Thirteen different artists have won Necessary Evil since it first started in 2007. Maybe fourteen, depending on your take on 2013’s infamous Arctic Monkeys/Hjaltalín controversy. No artist has ever finished first twice. Until now. 070 Shake’s ‘Modus Vivendi’ was the greatest album of 2020, and the 2022 follow-up is unquestionably the greatest album released this year, with its only viable contender being a 1982 masterpiece widely regarded as one of the greatest albums of all time. These are the only two albums she has released.
So, yeah, first of all this achievement is out of the window, so I’m naturally a bit bitter about that.
But I had to really slow down and take stock as I entered the top five, as these five records are so close together in terms of absolute genital bursting incredible quality that I felt I needed to take a step back and really evaluate the order that I’d placed them in. Despite what that insolent little prick Shawn might say, this is important. Also, I really didn’t want my number one album to still be number one, for reasons that will become clear.
This is probably the only reason i still do this stupid fucking list that nobody reads and the one post that I actually enjoy writing (because it’s basically just me making lots of pretty pictures), statistical motherfucking analysis!! The numbers, the records and the science, yo! behind Necessary Evil 2019. Let’s start with with what (spit) other music journalists thought.
OK, we all actually agree on the nest album of the year, so the critics are actually correct for once. Chill out on Jamila Woods and Michael Kiwanuka though, yeah?
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…
At the Little Simz entry at number 4, I worried that the ceaseless and heartless explosion of ‘news’ and ‘takes’ and ‘bullshit’ that is modern life only succeeded in confirming rather than challenging our prejudices and turning us against even family members as we’re convinced that political allegiances are the one thing that dictates whether human life is worth even considering.
Then there was Elbow at number 3, throwing their hands up in the air and wailing as they wondered what’s even the point of Elbow anymore?! There’s no sense of togetherness for them to soundtrack! The world hates itself now, and to espouse the sort of optimism and confidence that they used to would risk making them sound ridiculously out of touch! 2019 is grim, it’s paranoid, it hates it’s fellow human because, chances are, the fellow human hates them just as much so it’s best to return a shot! Then there was Sudan Archives making the second best album of the year by essentially mainstreaming her sound and making as many bangers as possible. So yeah, hear that Nick Cave? Make sure your album has as many bangers as possible, yeah?
Surely Nick Cave would be most affected by this new era of mistrust and negative assumptions. Not only has he previously made a career over detailing bad motherfuckers who would “Crawl over fifty good pussies just to get to one fat boy’s asshole“, but he would surely be more angry than most at life’s unfair and brutal nature after his 15 year old son died in 2015. He had already released ‘Skeleton Tree‘ in 2016, a broken and grim album interjected with occasional explosive pulses of agony, over which Cave sounded emotionally bereft and often numb. It was mostly a dark, hopeless reaction to a tragedy that today’s climate demands. Wallow in your misery! You’re all alone! Nobody gives a shit and anyone who does is probably racist, or something!! Mmmmm, yes, Nick Cave, feed me on your despondent tears!!
‘Athena’ is one of my favourite sounds. It’s the sound of an artist who has long been considered worthwhile and interesting deciding that, actually, they don’t just want to be considered ‘worthwhile and interesting’. It’s the sound of someone whose music may once have occupied the ‘You Might Not Have Heard…’ sections of reviews now putting forward that they should be covered in the highlight pieces. It’s the sound of an artist that may have once been cool to namedrop because few other people had heard of then wanting other people to have freaking heard of them!
I was a fan of the weird and discordant afro-futurism of Sudan Archives’ previous EP ‘Sink‘, but even in my praise I seemed to want to ghettoise her music by claiming that the best case scenario for it would be to be overplayed at artisan coffee shops and inspire several NPR beard strokes. It was very, very good, but there was a ceiling on exactly how good such beguiling and esoteric music could be. And also how big it could be- once it gets into those artisan coffee shops, there’s really nowhere else for it to go.
This is officially the end of 2018! And it’s only the 5th January [EDIT: Still only the 6th!]! Although there’s freaking one hundred and thirty six tracks to get through, so this may well take until mid May! Happy Cinco de Mayo! No time to talk! A shit load of songs to get through!!
While Z-Tape’s ‘Spring’ collection was veritably busting at the seems with Legit Bosses, as you’ll soon see, this is the only similarly legitimate position of authority from their ‘Summer’ collection. They’re all still great though, as is the Epic Reflexes’s album ‘ChaChaChinatown‘.
I had a lot of problems with ‘Everything is Love’, the surprising debut release from Beyonce and Jay-Z. Part of the reason I struggled with it was that I wasn’t sure how canonical it is. Like, is this it, Bee? Is this underwhelming collection of occasionally very entertaining rap boasts officially your actual follow-up to one of the most acclaimed albums of the 21st century? It’s an album about how two very rich people love each other but probably love their money more, that includes the line “My grandchildren’s grandchildren already rich” which, despite Kanye’s crisis of publicity, is by far the line from 2018 that Donald Trump is most likely to high five in a men’s locker room. Also, there’s a moment on the opening track where Mr Carter drawls out “Let it breaaaathe, let it breaaaathe” like JB Rockefeller basking in the glory of a fart he’d just released under the bedsheets, which marks the first time in more than two decades that I’ve thought to myself that I don’t think I really like Jay-Z. However, he often wins me back with the later claim that he’s “Good on any MLK boulevard”. This song’s pretty great though
Fucking hell, Jay, that haircut though… One hundred and thirty three more after the jump!
Why isn’t Sudan Archives a bigger deal? Like, why have you* never heard of her? Why are we all not already sick off her experimental folk/jazz being forced down our throats at every artisan coffee shop and that friend of ours never shutting up about her? Why do I have to be skirting through BandCamp satisfying a peculiar itch to even come across her?
(*Yes, you. Yeah, you know who I’m talking to. You. You there. No! Not you! You’re cool, I’m talking to that numpty next to you. Yeah, you…)