girl in red – "i need to be alone."
"Norwegian bedroom-pop artist Marie Ulven, best known as girl in red, released her sophomore EP Chapter 2 back in September. It's at 5-track EP nestled in the realm of surreal sonic daydreams. The captivating anti-pop artist surely swirled and dazzled on her dream-pop effort "i need to be alone." off the EP. The track paddles through the emotive waves of isolation and yearning while coming together both blissfully and stirringly. "I need to be alone." is a 3-minute idyllic gem highlighting her singular sound with a deep resonance that's utterly distinguishable with each and every release." Sean Kayden, Contributing Writer
Glenn Astro - "Naturals"
"The Berlin-based producer has been consistently dropping new music over the years, this specific tune is one that can turn any music lovers into digging genre-blending tunes. It's a plethora of natural beauty within a musical landscape." Margaret Tra, Contributing Writer
GRiZ - "Griztronics" feat. Subtronics
"Combining GRiZ's masterful funky bass style and Subtronics' usual dub sounds, "Griztronics" is one of the hottest tracks in the bass scene this year. Serving up doses of wobbles and in-your-face leads in the drops, just like what the vocals suggest, this shit really be "hitting different."' Ria Qi, Contributing Writer
GRiZ - "Now Til Infinity"
"GRiZ released a litany of monster tunes this year via his Bangers series, most of which were under the bass music umbrella. This one, nestled in between a slew of dubstep and trap, is a disco-inspired house bop that I had stuck in my head for a month." Jason Heffler, Editor
Guapdad 4000 - "Izayah" feat. KEY!, Maxo Kream, Denzel Curry
"This is the first track I thought of when given this assignment. It is the perfect reflection of rising hip-hop in 2019. Guapdad 4000 is one of the most exciting new players in rap and this was the standout track on his album Dior Deposits which dropped in October of this year. Kenny Beats lays one of the craziest beats I've heard this year. KEY's intro sets the tone, Denzel Curry's veteran role shines in this song with Maxo holding down his verse as well." Jack Harding, Contributing Writer
Gunna - "Speed It Up"
"After many mixtapes, Atlanta rapper, Gunna finally dropped his debut album Drip or Down 2 this year. In terms of quality, the album was just as good as the songs he blew up for. One entertaining track on the project is "Speed It Up" because of the rhythm. This song is an example of how easy it is for Gunna to create a hit song. It's a mellow trap song with lyrics that are easy to memorize." Tommy Monroe, Contributing Writer
HAELOS - "Boy/Girl"
"I love HAELOS' mysterious and dark sound and was really excited to hear about their new album Any Random Kindness this year. I love this song in particular because of how it switches between the smooth verses and the falsetto bridges. It's wonderfully arranged and emotionally appealing." Valeria Kolomiets, Contributing Writer
Harry Edwards - "Tame"
"Harry recently started to release his music on Wolf Tone and is gearing up to an album next year. The music level speaks for itself to be honest. "Tame" is mind-blowing, and he's already been working with notable acts like 6lack and FKA Twigs etc." Jess Bartlet, Editor
Headspace - "Bloxx"
"Have an ex that keeps creeping back into your life? So does Bloxx's Ophelia Booth, so she calls them out in this fun, alt-rock break-up song." Maria Bocci, Contributing Writer
Helado Negro - "Please Won't Please"
"A scintillating effort that encapsulates a dreamy moment in time where you can catch your breath. This song I think is one of the best songs of the year because in these tumultuous times you need a second to just put on a song and relax. I don't know there is just this tender sense of soppy electronic wetness that song exudes. It is a real effort from Helado Negro in having positive thoughts and stopping and smelling the roses." Zachary Keirstead, Contributing Writer
Helado Negro - "Running"
"Soft whispers and atmospheric drones lull the listener into a cloud-like dream state on Helado Negro's heavenly track "Running." A lush piano and fretless bass keep us grounded through the gentle and meditative track that feels like the perfect come down from a hectic decade full of misinformation and strife. Frontman Roberto Carlos Lange croons with such a confident coolness that will whisp away any worries that linger after a long day." George Chammas, Contributing Writer
Illsamar, Donald Guy - "Get It and Go" feat. Speeks Geak
"Illsamar and Donald Guy collaborated with sincerity on "Get It and Go" and hopefully foreshadows a new side project for the independent rappers. The track features Pomona producer and artist Speeks Geak, who lent his hoarse and hopeful vocals to the trials of a modern artist's hustle. Collectively, "Get It and Go" becomes a personal favorite for its conciseness, all while featuring each artist's greatest assets. This tactical arrangement and production amplified each artist's voice upon a buttery production and brought excitement to collaborative projects again." Janette Ayub, Contributing Writer
Jeremy Zucker - "scared"
"I could not say enough great things about Jeremy Zucker. His natural talent is UNDENIABLE and his voice is so raw and authentic. Every word he sings has me on the edge of my chair waiting to hear the glory that always comes out of his mouth. "scared" is a special minimal track with emotive pianos, that I feel all the way down in my soul. He also does his production, singing, and songwriting with gives many bonus points." Lindsey Oh, Contributing Writer
Jessica Pratt – "As The World Turns"
"Rarely can an artist do much with so little, painting an entire world with not much more than a voice, a set of keys and an acoustic six-string. But Jessica Pratt does just that, her inimitably haunting vocals mixing with barely-there instrumentation to yield an album whose smoothness you can swim in. "As The World Turns" is a particularly quiet number, perfectly showcasing Pratt's appreciation of negative space in a recording while using every chosen note to perfection." Nick Benson, Contributing Writer
Jett Kwong - "Cream"
"Jett Kwong's "Cream" easily became an "ode to summer" and wandered past lust and love to beautifully vocalize issues of identity. The track's cinematic arrangement allowed for a stirring and more romantic environment to nurture Kwong's narrative. Armed with the melodious strings of a Chinese guzheng, the Los Angeles-based artist delicately hummed an older story with a fresh orchestration of experimental-pop."
Joseph Ray - "Room 1.5"
"While we patiently wait for NERO's upcoming album release next year (and I have it on good word that it's definitely coming next year), the trio has gifted us a couple of solo projects. Earlier in 2019, Dan Stephens and wife Alana Watson dropped their synthwave collab "The Night," but the real gem is Joseph Ray's single "Room 1.5." The song blends gorgeous progressive-style builds with a meaty techno bassline, overlaid with the famous sample from Omni Trio's DnB legend, "Renegade Snares." If you have to listen to any one electronic song this year, make it this one." Rylan Smith, Electronic Editor
Joviale - "Ride Away"
"The visuals for this track have probably been some of my favourite of the year - a lifesize canvas swept with polychromatic watercolors. Joviale is part of the Blue Flowers label (Nilufer Yanya, Puma Blue) and "Ride Away" feels like an enchanting portal into a vibrant other world - her enchanting vocals adorn the room like plumes of feathers and opulent headdresses."Bryony Holdsworth, Contributing Writer
Julia Jacklin - "Don't Know How To Keep Loving You"
"The Australian singer-songwriter's 2019 album Crush is a masterclass in meandering, thought-provoking songwriting a la Joni Mitchell. "Don't Know How To Keep Loving You" is my pick for its number one track. Tanis Smither, Indie Editor
"Julia Jacklin's "Don't Know How To Keep Loving You" is about the dissolve of a relationship and she's trying to hold on so tight but she just can't anymore no matter how hard she tries. Not everything ends with a bang, sometimes it's a slow and painful unraveling and Julia captures that heartache perfectly." Emily Treadgold, Contributing Writer
Julia Jacklin - "Head Alone"
"Jacklin's songwriting has matured into a strong and unique voice in the folk-rock world. Like every song on 2019's Crushing, "Head Alone" brings listeners into her story and paints a captivating picture. The bridge on this song is a fabulous moment." Michelle Kicherer, Contributing Writer
Karen O, Danger Mouse - "Woman"
"Who doesn't love Karen O and her ambitious vocals? Personally, I am a huge fan of Danger Mouse's production, and I love that he paired up with her to create an empowering album that speaks not only her newfound motherhood, but manages to blend both their sounds so harmoniously." Valeria Kolomiets, Contributing Writer
Karenn - "Crush the Mushrooms"
"Everything that's right about techno; it's rolling, it's filled with weird and wonderful noises and there are no big build-ups. Everything you want to hear during a peak time set in the club. Despite being techno Karenn's "Crush the Mushrooms" is easily one of the most versatile releases in recent times, with support from the likes of Ben UFO it sounds just as good during a genre-bending set as it does pure techno." Beth Taylor, Contributing Writer
Karl Can Be Cool - "Wish We Were Still Friends"
"Song titles always fascinate me and with this track, Karl Can Be Cool gives us a preview of the narrative that follows - one that many can relate to. I love the sample used, the Ross from Friends feel the track imbues, and the unabashed melodic minimalism that peaks into a powerful yet heartwarming conclusion. There's something delightful about this track that resonates with me, and I always love to bring attention to the up-and-coming." Vivian Lin, Staff Writer
Katey Brooks - "All of Me"
"Katey Brooks' life has been anything but ordinary and as a result, she's crafted stunningly vulnerable music. Brooks' soulful, emotive ballad "All of Me" illustrates a relationship where someone claims to love you, but their actions tell an entirely different story. Growing up in a cult, music was her refuge from the adversity she faced and she's become a much stronger person because of it." Chloe Robinson, Contributing Writer
KLP - "Push"
"KLP has been making a name for herself within the Australian pop scene for over a decade, and all her hard work culminated with the release of her debut album Giver late-2019. So much hard work has gone into the album with "Push" being a highlight, showing her fantastic produce work, vocal range and creativeness." Steve Likoski, Contributing Writer
Kelsy Karter - "Harry"
"Kelsy Karter's "Harry" is a top release of 2019. The song is irresistible, pure pop fun. Clearly smitten by the One Direction heartthrob Harry Styles, the track is her playful love letter to him and she does not hold back. Karter even garnered massive attention from fans and media across the globe for her innovative PR stunt of a fake tattoo of Harry's face on her cheek." Chloe Robinson, Contributing Writer
KH, Four Tet - "Only Human"
"Probably played by every single DJ on earth at some point this year, "Only Human" features nostalgic Nelly Furtado samples and twinkling UK garage vibes. With its underlying modern framework, it is a track custom-built for early morning grooves." Ria Qi, Contributing Writer
Khalid - "Intro"
"I think that we can all agree that Free Spirit by Khalid was such a powerful and moving album. I specifically loved "Intro." I fell in love with every single word that was sung in that specific song. Khalid sings, "That's the difference between heaven and hell. I feel heaven when you're here with me. I feel hell every time you leave." It is impossible to deny the beauty in those words paired along with the melody that makes the entire listening experience feel magical. You can feel his soul translated through the display of his limitless vocal range."
Kim Petras - "Do Me"
"Kim Petra is the icon we've all craved in pop music and I'd point directly to "Do Me" as to why that's a fact. The song is pop at its finest: the futuristic synths, the chorus you play in your head all day and the overt sexuality, absolutely perfect. Her voice is insane and her "woo-ahs" are a rallying cry against any and all of her haters." Emily Treadgold, Contributing Writer
King Princess - "Ain't Together"
King Princess' 2019 releases like "Ain't Together" are unavoidably catchy, and is just another reason why KP is fast becoming a new queer icon leading into the new decade. Cheap Queen has all the songs you put on at parties, and King Princess is frankly the artist you tell your friends about. The one you have to know this year and you're late if you're not already on it." Jess Bartlet, Editor
La Bouquet - "Sad People Dancing"
"As do many people, I really connect with songs that deliver a great sense of emotion in their music and LA-based gloomy alt-pop outfit La Bouquet seem to have captured lightning in a bottle in that regard, for me at least. Silken layers of vocalist Bryan Sammis' tender voice completely envelope you, softly carrying you through a harmoniously transfixing and relatable lovesick narrative, with the steady beat keeping you moving and holding you back from falling off the edge into a deep introspective moment." Robin Fulton, Contributing Writer
Lana Del Rey - "Norman fucking Rockwell"
"I still remember exactly where I was and what it felt like when I first heard this song. The piano chords are just so rich and smooth like molasses a
nd Lana's angelic voice sits perfectly on top of them. The lyrics mark Lana's strongest and most vulnerable songwriting to date, opening her best album yet with grandiose poignance." Max-Pasion Gonzalez, Contributing Writer
"There are only a handful of releases that stuck with me in 2019 - whether it be stuck in my head, on repeat while driving, or continually revealing new meanings and elements I keep discovering after weeks of listening. The later is Del Rey's "Norman Fucking Rockwell!" This specific track never fails to transport me into a creative space, a memory, or just an ideal listening state. I play this when I want to shut out the rest of the world and just be enveloped by sound and lyrics - which is my favourite part of music in general. The entire album holds melodies and lyrics I am still working to unpack." Rachel Hammermueller, Contributing Writer
Larkins - "TV Dream"
"It's hard to listen to this one without singing and dancing along. "TV Dream" is a perfect combination of angsty-yet-uplifting lyrics and upbeat synths. Keep an eye out for Larkins in 2020; they're just getting started." Maria Bocci, Contributing Writer
Larry June - "Always Want More"
"It was impossible to pick my favorite project of 2019 from Larry June's stellar record of knockout releases this year. If I had to choose one song it's "Always Want More." His roll out as an artist this past year has been spectacular. He doesn't have a buzzing song to break through to the mainstream just yet but he definitely has a buzzing niche rap career with do respect by those in the know." Sky Taylor, Contributing Writer