Smarter's Favorite Songs of 2019
2019 was one for the record books. New acts like King Princess, Billie Eilish and Lil Nas X hit the airwaves and dominated the cultural zeitgeist. It’s almost bizarre to remember how many other zeitgeisty artists like Drake, Madonna and The Raconteurs released albums this year.
We could’ve sworn Tool had a reunion. And Vampire Weekend got back together, too. But all we can remember about the last few months is that we couldn’t escape "Old Town Road" and Lizzo is in charge of everything now. Before another year comes to a close, let’s look back at the best music to come out of 2019.
Channel Tres - “Sexy Black Timberlake”
Channel Tres is quickly evolving into one of the most prolific names in dance music. After steadily releasing songs with syrupy vocals and hip-house beats for two years, "Sexy Black Timberlake" is his best tease for what’s still to come.
Rosalía & J Balvin featuring El Guincho - “Con Altura”
Sorry, Lil Nas X, but the Song of the Summer wasn’t your chart-topping "Old Town Road." No summer jam gave us ‘90s reggaeton throwback vibes at a 30,000-foot altitude quite like "Con Altura." We’re in a post-"Despacito" world, and Latin and Spanish music have finally found a much larger fanbase. El Guincho has been making incredible dance music since 2007’s Alegranza, so it’s all the more exciting to see these three take over the world after all this time.
FKA Twigs - “Cellophane”
It was only April, but FKA Twigs released the best ballad of the year with "Cellophane," the first single from her second studio album Magdalene. It’s heavy on the melodrama, and you can hear her guttural pain with each crescendo, but there’s a hint of irony wrapped up in the song.
Lizzo featuring Missy Elliott - “Tempo”
Lizzo has had an explosive year, to say the least. The pop star made a major splash in 2019 with the release of her debut album Cuz I Love You. Out of all of her releases to hit it big on the radio, no song gets the dance floor moving like "Tempo," her collaboration with Missy Elliott.
Perfume Genius - “Eye in the Wall”
Perfume Genius’ Mike Hadreas sings several songs about his relationship with his body. On 2017’s No Shape, he gorgeously examined his gender confusion and challenges living with Crohn’s disease. "Eye in the Wall," his collaboration with Seattle-based choreographer Kate Wallich, sees Hadreas giving in to his body’s desire to move.
Tyler, the Creator - “What’s Good”
Tyler, the Creator has a very clear message for his enemies on "What’s Good" — bring it. His latest album Igor was a creative blend of rap and R&B that claimed the top spot on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums chart. "What’s Good" is his most aggressive and dizzying diss track that quickly jumps from buzzing beats to synthesized and smooth R&B.
James Blake - “Assume Form”
The title track from Blake’s fourth studio album is a delicate commitment to keep himself from giving in to depression. In the last year, the musician publicly acknowledged he sought treatment for having suicidal thoughts.
Lana Del Rey - “The greatest”
"The greatest" is like the last item you pack in the car before driving off into the sunset. It’s also a cry to escape from times when an entire generation wasn’t completely burned out. Or when Los Angeles wasn’t literally up in flames. Together with producer Jack Antonoff, Lana Del Rey created the perfect song for the existential crisis all of us had at some point in 2019.