What you’re about to read below are what I would argue are the 100 best songs of 2019. It’s very much according to me. This is my 11th year making this list and I always have two simple rules:
- The song has to have been released in 2019 (either as a single or on an album — that gives me a little flexibility)
- Only one song per artist (which makes it a far more diverse and interesting list)
I’m always curious to scan the list when I’m done and look for trends. I’m never quite sure if these are trends out in the world-at-large or just shifts in my taste. A few things I noticed this year:
- There is more country music on the list this year than any other year previously (don’t get too excited or scared — it’s still not much)
- There is way more foul language on this year’s list (sorry Mom). This could relate to either the world’s foul mood or maybe just my own.
- A majority of the songs this year come from either women artists or female-fronted bands (I’m not sure if these last two points are because I have a tweenage daughter in the house or not)
- There seem to be more backup singers and choirs on the list this year. I have no data to back this up.
- Guitars are back! I heard almost no guitars on the radio this year (yes, I still listen to radio in the car). But there was great guitar music everywhere else after it appeared they went into hiding these past few years. Maybe it’s time to rock and rage again this year. If you remember and like guitars, you’ll enjoy the list this year.
Just like making the list has rules, consuming it has rules as well. The proper way to enjoy is to pull up the Spotify companion playlist and hit play, then scroll down slowly to revel each entry as it’s played. Both the list and the playlist are ranked backwards from 100 to 1 for maximum dramatic effect.
Enjoy it. And tell me how I did.
100. Panama by the bird and the bee. Makes David Lee Roth seem sane by comparison.
99. Time of Our Life by Electric Light Orchestra. Get out Dad’s old AM radio.
98. VTr by The Twilight Sad. The Scottish accent only increases the angst.
97. California Friends by The Regrettes. The sound of someone raised by Joan Jett and Gwen Stefani.
96. Miracle by Caravan Palace. Like a juke joint inside a disco.
95. Night Running by Cage the Elephant (feat. Beck). Makes me imagine Beck with dreads.
94. So Far So Good by Benny Sings. The very definition of understated.
93. Bruise by Yumi Zouma. Has down the whole whispering-as-singing thing.
92. Edward Scissorhands by Pivot Gang. I don’t think that’s what the movie was about.
91. DAVE (turn the music down) by Juice. We’ve all had that neighbor.
90. Rosalie by Great Grandpa. Like 3 90’s college rock songs in one.
89. Flowers by Ra Ra Riot. Ra Ra Riot’s string of unbearably catchy songs continues.
88. Repetition by Ride. What factory robots jam to.
87. Match Bet by Squid. Finally, a song dedicated to the age-old wire dilemma.
86. Might be Right by White Reaper. Foster the People meets Rick Springfield?
85. I Am Easy to Find by The National. The National with female vocalists was an inspired idea.
84. Incapable by Róisín Murphy. Somewhere Donna Summer is smiling.
83. Serafina by BAMBARA. Are we sure this isn’t Nick Cave?
82. Fastest Horse in Town by Sturgill Simpson. Start with classic country music, cover liberally in kerosene, light match.
81. Country Squire by Tyler Childers. Start with classic country music, don’t change a thing.
80. Dead Liquor Store by Guided By Voices. GBV don’t say anything they can’t say in less than two minutes.
79. Money Good by Megan Thee Stallion. The basic premise of the song is hard to argue with.
78. Summer Girl by HAIM. HAIM put on their berets, sunglasses, and Lou Reed leather jackets.
77. Where’s the Catch? by James Blake (feat. Andre 3000). James Blake and Andre 3000 are the buddy cop duo we didn’t realize we needed until now.
76. Light On by Maggie Rogers. The “everything’s gonna be alright” anthem of the year.
75. Tears at My Age by Hockeysmith. Like a washed out schoolyard taunt.
74. MEGATRON by Nicki Minaj. Nicki goes dancehall and you can’t get this out of your head.
73. Uncomfortably Numb by American Football (feat. Hayley Williams). If Pink Floyd had taken Prozac instead of LSD.
72. Thunderclouds by LSD. Lucy in the sky with thunder.
71. Old Town Road — Remix by Lil Nas X (feat. Billy Ray Cyrus). I think this song is gonna catch on…
70. 303 by Anna Lunoe. Your new party starter.
69. Remind Me by Emily King. Like a warm fuzzy sweater you can dance to.
68. Bring Me by Pieta Brown. Like riding out across the plains at 5AM.
67. Vacant by Rich Brian. The voices in his head deserve a featured credit.
66. History Repeats by Brittany Howard. If only history always sounded this funky.
65. 7 rings by Ariana Grande. That beat allows me to forgive the Sound of Music swipe and rampantly greedy message.
64. Keep On by Courtney Barnett. Courtney Barnett makes for the best lackadaisical motivational speaker.
63. Woman by Karen O & Danger Mouse. Once again Karen O outswaggers the competition.
62. WHAT’S GOOD by Tyler, The Creator. It feels like Tyler throws one of everything into this one.
61. Pacolet Road by Adia Victoria. Pacolet Road sounds dusty and mostly traveled by pickup truck.
60. Season’s Greetings by Stella Donnelly. No one sounds more smiley while insulting you.
59. the greatest by Lana Del Rey. Is anyone a more consistent brand than Lana Del Rey?
58. No God by Hot Chip. Atheism has never been this danceable.
57. Loose Change by Pinky Pinky. The song that even gets Grandma and Grandpa out on the dance floor.
56. It Might Be Time by Tame Impala. Supertramp called. They want their synthesizer back.
55. The Smoke and the Stars by Jason Hawk Harris. I can get behind power-chord country.
54. Smooth Operator by Pottery. And then they snap out of their mellow vibes at the 2:41 mark..
53. Sunday by Foals. A typical Foals second-half rally.
52. Water by Dehd. Like your mascara running while at the sock hop.
51. Keep the Change by Mattiel. Has a female Elvis thing going.
50. No Bullets Spent by Spoon. No one laughs cooler.
49. Love Me Again by RAYE. If Rihanna just loosened up a bit.
48. Tough Enough by Ex Hex. A band that sounds like they have empty beer bottles on the floor of their car.
47. Head Alone by Julia Jacklin. An ode to body autonomy.
46. Love by Unloved. A song as dizzying as keeping the song title and artist name straight.
45. Jonny by Faye Webster. The sound of horns right before they fall asleep.
44. Longshot by Catfish and the Bottlemen. The current ‘ol reliable of Brit Pop.
43. My Honest Face by Inhaler. Wish Bono was young and hungry again? Here you go (It’s his son).
42. Monsoon Rock by Amyl and The Sniffers. The Monsoon Rock must create one hell of a muddy mosh pit.
41. Blankenship by DIIV. Unrelenting in all the best ways.
40. Daisy Cutter by The Worn Flints. Guitars turned to 11.
39. Ecstatic Baby by Yeasayer. Like bouncing around inside a cartoon.
38. Don’t Bother Me by The Raconteurs. Jack White makes for an ideal grumpy old man.
37. Sisyphus by Andrew Bird. Greek mythology set to whistling.
36. Black by Dave. Somewhere Kendrick tips his hat in respect.
35. Binz by Solange. For floating from cloud to cloud.
34. Lo/Hi by The Black Keys. Hey, it’s “blues lite” but it’s still the blues.
33. Boys in the Better Land by Fontaines D.C.. Faster is better.
32. Rocket Fuel by DJ Shadow (feat. De La Soul). Remember when rap was fun?!
31. Summon The Fire by The Comet Is Coming. How I feel after drinking too much coffee.
30. Not by Big Thief. Like a pot boiling over.
29. Okolona River Bottom Band by Mercury Rev (feat. Norah Jones). Goes down like a mint julep on a sweltering afternoon.
28. Drunk II by Mannequin Pussy. If Courtney Love had an anthem.
27. Blown to Bits by Charly Bliss. Snarling over synths — always a good formula.
26. Ibtihaj by Rapsody (feat. D’Angelo, GZA). GZA via barbershop quartet.
25. Softly by Clairo. What attraction feels like.
24. You Could Be President by Theo Katzman. Never has the destruction of our democracy sounded so upbeat.
23. Tuesday by Malibu Ken. I’ll have what he’s having.
22. That’s Just The Way That I Feel by Purple Mountains. Lyrics both grim and hilarious, just like David Berman himself (RIP).
21. About the Light by Steve Mason. Everything sounds better with a set of backup singers behind you.
20. Hey, Ma by Bon Iver. Has those late December vibes.
19. Redesigning Women by The Highwomen. Like the Mount Rushmore of modern country.
18. Party For One by Carly Rae Jepsen. Looks like someone maybe didn’t call her.
17. Designer by Aldous Harding. If Donovan had a sister.
16. Daddi by Cherry Glazerr. The very definition of daddy issues.
15. Christ Flow by Barny Fletcher. It don’t mean much but it’s sounding tight though.
14. I’ve Been Dazed by Michael Kiwanuka. The song your cult plays while marching to the mountaintop.
13. I Wish I Was Stephen Malkmus by beabadoobee. She’s not far off.
12. BETTY by Jamila Woods. A voice from the 1950’s matched with a beat from the 2010's.
11. Navigator by Liz Lawrence. Has all the hallmarks of a great sing along.
10. OMG Rock n Roll by Kevin Morby. Praying for salvation has never sounded more futile.
9. Sympathy by Vampire Weekend. Ezra has now gone full Paul Simon.
8. Boss by Little Simz. Move over James Brown, there’s a new boss in town.
7. Back to Me by Grace Potter (feat. Lucius). Just in time for Woodstock’s 50th.
6. Red Bull & Hennessy by Jenny Lewis. The feeling of love lost.
5. Seventeen by Sharon Van Etten. The feeling of youth lost.
4. Exactly How I Feel by Lizzo (feat. Gucci Mane). For best use of a tea kettle.
3. bad guy by Billie Eilish. Duh.
2. We Americans by The Avett Brothers. A love letter to and prayer for our country in 2019.
- Hard Place by H.E.R.. Singing your troubles away never sounded better.