OK OK OK! There were 112 amazing songs released in 2019 (or, erm, released earlier but I just listened to them a lot this year), and here is the definitive, objective and scientifically proven ranking. You can disagree all you want, just remember your disagreement is merely an opinion and this list is fact.
Or maybe not. I made a big change of tablet and therefore music player this year, and I might not have remembered all of the songs I deemed to be Legit Bosses earlier in the year. But whatever, here are 112 amazing songs, here’s the YouTube list and here’s the Spotify playlist, now please leave me alone, yeah?
Starting at number 112 wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiith…
112 Lizzo: Juice
Sigh… Yeah, I know, this is a great, fun and (initially!) irresistible paean to self-confidence, that I honestly envy someone discovering it for the first time because it absolutely scabs as the kids say… No, not ‘scabs’… It absolutely spunks…! No, that’s not it either… It absolutely slaps! Yes, that’s it. But, I’m sorry, I have heard this album so much over the past eight months that I’m absolutely fucking sick of it. It’s good though, honestly.
111 DJ Haram: No Idol
DJ Haram is unique, exciting and creating dance music that meshes the sound of the underground US noise scene with her middle eastern heritage. I mean, fuck, at the moment it’s a bit much for a whole album, but No Idol proves that she’s worth keeping an eye on.
110 Marina and the Diamonds: Teen Idle
Seeing Marina live for the first time this year meant revisiting and reappraising a lot of her back catalogue. So… yeah… there’ll be a few Marina songs that weren’t actually released in 2019. It’s my fucking list, alright?
‘Electra Heart’ might be looked upon one day as her great lost album, when she attempted to be a little too smart for herself at the time, confusing many of her fans (including me) who probably felt that alternate personas and satire on women’s expectations was a bit much for an artist’s second album. Teen Idle isn’t necessarily one of the better songs on her sophomore effort, but it’s the most interesting lyrically and one when she really lives up to that early Manics comparison that (I think) I made in my review. (“I want blood, guts, and chocolate cake…I wanna be a virgin pure/A twenty-first century whore/I want back my virginity/So I can feel infinity…Wish I’d been a prom queen, fighting for the title/Instead of being sixteen and burning up a bible/Feeling super, super, super suicidal”).
109 Lizzo: Heaven Help Me
Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuugh! Enough!! This is really good though, honest, it’s just… Enough.
108 Lafawndah: Substancia
Jesus Christ, Laffy*, do you realise how unlikely it is that I’ll spell both those words correctly? Substancia is an epic yet paranoid and tetchy highlight of her brilliant album
(*I call her ‘Laffy’. We’re good pals. She calls me ‘No Closer Than 50 Paces At Any Time’, it’s a cute little name she has for me. Miss you, Laffy!)
107 Karen O & Dangermouse: Ministry
If you told me in around 2004 or 5 that the guy who had just released ‘The Grey Album‘ and seemingly revolutionised the music industry (or at least every halls of residence in the world) had made an album with the lead singer of that hip new band who was already easily the coolest person in the world, I wouldn’t have just been ‘excited’. I would have started sucking on your tongue as soon as the words left your mouth in order to better engorge myself with the news, I would have stripped naked so that the electrons in the air that still carried the breath upon which I was told of the news could have a clear pathway for osmosis into my naked flesh. It would have been a big deal, is what I’m saying.
In 2019 though? That guy who produces U2 working with the woman who did the Where the Wild Things Are soundtrack? Meh… Lux Prime isn’t a bad album by any means, and was originally on the list for the lower end of NE2019 until (seriously) I realised I didn’t have a single worthwhile thing to say about it. Which I hope this entry is proving. Yeah, whatever, Ministry is great, let’s move on.
106 Bruce Springsteen: Tuscon Train
Bruce is working hard in the city, got his operator’s license, that Philly Steak in his hand burns like a Chevrolet engine… Listen, have you ever heard a Bruce Springsteen song before? Here’s another one. If you like the 34’703 other ones, you’d probably like this, maybe even put it in the top 5’000. If you don’t like Bruce Springsteen, just move along and we’ll forget this ever happened.
105 Ian Brown: First World Problems
Absolutely, 100% Ian Brown. I don’t just mean that you’d be hard pressed to find another song that more perfectly encapsulated the man’s worldview, beliefs and general vibes than First World Problems, but by now Brown has taken complete control over every single facet of his music. The album ‘Ripples‘ was completely written, performed (with occasional help from his two sons) and produced by Ian Brown (he even directed the video for this standout track). Many ‘heritage’ rock stars use ghostwriters and superstar producers to sheen there image to perfection to try and convince the fans that they’ve still got it! Brown obviously has no time for that, and is only interested in producing exactly the sounds that are in his head with his own hands (not sure what happened with the recent Stone Roses reformation that so put him off working with other people) and the songs on ‘Ripples’ are a fascinating glimpse into his working mind. Yeah, they’re often a bit shit, but they’re a bit shit because they were meant to be a bit shit, y’nar?? First World Problems is class, and Ian Brown deserves the world’s caps doffed in his direction.
104 Vampire Weekend: Harmony Hall
OK! Shut up! I admit it! Shut up! I really don’t ‘get’ Vampire Weekend. Like, is this it? This is what I’m supposed to being losing my Hipster Shit™ over? ‘Father of the Bride‘ was an alright album, much like ‘Modern Vampires of the City‘ was an alright album. They’re an alright band! I don’t understand why ‘The Vamps’ get all the love when artists contemporary to them like Yeasayer (who have often proved themselves to be rather special) are comparatively shunned. I’m not bitter, I’m just feeling or showing anger, hurt, or resentment because of a sense of unjust treatment.
Harmony Hall though? Yeah, pretty good…
She said are you kidding me?! Your nar-ci-sis-tic be-hav-iour has been killing me…. Fuck me, how good was that song, you guys??
Pass it on…
103 Bella Technika: Perhaps
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaw yeah! This is absolutely gorgeous. In 2018 I was really starting to question the logic oflistening to every album Seth Manchester produced, but there were some absolute treasures unearthed in 2019, including being introduced to my new favourite Serbian electronic disco rock group. Listen to the song, buy the album, join BandCamp, support independent music.
102 Pink Ranger: Twin Peaks
Yeah, yeah, 2019 Spirit of Manchester Award winner, blah blah blah, yeah, Pink Ranger is amazing, this album’s amazing, MRSN is amazing, I’m amazing, and Manchester is amazing. Seriously though, I had to listen to this (incredible) song so many times when making that video that, as fabulous as it is, I’m quite happy never hearing it again.
101 Future: Krazy but True
More genius from Future, just a shame that, as usual, you have to sift through approximately 3’662 filler songs he also released this year.
100 The Soods: Moisture Accelerator
Fuck, I’m only just into the top 100?! This list is going to take until 2025! This is a brilliant slice of (legitimate) indie rock that I was introduced to via Z Tapes’ always outstanding compilations. Which one? I can’t remember, you’re going to have to buy them all.
(I honestly have no idea)
99 Daughters: The Reason They Hate Me
Don’t tell me how to do my job! You gimme gimme son of a bitch! It’s, like, totally written about me, yeah?
98 Bon Iver: Hey Ma
Wow, this is low. You know what that means? From hereon in it’s nothing but solid gold!!
Hey Ma is a lovely song, but it suffers from a lot of the problems of ‘i,i‘ album, in that it really sounds like someone trying as hard as possible to sound like ‘Bon Iver’, rather than music you’d imagine coming from Bon Iver organically. Shit, I know that sounds like nonsense, but there’s something missing here. Maybe, as I so perfectly put it in my ‘review’, it’s simply a case of “Don’t you dare take my autotune, you flannelly fuck!!”
I’m sorry, but I just wanted more praise for calling Bon Iver a ‘flannelly fuck’. Moments like that make this whole thing worthwhile.
97 Self Esteem: Steady I Stand
Another surprisingly low placing for my best mate Self Esteem. I saw her live twice this year and this certified banger was fabulous both times. Seriously, why isn’t Self Esteem one of the biggest acts in the country? Why aren’t I as sick of this as I am Lizzo?
96 DAWN: we diamonds
Just… beautiful… The kind of inspirational, motivational sincerity overload that would sound corny and cack in less able hands, but DAWN ensures it’s nothing but pure gold. Diamond! Pure diamond! Sorry, I should have said that, a better line…
95 Ariana Grande: make up
Remember when everyone all went a bit nuts over Ariana Grande for a while? It was late last year and early this year- between releasing the bizarrely worshiped thank u, next* and the ‘problematic’ 7 rings video- where everyone decided that the trauma of the Manchester bombings had actually helped turn Ariana Grande into the perfect pop star. She got Guardian think pieces and we all suddenly stopped making jokes about her only having photos taken on one side and licking doughnuts? We all decided to forget that she licked a doughnut?!
(*that song- that fucking song!- is the singular version of Vampire Weekend to me. Like, yeah, it’s a pretty good tune, but it’s not that good, is it…?)
Basically, I just want to deflate that balloon. Yeah, I know, she’s good, she’s really good on occasion (as evidenced by make up), but she’s not that good, y’know?
Basically, just chill out on Ariana Grande, alright?
What’s that? Rolling Stone album of the year?? Sigh… at least they’re only about ten months out of date this time…
94 Holly Herndon: Eternal
Wa-ya-ya-wa-ya, wa-ya-wa-ya-wa, wa-ya-wa-ya…
Yeah, Ms Herdon has blessed this list with her presence before, but… Yeah, Eternal is amazing, but a full album of it…?
93 Stella Donnelly: Old Man
“Your personality traits don’t count if you put your dick in someone’s face”
Yep, straight on the list.
92 Marina and the Diamonds: Primadonna
OK, I really hated this song when it first came out. Hey! Hey! Hey! Hear me out! Try and put yourself in my place: after the beautifully bonkers and gloriously messy brilliance of her first album, I was Stanning* her hard and was convinced she would be my new favourite thing (my new… Manics…??). All of a sudden, Marina was going to change absolutely everything about her style and her persona to instead play a winking satire to represent female archetypes in popular American culture, all dosed in such irony it was never clear whether the song itself even recognised its own existence (that’s a deep joke there) and backed with some Balearic beat that could have been by David Guetta?? Of course I hated it! I played it to Hejjy, who by that point had already been won over by Obsessions, who simply reacted by saying it was “听不好”.
(*of course, this was the early Tennies™, so the phrase ‘to Stan’ had a completely different meaning back then. Saying you wanted to ‘Stan’ somebody meant that you felt them worthy of such praise that they should have Middle Eastern or Eastern European countries after them. Me ‘Stanning’ Marina meant that I was suggesting the validity of ‘Marinastan’, which I would have suggested stationing somewhere between ‘Caveistan’ and ‘Janelleistan’. Listen, it was a complicated time, you kids have no idea)
Yet now I would guess that the ambitious (and mental, never forget that, it was absolutely mental) foray into kitsch and ironic glamour of ‘Electra Heart’ might have been commercial suicide, but it was when she gained the most underground fans and cult appreciation. Primadonna got the biggest cheer of the night when she played it live, three of her five most played songs on Spotify are from ‘Electra Heart’ and even now when searching for a decent photo of Marina during the project it’s difficult to pick out actual Marina Diamandis among the scores of pictures of people of all genders dressing up as different ‘Electra Heart’ characters. It was songs like Primadonna that many people read as subtle winks to the underground audience. “Hey freaks and geeks”, she seemed to be saying, “I’m never going to sell many records but I promise that I’m going to be absolutely fucking bonkers. Oh, and there’s going to be lots of opportunities to dress up”. Primadonna is a gloriously bonkers song, and the fact that she chose to launch her important second album- when she’s supposed to be solidifying that push into mainstream success- by dropping this piece of avant garde insanity is just more proof of why she’s so amazing.
Or was… Is Marina now officially #Over…?
91 Big Thief: Jenni
Listen, I’ve already talked about this song’s lyrical problem, I don’t want to go into it again.
90 Bat for Lashes: Feel For You
I like Bat for Lashes, she’s always brilliant but in a kind of polite and inoffensive way. Like, she won’t feel too put out for only being number 65 on this year’s list (a drop of 51 places since her last album!!), she knows she’s still brilliant, I know we’re still brilliant, we’re still friends.
Not like Azealia Banks. I still get angry drunk phone calls from her calling me a “pale ginger motherfucker” after I only placed ‘Broke With Expensive Tastes” at number 41 in 2014. I’ve changed my number a dozen times since then! How does she still keep finding me?! Azealia, please, if you’re reading, this has gone on long enough…
89 Mark Mulcahy: Daisy Marie
The way this song kicks in with the bass drum and the lyric “They’ll come to me/Aaaaaaaaaaaaaall lovey dovey…” is simply one of the best moments in 2019 rock music.
88 Jamila Woods: Zola
Guys… Guys… Guys!
It’s called ‘Zora’, not ‘Zola’…
Take the bunting down…
87 Sleater Kinney: The Future is Here
You know that guy who’s on YouTube? Reviews music? Y’know, bald guy with glasses, which- by the fucking way– was totally my look until he stole it! You know him? Called something like Fandango or something? Yeah, him. He had this pretty marvelous little Sleater Kinney song down as one of his worst songs of the year, which shocked me. He was mainly concentrating on the lyrics which are, yeah, pretty dull and overemphasised old people moans about kids using their phones too much. If you focus solely on the song itself though, and the way these trash lyrics are presented, it’s actually a bit of a banger. Yeah, Fandango, I’m calling you out!
86 Stef Chura: Eyes Without a Face
Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. Chura takes on the Billy Idol classic and turns it into a slow burning and epic indie rock song. Maybe the best cover of the year, unless I’m forgetting one…
85 Michael Kiwanuka: Rolling
Another genius cover, as Michael Kiwanuka takes the Limp Bizkit classic and reinvents it as a…
Sigh, apparently the world isn’t that perfect. What Rolling is in reality is a brilliant quasi Mersey Beat bopper, that really reminds me of the songs from The Las debut album that weren’t There She Goes, which other people would be able to back me up on if anyone ever listened to the songs from The Las’ debut album that weren’t There She Goes.
84 Our Native Daughters: Black Myself
I already wrote about this when I listed the the best songs of 2019 you might not have heard. Except… don’t read that, it’s terrible… I mean… the blog post itself isn’t bad, but the piece I wrote for Our Native Daughters is gross and it makes my skin crawl to this day. Fucking bang up the elephant song though.
83 Princess Nokia: Biohazard Butterfly
The one track on her debut LP that really showed what kind of genius she was capable of.
82 Sir Babygirl: Heels
Just a wonderful, wonderful song. I also wrote about this in the NE2019 Prejaculate, only quite well this time, so just read that.
81 Marina and the Diamonds: Hollywood
This was never one of my favourite tracks off Marina’s debut album, but in retrospect it was probably the one that predicted her being “obsessed with the mess that’s America” on her next album and making the real cult breakthrough.
It’s also a fucking banging track, yeah?
80 Sudan Archives: Limitless
“I just wanna go back to times when money didn’t make you budge”
Yes, exactly, Britney, crush capitalism! That’s kind of what I’ve been saying! Glad to hear you’re on my side
79 Nilüfer Yanya: In Your Head
I had Nilüfer Yanya’s debut album ‘Miss Universe‘ in my very hands this year, but for some reason it didn’t make the year end countdown. Listening to the fantastic Justine Frishmann tribute of All In Your Head, I honestly can’t understand why I didn’t invest more time in her. Don’t worry, Nilüfer, I’ll probably vastly overrate your second album as some sort of recompense.
78 Steve Mason: Rocket
Sigh… Yeah, Rocket’s brilliant, but so much of Mason’s disappointing recent album was just scuzzy and laboured attempts at some sort of 50s rock revival. I’m just wondering- and don’t quote me on this- if Steve Mason, one of my favourite artists of the last 25 years, is now officially #over?
Of course, that’s what I thought about Elbow after ‘Little Fictions’, and look at what those old gits came up with, so fingers crossed.
77 Yeasayer: Let Me Listen In On You
I’m sorry, haterz, but even though ‘Erotic Reruns‘ was perhaps a little bit disappointing, Yeasayer are still one of the world’s greatest bands and can still pack their music with wonderful perverts’ anthems like Let Me Listen In On You. The way the song flips completely about half way through to ask “Do you need a translator?!” is, I’m sorry, fucking genius. What have your band done recently?? Exactly!
76 Ari lennox: BMO
No, Ari Lennox…
No, listen, I said ARI, not An… never mind…
Whatever, this is an absolutely slithering piece of hot sauce with a production that could have been cut from Dr Dre’s ‘2001’ album.
75 DAWN: sauce
Ermagahd!! I, like, didn’t even know that this song was next on the list when I described BMO as being a piece of ‘hot sauce’! Like, this is literally sauce!!
Pfff, you don’t appreciate a good coincidence, no wonder you don’t believe in God.
74 Future: Never Stop
Absolutely incredible song, and evidence of a hip hop genius working at the top of his game. The fact that two songs from ‘The Wizrd‘ make the Legit Bosses list but the album still isn’t in the year’s best shows you just how much fucking useless filler is on that album.
73 Billie Eilish: Bad Guy
There’s enough praise out there for Billie Eilish, and I would say that pretty much all of it is warranted. She has redefined what people desire from a pop act in 2019, and as I’m writing this I’m remembering that there’s still a couple more songs from her on this list so I best not waste all my critical juice on this three minute meme machine.
72 Mannequin Pussy: Drunk II
Sometimes it’s the little things that make me love a song. Drunk II is already amazing, but the way that singer Marisa Dabice delivers the line “I’ve been drinking everything
get my hands
Just fucking boils my love dumplings, you know??
71 Taylor Swift: You Need to Calm Down
Sigh… Yeah, tissues for this song’s issues. Taylor disappears further up her own botty with a lyric that starts by saying how- at length– she doesn’t even care what people on the internet say, look at how much she doesn’t care, if she cared why would she write a song about how little she cares? See, she obviously doesn’t care, “Sticks and stones never broke my bones”, yeah? Then she fucking segways (via a GLAAD pun) into telling people that they shouldn’t be homophobic (because “shade never made anyone less gay”), like people telling Taylor she sucks on Twitter and years upon years of systematic homophobia are of equal importance!! It’s shameless queerbaiting, and another solid reason to absolute despise everything Taylor Swift does.
Apart from her music, which, I’m sorry, is frequently incredible, as You Need To Calm Down demonstrates.
70 Helltown: Novel
Novel is amazing, Helltown are amazing, why do I need to keep telling you this?!
69 (dude) Dua Saleh: Sugar Mama
Sugar Mama is amazing, Dua Saleh is amazing, why do I need to keep telling you this?!
68 Sharon van Etten: Jupiter 4
An absolutely gorgeous dark gospel that would have fitted very nicely onto Nick Cave’s ‘Skeleton Tree‘ album.
67 FKA Twigs: sad day
Ms Twigs may be one of the most experimental and genre defining and defying artists working today, but one of the reasons we all care so much about her is that she has always known her way around a gorgeous melody, and sad day is perhaps ‘Magdalene‘s greatest example of that.
66 Self Esteem: The Best
Where Self Esteem does the best she can and it’s absolutely good enough
65 Danny Brown: Dirty Laundry
I’ve told myself that I can get some food when we get to number 60, so the next few entries might be a little rushed.
64 Neu Matter: Jubilee Street
Oh, OK, so this is the best cover of the year? Is there another one that I’m forgetting?
I never loved the original Jubilee Street by Nick Cave, but Neu Matter’s version makes me realise what an extraordinary piece of work it is while also crafting a complimentary nine minutes and fifty one seconds piece of work. It’s not on either Spotify or YouTube so you have to buy it.
63 Manic Street Preachers: If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next (David Holmes remix)
Yeah. How’d you like that deep cut?
I remember perfunctory ‘remixes; included on the B-sides of CD singles were always a waste of time, obviously existing only to fill content and enable a two CD single pack but not force lazy bands to actually bother recording songs. In 1998, however, David Holmes took The Manics’ latest song If You Tolerate This… and completely broke it down, tearing it apart and rebuilding a completely new ten minute electronic masterpiece that didn’t use any of the vocals and would take the most assiduous of Manics fans to even notice where the similarities are. It does this song a disservice to even think of it as a remix, it’s a completely separate song, and a marvelous one.
62 american poetry club: pro pic
Listen, I wrote two lengthy pieces on american poetry club in 2019, you should know what the deal is by now. No, I didn’t write about their actual music much in those pieces, but could you not just assume that it’s good based on the fact that I’m writing about them?? Do I have to do all the work??
61 Danny Brown: Shine
“In the haystack I was that needle”
Yadda yadda, yeah this is amazing, but I’m starving and now I get to eat.
60 Chance the Rapper: Let’s Go On the Run
No, listen, listen! No, I, no, listen! I know that ‘The Big Day‘ was a hideous, shivering and bubbling turd, but part of the reason it’s so disappointing is that it still contains tiny flashes of brilliance such as Let’s Go On the Run. Yeah, him forgetting how to write good lyrics on the album still extends to this song (“Hey there lovely sister/Won’t you come home to your mister/I’ve got plans to hug and kiss you”) but- God damnit!- this song toots in all the right places, y’hear?? Imagine it was by anyone other than once one of the more celebrated rappers of the 2010s and I guarantee you’ll enjoy it.
59 Our Native Daughters: Quasheba, Quashebe
Another great song. Slightly better than the one at number 60 but not quite as good as the one at 58. How much more of these do I have to write? Fifty eight?? Jesus…
58 Denzel Curry: Zuu
The opening and title track from Denzel’s massively underwhelming ‘Zuu‘ album promises so much more than is then delivered.
57 Big Thief: Cattails
Rum-bam-bum, rum-a-dum-dum-dum, ruma-a-rum-a-dum-dam-dum… You know, that one?
56 Mannequin Pussy: Patience
It seems almost laughably antiquated to talk in these terms in 2020 (it’s now 2020!!), but I would be confident enough in its essence to concede that this song does indeed ‘rock’.
55 Hannah Cohen: This Is Your Life
The opening track from ‘Welcome Home’ is probably it’s most anthemic and rousing. Hey, Hannah, the way the instruments all crash in with the “Don’t let it just happen to you!” line? More of that in the future, please.
54 Tove Lo: Mistaken
The ‘I bet he’s thinking about his ex‘ meme in sonic form. Tove can’t stop her mind racing to assumptions that her partner is always comparing her unfavourably to his ex, based on, of course, nothing but her own insecurities. She knows it’s ridiculous, she knows she’s wrong, but that will never stop the doubts. Come on, we all know that we’re absolute trāsh, and that there are all sorts of ways we could be unfavourably compared to literally anyone on Earth! Imagine what you would say about your partner if they were as trāshy as you?? Exactly!
In fact… where’s your partner now…? They’re not answering their phone?! Oh Christ, they’re probably having rough passionate sex with their ex now in order to get the taste of your subpar efforts out of their mouth! Go to the police station and report a missing person! Catch the cheating harlot in the act…!
Oh no, that’s right, they’re upstairs in bed, aren’t they. Asleep. Dreaming. Dreaming about their ex! Quick, go and wake them up! Shake them out of that fantasy!!
53 Tierra Whack: Clones
No albums released this year by The Greatest Rapper Working Today (sorry, Lupe, I honestly think she’s taken your crown) but Tierra Whack was still very busy in 2019. She released six singles with quality varying from ‘very good’ to ‘Ouch! My pegina has just exploded because that was so good it sexually excited me to dangerous levels’* and was also singlehandedly by far the highlight of Flying Lotus’s meh ‘Flamagra’ album (“My shoes are untied/He says I’m trippin'”). On Clones she takes her mumblerap self-satire to further levels of extremity over 2019’s song you’re most likely to lose your shit over despite not understanding a word being said.
(*Seriously, Tierra, just stick all those tracks on one album, put a nice cover on it, album of the year 2020, guaranteed)
Extra points if you’ve any idea who’s ‘trying to take her flow’. Seriously, Tierra, I know rappers are always pointing out that they’re far better than the imitators, but who exactly are your imitators??
52 Billie Eilish: when the party’s over
In 2019 Billie Eilish may have shown record companies that almost all of their presumptions of what the wider record buying public and particularly the younger generation will champion and popularise, but we still love a good ballad, don’t we? when the party’s over is just about as perfect a pop ballad as you’re ever likely to find, showing that Billie (and her brother Finneas O’Connell) isn’t just about subversion and revolution, but also being better at anyone else at the things record companies already held in high regard. Basically, Billie Eilish smashed 2019 so hard that she permanently damaged it.
51 JPEGMAFIA: Jesus Forgive Me I Am a Thot
That’s the thing about Peggy, he’s all about the learning
50 Marissa Nadler & Stephen Brodsky: Estranged
I’ve written many times about Marissa Nadler’s latest genius (featuring Mr Brodsky), and yet obviously not enough to remember it when I honoured Stef Chura with the best cover of the year at 86, nor when i revised my decision and stated that the nest cover of the year was actually Neu Matter at number 64. This is it though, yeah? Definitely the best cover song of 2019…
49 Bon Iver: iMi
Now, this is hard for geniuses like me to explain and even more difficult for plebs like you to understand, but remember Hey Ma? Well that was someone trying their hardest to sound like Bon Iver but nonetheless still making a very good song. With iMi however, this really is Bon Iver working to his full capacity and as a result creating something fucking breathtalking.
48 Ex Hex: It’s Real
Find three friends, get a great riff, write a truly extraordinary song- how difficult does rock music need to be?
47 Ari Lennox: Broke
There’s something truly, truly special about this ‘Shea Butter Baby‘ highlight. On Broke, Lennox isn’t just a very talented singer blessed with some of the most pristine production you’re ever likely to find, she is a true star with material that at its best can be both rousing and touching. Listen, if it’s on this list you already know it’s good, I don’t feel I should waste time trying to convince you donate a massive four minutes of your worthless lives. Love you!
46 Sharon van Etten: Comeback Kid
She actually called her comeback single ‘comeback kid’?! You’ve got to admire that kind of chutzpah.
45 Candy Says: Gravity
“There goes ma heartbeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeat“!!
I’m sorry, you know I generally don’t have too many qualms with you, reality, but how is it that this stone cold masterpiece of thoughtful and passionate electropop not one of the biggest tunes released last year? Like, why isn’t Rihanna releasing it as a World Destroying comeback single (she could call it ‘the Comeback ki…’, no, wait, bollocks, somebody already took that…)? Why have you left such power in the hands of a three piece from Oxford that literally not a single person in the world has heard of?
Wait… am I talking to ‘reality’ here, or is this some kind of anguished call to God? Sigh, this post needs a lot of work before I take it to the Edinburgh Fringe.
44 Tierra Whack: Only Child
This is beautiful, sweet, heartbreaking, moving… Fuck, Tierra Whack really can do everything, can’t she?
43 mynameisblueske: New Blog Entry
This is honestly one of the most beautiful pieces of music I’ve heard in a very long time. Its power comes from simply how slight it is- it’s nothing but a reverberating organ playing very basic keys and one man’s pained but near despondent voice singing over the top, ending just after two minutes. There’s fucking nothing to this track and yet it manages to be one of the most subtly beautiful pieces of work in 2019, like Nick Cave’s ‘Ghosteen‘ album after all the Bad Seeds leave, breaking his heart and taking their instruments with them. Beautiful.
42 Charli XCX: Click
I ranked the Charli XCX album way too low, didn’t I? This is absolutely incredible work, and to be honest, even though it might self-consciously think of itself as ‘The Music of the Future’ and heavily stylise itself that way, it really is the most ‘2019’ music you could possibly imagine, and Charli XCX is absolutely underrated as an outstanding experimental pop artist.
41 Big Thief: Not
I wrote about this song in the Big Thief entry!! Why do I have to keep giving you more?! LET ME FRICKING SLEEP!!!
40 Prince When We’re Dancing Close and Slow
Soft and Wet and I’m Yours from 1978’s debut album may have better signposted the directions Prince would later turn into subversive sexuality and fuck/rock hybrids, but his second album– while generally remaining both unsatisfying and frustratingly staid with knowledge of where he would later take his music- contains his first song that I would call legitimately genius. When We’re Dancing Close and Slow ranks among Prince’s absolute best works, and is as perfect a pop/soul ballad as you’re ever likely to hear with production that sounds contemporary now but must have blown minds in 1979.
39 Marina and the Diamonds: Shampain
Oh! It’s a pun! Like ‘sham’ + ‘pain’ = ‘champagne’! Wow, she really used to be able to do it all, didn’t she? Shampain is another stomping slice of Pumping Perverse Pop (PPP) from back when Marina was able to pick out classics like this from between her toes. There’s a moment at about 2:54 where Marina sings the chorus one more time but changes they key slightly that- ooh-wooo-woooh-waaa-woooh!- turns all of my lower body to pure liquid.
38 Hannah Cohen: Old Bruiser
Firstly, this song’s called ‘Old Bruiser’. not ‘Old Bruises’, which I initially thought and would make way more sense considering the lyrics. I don’t want to tell you how to do your job, Miss Hannah Cohen, but you’re doing your job wrong and I’m telling you that you should follow my advice in order to do it better, OK? ‘Old Bruises’ is a way better lyric, and also meant I Google image searched ‘old bruises‘ and, after seeing some rather disturbing images, usually of domestic battery, I felt the young boy with bruises on his leg would make a nice picture. But now you’re saying it’s ‘Old Bruiser‘?? It looks like I’m accusing the little kid of causing other people harm! Which is…!
Hmmm. Probably correct, actually. All boys of all ages are just instruments of hurt and destruction. Pass it on.
This song is just fricking gorgeous though, and fuel for my belief that there simply isn’t anyone out there capable of making as wistfully beautiful music as Hannah Cohen. Pass that on as well.
37 Manic Street Preachers: If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next (2018 Remaster)
Christ, well the word count for this entry has just been significantly bolstered. A relatively low placing for one of the greatest rock songs of the 1990s (fight me. I mean, now I’ve said that… is it even really a rock song…? Maybe don’t fight me) but that’s mainly because of the song’s utter ubiquity meaning that I’ve probably heard it at least once a month for the past 21 years has meant that its power has worn off ever so slightly, and anyway this list is about the songs that have delighted me most in 2019 not necessarily the greatest pieces of artistic merit or the songs that have contributed most to myself in the past. Tolerate This is a very, very good- nay, fantastic– song that everyone reading this should really already know off by heart, and it was an absolute pleasure to revisit it this year. However, 2019 brought the realisation that despite its legendary status it was absolutely not the best song from the irritating and exasperating ‘This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours‘ album.
“If I can shoot rabbits then I can shoot fascists”. Number one single, everybody. Knocked off the top by Bootie Call by the All Saints.
36 100 gecs: money machine
OK, I’ve already advised you all to ‘chill out a bit, yeah?’ on Ariana Grande (#FuckingChillOutABitOnArianaGrande), and I’m kinda offering the same advice on 100 gecs. They’re absolutely brilliant, don’t get me wrong, and I love them as much as the next person (unless the next person is some absolute weirdo), but can we not just love them without ascribing world changing and music shattering omnipotence to their music? If you think 100 gecs is “Like nothing I’ve ever heard before #Lol #GameChanger #Paypig” then that’s fine, but you obviously have just never heard PC Music, Sleigh Bells or, I dunno, Charli freaking XCX. Have a listen to Click again (number 52) and tell me that it’s any less weird or less insane than money machine, or indeed any of 100 gecs’ musics. Oh, but Charli XCX is a silly popstar girl, isn’t she?
I love 100 gecs, but they’re often just Charli XCX with an autotune and a far better grasp of what is likely to be memeable (“You talk a lot of big game for someone with such a small truck!”). They’re great. That’s enough. #FuckingChillOutOn100gecs.
35 Lana Del Rey: Cinnamon Girl
34 Hannah Cohen: Wasting My Time
A gorgeous, pulsating, sweeping, epic and cinematic highlight of the already pretty fucking high ‘Welcome Home‘ album. Sigh… Can we all just buy more Hannah Cohen in the future, please?
…the way that you taaaaaaaaaaste…”
Honest to goodness chills.
Shit! I should have said money machine was like a ‘meme machine’! That would have been a great line! Ah well, too late now…
33 Stef Chura: Sweet Sweet Midnight
I simply can’t state how amazing the strides are that were made by Stef Chura on her wonderful second album ‘Midnight‘. Her debut album ‘messes‘ was (wait for it, wait for it, wait for it, WAIT FOR IT!) a bit messy and unfocused, and though not without its charms it often didn’t really transcend its amateur, homemade beginnings. For her to then bowl her way through with 2019’s best indie rock album was the most pleasant of surprises.
I don’t want to lay too much credit at the doors of my boy Will Toledo (the only reason this woman can be any good must be because of the guy working behind her, etc…), but his production obviously broke down Stef’s music to it’s bare essentials and allowed her to build a far clearer representation of her talent.
You know what? I reckon i said all of this in my review. Maybe I’m just reminding you that you really need to buy this album. Maybe because Will Toledo actually features on this song I was reminded of the good work he did. Maybe I see the word count for this post has already crawled over 6’354 words and I really want to help push it past that Big 7-0-0-0′. Who knows?
32 Trentemøller: Cold Comfort
This list isn’t just about satisfying those quick urges and pumping your blood full of punky fortitude, it’s also here for those times that you want to sit back and really reflect on the terrible mess you’ve made of your life. Cold Comfort is an epic and emotionally searching piece of music, the only drawback is that I feel it’s far too short and eight minutes thirty seconds is no way near the length its stature deserves.
31 Stef Chura: They’ll Never
Christ, I’m getting sick of Stef Chura now, aren’t you?
They’ll Never is an absolutely perfect pop/punk/indie song, and absolutely the best of its sort since Crash by Against Me back in 2016.
30 Labrinth: Mouth Everest
My relationship with the astonishingly good Mount Everest was very 2019. I first heard its spectacularly conspicuous refrain (along with the brilliant “Woop… woop… woop… woopwopwap“) on the HBO series ‘Euphoria’- which had its detractors but I loved- and it pricked my ears to such an extent that I used what the kids call ‘Google’ to conduct what the kids call ‘an internet search’ on what the kids call ‘the lyrics’ of “Mount Everest ain’t got shit on me”. I was told that this was the song, so then went to what the kids call ‘iTunes’ to buy the what the kids call ‘song’.
How’s about that? Who’s ‘out of touch’ now, cousin Randy??
29 Charli XCX: Next Level Charli
Next level Charli, motherfuckers! An amazing intro to an amazing album that’s essentially so high because of how mindblowing her performance and the crowd reaction was when I saw her play this song live.
28 FKA Twigs: Cellophane
By the way, as oppose to Ariana Grande, Lana Del Rey and 100 gecs, her two closest contemporary musical parallels, I don’t think anyone needs to #ChillOutOnFKATwigs, I really do think she’s every bit as good as people say she is.
27 Miley Cyrus: Mother’s Daughter
VIRGINITY IS A SOCIAL CONSTRUCT! NOT AN OBJECT! EVERY WOMAN IS A RIOT! I AM FREE! Erm… TOUGH TITTIES!
There’s a lot of STATEMENTS being made in the (great) Mother’s Daughter video. The more cynical among you might suggest it’s just Miley realising that there’s money to be made in making big political statements and feminism particularly is in vogue. But, honestly, who cares how fucking sincere it is? Decent things done with insencerity is still a thousand times better than genuinely doing absolutely nothing. Miley gives platforms to Mari Copeny- the chief change agent at Pack Your Back, an organization that provides resources to students in need- Melanie Sierra– a singer, dancer, actress and activist and founder of Let’s Talk Mother, organization that provides mental and emotional support for single mothers- Aaron Philip– a renowned black, transgender, disabled model- Casil McArthur– a trans activist, singer and model- her fucking Mum and many more, just with this one three minute video. Yeah, maybe she doesn’t sincerely support these causes, but what have you ever done sincerely? Yeah, that’s right, you’ve sat on your sofa and slagged off )usually female) celebrities while sticking processed food in your mouth. Get fucked, you absolute cunting waste of space.
Wow! I went in hard on that straw man, didn’t I? Mother’s Daughter is fabulous, but I feel I should warn you that the EP ‘She Is Coming‘ also features Cattitude, the worst song of 2019 by quite a distance and maybe the most hideous thing that a human has ever done.
26 Amanda Palmer: A Mother’s Confession
“Our son is four months old his name is Anthony or Ash for short
And he’s too small to do things by himself
We were in LA over Christmas in a rental and we jury-rigged a place
To change his diapers on a shelf
I was peeing in the bathroom and had left him for a second
‘Cause I thought he couldn’t move and he was safe
As I came out I saw him falling in slow motion to the floor
It was probably the worst moment of my lifeAnd then I accidentally stole a thing of chapstick from the safeway
I didn’t see it ’til I got out to the car
I would have usually returned it but I was overwhelmed
And late to take the baby to my cousins which was far awayIn my defense, I’d bought like $87 worth of groceries
And the chapstick was a $1.99
I know it wasn’t the right thing to use
My newborn child as an excuse
But it felt like a good reason at the timeAnd as I pulled out of the parking lot I cried
And as I pulled onto the highway I said right
At least the baby didn’t die,right?
At least the baby didn’t die”
Basically, just that for more than ten minutes, somehow with an actual tune and constructed into a beautifully epic song. Absolutely amazing.
Maybe Mother’s Daughter should be Tish Cyrus’s ‘Mother’s Confession’
25 Quelle Chris: Straight Shot
Guys, remember when I told y’all how good this song was? Well, nothing’s changed since then, alright?
24 Billie Eilish: you should see me in a crown
The sonic highlight of Ms Eilish’s extraordinary 2019. Eilish has created a world where a 16 (17?) year old girl can make a dark, gothic near nu-metal tune and attach it to a video where a freaking tarantula comes out of her mouth and still become far and away the biggest star in the world.
Loses points for naming after a line from Moriaty in that Benedict Cumberbatch Sherlock show. I’m sorry, Billie, I know you’re a teenager but only absolute idiots like that show. That’s a fact, sorry. I’ll forgive you for your Office obsession though. Only really smart people like that.
23 Marina and the Diamonds: I’m A Ruin
Yeah, I know I loved ‘Froot‘ at the time, liking it enough to name it the 37th best album of 2015, but listening to it again before I saw her live made me reappraise it and wonder if it deserved much better. The title track alone is a thing of beauty, but hearing her play this banger live, and having 4000 fans sing along to its “Yeah-hu-yeah-hu-yeah, ha-ha” refrain…?
I mean… I rated it two places lower than ‘Miley Cyrus and her Dead Petz‘, which seems… a little… off…
22 Sudan Archives: Confessions
This. This is the sound of artist turning shit up a notch.
21 Thom Yorke: Dawn Chorus
Close to the absolute best kind of beauty that Thom Yorke is capable of when he pulls his finger out of his Subversion Hole and stops mucking about.
20 Blanck Mass: House vs House
“Bash at the door you fleep, meer yushu mere warden, flash at the door you feel, miniscule, we mourn it. Please, mud shake that ease, mud shake that ease, twenty four seconds mis-do-bis-do-bis-naaaaaaaaaaaaaarwhel”
Still not quite worked out the words, but House vs House is proof that music doesn’t need words. The words are what you sprinkle over the top of a song if you worry the music alone won’t have enough oomph. Blanck Mass creates pure music that doesn’t need any of your stinking, dirty poetry. Poetry that actually isn’t good enough to work as actual poetry. Don’t give me your trāsh lyrics, give me a song that eodies the sheer power of music like House vs House, give me gthat fucking drop, give me all of this!!
“Bish darmin you, we have a fish…”
19 Sharon van Etten: Seventeen
Now what I really like about this one are its lyrics…
18 Carly Rae Jaap Stam: I Want You In My Room
I know we’re all supposed to just adore absolutely everything that Carly releases these days, and wonder why is she not bigger than she is and say how she’s so much more talented that Selana Gomez/Ariana Grande/Alicia Keys/Dionne Warwick/Ella Fitzgerald!
I’ll tell you why she’s not that big- the woman’s a fucking personality vacuum. Yes, she’s been responsible for some of the best pop songs of the last ten years (including the absolute best: Run Away With Me), but those songs needed to be great in order to be memorable, and to be honest would have been as wonderful (and… maybe… better…??) if they were instead sung by a million other artists. Carly Rae never owns her own songs, and absolutely does not have the star power to make less than amazing songs stand out. This was the problem with ‘Dedicated‘ to me- it was a pretty decent album, but a better star than Carly might have elevated them to something brilliant. I’m sorry, but the people who lavish Carly Rae with praise are doing it kinda ironically (even if they don’t entend to) and don’t understand pop music at all.
Occasionally though, the song’s so good that it doesn’t need star power to sell it. I Want You In My Room is an absolutely freaking belting tune that an open can of Spaghetti O’s with a face drawn on in marker pen could front and it’d still be amazing.
17 The National: Hey Rosey
think I know just what the feeling is”
That beautiful little pause in the chorus, so pregnant that its breasts are swollen and it’s experiencing bouts of vomiting every morning, is one of the most beautiful little ticks of 2019. I was a little harsh on The National in my review, basically bemoaning the fact that they’re a very similar kind of awesome to what they’ve always been, but it really is amazing, and if someone named it as one of the best ten or even five albums of the year. Hey, Skinny, we cool, yeah?
16 Hot Chip: Melody of Love
Guys, I love this song so much that I took pictures of myself with my shirt off, do I really need to say anything more?
15 Spoon: Rent I Pay
Yeah, I know, I was actually released five years ago, but it was on their best of this year and- most importantly- it’s my fucking list! Also: c’mon, it’s a colossal tune.
14 Slipknot: Unsainted
13 Marina and the Diamonds: I Am Not a Robot
OK, last Marina (I think), but this song is very special to me. I mean, her previous single (more than a decade ago) Obsessions is also very special to me, for different reasons, I wrote a whole article about, but I didn’t want to include that song in 2019’s countdown despite revisiting the fabulous ‘Crown Jewels’ this year. Why? Well, it’s already been named as officially one of The Best Songs ever, so if I name it as number 13, for example, is that a tacit admission that the next twelve songs are all officially also The Best Songs Ever?? Or do I just name it number 1 automatically?
See? It’s a fucking minefield.
12: Charli XCX: 2099
Just… incredible… What even is this? An utterly unique and beguiling electrical storm of ideas and creativity. What emotion is this song even trying to evoke?? Am I supposed to be happy now? Sad? Angry? Maybe every emotion our puny human minds are able to handle, all at once, then one at a time, then none at all. Remember that bouncy young woman cavorting around Amsterdam with a smile on her face in the Boom Clap video? That was only five years ago…
Boom Clap is still a fucking tune, by the way, just wanted to make that clear.
11 Angel Olsen: All Mirrors
My brother says I explain what an ‘OMT Moment’ is every year and it’s getting pretty tedious, so I won’t explain what it is here just say that All Mirrors is the 2019’s greatest OMT moment.
(However, if we later come across a song that has the greatest OMT moment ever, I might have to explain…)
10 Chance the Rapper: Smoke Again
Absolutely stunning, and the fact that Chance rereleasing his outstanding back catalogue put me in touch with his epic ‘Acid Rap‘ album and the superb Smoke Again means 2019 was a great year for CTR whatever the response to ‘The Big Day‘. the response was that it was absolute fucking garbage. But that doesn’t matter!
“Flame on, flame on/I’m your bitches ringtone…”
That bit’s amazing. Apart from him using the ‘B’ word. Was that just generally more ‘OK’ in 2013. Ugh, I feel all problematic all of a sudden…
9 Yeasayer: Crack a Smile
Yeasayer are always at least a little fabulous, aren’t they? When they’re Full Frottle Fabulous (FFF) they’re occasionally responsible for pop songs as glorious as Crack A Smile.
8 Tove Lo: Glad He’s Gone
“Did you let him leave a necklace? (Yup)
Or did you show him all your crazy? (No)”
I was going to ask if anyone had ever really left a ‘Pearl Necklace’, if anyone had ever been with someone and decided that the absolute best place to leave their involuntary expression of pleasure would be in a circle around their significant other’s neck. I was about to call it out, about to expose it as one of society’s longest running inside jokes designed only to provoke titters behind your Mum’s back when she explains how her son gave her a lovely pearl necklace for her birthday. But then I read the Urban Dictionary definition and, erm, ahem, yeah, alright, that happens… Can we move on now…?
Alright! Alright! Then how about this! Why is the trope of ‘showing him your crazy’ only pushed as an exclusively female to male thing? Why aren’t the men also talking about making sure women don’t see their crazy??
Hmmm. Oh yeah. Because when a man ‘shows her his crazy’, he batters her to death with a golf club and chops her body into small pieces in the bathtub. Not as much comic potential, I see that now.
Erm, moving on again, this year also saw me discover one of Tove’s old hits for the first time. Her oldest hit, in fact:
7 Tove Lo: Habits (Stay High)
“I gotta stay high all the time
To keep you off my mind
Tove Lo’s breakthrough single in 2014 (and still by far her biggest hit) pointed to the subject that she’s built a very artistically worthwhile career on since. She tells actually adult, mature and sensible tales involving drugs, where the ingestion of mind and mood altering narcotics aren’t part of some morality tale, they aren’t the crux on which stories are based, she is neither punished nor praised for taking them, they’re just there. The story of Habits isn’t really the fact that she “got the munchies, binge on all my Twinkies/Throw up in the tub, then I go to sleep/And I drank up all my money”, it’s the fact she misses someone so bad that she needs to do this (“Staying in my play pretend, where the fun ain’t got no end/Oh, can’t go home alone again, need someone to numb the pain”). It’s a beautiful, heartbreaking and very relatable song, and no more about drugs than I Want To Hold Your Hand is about prehensile, multi-fingered appendages.
Oh, and it’s an absolutely banging tune as well.
6 Manic Street Preachers: Tsunami (2018 Remaster)
This- this!- is by quite a distance the artistic highpoint of ‘This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours‘, absolutely one of the band’s greatest ever singles, and one of the greatest rock songs released in the past 25 years. It also sees The Manics- who are the all time greatest proponents of the trope- pull off their greatest ever OMT moment, and so likely the greatest OMT moment of all time.
OMT (I’m sorry, Johnny) stands for ‘One More Time’, and describes that moment when a song makes out like it’s winding down… Only to bring the chorus back in for one more run around! Making you lose your fucking shit every time you listen to it. Young Fathers gave us 2018’s best example, Angel Olsen 2019’s, but Tsunami is some next level shit. The song has been politely winding down for a few seconds, and your clinking cocktail glasses with the person next to you, remarking on what a marvelous little ditty it has been, when all of a sudden:
Your dumb fucking socks are knocked off!
Hey, literally every other artist, ever. You’re nothing to me next to The Manics, alright?
5 Charli XCX & Christine and the Queens: Gone
Oh, I’m sorry, had I given you the impression that Charli was all about pop subversion and extreme empiricism? No, she does perfect pop music as well.
By the way, those owls in the photo above? They’re listening to Tsunami, not singing it as some weird choir. Just thought that wasn’t clear
4 elbow: White Noise White Heat
Shit, their name is stylised as having a small ‘E’, isn’t it? Do I go back to my review and change it? No. I’m already going to struggle to finish this by the end of the day!
The best singular example of the amazing sonic adventures that elbow take us on with ‘Giants of All Sizes’, and perhaps with “Who am I some blarney Mantovani with a lullaby when the sky is falling in?” its best sum up of the lyrical themes.
3 Twilight Sad: VTr
I tried to outline in my review how Twilight Sad have all the correct elements to be one of the greatest bands on Earth, but on record these disparate elements are never truly brought together for maximum satisfaction, and the song they’re hung on is never quite the equal of the quality of all or even any of these fabulous elements. VTr is the sound of how God damn amazing they are when it finally all comes together. VTr one of the very, very few Twilight Sad songs that’s not just the equal of its incredible parts, but even exceeds its make up. VTr is the sound of cohesiveness, of separate parts all coming together to best appreciate each other, it’s a community of wonder and a career highlight.
I mean a career highlight for anyone, it was just Twilight Sad who happened to record it
2 Pickle Darling: Mouthful
A mouthful of motherfuckin’ diamonds, ammi right lads??
I raved about this piece of magic when I named the best songs of 2019 that you might not have heard, and the fact that you still might not have heard it is an absolute tragedy. That YouTube video has nine hundred and eighty nine views?! This video of a cat projectile vomiting has 92’055 views! Which is just, it’s just…
Hehe, that video’s awesome!
But still! Mouthful is one of the most extraordinarily well put together pieces of pop music I’ve heard in a very long time. It packs more ideas, more hooks, more ideas, more killer lines, more melodies and more amazingness in its 3:30 than most artists do in entire careers. I assumed it would be top of this list for a long time. I kinda wanted it to be, but you can’t seriously deny it’s the next song, can you?
1 Lil Nas X: Old Town Road
Come on, seriously? It has to be, doesn’t it?
2019 was a magical year where the biggest selling single of the year, the most talked about single of the year, the most memed single of the year and the most dang 2019 single of the year was also it’s best. Firstly, the story of how it came to be alone is an inspiring (yeah, I said it) example of how democratised music has become in 2019, and might be enough to get it to the top by itself. An Atlanta teenager Montero Lamar Hil, who named himself Lil Nas X (which is the rap name you’d roll your eyes at if an internet generator suggested it), who usually chiefly busied himself by running Nicki Minaj fan accounts, came across a beat from a teenage Dutch producer called YoungKio and paid $30 for it anonymously. That beat happened to sample 34 Ghosts IV by Nine Inch Nails, but Lil Nas X didn’t care and had no idea who Nine Inch Nails were, because why the fuck should he? He had a killer country-rap song called Old Town Road that he was itching to record. There was an Atlanta studio called CinCoYo that offered “$20 Tuesdays”, so Lil Nas X did just that in less than an hour then posted it to his Soundcloud page. He made, by his own estimation, “About 100 memes” to advertise it using avenues like TikTok, but the wider world soon took up his work for him and from these minuscule beginnings Old Town Road became legitimately one of the biggest songs of all time.
But all being a viral sensation and a real story of making it big from nowhere would mean nothing to this list if Old Town Road was What Does the Fox Say level nonsense. But it’s an absolutely perfect tune, from top to bottom. from it’s drawled delivery, to its perfect sample, to its infectiousness both as a song and a mantra of self-belief, to the line “Ridin’ on a tractor/Lean all in my bladder”, to the chorus utilising a treble negative, Old Town Road is everything that’s great about music in 2019.
Phew… 9’900 word, now please give me a rest for a few days…
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