By Kristians Fukss
The last great songs from this decade – with fresh newcomers like 100 gecs and already well known names, such as Thom York and FKA Twigs – here are the best 50 songs of the year.
50. Maxo Kream: Meet Again
/ Hip Hop
The lead single from Houston rapper’s major label debut album Brandon Banks – one of the biggest-hearted rap albums of the year. A personal story about his own family, tore apart by drug addiction and prison sentences.
49. Lil Tecca: Ransom
/ Trap Rap
Lil Tecca turned 17 just a few days before releasing his debut album. The viral Ransom is two minutes of the best popular rap of the year.
48. Empath: Roses That Cry
/ Noise Rock
The Philadelphia punk band’s anthem splashes out of the center of their album Active Listening: Night on Earth: free, sensitive and beautiful.
47. Floating Points: LesAlpx
Sam Shepard’s third album consumes and pleasures with unheard patterns mixed with electro music, such as woodwinds and strings, creating a layered dance fascination.
46. Kasper Marott: Drømmen om Ø – Forever Mix ’19
Like two birds escaping in techno, side A from the Copenhagen’s musician the third EP is a perfected mix of tropical colours, techno’s drums and acid synths.
45. Caribou: Home
/ Electro Pop
Caribou’s Dan Snaith has taken Caribou somewhere, where it has never been: in his first single in five years we hear the sampled voice of 70s soul singer Gloria Barnes – “Baby, I’m home.”
44. Black Belt Eagle Scout: At the Party
/ Indie Rock
The opening track of Black Belt Eagle Scout’s Katherine Paul, a radical indigenous queer feminist’s second album, At the Party With My Brown Friends, is Pacific Northwest indie rock at its finest – melancholic and delicate vocals with soft keys.
43. Vagabon: Flood
/ Electro Indie Rock
“Flood,” which serves as the introduction to the Cameroon-born artist’s Vagabon self-titled second album, produced and mostly played by herself, is a dreamy but bold statement by a young creative genius.
42. Boy Scouts: Get Well Soon
/ Indie Folk
The Oakland based folk-pop singer Taylor Vick, who has been behind Boy Scouts for almost 10 years, here, sings passionately about the aftermath of love and how hard it can be. Her voice says it all.
41. Danny Brown: Dirty Laundry
/ Hip Hop
The lead single from the American rapper’s fifth album uknowhatimsayin¿, was produced by Q-Tip. Danny Brown’s lyric and flow kills it, as he raps about a hookup in a Burger King bathroom and two encounters with a stripper.
40. Cate le Bon: Daylight Matters
Jeff Tweedy of Wilco has stated that Le Bon was “one of the best out there making music right now.” As describing her sound, he said: “it’s really rare for people to have a specific sound anymore, but I can always tell when it’s her playing guitar.” Sometimes she reminds me of Nico with her repetitive “I love you, I love you, I love you…”
39. Roisin Murphy: Incapable
Roisin Murphy has proved herself over the years many times. Now she’s going further with a carefully structured dance track, that at its peak can turn into bright and unstoppable starlight.
38. Jessica Pratt: Crossing
The Los Angeles musician’s newest album is her best – it seems to come from another world, a dreamscape that spins through slowly and carefully. Crossing is just like that, an original and intimate portrait of fading memory, that plays as the piano unwinds.
37. Bon Iver: Hey, Ma
Since Bon Iver, Bon Iver the Wisconsin musician has come a long way – with 2016’s 22, A Million and the newest i,i. But it still places you in the world of Bon Iver, warm and dreamlike, synthy and saxaphony.
36. Hand Habits: placeholder
Meg Duffy, the person behind Hand Habits has said: “I don’t fictionalize much, these are real stories.” That is felt through the song – I was just a placeholder, a lesson never learned.
35. Sleater-Kinney: Hurry On Home
Band’s ninth St.Vincent produced album stands out in their discography – with the new producer it’s all different but still very Sleater Kinney. The lead single from The Center Won’t Hold is from Trump era – angry and hungry, at the same time slaying with sexy energy as if asking for more.
34. CHAI: Fashionista
/ Japanese Dance Rock
Mana, Kana, Yuuki and Yuna are the four girls that make CHAI – the coolest Japanese pop rock quartet. “We are fashionista!” they scream. This could be a modern version of Material girl.
33. Jamila Woods: Zora
Singer-songwriter, poet, teacher, and activist Jamila Woods has named her lead single after Zora Neale Hurston – artist, who portrayed racial struggles in the early-20th-century. As Jamila echoes about the past and tries to build a better future, Zora is already a handcrafted gem.
32. 100 gecs: money machine
Something exciting is finally happening with pop music. Thanks to Dylan Brady and Laura Les – the thrash-pop duo behind 100 gecs, we have an outlook changing, chaotic and euphoric anthem to scream to.
31. Oso Oso: one sick plan
/ Alternative Rock
This guitar-driven emo song about a depressive episode sounds like a demo cassette record from a romantic film. Actually this simple acoustic song is the centre of Jade Lilitri’s third and best record from Oso Oso.
30. Georgia: About Work The Dancefloor
The London-based songwriter/producer Georgia is very new and very special with her mixing of club and pop music. Her Robyn like lightness and truthness is what it makes one of the best pop songs of the year.
29. Mount Eerie & Julie Doiron: Love Without Possession
The first single from the second collaborative studio album by Mount Eerie and Julie Doiron – a duet made from an impending divorce. A calm storytime with an acoustic guitar sometimes is the best therapy.
28. Caroline Polachek: Door
/ Art Pop
Before Pang – her newest album under her own name was Chairlift – unforgettable synth-pop band. Now on her own Caroline is also powerful and Door is magnificent, with her playful voice repeating the chorus over and over.
27. Octo Octa: I Need You
I Need You sound too euphoric to be true. Also sometimes, over the course of the total nine minutes, it seems to be floating, just to capture your needs– it’s danceable if you need to, it’s loving and close to you if you need to.
26. Four Tet: Only Human
As we know, Four Tet knows how to surprise. This time he has worked with Nelly Furtado’s Afraid, from the 2006 Album Loose. As Four Tet tells it, he heard the original song and began working – layering Furtado’s vocals and locking them into hi-hats and percussion – making a minimalistic wonder.
25. Weyes Blood: Andromeda
The new Weyes Blood album Titanic Rising comes with a perfectly matching cover art: Natalie in, what seems to be a room filled with water, slowing her down to minimalistic movements. Just as the lead single Andromeda – nothing is unnecessary and everything is glorious.
24. Holly Herndon: Eternal
The American experimental sound artist with her new album has taken electronic music to the next level: her newest album Proto was created in a collaboration with an artificial intelligence program named “Spawn”. Basically, she feeds samples of her own vocals to retrieve alien renderings of herself. The result is superb.
23. ROSALIA & J Balvin: Con Altura
Apart from Rosalia’s signature flamenco pop, she has done some collaborations, including Colombian reggaeton superstar J Balvin. This time the result is a viral, massive banger – even the name of the song translates to “do it hard”.
22. Bill Callahan: 747
/ Alternative Country
To his first record in six years, Bill returned as a father and a new perspective was born – wondering about the marvel of birth and love over carefully assigned guitar, which purifies the ear, just as a newborn baby’s coming into a household.
21. Solange: Binz
The cosmic mix that’s in Binz – jazz, soul-funk, and R&B is quite different than her previous A Seat at the Table – now she’s already seated and ready to serve without further questions.
20. Aldous Harding: The Barrel
Aldous Harding has made it look so easy-the gorgeous The Barrel feels effortless but actually is perfected to the max; it builds gradually, adding new elements that reshape it with every second.
19. Rico Nasty: Time Flies
/ Trap Rap
Rico Nasty is usually unstoppable with her dynamic flow and bass-driven hits.Time Flies is also unstoppable and dynamic, smashing trough walls while dancing. “Got tired of complaining/I got up and changed my situation.”
18. Mark Ronson & Angel Olsen: True Blue
/ Alternative Pop
You might not think to pair up these two music geniuses at first, but thank god they did – True Blue is the last greatest sad banger.
17. Nilüfer Yanya: In Your Head
In their debut Miss Universe Nilüfer Yanya is quite unpredictable, bouncing back and forth between musical and lyrical styles. In You Head is their craziest yet, finally completely free we can scream along with the lyrics and feel that the rock backbone that surrounds the song takes us to a different level.
16. Bad Bunny: Caro
/ Latin Trap
Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny flicks off critics over his androgynous style over a trap beat. Then, suddenly the beat stops, making way to Ricky Martin’s solo – the core of the song: “Why can’t I just be?” / “What harm is it to you? I’m just happy.” While remembering that Ricky was slashed after coming out, the song can be quite powerful and hard at the same time.
15. Big Thief: Cattails
Adrianne Lenker, vocalist, and guitarist of the Brooklyn quartet, sings intimately of her late great-grandmother, slowly but with great power of the folk – it is all there. The band is a well working organism, who can tur a song into a surreal experience of emotions, dreams and the rest of the world.
14. Mannequin Pussy: Drunk II
/ Punk Rock
Mannequin Pussy’s Marisa Dabice makes you feel like you have disturbed a talk with her ex: “Do you remember the nights I called you up?” Dabice asks her ex-lover. “I still love you, you stupid fuck.” There are rage and joy too, every element of the song is in its place.
13. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds: Bright Horses
There are some feelings I can not take into words but it seems like Nick Cave can capture the most profound experiences. Ghosteen is the final album of the trilogy that includes Push the Sky Away (2013) and Skeleton Tree (2016), also the first album he has written after the death of his son. Cave has reached an extraordinary artistic evolution, both of beauty and sadness.
12. Jenny Hval: Ashes to Ashes
/ Art Pop
Norwegian musician’s The Practice of Love is her most approachable album yet – more uptempo synth-pop than usual, although her dreamy atmosphere is stronger than ever, as she sings about the human body, sexuality, and creativity.
11. Helado Negro: Running
Miami-born, New York-based artist Roberto Carlos Lange on his sixth album embraces a personal and universal exploration of aura – seen and felt.
10. FKA twigs: cellophane
Didn’t I do it for You? Twigs sings delicately, as trying to hear your answer. The careful back vocals, alien-like synths and whispery beats move the song to its climax, where heartbreaking realness and the lightness of her voice crosses the darkest places.
9. (Sandy) Alex G: Gretel
/ Indie Rock
For his third album lo-fi pop experimenter AlexG presents House of Sugar, referencing the SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia, which features in the album’s closing track. Gretel uses already known concepts such as mix of speed-up and altered vocals to create a simple masterpiece.
8. Jai Paul: He
7 years after Jasmine Jai Paul released double single Do You Love Her Now / He – modern dance pop electronica in the flavor of the 80s. He is the Jai Paul at his loosest, most harmonic and danceable.
7. Angel Olsen: Lark
/ Orchestral Alternative
Lark is the opening track of Olsen’s newest record All Mirrors – an explosive introspection to her world. What starts as a subtle and beautiful song, joins a co-producer’s John Congleton’s 14-piece orchestra and explodes in her creativeness.
6. Big Thief: Not
/ Indie Rock
Big Thief had an amazing year with two albums of redefining folk rock. The second record is more rock than U.F.O.F., songs that Adrianne says she’s most proud of. On Not she sings more about what is not than is: It’s not the formless being / Nor the cry in the air / Nor the boy I’m seeing…
5. Charli XCX & Christine and the Queens: Gone
Thanks to A. G. Cook Charli’s newest album is a pop blast and Gone with Charli’s French sister is no different – electrifying empowerment that matches both with XCX’s past records and Christine’s funk-pop past, creating a definition of modern pop at its best.
4. Thom Yorke: Dawn Chorus
/ Experimental Rock
Dawn Chorus is the equivalent of 2001: A Space Odissey’s stargate sequence – floating through space without touching the ground. One of the most beautiful songs Thom has ever written.
3. Lana Del Rey: The Greatest
/ Soft Rock
Lana has perfected her melancholic 50s Americana inspired style over the years,but The Greatest has topped them all. This rock ballad may be the greatest song she has ever written – her lyricist talent is shining, she’s not afraid of criticising Kanye, talking about the modern life and observing that the culture is lit.
2. Sharon Van Etten: Seventeen
/ Indie Rock
Seventeen is Sharon van Etten’s climax-from being a cafe folk singer to a powerful rock star. Her newest album Remind Me Tomorrow was written, while being pregnant, attending school to obtain a degreein psychology and starring in the series The OA and Twin Peaks. She reministsabout being 17 as the adulthood is balancing on her shoulders. “I used to feel free / Was it just a dream?”
1. Clairo: Bags
/ Indie Pop
Every minute counts / I don’t wanna watch TV anymore… Clairo sings as she wouldn’t care about anything. These and other lyrics in this song are drawn from the young musician’s first romantic experience with a girl. Now we understand she sounds vulnerable: Can you see me? I’m waiting for the right time – The whole song has a nervous energy. With the distinctive drums from Haim’s Danielle, the whole song is executed so perfectly that it seems effortless