Gonna keep it quick since I’m publishing this so late in the year and I have a good amount of words below. Once again, I’ve picked my 100 favorite songs of the year and ranked my top 10. It’s a pretty fluid ranking with a definite #1 and #2. Like I mentioned in my albums post, I felt like music this year was swallowed whole by my decade list prep, which is a darn shame. Looking back at a lot of these songs from throughout the year, it turns out I actually did have a good time listening to things. Either way, I hope you do as well.
LISTEN ALONG WITH MY BEST OF 2019 SPOTIFY PLAYLIST!
90 GR8 SONGS of 2019 ::
- 100 GECS – “800db Cloud”
- ALASKALASKA – “Moon”
- ALDOUS HARDING – “The Barrel”
- ALTIN GÜN – “Kolbasti”
- ANAMANAGUCHI – “Air On Line”
- ANA ROXANNE – “I’m Every Sparkly Woman”
- ANGEL OLSEN – “Spring”
- ANNA MEREDITH – “Inhale Exhale”
- BENNY SINGS – “Dreamin'”
- BIBIO – “Curls”
- BIG BRAVE – “Muted Shifting of Space”
- BIG THIEF – “UFOF”
- BLACK BELT EAGLE SCOUT – “My Heart Dreams”
- BLACK MIDI – “bmbmbm”
- BLANCK MASS – “House vs. House”
- BODY MEAT – “Nairobi Flex”
- BODYWASH – “With Heat”
- BONOBO – “Linked”
- BOY HARSHER – “Lost”
- BRUTUS – “War”
- CARLY RAE JEPSEN – “No Drug Like Me”
- CAROLINE POLACHEK – “Door”
- CLAIRO – “Bags”
- COMMON HOLLY – “Uuu”
- CROSS RECORD – “Face Smashed, Drooling”
- DANNY BROWN – “Savage Nomad”
- DEATON CHRIS ANTHONY – “1999 She”
- DEERHUNTER – “What Happens To People?”
- DENZEL CURRY – “RICKY”
- DESTROYER – “Crimson Tide”
- DRUGDEALER – “Fools”
- ELSA HEWITT – “Rolling In Your Wall”
- ERIKA DE CASIER – “Little Bit”
- ESTHER ROSE – “Always Changing”
- FACS – “Anti-Body”
- FAYE WEBSTER – “Kingston”
- FEATER – “Time Million (feat. Vilja Larjosto)”
- FLOATING POINTS – “Anasickmodular”
- FLORA – “Crush _ Melt”
- FONTAINES D.C. – “Too Real”
- FRANCES QUINLAN – “Rare Thing”
- FRIENDLY FIRES – “Almost Midnight”
- THE GALLERIA – “Stop & Go”
- GEORGIA – “About Work the Dancefloor”
- GREAT GRANDPA – “Digger”
- HAND HABITS – “Can’t Calm Down”
- HELADO NEGRO – “Running”
- INFINITY SHRED – “Forever, A Fast Life”
- JAI PAUL – “He”
- JAMILA WOODS – “ZORA”
- JENNY HVAL – “Accident (feat. Laura Jean)”
- JESSICA PRATT – “Aeroplane”
- JULIA JACKLIN – “Pressure to Party”
- KÁRYYN – “Ever”
- KINDNESS – “Lost Without (feat. Seinabo Sey)”
- KONRADSEN – “Roasted”
- KORNÉL KOVÁCS – “Rocks”
- LANA DEL REY – “Venice Bitch”
- LAPALUX – “Limb to Limb (feat. Lilia)”
- LINGUA IGNOTA – “BUTCHER OF THE WORLD”
- LITTLE SIMZ – “101 FM”
- LOVING – “Only She Knows”
- MANNEQUIN PUSSY – “Drunk II”
- MARBLE ARCH – “Gold”
- MARIA SOMERVILLE – “All My People”
- MEGA BOG – “Diary of a Rose”
- MEGAN THEE STALLION – “Cash Shit (feat. DaBaby)”
- MOLLY SARLÉ – “Human”
- MOUNT EERIE & JULIE DOIRON – “Love Without Possession”
- NATE MERCEREAU – “Joy Techniques (feat. Terrace Martin)”
- NILÜFER YANYA – “Tears”
- NONLOCAL FORECAST – “Planck Lengths”
- POWDER – “New Tribe”
- PURPLE MOUNTAINS – “Margaritas At The Mall”
- RICO NASTY & KENNY BEATS – “Cheat Code (feat. Baauer)”
- SACRED PAWS – “Almost It”
- SALAMI ROSE JOE LOUIS – “Earth Creature”
- SANDRO PERRI – “Time (You Got Me)”
- SHARON VAN ETTEN – “Seventeen”
- SNOH AALEGRA – “Whoa”
- SOLANGE – “Stay Flo”
- SPELLLING – “Haunted Water”
- STEVE GUNN – “Vagabond”
- SUDAN ARCHIVES – “Confessions”
- TINY RUINS – “How Much”
- TORO Y MOI – “Who I Am”
- TYLER, THE CREATOR – “EARFQUAKE”
- WEYES BLOOD – “Andromeda”
- YEULE – “Poison Arrow”
- Y LA BAMBA – “Boca Llena”
Keep reading for my Top 10 favorite songs of 2019! –>
TOP 10 FAVORITE SONGS OF 2019:
10. BADGE ÉPOQUE ENSEMBLE – “Undressed In Solitude (feat. James Baley)”
The centerpiece of one of my favorite albums of the year is a heady, perfectly arranged psychedelic funk meltdown. The quick vocal feature from singer James Baley at the beginning provides a great foil from the rest of the purely-instrumental album, setting this monster apart from the rest of the tracks preceding it. From there, nefarious mellotron, ripping guitar, cautious flute and furious hand percussion + cymbal work lead a story of a dramatic case of espionage. I don’t know, I associate all these sounds with the best spy soundtrack of all time. Funk with an orchestra, without the orchestra basically. It’s brilliant. Go see this group live if you can.
9. HOLLY HERNDON – “Frontier”
A fusion of Sacred Harp singing and Holly Herndon’s signature of anxious future pop? A callback to an ancient American tradition, thrusting it into the future with a propulsive beat and invigorating mesh of voices? Sign me all the way up. Funnily enough I had just gotten into Sacred Harp a few days before this song came out, so it was a very bizarre coincidence like “has this style of singing always been around me and I didn’t notice or what?”
8. VANISHING TWIN – “Magician’s Success”
I don’t know what it is about this song. Is it because it recalls some of the best things about the uncanny pop from Stereolab and Broadcast? Yes, obviously. But it goes further than that. Maybe it’s because the song is one of the few straightforward “pop” songs on an otherwise experimental headtrip of a record. It shows that the band is not only great at shaping psychedelic landscapes of spoken word and unconventional instrumentation, but also making an infectious, bouncy pop song. It gets me real excited for whatever this band has coming next. First step is that they best be touring in the U.S. – come on y’all!
7. CHARLI XCX – “Silver Cross”
I know “Gone” is the major smash and maybe it’s my favorite… but damn “Silver Cross” gives me the most Number 1 Angel + Pop 2 feels off Charli. Call me nostalgic, but damn this song really hits. Not only is it a total banger, but “you can cry all night, I’ll never let you go” is a great reassurance to a dedicated partner. But again – damn it’s a banger.
6. THOM YORKE – “Dawn Chorus”
This song is so high up for me because of those damn synth tones and we all know it. This is the absolute perfect, numbness-imitating synth tone that is made for laying in bed early in the morning, deep in introspection. It addresses themes of introspection lyrically as well, questioning the listener “if they had the chance, would they do it all again?” thinking about regrets, time management, lost opportunities, personal relationships, etc. Just absolutely beautiful, touching and tragic. I’m not crazy about this full album but this track just hits totally different.
5. SLAYYYTER – “Mine”
Is this escapism or is this the future? Is this a callback to one of my favorite songs ever, “Just Can’t Get You Outta My Head” by Kylie Minogue? I’ve seen comparisons to Britney Spears’ 2007 album Blackout (of which I’m unfamiliar – haven’t gotten there yet poptimists!) and obviously Charli XCX’s recent string of future-yet-Y2K-referencing pop slappers. Regardless of the implications, boy does it go hard. It’s reckless fun, with killer house stabs, that brilliant synth sound that makes anything sound like a rave (hell yeah you know what I’m talking about) and it’s arranged perfectly with the bass coming in at just the right time. It’s a sugar rush with no hangover. Just plug in and go.
4. FKA TWIGS – “Cellophane”
The first taste of FKA twigs new album feels like it came out three millennia ago. 2019 has been that long. It’s a brutal post-breakup slow burn that somehow puts the feeling of aching perfectly into audio form. Twigs’ voice sounds amazing and the minimal instrumental backdrop is the perfect accompaniment to let her shine. “All wrapped in cellophane, all the feelings that we had” is an absolutely brutal line about her highly publicized relationship with Robert Pattinson (I’m assuming). But this song is all about the ache. The cosmic wanting, the melting regret. Thankfully the rest of MAGDALENE was not this soul-cratering, I don’t think we could have handled it.
3. (SANDY) ALEX G – “Gretel”
I think all the writing, criticism and poignancy that needs to be said about this track came in the top YouTube comment for this music video: “mr g this smacks in the honda civic”. In this comment, the listener expresses that multiple facets of Sandy’s music as a whole are present on this track. For one, it slaps. This is for certain. The siren-like sounds that start and cascade through the background ominously set the track up for a doomsday-like anxiety trip. The classic, woodwind keyboard tone makes a comeback. A mandolin and a violin makes appearances. The rhythm of the guitar in the chorus just slaps. The second piece that this comment reveals is the casual nature his fans. Commenter Kipper Joy (with a moomin profile pic) refers to him as “mr g”. At this point in his career, Sandy has made a kind of music that is unmistakably his. There is no question when you hear a Sandy Alex G song. This helps foster a sense of community. Once you’re in, you’re in. This track further pushes Sandy’s discography forward while sounding unquestionably his. Thank you, mr g.
2. BIG THIEF – “Not”
I mean, are you kidding me with this? Big Thief had the audacity to not only release two records this year (that are both VERY, VERY good!!), but announce the release of the second LP with lead single “Not”. I mean, who do they think they are? I mentioned this in my Favorite Albums of 2019 post, but Big Thief are modern masters of cathartic release. The first half is all a buildup that feels like it can’t go anywhere else after lead singer is ferociously snarling the chorus over and over – how can it get bigger? Well, by busting into just a howling guitar solo; fumbling over itself, rippling with anger, rattling its imaginary constraints with artless, dissonant abandon. I hate to compare, but this brings me the same feelings of radiant, discordant joy that a great Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo solo would. Just shaking the everloving life out of your soul and transferring it into a guitar.
Not to mention that the rest of the band is not backing out of the picture either – the drummer is beating the hell out of his drums, the bassist is providing a stable, yet heavy backdrop, and the second guitarist provides the occasional crushing accompaniment. They perform together like no other band I’ve seen. The vision, the pocket, the togetherness is off the charts and it’s so present here. And you know live BT will elongate this moment, get more destructive with it, more cathartic, because that’s what they do.
1. KASPER MAROTT – “Drømmen Om Ø – Forever Mix ’19”
It’s not often that I get to name a 14-minute techno odyssey my favorite track of the year, so I’m very excited to bring one to you here. “Drømmen Om Ø – Forever Mix ’19” translated to “The Dream of the Island” in Danish, is a long-developing, multi-formed track with a steady, blossoming groove. It starts off fairly minimally with new elements creeping out of the woodwork as the track progresses, whether it be hand percussion, warm ambient waves, glittery bells, balearic house textures, rubbery synths, epic disco stabs, a dash of acid house, cowbell, samples of train brakes, bird calls, ecstatic yelling, and more. There’s A LOT here, but it never feels that way. It’s all introduced logically and spatially it always makes sense. No real curveballs here – just a pure mood for 14 minutes.
This was my go-to soundtrack for doing most things throughout the year: the backdrop for walking around the city in the summer, a stable, bouncy soundtrack for productivity, a regimented alternate dimension to transport to during a stressful flight landing; it was present for all that and succeeded in both taking me out of and enhancing the situation.
One way this track is so immersive is due to how the sound floats across the audio channels, conveying the feeling of natural movement and like the song in and of itself is an organic being or environment. This combined with the fact that there are always new sounds and new tweaks being introduced throughout its length makes for a superior, satisfying adventure. It’s 14 minutes long. That’s long for pretty much anyone. However most times when it finishes I think “wow, 14 minutes have passed already? Time to listen again”.
I definitely have to give a shout out to Pitchfork for highlighting this track this summer – I would have never listened to it otherwise, especially since I didn’t see any other outlets covering it. I don’t listen to a ton of music like this acid house and techno, so if you know any tracks that come close to sounding like this, please send them my way. I should also mention that the b-side to this single “Sky Dreams” is great as well, but a lot more intense. If you’re looking for something to potentially get you interested in checking out more electronic / techno / acid house music, I think this is a beautiful first step into an exciting world of sound.