I was not paying attention to Mabel at all, then suddenly this absolute belter landed and I was forced to sit up and listen. Don’t Call Me Up is an instant shot of energy that manages to sound both the same as just about everything else on Spotify and seems to be full of surprises. An undeniable banger.
After Maren Morris delivered the best debut country album of the decade (Sorry Chris Stapleton), I wasn’t sure what direction she would in after that. The Middle made it seem like she’d move fully into the pop space, but GIRL did the complete opposite. It’s the rawest vocal we’ve heard from Maren yet, which gives this much more acoustic sound so much gravity. GIRL sounds massive, yet never overproduced and polished, it’s perfectly crafted without sounding like it is.
It took me a while to finally ‘get’ About Work The Dancefloor, a throbbing bass-line with a strangely worded hook delivered in a kind of robotic voice, next to a separate soaring hook. It’s a baffling song, but one that really started rewarding me on repeated listens. It’s not the sort of pop music that is being released in 2019, it has this mid early 10s vibe to it at times, so it really stands out on its own this year.
Yearly reminder that Lady Antebellum are probably my favourite band of the decade and when Hilary and Charles sing heart break songs to each other I get a little teary eyed. This is undeniably the best thing on new album Ocean, which probably sits as my all time least favourite Lady A album, and the way the song builds and builds is outstanding. The ‘better and better and better’ build to the final chorus sums up absolutely everything that makes Lady A’s music so effortlessly enjoyable for me. Emotion and vocals like no other band.
I was a bit wary of the new Bon Iver record as new music started to be released, Hey, Ma was an interesting song, but some of the other pre-release tracks didn’t seem to gel with me that much. That all went out the window with Faith, which is stacked with pretty much the sounds that appear on every great Bon Iver track from the last decade. There’s distant sax, crashes of bass, high pitched vocals; its a soundscape that holds up alone and part of the full album.
‘I’m a motherfuckin trainwreck’ is one of the year’s most memorable opening lyrics, but it’s the understated delivery of Boyfriend that makes it one of Ariana’s best singles. This isn’t a singer belting out over the top of an RnB Pop song, it’s so much more cohesive than that. The harmonies are brilliant and appear just enough to ooze a bit more from the listener where every single chorus has a new harmony from Ariana. When she’s knocking it out of the park on a random post album single so effortlessly, is it any wonder that Ariana is on the top of her game right now.
The She Is Coming EP manages to contain the all time worst music of Miley’s career; the horrific Ru Paul assisted Cattitude, as well as the all time best; Mother’s Daughter. Miley has never sounded more in command of her own voice than on this song. ‘My mama always told me that I’d make…so I made it’ is such an empowered middle 8, the sound of an artist who has been so often criticised for being over the top and ridiculous for the sake of it showing that she is in control of her image an voice and absolutely nothing will force her back into her ‘perfect popstar’ place again.
We have never heard the Haim sisters like this before. A bunch of EPs, two album campaigns, countless festival performances and Hallelujah manages to sound nothing like any of it but so obviously a Haim record. Este, Alana and Danielle sound incredible when they harmonise and the moments when they do here are so packed with emotion it’s pretty staggering. This is the sound of a family, so tightly bound that they have each other’s backs for anything, a massive moment for their career.
Sing Along sounds nothing like anything else in 2019. It barely sounds like anything from this decade even. Part bluesy rock, part Americana on ecstasy, part Japanese Videogame soundtrack (genuinely the only thing I can think of that sounds like this is this song from Persona 4) it blasts in ad disappears again as if it’s nothing. This song slaps hard.
For a song that’s success is said to be just based on being a meme on Tik Tok, Old Town Road is so well crafted. It’s so pieced together from various places, but manages to have the loose effortless quality that you don’t get outside of the homemade style of song creation. Buying a beat online for a few dollars, ripping a video from Red Dead Redemption 2 which inspired the song in the first place, writing the catchiest hook of the year, doing a remix with a pop country legend after not being ‘country enough’ for that chart; the context around Old Town Road certaily helped it become the biggest hit of the year, but if it was just that alone I would not be singing along to it right now still.
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