2019, a year in… music


40. Danny Brown – Dirty Laundry

There’s no one else like him.

39. Roberto Surace – Joys

“Quack Quack Webble,” as it was known in our house became a firm family favourite until, apparently, it became embarrassing to have parents who sing the wrong words to songs on the radio. Don’t care. Still love it.

38. Lip Talk – Artemis

There is nothing like a 6.1 out of 10 review on Pitchfork to pique the interest, is there? D A Y S, like so many 6.1 out of 10 on Pitchfork albums, was a delight, and Artemis, with its wirrWIRR synthy bits, probably my favourite on the album.

37. Mr. Muthafuckin eXquire – FCK Boy!

Was there a more attention grabbing opener to a song last year than, “Got a heart cold as gazpacho/pink furs like Lots-O’/hug and kiss with a dick long as the hot dog at Costco”? I dunno. I don’t think there was. FCK Boy! is loud and distorted and abrasive and smart and really really funny. There is a parallel universe where he outsells Ed Sheeran you know. Makes you think.

36. Charli XCX (featuring Kim Petras and Tommy Cash) – Click

My favourite off the excellent Charli album. Click sounds a bit like it was recorded in a stairwell that Aphex Twin is perpetually falling down but, you know, in a good way.

35. Sir Babygirl – Cheerleader

Echoing Faith No More in your chorus is always going to get my attention but the whole song won my heart. A sadness tinged battle cry, the perfect encapsulation of teenage angst.

34. Clipping – Nothing is Safe

Eighties horror synth soundtrack meets hip hop. Not horrorcore exactly, something else, more studied, less showy. More off-screen-threat than on-screen-gore.  Maybe. I don’t know. It’s really good anyway.

33. Normani – Motivation

A solid gold pop banger. Obvs.

32. Sleaford Mods – Kebab Spider

There is a school of thought that, “Who knew? Who knew?…” is the best chorus of last year. I’m not here to argue against it.

31. FKA Twigs – Home With You

Noise bits and beautiful singing bits, it’s classic FKA Twigs territory. Don’t mess with a winning formula though, yeah? Especially when it sounds this good.

30. Mike Krol – What’s the Rhythm

I don’t listen to much ‘white guy with a guitar’* music anymore but Mike Krol’s album Power Chords managed to sound like an old friend and a breath of fresh air. Good song writing is good song writing I guess.

29. Sammy Porter (featuring Liv Dawson) – Talking Like Friends

Over the years, what was pop and what was dance have come together to form something else which we now call, well, pop I guess. It works. I like it.

28. Jade Bird – My Motto

A big crowd pleasing break-up anthem. A sing-along-in-the-shower classic.

27. Devlin – Pirate

As he says, “there’s no hook, just bars.” Devlin doesn’t really do soft but it was still slightly surprising how hard Pirate hits. I imagine saying that it is ‘in your face’ will make me sound old but I don’t really know a better way of putting it.

26. Taylor Swift – You Need to Calm Down

Remember when this came out? The video with the teapot bit? The avalanche of terrible hot takes? It’s easy to forget how good a song it is. It is a very good song indeed.

25. Black Saint (featuring Sam Fisher) – Everybody Wants You

Should have been the anthem of the summer. Wasn’t. People are stupid.

24. Miley Cyrus – Mother’s Daughter

The swear-free radio version somehow works better than the EP version imho but both versions are great.

23. Abigail and Ivoriandoll – The Situation

Should have been bigger than Funky Friday. Wasn’t. People are stupid.

22. Bon Iver – Naeem

Everyone likes Bon Iver. You don’t need me to tell you why this one is good.

21. Slowthai and Mura Masa – Doorman

You know this is great too. You saw it on the Mercury Music Prize thing on the telly and you liked it.

20. Czarface & Ghostface Killah – Powers and Stuff

Another year, another great Czarface album. They’ve got the powers and stuff.

19. Hot Chip – Hungry Child

Twenty years on and Hot Chip have still got it. This really should be celebrated more than it is. Not many bands stay this consistent for this long.

18. Hans Zimmer – Frameshift

If the Tron: Legacy soundtrack and the Dunkirk soundtrack had a baby it would be the X-Men: Dark Phoenix soundtrack, and oh my, what a beautiful baby it was.

17. D Double E – Fresh and Clean

2019 was the year that D Double E wrote the music for IKEA’s Christmas advert. Everything else is a footnote.

16. Keedz – Lifestyle

Probably the best use of a Frutellas based sample in music history. No. Not probably. Definitely. “It’s a bad man sweet, ya get me.”**

15. Pusha T (featuring Lauryn Hill) – Coming Home

Yeah, it’s quite the team up, isn’t it? It goes without saying that the song is brilliant.

14. Lizzo – Juice

If I hadn’t limited each artist to one song on my list, there could be half a dozen songs from Cuz I Love You on here. Jerome, amazing. Tempo, amazing. Cuz I Love You, amazing… You get the idea.

13. Lucy Rose – Conversation

It’s nothing like Laura Marling but that gives you a rough idea of the sound. If that sounds like your thing, give it a go. I mean, if that sounds like your thing you’ve probably already heard it. Fine. I’m just trying to help mate.

12. Kristin Anna – Forever Love

It’s nothing like Joanna Newsom but that gives you a rough idea of the sound. If that sounds like your thing, give it a go. I mean, if that sounds like your thing you’ve probably already heard it. Fine. I’m just trying to help mate.

11. Gang Starr (featuring M.O.P.) – Lights Out

2019s happiest surprise was probably the arrival of One Of The Best Yet. Circumstances being what they are, a new Gang Starr album seemed unlikely. And for it to be this good? Preposterous, mate.

10. Bronx Slang – Karate Man Bruises on the Inside

Proper old school.

9. Anderson Paak (featuring Nate Dogg) – What Can We Do?

It could have been any of the tracks of Ventura, but the album’s bittersweet closer gets the nod because I really like it.

8. P Money – About Grinding

Lyrically brilliant and, you know, a total banger.

7. Dreamville (featuring JID, Bas, J. Cole, EARTHGANG & Young Nudy) – Down Bad

Also lyrically brilliant, also, you know, a total banger.

6. Shy FX (featuring Kojey Radical and Ghetts) – Bad After We

If you haven’t checked out Ragamuffin SoundTape yet, errrr, probably do that, yeah?

5. Lady Leshurr – Horrid

One of the best developments in music is people not hiding their accents anymore. There are moments in Horrid (“You’re dun out here luv” “slow like a turtle an that”) when a West Midlands accent rises as prominently as anything in modern music and it is magnificent.

4. Grace Carter – Don’t Hurt Like It Used To

There is always one song that you hear a year late and feel guilty about not putting on your end of year round-up (not that anyone reads it or anything but, you know). Last year it was Why Her Not Me by Grace Carter which would have waltzed into last year’s top five had I heard it before February this year. Oh well. I got it right this year.

3. Sharon Van Etten – Seventeen

All the feels. All of them.

2. Rapsody (featuring D’Angelo and GZA) – Ibtihaj

You could fill a book with all the things this song manages to do in four minutes and forty seconds. It’s phenomenal.

1. Kano (featuring D Double E and Ghetts) – Class of Deja

Hoodies all Summer was not only the best album of the year but the only record released last year that would have to feature in any conversation about the best album of the decade. It’s that good. Class of Deja is then, the best song off the best album of 2019. If you disagree… well… you are probably a stupid or something.

Anyway, punchline, I’m not on spotify so I can’t make you a playlist of this lot. If one of you want to do that for me that would be fab. It’ll be worth it, what with them all being great songs and all. Cool. Cheers, mate.

*I know ‘white guy with guitar music’ isn’t a genre but, you know, it kind of is too.
**This is a quote from the sample. I’m not trying to sound cool. Just listen to the song, yeah?