’s Kelsea album, that ironically displayed the most chemistry between the two vocalists. Projecting all of the things the “other girl” probably does — from drinking her martinis dry to being promiscuous — it’s ethereal, haunting, and moody. J.F.

Play video

Terry Wyatt/Getty Images

Gabby Barrett, feat. Charlie Puth — ‘I Hope’

On paper, rising country star Gabby Barrett’s breakout hit doesn’t really lend itself to a duet: it’s a woman’s diatribe about her cheating ex, after all. But the pop singer Charlie Puth ably offers the guy’s point of view in this remix, essentially saying, hey, forgive and try to forget. No hard feelings? J.F.

Play video

Atlantic Records; Epic Records

Future & Lil Uzi Vert — “Real Baby Pluto”

After months of teasing a possible collaboration project, Future and Lil Uzi Vert finally delivered an outer-space classic with Pluto x Baby Pluto. “Baby Pluto,” the nickname and alter ego of Lil Uzi is a tribute to Future (also known as “Pluto,”) and the sound he has been crafting for almost half a decade. The chemistry between the two has been evident since collaborating on tracks like “Seven Million” in 2016 and this years “All Bad,” so it was to no one’s surprise that they could do it again for 16-tracks plus eight more for the deluxe edition. The Atlanta and Philly MCs take turns trading bars and melodies over eerie-yet-futuristic beats by producers such as Wheezy, Zaytoven, and DJ Esco. What could be better than joining the two rappers on another planet in 2020 — and come down when both their runs slow down? D.G.

Play video

Beth Garrabrant*; James Goodwin*

Taylor Swift & Aaron Dessner — “Willow”

Before 2020, Taylor Swift was a lot of things — country music gamechanger, hit songwriter, and stadium-commanding popstar — but indie-folk enchantress was not one of them. The always-busy Swift, who lived an album-promo-tour-repeat existence for some 13 years, has deserved a substantial break for a while now. But unplugging isn’t easy when you’ve spent the entirety of your adult life constantly reinventing yourself to remain relevant and please the public eye, and it took a global pandemic to get her to sink into stillness. By allowing her to do so without guilt or a fear of fading away, Swift was able to sit with her many emotions and leisurely stretch the songwriting muscles fans have ogled at since her emergence. With tours canceled, she didn’t need a “stadium song.” With people stuck at home, she didn’t need a “radio song.” All the creative shackles of making a mainstream record were suddenly gone. Instead, Folklore and Evermore — both of which were co-written and almost entirely produced by the National’s Aaron Dessner — sound like Swift plopped in front of a cabin’s fireplace with a glass of wine, pulled the top of her head open like a door, and just poured the contents out. Dessner, already a master of creating space around complex lyricism, was the ideal collaborator. Two decades with the National have resulted in a signature production style that’s remarkably airy without being minimalistic; it’s still multi-layered but he never takes away from the storytelling. With Dessner by her side, Swift is more experimental, alternative, and poetic — not to mention critically acclaimed — than ever before. S.H.

Play video


Cardi B & Megan Thee Stallion — “WAP”

Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion come together on their first joint effort to give us exactly what we deserve from the duo of unapologetic rappers: “Wet-Ass Pussy”. The song wins on its audacity to craft a sample of the Nineties club classic “Whores in This House” into a twerk anthem filled with sex-positive bars. The power of “WAP” is evident from its ability to send entire households into kick splits for a TikTok challenge, while its unpopularity with a riled-up conservative right adds a notch on its belt for pop-cultural impact. The track tops the record for most streams in the first seven days in a year when its collaborating artists are vocal about social justice issues. Cardi regularly fired up Instagram Live to blast Trump and encourage her followers to vote, while Meg used her platform and October SNL performance to advocate for the protection of Black women. Sex is great and all, but in 2020, activism is the new female pleasure. R.C.