Best Songs of 2019

William Talbot, Contributing Writer

2019 was an exceptional, albeit transitional, year for music. The Billboard Hot 100 saw unlikely viral #1 hits from talented new artists, the titans of the early-2010’s indie boom continued their fade in quality and popularity, and the preeminence of streaming, with both its benefits (easy access for listeners, ease of reaching an audience for artists) and drawbacks (low royalties for artists), became ever-more clear. 

My favorite songs of the past year reflect this transitional nature. Their quality is on-par with those of previous years over the past decade. However, they reach far wider than my usual favorites in more mainstream-oriented alternative and rock, to a more experimental territory (at least for me) in jazz and hip-hop. 

  1. “Time” by NF – The Michigan rapper comes through with a well-produced, orchestral track in which he passionately relays how he has made mistakes in his relationship with his wife, but always loves her and wants to improve himself. 
  2. “Gift” by Chon – This slick, bubbly, groovy track from the California math rock / progressive rock band is insanely catchy, with the tight guitars, bass, and drums having impeccable precision. 
  3. “Alpha” by the Lafontaines – The Scottish rap-rock band comes back stronger than ever despite the departure of key members with “Alpha”, a self-empowerment anthem with a chorus that helps me keep on track when I have trouble managing my numerous commitments as a college student. 
  4. “Peach” by Broods – The electro-pop/alternative brother/sister duo from New Zealand delivers with the more experimental sound on “Peach”, a song that discusses the self-aware ups and downs of life and includes a driving production and a cathartic synth line. 
  5. “Echoes of You” by Marianas Trench featuring Robert Joseph Manning Jr. The Canadian pop-rock band, fueled by the impeccable production of Manning Jr, delivers a song, based off of The Tell-tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe, about how you can be haunted by a former relationship. The infectious chorus is incredibly easy to catch yourself singing along to, the vocals are dramatic and sound amazing, and the Queen-Esque outro is impressive. 
  6. “Circle” by Mouse on the Keys – The Japanese math-rock/jazz band adds guitars to their sound in the orchestral “Circle”, which takes you on a musical journey from an atmospheric opening, to a cacophonic, cathartic middle section, to a chill guitar solo, to a blissful outro.
  7. “P.D.A.” by Jizue – Another Japanese math-rock/jazz band, Jizue, provides a more upbeat and clean sound than Mouse on the Keys on “P.D.A.”, during which intricate interplay and solos shuffling between piano, guitar, and upright bass are alternated with gleeful vocals for the chorus. 
  8. “The Runner” by Foals – The veteran British alternative rock band Foals rocks out on “the Runner”, a relatable track about persevering through hard times in life. The well-produced instrumental is on-point, the vocals show impressive range, and the guitar solo is immaculate. 
  9. “New Era” by Fox Capture Plan – Yet another Japanese math-rock/jazz band, Fox Capture Plan, provides a simple but beautiful start of piano, stricks, and driving drums and bass, which eventually gives way to an epic, over two-minute-long synth solo before returning to the original theme. 

Honorable Mentions:

“Hold Your Fire” by Bad Suns 

“You Do Something to Me” by Bryde 

“Dog’s Diary” by Chinese Football 

“Crown” by Stormzy 

“Away We Go” by Bad Suns 

  1. “Mind” by Mouse on the Keys – Starting with an atmospheric flutter of synths, “Mind” provides a wonderful sense of euphoria for the listener, building to a cathartic climax. Short but sweet, it’s the best track of the year.