19. Toro y Moi — Freelance
Sometimes a funky bass-line is all you need to craft a great dance track, and “Freelance” has arguably THE funkiest bass-line of the year. And sometimes, that’s all you need.
18. Hobo Johnson — Typical Story
“Typical Story” is a song full of contradictions, be it lyrically or musically as Johnson detaches himself from the lo-fi quality of his previous work in favour of nu-metal instrumentals. Yet, it serves as a infinitely effective re-introduction to his still burgeoning career.
17. Dreamville — Sacrifices (w/ EARTHGANG & J Cole feat. Saba & Smino)
The closer track to ROTD III, “Sacrifices” is mellow ending to a energy-filled collaborative record. The chemistry of the 5 emcees on the track is impeccable and the indication of the talent that each of them will bring in 2020 is even more so.
15. FKA Twigs — Cellophane
Describing “Cellophane” as gorgeous would be underselling it. Beginning with Twigs’ soft vocal delivery, to the first piano key played, up to the climax that strings together a momentous crescendo which elevates the song to a majestic theatrical level.
14. Taylor Swift — Soon You’ll Get Better (feat. Dixie Chicks)
Taylor Swift is new pop royalty. Dixie Chicks is old pop royalty. So it only make sense that a collaboration between the two acts would produce one of the most beautifully performed ballads of 2019. Heart-achingly hopeful, “Soon You’ll Get Better” is a delightful piece of pop that will only get better with time.
13. BROCKHAMPTON — SUGAR
BROCKHAMPTON have always been prone to showcasing their pop sensibilities on their past albums. On “SUGAR”, it comes out a full force while failing to sacrifice any member’s contribution (sorry Merlyn) as they craft their best pop hit yet.
12. Tyler, the Creator — EARFQUAKE
Speaking of pop hits, Tyler is an artist that probably wouldn’t have even touched the genre earlier this decade. Yet time encourages development, and the once abrasive rapper transformed into an artist that found it in him to be vulnerable and willing enough to produce one of the best love songs of 2019.
11. Anderson .Paak — Make It Better (feat. Smokey Robinson)
Nostalgia has been a not-so-secret weapon that the music industry employs recently, “Make It Better” is no different as it’s reminiscent of 80s R&B classics that probably had a hand in a Baby Boom. Unabashedly sweet and romantic, Anderson .Paak proves to us once again that you can’t go wrong with the classics.
10. Kota The Friend — Mommy
Hip-hop loves a good storyteller and Kota The Friend provides plenty evidence of it on “Mommy”. Rapping from three different perspectives of a dysfunctional household, Kota extends his empathy and sympathies for the many broken families that are stuck in an endless loop of hurt.
9. Baby Rose — Borderline
It’s impossible to talk about Baby Rose without mentioning her incredible voice, and “Borderline” is a perfect showcase of it. Heart-wrenching and impossibly vigorous, Baby Rose’s almost effortless delivery hits you with the force of a truck packed with emotion and intensity.
8. Harry Styles — Lights Up
A departure from the rock-centric sound of his debut, “Lights Up” opens a new chapter in Harry Styles career by ushering in an explosive pop ballad that embraces his art-pop influences, while still managing to appeal to his core mainstream fan-base.
7. Indigo la End — 結び 様
I normally keep my Asian and Western music pieces separate but I just had to put this song on this list. Indigo la End’s absolute mastery over addictive pop hooks cannot be understated, and the lead single off their latest record proves that they’re one of the best bands working in Japan today.
6. Princess Nokia — Sugar Honey Iced Tea (S.H.I.T.)
After last year’s disappointing EP, Princess Nokia announces her return to rap with the best song of her career. Laced with potent one-liners and backed by a killer brass production, “Sugar Honey Iced Tea” is a bombastic statement that only proves that Princess Nokia is one of the most underrated rappers working right now.
5. Caroline Polachek — So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings
Former Chairlift front-woman Caroline Polachek has elegantly carved out a name for herself within 2019’s ever-growing indie pop scene. “So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings” then serves as her confident declaration within the genre while also taking aim at mainstream penetration.
Pairing the delightfully bouncy production with breathtaking vocal deliveries (with a great music video to boot), Polachek’s addictive performance is only outdone by her engaging and cordial songwriting.
4. Doja Cat — Juicy
Doja Cat is a charisma magnet. Her best work is always surrounded by an irresistible bundle of energy that’s aimed at get every single fiber of your body moving. No song of hers conveys this feeling as accurately as “Juicy” does.
It’s pop rap at its finest, with the song’s hook serving as the crème de la crème that perfectly tops off the already great verses that Doja Cat delivers. Just don’t compare this song to the inferior remix with Tyga that dropped on her sophomore album.
3. Tyler, the Creator — GONE GONE / THANK YOU
If I was making a list of the songs I can relate to the most in life, this one would be close to the top. A two-parter that details a love that has expired followed by an acceptance of a relationship’s end, Tyler’s often underrated songwriting is full-on display here.
The repetitions found on the track on serves to enhance the feelings of loss and being able to come to terms with a past lover. Almost as if Tyler the Creator has made a song that could the soundtrack to my love life, I firmly believe that this is the best song of his discography thus far.
2. Joji — Sanctuary
Filthy Frank’s rise to Joji has been a fascinating one. First gaining musical recognition through lo-fi crooning, he improved upon his sound with the R&B-centric BALLADS 1. Now with “Sanctuary”, Joji has entered the realm of pop and the results couldn’t be more stellar.
“Sanctuary” completely sheds the muted, lifeless aesthetic that plagued Joji’s early work. Instead, we’re treated with a reinvigorated Frank that’s confident in his voice who flexes his newfound pop sensibilities with bravado and gusto.
1. Stella Donnelly — Boys Will Be Boys
Technically, this song came out in 2017 but it did get re-released with her 2019 album Beware of the Dogs. Still whether it was released two years ago or five years from now, “Boys Will Be Boys” will forever be a song that will ring disturbingly true regardless of time period.
Seething with rage while also filled to the brim with contempt, Stella Donnelly’s meticulous navigation through themes of sexual assault and victim blaming is difficult to listen to. Powerfully written, “Boys Will Be Boys” is a song that will both, fortunately and unfortunately, remain relevant for many years to come.