117 songs, nearly seven hours of music, and I went easy. Even on an off year the sheer wealth of material is incredible, half my work is organizing music so it is (relatively) easy to find…
Believe – Adam Lambert – I haven’t said a nice thing about Lambert since he was on American Idol but his take on Cher is a subtle and moving, restrained and beautiful version.
Kiss and Tell – AJ Tracey, Skepta – perfect grime pop, who said “brrrrng”? It rings a bell
On My Way – Alan Walker, Sabrina Carpenter, Farruko – Sabrina is circling superstardom but for some reason she hasn’t found it yet, Alan Walker is a top DJ who will never be this good, Farruko a top Latin pop guy who kills a verse, and all of them hit a height on this pseud pop meets gypsy track
Why So Serious – Alice Merton 0- Singer songwriter trope that is catchy you just know she stole it from someone
Bigger On The Inside – Amanda Palmer – Amanda’s earlier, artiness, chose flamboyance as its tools -here she chooses brutal honesty
Heir Apparent – American Football – A jangly, morose piece of adult emo
He Always Wins (feat. Erica Campbell & 1K Phew) – Live – Anthony Brown & group therAPy, Erica Campbell – How many times has he dropped the ball? Not once! Jesus worship at its most joyful.
Christian Nationalist – Anti-Flag – Agit-prop at its best, a full out attack aimed exactly where it should
7 rings – Ariana Grande – The one where she channels Julie Andrews
break up with your boyfriend, I’m bore – Ariana Grande – In the space of two albums and a year Ariana changed how modern pop r&b sounded and acted,here she is saucy and tired, and sexy and flirty.
Y U Gotta B Like That – Audrey MiKa – lovely and smooth r&b
LBD – Becky G – Of all the songs that should have broken pop and didn’t, “LBD” should have crossed right over.
For The First Time – Best Coast – A sleight of hand, today Beth is happy because they’ve broken up.
Bad Guy – Billie Eilish – Just soundwise, attitudewise, arrangementwise, this is the biggest song of the year: a cut and paste work of mischief and generation bias.
Midnight Sun – Calexico, Iron & Wine – Americana mood music for people too depressed to admit it.
Press – Cardi B – That “cardi don’t need more press…” is the truth of fame
What If – Caroline Kole – A Taylor Swift good country goes pop and doesn’t look back track
How I Feel Right Now – Cassadee Pope – that chorus is pure earworm
Sad Nudes – Cate Le Bon – One of the top Goth gals like Florence Welch with more eyeliner
Brilliant Nigga – Channel Tres – Art-rap, and his strongest moment
I Never Cried So Much In My Whole Life – Cub Sport, Darren Hayes – sad indie masterpiece, it would have to be great with a name like that
This Ain’t Techno – David Guetta, Tom Starr – The definition of techno (the title is a smirk)
Best Friend’s Ass – Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike, Paris Hilton – Now, to quote Paris on that TV show you had, it’s hot.
Higher – DJ Khaled, Nipsey Hussle, John Legend – Sure, DJ Khaled is the Al Sharpton of pop, but he got this one, that seconds as a tribute to Nipsey, 100% right
Won’t Bite – Doja Cat, Smino – so catchy it is the earworm of em all, and she might bite
The Lay Down – DRAM, H.E.R., WATT – I once saw DRAM blow Kendrick and Travis Scott off stage. Here he adds one of r&b’s best new singers to a tremendous lead guitarist who nearly steals the song
I Don’t Care – Ed Sheeran, Justin Bieber – what Sheeran should have actually done was an album of songs with Justin, they are a great match
Calm Down aka I Should Not be Alone – Ezra Furman – The best Stones steal since Primal Scream
Cellophane – FKA Twigs – We all get it wrong from time to time, here everybody got this terrific ballad wrong and didn’t make it a hit
Y’All Boys – Florida Georgia Line – Of course I hate FGL, so do you, but once they throw out “ain’t got a buddy named buddy” they had me all the way on this great song
In My Room – Frank Ocean – Gay romance is all friends with benefits and makes sense, my friend
Frequent Crier – Future Teens – bummer indie pop instantaneous classic, one of the top ten songs of the year
Lost In The Fire – Gesaffelstein, The Weeknd – People were stopping dead in their tracks the catch the great DJ at Governos Ball in June, and to add to his legend: the best song we have heard from the great The Weeknd since the last time we heard a song from the great The Weeknd
Anything – Grace Ives – Totally addictive, pop tech electronica
I Hate My Mom – GRLwood – excellent queer pop whiner
Canyon Moon – Harry Styles – Here ya go, I said there wasn’t that song on Fine Line, and there is, this glorious piece of Socal pop
21 – H.E.R. – The pleasures of stardom spelled out by the gifted r&b singer, you can’t help but want to shake her hand…
Almost (Sweet Music) – Hozier – I prefer it to “Take Me To The Church” -Hozier sells the songs name with plenty of aplomb and the folk World sound is quite unique
Sally Walker – Iggy Azalea – The nursery rhyme as car wreck and head and shoulders above the album (great video as well)
Treehouse – James Arthur, Sofia Reyes – Arthur looks like a Lewis Capaldi but he is a seriously original singer songwriter playing off tech and beats for a confessional
I’ll Come Too – James Blake – What’s most astounding is that it is James Blake, the electronic brooder, who has created a masterpiece about new romance
Wasted Youth – Jenny Lewis – nostalgia and heartbreak
CRAZY – Jessie Reyez – An outstanding vocal and mind blowing coda
Imported – Jessie Reyez, 6lack – 6lack adds a lot to a song that doesn’t need a lot added to it
The Fading – Joan Shelley – strong folk pop
Más Dulce – Julie Doiron, Nacho Vegas – Mount Erie friend, indie in Spanish
Here I Go – Kash Doll – Better than anything I’ve heard from Megan or Rico this year
Small Talk – Katy Perry – Katy and Taylor are now the same person
Kiss U Better – Katzu Oso – One man band arranges strings on a pop drop
OMG Rock N Roll – Kevin Morby – sounds a bit like T Rex meets Ryan Adams
Raising Hell (feat. Big Freedia) – Kesha, Big Freedia – Gospel though secular dance party
Ain’t Together – King Princess – The slightness of the storyline just accentuates her skills on this non-monogamous ode, the sighs in the background give it away.
Surrender To Failure – Korn – The coda (to the album as well) finds Jonathan Davis sobbing uncontrollably and for good reason
Sad Forever – Lauv – Indie bedroom pop by I guy who is huge among the teens of the world, the chorus is why
Stronger Magic – Leslie Odom Jr. – superb reworking of “Witchcraft”
Old Town Road (feat Billy Ray Cyrus) – Lil Nas X – a straight up, tricked out, country hook reformatted for Houston rap
Good as Hell (feat. Ariana Grande) – Remix – Lizzo, Ariana Grande – Ariana kills her verse
Truth Hurts – Lizzo – Broke her all the way, that two note piano motif was money in the bank
BB’s Theme (from Death Stranding) – Ludvig Forssell, Jenny Plant – From the game, a gothic and haunting ballad
Drunk II – Mannequin Pussy – They will be opening for Best Coast at Brooklyn Steel in March, this is why.
Hood Rat Shit – Megan Thee Stallion – hardcore bitch rap
Sound Of An Orchestra – Mika – very electronic and shapeshifting pure pop with a great line of patter: “listen to the sound of my love for you”
Slide Away – Miley Cyrus – Her divorce soong and her best song since “Party In The USA’ even it achingly and endearingly says goodbye
Why I Still Love you – Missy Elliott – The best song on the EP is a Missy in her elements banger
Black Cadillac – Mondo Cozmo – Elegant “Heroin” rewrite
MEGATRON – Nicki Minaj – One of best bangers in ages, a straight up dancehall dream rap track
Someone Else To Be – Peter Doherty and The Puta Madres – The most English songwriter since, I dunno, Paul Weller? Ray Davies? Terrific and low key Anglicism
Walk Me Home – P!nk – She was a snooze on stage and the album was a dog, but the exception is a country pop of the highest quality
See You At Your Funeral – Pup – popcore, if there is such a thing
Coming Home (feat. Ms. Lauryn Hill) – Pusha T, Ms. Lauryn Hill – Not just a Kanye West master production, with great rapping by Pusha T (and the best Eric B mention ever), but most important: Lauryn’s best work in decades
DEUTSCHLAND – Rammstein – The anti-fascist anthem of your dreams in an industrial wasteland
What Whiskey Does – Randy Houser, Hillary Lindsey – the best drinking song of the yer, and there have been a couple of good ones
What’s My Name – Ringo Starr – This would have fit on the 1973 Ringo album, a masterpiece of self-mythologizing
Ever Singles – Single Mix – Robyn – The sort of creamy disco song Madonna excelled in during the 1990s
Burn One With John Prine – Roger Harvey – Kacey Musgraves never even recorded her best song, so Roger does a great take.
Millionaria – ROSALIA – I was shocked this Spanish singer didn’t get a huge hit with a beyond catchy piece of extended cynicism aimed at the heart of capitalism
Fuck The Rain – Ryan Adam – The only thing we got before #metoo carried him away
Post Malone (feat. RANI) – Sam Feldt, RANI – The perfect rhyme for “go all night long”? How about “party like Post Malone”?
Hypersonic Missiles – Sam Fender – The UK phenom’s debut album couldn’t sustain it, but this title track is a sweet rocker that rhymes “the Us And its allies” with “pull the wool over my eyes” and makes it stick.
Never Said – Samia – an earnest, killer cover of not Liz Phair’s greatest moment (though not a bad one either), I might sneak it on to my best 25 songs…
If I Can’t have You – Shawn Mendes – The first hit off the current album… not the most successful, mind.
Kebab Spider – Sleaford Mobs – Top spoken word duo at the top of their games
LOVE – Sleater-Kinney – The album was a bummer, and the live performance a pity, but this song makes up for a whole lotta sins. PS just because you’re a lesbian doesn’t mean you have to record with St. Vincent.
Nothing Great About Britain – slowthai – The young, grme superstar, is as up against the wall as Sam Fender, and twice as strong a lyricist
Holy Cow Never Saw A Girl Like Her – Sneaks – Using a lick’s repetition into a mesmerized weirdness
Down With The Clique – Solange – The album was simultaneously too dense and too shallow to break pop, even “Clique” but “Clique” is helped by a terrific vocal
Vossi Bop – Stormzy – “I could never die, I’m Chuck Norris, fuck the government and fuck Boris” is a “god save the queen a fascist regime” for a different time. A time where no one gives a fuck what you say.
Wiley Flow – Stormzy – Part tribute but mostly a putting in place contenders.
Sing Along – Sturgill Simpson – filthy, dirty keyboards and fuzzed out guitars leading the way for a top break up anthem.
Lover – Taylor Swift – Taylor finds true love on her best thing since “Blank Space”
Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince – Taylor Swift -You play stupid games you win stupid prizes…”? Prime Swift.
Don’t Blow It, Kage – Tenacious D – Jack White produced and Jack and Kage kill it on this funny and also seriously strong track
We Got Love – Teyana Taylor – It didn’t make K.T.S.E. because they couldn’t get sample clearance in time, it would have been the second best song and love is the new money is the bumper sticker of the year.
Lou Barlow – The Get Up Kids – My personal favorite emo band and their personal favorite emo ancient
Twin Cities – The Gotobeds – Road song for top post-punk rockers
America (You’re Freaking Me Out) – The Menzingers – The twenty somethings are too old, and too punk rock pop, to be the sound of Generation Z, but this song certainly should be.
I Meant Every Word I Said – The Milk Carton Kids – The Everly Brothers of Americans are as delicate and beautiful as possible
All This Music Must Fade – The Who – Pete’s most important manifesto since, I dunno, “Won’t Get Fooled Again”
Ball and Chain – The Who – Remake of Townshend’s song from a coupla years ago, and illustrative as to what Pete gets from Roger -a much better singer.
Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time – Thomas Rhett, Little Big Town – The party song of the year
Wasteland – Tierra Whack – The very essence of 2019 r&b, a woman singer soul song with rap vibes
Above the Bodega (Local Business) – Titus Andronicus – Patrick saved it, from the black hole that was A Productive Cough, by performing it live
Post Modern Jive – Tomas Doncker And The True Groove Allstars – Black Americana knows lonely
Girl, Friend – T-Rextasy – Sexual ambiguity has never been kinder.
Makes Me Wonder – Tricky, Marta – The Tricky Kid has discovered the hard way what life can do to you if it rolls up its sleeves, but what it can also do is deepen your art form as here he digs into a deep, acoustic song of heartache
Umi Says – True Groove All-Stars, Kismet Lyles – The first time I heard them play this was during a rehearsal, if I had known Mos Def’s original I’d forgotten it, and I was transfixed. The addition of Kismet Lyles only helps on yet another masterpiece.
ARE WE STILL FRIENDS – Tyler The Creator – As ambiguously arty as you could have possibly hoped for
Pride (In The Name Of Love) – Karsh Kale 100 Voices Mix – U2, Karsh Kale – Karsh Kale is an Indian popster known for his tabla and electronic skills, and he adds some of the haunting effects of a classicist Indian music that soars with a religious vibe and explodes at the end.
Fame Will Eat The Soul – Van Morrison – His best song since “Behind The Ritual,” is a breakdown on what the cost is for his profession, insular, nothing to do with you and me, yet mythic and godlike warning that, of course, does effect us
Overthinking IT – Willow – In which Willow Smith manages to keep her arty instincts under check without muffling them entirely and her artpop skills right at the forefront
Delta 88 Nightmare – X – The best song ever written referencing Steinbeck (take that Bruce), a re-recording of a song that, bafflingly never made it on to Los Angeles
Have Mercy – YBN Cordae – the whiny strings on the track match Cordae’s disappointments and hopes , “I don’t know where I’m goin’ but I hope I’m on the right path…
Somewhere In Between – Your Heart Breaks – “drone bitch blues” is the name of the album and here she doesn’t drone or even close on a indie pop beauty, the album, which, incredibly, I completely missed, is terrific queer bummer pop rock
Stillwell Baby – Your Old Droog – Terrific sample
Parents – YUNGBLUD – Glam rock with hip hop production
playlist after playlist pushing the same handful on songs
sweet soul music
“All Night Parking” is so great it causes us to overestimate the album
This ain’t rap music, this straight literature
“an anthem for all the ones that have experienced getting manipulated,”
An abysmal top ten as we reach for the end of the year
a smooth and cagey sound
Azealia Banks has two nights at The Novo
lost all working class crdentials