On an album full of hip hop influenced electronic sounds, Barefoot in the Park truly stands out. It’s so emotive and Blake hasn’t sounded this intensely engaging in years. ROSALÍA sounds incredible here too and their voices blend together in ways you’d never expect. A subtle joy of a track.
I love Ciara when she’s in world conquering dance superstar mode. The likes of Dose and Level Up have given us more than enough of it over the last few years. I also love when Ciara delivers a banging pop tune with very few frills and drama. You can basically hear the smile on CiCi’s face on Thinkin Bout You; an impossibly catchy pop bop.
The lead single and opening track from Kiwanuka’s self titled masterpiece of a third album is full of everything that makes the album so great. The skuzzy guitar riffs, the distorted La La La’s on the hook, the distant strings that sweep in alongside the rolling drums, it’s a career highlight from Kiwanuka for sure. I love that the way the song is produced makes it almost sound like everything is being sampled, despite being played completely organically.
Barely a single, but the pre-release track from Norman Fucking Rockwell that stayed with me the longest is another that contains Lana’s new favourite word. The line ‘If I wasn’t so fucked up, I think I’d fuck you all the time’ is my favourite of the many lyrics on this album that define Lana Del Rey’s style as a lyricist perfectly. I’d falled off the Lana train a little, but this was one of the songs that brought me right back to why I adored her in the first place.
Yes, I have a Post Malone song on my best of the year list. Yes this is probably the 4th of Post’s #1 singles that I genuinely really like, Psycho, Better Now and his best song yet Sunflower, but in 2019 I couldn’t deny the music anymore. Circles is an outstanding pop record, Post actually sounds…good as a vocalist? He teases genuine emotion on this. Doesn’t he? Or maybe I’m just so basic at this point that I’ll stream and listen to anything that’s popular?
The undeniable highlight of this year’s more subdued Carly album Dedication, Too Much feels like the perfect spot for CRJ to be in right now. The ‘Cause when it gets so low, it takes me higher’ pre-chorus is sheer pop magic, while the layered vocal on the chorus itself gives the whole this weirdly unpolished edge. While everyone still seemed to be on a high from (the massively overrated) Cut To The Feeling, this more subtle banger sounded much more on the sound I needed from Carly in 2019.
Do I dare to call myself basic again for liking this song as much as I do. Ed Sheeran + Justin Bieber + Max Martin should probably have resulted in something a bit more unexpected than this, but my god it’s still catchy as hell. It’s much more of a follow up to Love Yourself and Sorry than it is an Ed song, it has that same energy that made Sorry an impossible to escape hit. I Don’t Care was one of the few inescapable hits of 2019 I was never frustrated to hear again.
Jessie Ware needs to give us the out and out disco record that we’ve been crying out for since Want Your Feeling, Mirage (Don’t Stop) manages to be her most danceable song since Imagine It Was Us, and I’m worried that like that song, this might just be anomaly before another further move towards Adult Contemporary. Can you imagine a medley of 110%, Imagine It Was Us, Want Your Feeling, Overtime and this? I would scream.
The moment when the drums drop out and the strings swell behind the lyric ‘Love and hate can never be friends
Don’t rush everything in this divine time’ is so effortlessly smooth and easy on the ear. Selfish is a masterclass in restraint, Little Simz delivering knockout short verses, but knowing when to let the song breathe around her. It’s part of how a could be rap talent showcased her range as a musician and one of the standout moments on the incredible GREY Area.
The tinge of sadness across Don’t Feel Like Crying is one of its most underrated qualities, ‘at least tonight, no I don’t feel like crying’ is so unassuming as a hook, but it’s pretty heart wrenching. The way Sigird delivers the bridge of ‘It hasn’t hit me yet’ is almost just spoken and not sung, details like this showing yet again the level of pop music she’s delivering right now. Seeing this become a big hit for her was so great to see, especially after the fantastic Sucker Punch didn’t.
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