On the podcast today (Episode 20), I discussed my Top 5 songs of 2019, but there were too many songs to keep it to just five, so I wanted to make a post here to discuss a broader range of songs. Let me know in the comments what your favorite 2019 songs were. Which ones are sticking with you into the new year and beyond?
For the record, these aren't listed in any particular order. This is just the order they popped in my head, though I will start the ones that I discussed on my Top 5 on the podcast.
To listen to this segment and my main discussion on today's episode, Arianna Grande's new live album "k, bye for now", you can find the link here.
1. Without Me (In The Episode) *I have just noticed this came out 2018 somehow even though it's off of Manic, but I've decided I'm keeping it*
Halsey is in my trifecta of all time favorite artists, and I think this song perfectly encapsulates why. It was a smash on radio because it sounds like a radio song, but, if you take a second, the lyrics will break your heart. If you want to cut to her point really fast, check out her music video for it. She's never afraid to go there emotionally, bring the honesty, and say what needs to be said.
2. Xanny (In The Episode)
Here's another song with a music video I'm in love with. Halsey and Billie are two of the artists that I follow today who feel most pulsingly current. They aren't afraid to talk about current topics and go there with it. I think "Xanny" does this well by twisting tropes and playing with the dark sound and vibes.
3. When the Party's Over
This song is gut-wrenching. Billie's voice is so delicate here, it fits the emotional pain of the song so well. She sings about a relationship that isn't on equal footing and someone who's at the will of someone else and having their heart constantly hurting.
4. 7 Rings
I've been low-key obsessed with this song since it dropped, and I've never really been an Arianna fan. The mix of Sound of Music classic instrumentation with a song that walks the line between self aware and totally self absorbed in the lyrics is endlessly fascinating. It represents a level of creativity from all the writers and the artist that just leaves me sort of in awe.
5. Death By A Thousand Cuts (In The Episode)
Lover wasn't a standout album for me, which surprised me, but I think my heart is still stuck with reputation. This is one of the only songs on Lover that I loved immediately, probably because the more I listen to it, the more I realize that it has a real rep vibe. I love the base in this song, the rawness, and the imagery. It's a sad song you can groove to, and those are the best songs. Also, I just love the idea of articulating the image of "death by a thousand cuts" which makes me feel a lot simply as a phrase.
6. Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince
This is my other, overall, favorite on Lover. This is the other Lover song that brings in the darker vibes with an incredible beat and an edgier tone in her voice. It's a ballad that builds beautifully and tells a story through an overarching metaphor. It's a really fascinating song, and I think that Taylor is finally giving it the attention it deserves naming her Netflix doc after the song.
7. Lights Up
I ddi a full podcast episode on this one, which you can listen to here, but, in that episode, I likened it to "Look What You Made Me Do" off of reputation. I still stand by the comparison for how it opened the era, but I haven't listened to LWYMMD really at all, but "Lights Up" is one of my favorite songs off the album still. It's sound is like nothing else I've really heard, and it's just such a feel good anthem.
8. Cherry (In The Episode)
Going back to the album cuts, "Cherry" is the song that I want to hear on repeat over and over again. It blends really warm acoustic guitar that I love with some of the most biting lyrics on the album. It's the song he gets most specific in the details with which I give a huge A+. It makes the whole story come to life as you listen. I'm still in love with the hook "Don't you call him baby/We're not talking lately/Don't you call him what you used to call me" and the bridge "Does he take you walking round his parent's gallery".
9. Sunflower Vol. 6
I told myself I could only put three Harry songs on the list, so choosing this last one was super hard. It could've easily gone to "To Be So Lonely" or even "Falling" (though that song is getting enough attention by itself), but there's something about "Sunflower"'s sorta synthy, sorta 80s pop vibe that I love. It's also incredibly playful and is a peak of the "getting to know you" love song for me. Also, I'm a sucker for a good drum beat, and this song is it.
10. Ain't Together
I've been casually going through King Princess's catalogue and YouTube videos since she was announced as Harry's European tour opener, and I've loved most everything I've heard. I'm now among the masses on Twitter that's super disjointed she's not coming on the North American layer. I only heard "Ain't Together" today, but it already has captured my heart. It has that perfect calming swing to the music and her voice is beautiful, but the lyrics are so perfect. The song revolves around having someone who's in love with someone who isn't willing to commit to a relationship. That theme can go wrong in a million different ways, but King Princess nails it. I checked the writing credits, and I had to laugh because Justin Tranter is listed, and he's behind so many of the songs I love.
11. Slide Away
It's funny that this wound up after "Ain't Together" because vibe wise, they are very similar. While King Princess is talking about wanting to start a relationship, though, Miley is watching it fall apart. The mix of the lyrics and the calming music makes you believe that even though it's over, it isn't a bad thing. "You go back to the ocean/I'll go back to the city lights." This song also came on right before I met Julia Michaels after a really long stressful day, and it felt like the moment we could collectively breathe a sigh of relief and be okay.
12. Beautiful People
I know I put this on my list, but I still have mixed feelings about the song. I think because it's overplayed constantly on radio and streaming. Also, it's just so perfect. The lyrics are great and intriguing, it's a sound that's easy to listen to. It's Ed Sheeran. And I think that this sorta gets at my weird mixed feelings about Ed because everything he puts out now is just so perfect. It almost loses a bit of authenticity and creativity that goes into some of these rawer songs. But I can't deny that the song is really good. So here it is.
I threw this on my playlist cause I'd heard a lot about Maggie Rogers and wanted to see what she was all about. This was my favorite off of her new album, and every time it comes on in the shuffle, it catches my attention. I consistently stop and go "Who's this?" It has elements of a lot of more throwback type sounds and things that are used a lot in modern pop, but, the way it's all combined, it just sounds like nothing else. And that makes an extraordinary song for me. I also love the topic. It's talking about growing up and your life changing in the blink of an eye and trying to find balance. Even though it's likely about Maggie's rise to fame, it still feels super relatable. I also love when artists do get real about parts of their life that are unique to them and their position of celebrity because even if you can't directly relate there are pieces and you understand it better.
14. Feel It Twice
This is off of Romance, Camila Cabello's new album, which I talked about on Episode 17. My feelings on Camila and Romance as a whole kinda shift around, but I really do like this song as a song. Lyrically, it goes to a place I haven't seen many songs go. It feels intensely personal, and it's an experience that's probably widely shared. She sings about having been in love with someone who wasn't ready for the relationship at the time and then being approached two years later when she's moved on and being forced to let them go. The emotion is there in the recording, and the lyrics are just great.
15. Happy- Pink
Pink released a new album this year called Hurts 2 Be Human, and while I didn't love the singles or really the album as a whole, but I do really like "Happy". It feels very raw and emotional, and it has an honesty that seemed to be lacking in some of the other songs. As a bit of an aside, Pink is an amazing performer, and, if anyone ever asks you if you want to go, do it. If you're curious, I wrote about it here.
16. Happy- Julia Michaels
Julia is someone who's changing the landscape of pop. Her lyrics are insanely honest, she's incredible when working with other artists, but she's best when she's pairing her stories with her own, distinct sound. I love the drum forward tracks on her Inner Monologue EPs, and "Happy" perfectly represents half of her songs. It's loud, you can shout the chorus in a cathartic group, it's a relatable topic that isn't about a relationship, and it just feels new. "Happy" will amp you up. It'll make you smile and jump around. It's the perfect concert smash. If you're curious about my concert and meet and greet experience, check out my piece about it here.
"Deep" is the other side of Julia. It's loud, it's a ballad, it's strong, and it's about falling in love. I love "Deep" as much for its musical choices as its lyrics. It's so experimental and artistic. The way the sound dynamics work, you can almost see it all unfolding. The song never fails to blow my mind.
18. Put a Little Love On Me
Oh Niall... I have so many mixed feelings. We've gotten two singles from Niall's yet to be announced album, and I'm completely split by them. I can't stand "Nice to Meet You", but I am actually really a fan of "Put a Little Love On Me". It's a happy/sad/hopeful piano ballad of "You Belong With Me". It's much more like Niall's older stuff that I've liked more. And it's giving me hope for the album.
Another Cyrus on the list. Noah has a more gravely voice than Miley, but it's just as beautiful and melodic. Noah's coming at it from a younger prospective, and her sad guitar ballad "July" is the perfect break up song.
Starting and ending the list with Halsey. This song is straight up abrasive. It's not meant to be a radio hit, it's not meant to be easy to listen to you. This is the side of Halsey who's very direct and is like "I'm not going to tie this up in a pretty bow cause you need to listen". And I love that she's willing to go there. It feels like a visceral reaction to the world today, and I think that 2019 demanded some reactionary music.