2020’s Best Indie Pop Tracks

Art by Alan López for Remezcla

Independent artists really pushed the boundaries of genres this year with these favorites among our music writers. From Lido Pimienta’s goosebumps-inducing “Eso Que Tú Haces” as part of her Grammy-nominated Miss Colombia to Chicano Batman’s ode to groove and more, here are our favorite Indie songs of 2020:

Lido Pimienta – “Eso Que Tú Haces”

“Eso Que Tú Haces,” the second single leading up to the release of Lido Pimienta’s Polaris Music Prize-nominated album Miss Colombia, hides its fangs behind tender melodies and mesmerizing instrumentation. What on the surface seems like a song about breaking away from a failed relationship is actually Pimienta’s subtle blow at the Colombian government and the hypocrisy it exudes when it takes pride in Afro and Indigenous people but forgets about them. Every time the horn arrangement crashes like waves against Lido’s goosebumps-inducing cry “Eso que tú haces no es amor,” she further cracks the mask the Colombian system hides behind. —Cheky

Rita Indiana ft. Kiko El Crazy – “Mandinga Times”

Though Rita Indiana’s first full-length album in a decade was nothing short of a reckoning, Mandinga Times had the gargantuan challenge of distilling a world in flames, and its corresponding anxieties, into a heart-pounding 10-song tracklist. Nowhere was La Montra’s vision as clear and chaotic as on the title track, where thumping synths by Eduardo Cabra meet machine gun fast percussion traditional in Dominican ‘ali baba’ dances. The apocalyptic arrangements of “Mandinga Times” then become a canvas for Indiana to shoot off a laundry list of global ills ranging from fires in the Amazon to migrant children locked in US cages. As if this tinderbox of a song couldn’t get more tense, she then enlists dembow madman Kiko El Crazy to kick things up another notch, delivering his own incandescent verse as if about to dive directly into a mosh pit. —Richard Villegas

Jean Dawson – “Devilish”

A breathless trail of introductory lines lead to Jean Dawson’s first exhale on this track: a loud, hearty “freak” that sounds like “free” at first listen—both of which encapsulate and offset the overall tone of the album, despite the demons and monsters that lurk within it. Dawson’s album opener for Pixel Bath encompasses the artist’s versatility and disinterest in commitment to any genre. Glittery, psychedelic echoes make way for robust alt-rock offerings as Dawson takes the listener for a ride into the future and makes them question everything along the way—everything but where he fits in right now. —Ecleen Luzmila Caraballo

Buscabulla – “Manda Fuego”

Puerto Rican indie duo Buscabulla’s debut Regresa deals in a very specific migratory gray space, one that traverses land and genre. Raised on the island, their move to PR prompted an exploration into what it means to return. “Manda Fuego,” which comes towards the end of the album, offers a different kind of discovery. A floaty, pared down dub-disco prayer with a sensual bassline, the track sees vocalist Raquel Berrios questioning who she can trust, looking at herself in the mirror, contemplating the dark side. This is all framed with a request to celestial forces to start over in fire: “Ven Señor y manda fuego/Mira que me desespero.” —E.R. Pulgar

Helado Negro & Xenia Rubinos: “I Fell in Love”

This was a tough year for love. In 2020, the world was a place full of tension, death, and hatred, yet love gave us fuel to keep facing every coming day. As such, Roberto Carlos Lange gave us a sweet and nostalgic lullaby for a year when we mostly connected through screens, crooning softly to us in this synthesized mid-tempo ode to the indescribable feeling of love, with Xenia Rubinos’ emotional voice bringing another dimension to this emotion. The song represented a small window of hope at a time when it mostly felt hopeless. —Marcos Hassan

Tatiana Hazel – “IN MY ROOM!”

The reverb on Tatiana Hazel’s voice and ‘80s synth-pop production on her single “IN MY ROOM!” invokes nostalgia as she reminisces about what could’ve been but never was with a former love interest. “I couldn’t see it til later/I thought I needed a savior/But I think you did me a favor by leaving me,” Hazel confidently chimes in the chorus. It’s a familiar feeling that many have experienced in 2020 in their rooms, left to contemplate what could have been for unrealized plans and embrace the unforeseen circumstances to re-imagine new possibilities. Rather than dwelling, Hazel defines her new outlook on her own terms. —Michaela Vargas Caro

Chicano Batman – “Pink Elephant”

Fresh from the release of their well-lauded single “Color My Life” single, Chicano Batman’s follow up release was an ode to groove. In “Pink Elephant,” the band continues their sonic experimentations of groovy bass melodies by Eduardo Arenas and overlap riffs by Carlos Arévalo, venturing into hip-hop territory. “Pink Elephant” is part of one the most sonically-varied and cohesive works by the band yet, Invisible People. The album merges themes of Chicano pride with psych-soul, which is characteristic of the band. —Joel Moya

Loyal Lobos – “Si Te Portas Mal”

Although Andrea Silva, the singer and guitarist who performs as Loyal Lobos, is best known for a delicate, airy sound, “Si Te Portas Mal” introduces a more forthright and commanding side of her. The Colombian artist builds a gauzy, lush pop song fortified by resounding percussion that instantly draws listeners in. The track manages to be dreamy and complex at the same time, with Silva’s gentle voice soaring above the entire arrangement. “Si Te Portas Mal” proved to be one of the standouts of her debut album, Everlasting, and a lovely piece of the luminous world she gently stitched together across the record. —Julyssa Lopez

Angelica Garcia – “Agua de Rosa”

Ten tracks into her breakthrough sophomore album Cha Cha Palace, East L.A. artist Angelica Garcia gives us “Agua de Rosa,” a song where she navigates her own “Salva-Mex-American” identity by embodying the reassuring voice of an elder. With every word (in both English and Spanish) and spectacular use of her voice as building blocks, Garcia gives a warm embrace to all the people who have spent their lives battling those “ni de aquí, ni de allá” feelings, reminding everyone, especially herself, that their experiences are all important and valid. —Cheky

The Marías – “Hold It Together”

Indie pop group The Marías’ first offering of 2020 is, like most of their music, an upbeat yet deceptively tender affair. The eponymous lead singer María’s gentle wisp of a voice guides this love song along through a bouncy neo-soul sea of bass and snare drums. “I get a feeling that I wanna slow down with you/Nobody else will ever do,” she purrs in the chorus, with the honest delivery we’ve come to expect from one of LA’s most exciting new bands. “Hold It Together” proves to be both a song of seduction and a call to stay strong through the travails of flirtation. —E.R. Pulgar


Ambar Lucid – “Story to Tell”
Dromedarios Mágicos “De Mí” feat. Ed Maverick
Empress Of – “Love Is A Drug”
Sault – “Wildfires”
Lucía Tacchetti – “Apagón”