2019 has been an incredible year for music - but what are our favourite songs and albums of the year? Don't say our job is easy...
Martin Talbot - Chief Executive Officier
Album: Kiwanuka – Michael Kiwanuka
Michael Kiwanuka’s third album is a huge step up, one of the most adventurous long players of the decade, not just 2019. Featuring stand-out production from Dangermouse, it is funky, soulful, spiritual, political and utterly timeless. It would be as at home next to the best of seventies Marvin Gaye as the early nineties genre blending of Stone Roses, Primal Scream, and is potentially as era-defining as Back To Black.
Single: It Might Be Time – Tame Impala
Just pipping Fontaines’ Boys In The Better Land, Kiwanuka’s Rolling and Harry Styles Lights Up, this is Tame Impala at their very best. An antidote to the “hook upfront” trend of today’s playlist-dominated era, this is a glorious tune, building from its Breakfast In America-style organ opening over four-and-a-half glorious minutes into a crunchy, grinding, wailing, distortion-laden epic of a tune. Crank it up.
Rob Copsey - Website Editor
Album: Lana Del Rey - Norman F**king Rockwell
Lana's sixth album features some of her strongest work since her 2011 breakout with Video Games and her debut album Born To Die. Its hazy, retro California vibe and stuffing of classic rock references give the record an instant timeless quality that Lana has always aimed for but never nailed quite so effectively. Lana is often accused of being samey, and while I'd argue every second of the nine-minute epic Venice Bitch is essential, Norman Rockwell is also packed with lyrics that will stop you in your tracks.
Single: Friendly Fires - Silhouettes
Friendly Fires' left-turn into effervescent '80s funk-pop was one of my favourite musical surprises of the year: their album Inflorescent was a strong contender for my album of 2019. On Silhouettes, frontman Ed Macfarlane does his best George Michael impression circa Wham's Club Tropicana, and somehow he pulls it off. In a year bogged down by depressing things like Brexit, Silhouettes was a much-needed moment of unselfconsciously joyous neon-pop.
Helen Ainsley - Content & Brand Assistant
Single: Bring Me The Horizon – Mother Tongue
Yes, it’s a huge banger, but I think also nicely represents their recent genre shift. BMTH are doing rock on their own terms now, with lashings of pop and dance influences, and this song – complete with anthemic ‘woah’s – slotted in perfectly amongst their classic tracks when they headlined All Points East in the summer. Can you imagine such a frank love song from this lot a few years ago? So good.
Album: Maggie Rogers – Heard It In A Past Life
This album soundtracked my year. I adore Maggie Rogers – it’s been a while since an artist has resonated with me so much, and nobody else is making music like this! Between her breakthrough hit Alaska to the amazingly cathartic Fallingwater, her debut album is a massive breath of fresh air which improves with every listen. Her first release post-album Love You For A Long Time is a total bop - I can’t wait to see what she does next.
Nik Sharma - Operations Assistant
Single: Kano – Class of Deja (feat. D Double E & Ghetts)
Album: Dave - Psychodrama
There was really no other choice… the 2019 Mercury Prize album of the year - Psychodrama is a classic album by one of the UK’s most talented artists. An incredibly cohesive, quasi-concept album, the lyrics are incredible and deep storytelling tracks like Lesley highlight how the 20-year-old wordsmith is talented far beyond his years. The production is top notch too and the fact that the album debuted at Number 1 on the Official Albums Chart is an added bonus. Overall, Psychodrama is a masterpiece and I would say it is the best UK rap album since Dizzee Rascal’s Boy In Da Corner, which was released in 2002.
Chris Austin - Head of Operations
Single: Lewis Capaldi – Someone You Loved
Lewis hit it out of the park with this one, easy song of 2019, great contender for album too.
Album: Stormzy - Heavy Is the Head
In at the last minute, but I cant get enough of this album. Brilliant sophomore release from Big Mike, an album you can listen start to finish and keep coming back for more. Perfect mix of rap, melody, samples and collaborations. Favourite track is hard to pick but I’ll go for Rachael's Little Brother.
David Murray - Digital Commercial Lead
Single: Mystery Jets – Screwdriver
My single of the year is from a band, that is my opinion, came out of nowhere back to their best! Mystery Jets Screwdriver, is the most underrated indie rock tune of the year…
“Fight them with love 'cause when the power of love overcomes
The love of power
Then the world, will be ours.”
Album: Sam Fender – Hypersonic Missiles
After seeing Sam Fender perform at the Brits pre-show following his 2019 Critics Choice Award, I could not wait to hear his debut album. The release date was pushed back, but it was 100% worth the wait. Sam getting his Number 1 Award photo with Alan Shearer must have been up there with his highlights of the year. Go on lad!
Justin Myers - Freelance Writer
Single: Allie X – Fresh Laundry
Canadian singer-songwriter Allie X is one of those artists who seems to have been bubbling under for years now, making interesting, innovative, and – apologies in advance for saying this like I’m trying to be cool or whatever – but slightly edgy pop. She’s at her best when she pivots to her darker side and Fresh Laundry is laced with longing. It’s about being away and working when all you want is your own bed, your close friends, nice parties, a jewel or two – all very relatable. This sultry, dramatic electropop stands up to repeat listens, as my play count will testify. If you don’t know Allie X, do some delving into her back catalogue; it’s full of genre-defying bangers and she has an ear for a killer lyric.
Album: Beyoncé – Homecoming
Is this cheating? Is it a bit like choosing a greatest hits? I don’t care. Beyoncé has had an incredible few years, and her two-date Coachella gig in 2018 felt like her coronation. She could’ve rested on her laurels and sung standards or radio-friendly hits for the rest of her career, but she continues to push forward, there’s nothing she won’t try. So while this 2019 release of the live recording of the Homecoming concerts is indeed a guided tour through her back catalogue, every song sounds boxfresh, reimagined for the stage. A huge brass band, medleys rattled through at breakneck speed, surprise covers, mixes and mashups, revived rarities, cameos from sister Solange and former Destiny’s Child bandmates Kelly and Michelle – no stone left unturned, no note left unsung, and nobody else but Beyoncé could’ve pulled it off. The new gold standard for any live show and album.
Lauren Kreisler - Head of Brand & Digital
Album: Chemical Brothers - No Geography
"Alexa, it’s that time of day...play The Chemical Brothers’ No Geography."
This year has been memorable for so many reasons, not least becoming a new mum, and I couldn’t have survived life’s biggest, most exhausting challenge to date without a bit of motivation from The Chemical Brothers. May 2019, I’d been on leave from the charts grappling with newborn twins for just over 6 months, when, courtesy of Grandma and Grandad, we were treated to our first proper "pass out" - a whole day and night COMPLETELY CHILD-FREE, to see The Chemical Brothers at All Points East Festival, London.
The Chems’ live shows are always immense, even better when you’ve not danced (or slept) for 6 months. The new tracks from No Geography are a welcome addition to their festival set, slipping in seamlessly alongside the classics and firmly passing the all-important outdoor test – huge, riotous, maximum “party” - everything you hope for on a day like this really, and proving again why the Manchester duo are still top of their game 25 years on. Some steam was let off in Victoria Park that day.
Single: Mark Ronson ft. Yebba – Don’t Leave Me Lonely
This is my "should-have-charted-way-higher" track of the year. Number 58. Utterly criminal.
Jack White - Content & Brand Executive
Single: Katy Perry – Never Really Over
Katy Perry has been adamant that she’s not ready to release another album following the mixed reception to her (underrated) latest album Witness. If the stand-alone singles she’s released in 2019 are anything to go by, she can delay the album longer if she wants! While Small Talk is a kitsch and cute throwback to her One Of The Boys days and Harleys in Hawaii showcases a sultry side with sticky-sweet wordplay (hula rhyming with jeweller, genius), Never Really Over was Katy’s major highlight of the year, and my standout track of 2019.
Never Really Over could be a dictionary definition for pop music; powerhouse synths, a catchy chorus with quicker-than-a-hiccup vocal delivery, and we’ve even got Zedd’s clock-tick production staple signifying the borrowed time Katy is on before falling back in love. In a landscape sparse with pop, Never Really Over was a breath of fresh air. Peaking at Number 12, you slept on it UK. You slept on it.
Album: Carly Rae Jepsen - Dedicated
There’s a theme to my picks in that I love pop music, and Carly Rae Jepsen was another artist to buck the trends and stick with what she does best – electropop bangers that send euphoria into your every fibre. Carly’s fourth studio album, the retro-feeling Dedicated features Now That I’ve Found You, a track for me equally as blissful as her fan favourites Run Away With Me and Cut To The Feeling. They all share a quality that I can’t quite my finger on. Absolute elation in spade loads. Other tracks of note are Want You In My Room, Happy Not Knowing and Feels Right, which blossom butterflies in your stomach. Bring on her O2 Academy Brixton gig next February!
Gus Hully - Senior Analyst
Album: Chase & Status – RTRN II Jungle
Fair play to Chase & Status for making a jungle album in 2019. Smashed it.
Single: Sam Fender – Will We Talk
I liked this track more and more with each and every listen. Such a good pop-rock summer bop.
Cat Smyth - Operations Assistant
Album: Jordan Rakei – Origin
Having witnessed this masterpiece being performed live in the Roundhouse (my first gig at the venue!) with a whopping 11-piece band (including five backing vocalists) and if the amount of goose bumps are anything to go by, my choice for album of the year was a no-brainer. The New Zealand native by way of Brisbane has made a name for himself via the South London scene with an impressive number of collaborations to his name, including Tom Misch, Loyle Carner and Nile Rodgers to name a few. Origin blends funk, soul and jazz seamlessly. Take a listen for Rakei’s smooth vocals, funk hooks, multi-instrumental virtuosity and all-round infectious jams.
Single: Billie Eilish – Everything I Wanted
2019 has been Billie’s year. Let’s be honest, I could have chosen any track on the debut album but the follow up single was a stand-out for me. Charting at No. 3, the sheer vulnerability of the silky vocals and impressive production immediately drew me in. Lyrical rawness beyond her years, it’s the type of song you can listen to on repeat and never get bored.
Rob Poole - Commercial Manager
Album: Foals – Part 2 Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost
Why have I gone with this? Because my Spotify Wrapped 2019 strongly suggested it was my favourite!
The second album from Foals in 2019 rounded off a sensational year for the band; finally landing that elusive Number 1 album spot on the sixth time of asking! It’s got a heavier, more guitar-centric feel to it than it’s predecessor (but also brilliant) Part 1. Foals are one of the few remaining bands from the indie band era, but unlike most of their peers they’ve evolved with the times (and survived), developing an edgier side to their sound. Highlights from the album include the singles The Runner and Wash Off. When I get around to buying myself a record player, this will be one of the first albums going into my collection.
Single: AJ Tracey – Ladbroke Grove
AJ Tracey live and direct….bringing 90s garage back in 2019. A massive summer single boasting thirteen consecutive weeks in the Official Singles Top 10 (with ten of those weeks in the Top 5). UK rap has been making waves on the Official Singles Chart this year - dominating it at times - and none more so than Ladbroke Grove. I’ll never go to Notting Hill again without hearing this in my head, cheers AJ!
What is your favourite song and album of 2019? Tell us in the comments below: