(Sandy) Alex G - "Gretel"
"One of the singles from his House of Sugar EP, Gretel tells a twisted version of the Grimm Brothers' "Hansel and Gretel", in which Hansel is eaten by the witch and Gretel, unfazed, can think only of returning to the house to gorge on more candy. The track is guilt-ridden and nihilistic. But, nestled just past the halfway mark of the track is a gorgeous string instrumental break. It iterates and unfolds in an unexpected, transcendent break from the anguish of the rest of the grim track. Gretel demonstrates what's so compelling about Alex G — his ability to fold untethered beauty into fraught and self-critical subject matter." Naomi Pringle, Contributing Writer
Sampa The Great - "OMG"
"The Australian/Zambian rapper has had an amazing year, after following her from the beginning of her journey it's been amazing to see her rise. It was hard to pick one release from her this year, but "OMG" gets me bouncy off the walls of happiness, pride, and self-love." Margaret Tra, Contributing Writer
Sampa The Great- "Final Form"
"Sampa The Great delivered a banger with this track, which is brilliant on so many levels. Her fiery delivery is right on point as she calls out negativity in the growth process. Silentjay brings serious heat in production with a powerful sample of The Sylvers' "Stay Away From Me." Additionally, the vibrant video shot in Zambia and Botswana is a feast for the eyes. Sampa The Great's album The Return was an absolute gem of 2019 and "Final Form" is a worthy centerpiece." Evan Crandell, Contributing Writer
Sam Smith - "Dancing with a Stranger" feat. Normani
"What can I say about this one- it's contagious. It still maintains Smith's powerful voice, but molds it effortlessly into a more upbeat production that feels a little outside his range- but somehow, like it's what he's been meant to perform all along." Valeria Kolomiets, Contributing Writer
Say Lou Lou - "The Look of Love"
"Say Lou Lou's cover of "The Look of Love" proves why it's a classic, and also reminds everyone of how amazing Say Lou Lou is for synth pop. Their slinky and sexy rendition gives the track a modern renewed life but still keeps the smoky mystique and intention that Dusty Springfield brought to the original version. It's a genius cover and likely a form few thought it would see." Lauren Jefferson, Contributing Writer
Sebastian Paul - "ON SOME HIGH"
"Sebastian Paul has truly been a groundbreaking artist in my world this year. His sound is so unique and different that it instantly grabs attention. Paul handles all his own production, singing and songwriting utilizing electronic, indie and alt rock elements to create masterful works that impact from the beat to the vocal. His voice also has a certain rasp to it, and style that I can not get enough of." Lindsey Oh, Contributing Writer
Skytech - "Expedition"
"Future house like this one are hard to come by. Skytech's powerful, simplistic production techniques in "Expedition" take listeners on an expedition they'll never forget." Lennon Cihak, Contributing Writer
Snoh Aalegra - "I Want You Around"
"With powerful vocals and passionate songwriting, Snoh Alegra delivers beauty and heartbreak in equal measure with such brilliant cohesiveness on her 2019 "Ugh, those feels again" album. In my opinion, this whole project shows off her timeless essence and solidifies Alegra as one of the modern R&B saviors going into the next decade." Celeste Daniela Ceres, Contributing Writer
"The sultry love song, "I Want You Around", is the latest single from R&B rocketing songstress, Snoh Aalegra. This number, though released in the winter, mentally takes me to the thought of a beach day with my wife. The essence and soul in this track is easy, it's simple, and is romantic. Inspired by Stevie Wonder, "I Want You Around" may be the strongest R&B showing of the year." Gregory Castel, Contributing Writer
Solange - "Stay Flo"
"One of the most infectious bops of Solange's career, this track from Solange's 2019 album When I Get Home is absolutely dripping with swagger. Solange rides the bouncing beat perfectly to create a well-paced and elegant groove." Max-Pasion Gonzalez, Contributing Writer
Spencer Radcliffe - "Floss For The Future"
"Its funny-sounding title does convey an ironic, satirical message, however, one should still take these anxieties that Radcliffe portrays so well seriously. "Floss For The Future" delivers a light tickling of piano keys with melodic guitar strums that cut through the consistent percussion to create a vibrant and magnificent 5-minute journey of sound." Aaron Schimdke, Contributing Writer
Still Woozy - "Habit"
"I think this guy is one of the most underrated artists out there right now. He blends soul, funk, acoustic and electronic and it's so smooth. Like cognac and satin sheets." Jason Heffler, Editor
Still Woozy - "Lava"
"There have been torrents upon torrents of excellent alternative pop music released throughout 2019, but no other grabbed me so quickly and so firmly as Still Woozy. Like much of his audience, I was introduced to him via the breakthrough single "Lava". While I recognized all the elements of his music, but I'd not heard them arranged in such a mystifying fashion before." Robin Fulton, Contributing Writer
Styles P - "Golden"
"PRESENCE by Styles P was a 10/10 album. It really took you back to old-school hip-hop. "Golden" specifically hit a special spot. This track was definitely a favorite in 2019 because it made you stay focused, motivated, and reminded you of your tunnel vision." Margarite Camaj, Contributing Writer
Summer Salt - "Honeyweed"
"Summer Salt's sun-soaked, feel-good track "Honeyweed" is one of the top indie jams of year. The track features warm glowing vocals and gentle melodic guitars, creating the perfect laid-back summer anthem. Touring all across the states, Summer Salt has developed a loyal fanbase with their dynamic live shows." Chloe Robinson, Contributing Writer
Sweet Chaos - "Day6"
"Korean rock band Day6 perfectly capture the rowdiness and nostalgia of early 2000s rock, but with an energy and love-crazy message that is simply timeless." Natalie Morin, Contributing Writer
The 1975 - "People"
"When People was released earlier this year, it was definitely not what myself or fans were expecting; But that's what makes the song so great. Listeners are blasted with punk, anarchistic energy from start to finish and makes you want to open that god damn pit. It's blunt, spits in your face and I cannot wait to scream those lyrics back at Matty Healy next time I see them live." Rachel Steer, Contributing Writer
The Amazons - "Mother"
"The rolling drums and atonal guitar in the intro of this track will be enough to haunt you for the entire new year. When the gritty guitar melody drops, it'll blow your mind." Maria Bocci, Contributing Writer
The Game - "Gold Daytona" feat. Dom Kennedy
"He's a veteran in the game, who really hasn't missed a beat yet. Between the nostalgic Junior Mafia sample and the Dom K feature, this track is gold." Brianna Lawson, Contributing Writer
The Japanese House - "Maybe You're The Reason"
"This song alone made fans, and potential fans, get truly excited for the full 2019 album Good At Falling to drop. "Maybe You're The Reason" definitely stood out from other indie releases this year, but that doesn't mean it was a deviation from her more familiar previous work. If anything, the song is Amber Bain's work in its most polished and masterful form." Ashley Johnson, Contributing Writer
Tierra Whack - "Unemployed"
"Tierra Whack quickly gained recognition following her concise and excellent, Whack World EP in 2018. "Unemployed" builds off the talent she displayed in that album, complete with a psychedelic, surreal music video that's distinctly her style. "Unemployed" shows off the lyrical abilities that make Whack stand out. She delivers her lines with unhurried confidence, switching up the pace exactly when she means to. It doesn't hurt that the track includes one of the stickiest hooks she's produced." Naomi Pringle, Contributing Writer
Tipper - "Baleen"
"After almost 5 years without releasing an album, Tipper's Jettison Mind Hatch is the follow up of 2014 critically acclaimed Forward Escape. "Baleen" displays mind-bending sound design coupled with nostalgic melodies that transport the listener to an introspective and alternative dimension." Pedro Daim, Contributing Writer
Toro Y Moi - "Ordinary Pleasure"
'"Ordinary Pleasure" and really Toro Y Moi's whole Outer Peace album embodied this spirit of youth culture. This track, in particular, is so carefree and fun. When paired with the music video, it's just the ultimate feel-good vibe that makes you want to groove along with Chaz." Lauren Jefferson, Contributing Writer
Travis Thompson - "I Wish"
"Travis Thompson's hopeful "I Wish" track feels like the most thoroughly earnest hip-hop songs of the year; the fast-rising Seattle rapper wastes no time flexing and instead opts for intimate discussions about his goals and pursuits." Jack Steindorf, Contributing Writer
Tourist - "Kin"
"This track feels more like a welcome tribute to heartfelt songwriting from Tourist - a time back to when songs used to make us feel things rather than just becoming trending numbers on a Spotify hits playlist." Valeria Kolomiets, Contributing Writer
Tyler, the Creator - "RUNNING OUT OF TIME"
'"RUNNING OUT OF TIME" is an honest masterpiece of tension as part of an already triumphant album IGOR. The feeling of the fading peace and anxiety fill the production up with the subtleties in sound. Tyler uses many nuances in this track to call out a love interest who's been wearing a facade around other people, and Tyler wants to be with them. This song is Tyler choosing to sing about his truth and the reality of a dwindling relationship as he begs the question to all of us, "are you livin' in pretend?"' Gregory Castel, Contributing Writer
Vampire Weekend - "Unbearably White"
"The absence of Rostam Batmanglij left a wide array of uncertainty for the veteran indie rock band on Father of the Bride. However, this clamant track is deemed to be their most iconic and fulfilling record of Vampire Weekend's discography, as well as 2019." Matthew Keady, Contributing Writer
Walker & Royce, VNSSA - "Rave Grave"
"Simply put, "Rave Grave" has all the right elements for a banger and indeed it is. It's a cleverly crafted track that's both infectious and enigmatic, and one that proves there's more to tech-house than one may assume." Vivian Lin, Staff Writer
Walt Disco - "Strange to Know Nothing"
"Walt Disco's 'Strange To Know Nothing' is simply iconic. This band is one of my fave bands from 2019 and I can't wait to see what the new year brings from these Glaswegian angels. Their vivacity is infectious, and to put it frankly – I LOVE WALT DISCO." Paige Sims, Contributing Writer
Weyes Blood - "Andromeda"
"On her Sub Pop debut, Natalie Mering, aka Weyes Blood, finds the most self-realized version of her Carpenters-style folk-pop. With the help of heralded producer Jonathan Rado, she weaves together a ten-song guidebook on how to navigate this troubled world we're faced with at the end of a strange and confusing decade. Her vocals echo to the fullest potential with such grace that both calms and excites the senses all in one breath. The full 2019 album Titanic Rising is an instant classic and will surely remain one." George Chammas, Contributing Writer
White Reaper's - "Might Be Right"
"From playing this track in the basements of their Midwest-South hybrid town of Louisville, KY to listening to it on Monday Night Football, it must be surreal for the boys of White Reaper. "Might be Right" is all that is good about indie-rock: glamorous but unpretentious, soft with a hidden edge (oh, and the song sounds great live)." Rene Cobar, Contributing Writer
Whitney - "Giving Up"
"The melancholy subject matter of this song is delivered in a beautifully powerful and catchy. Julien Ehrlich's vocals are angelic as always; Max Kakacek's slide guitar ads a wonderful twang to the song and the band's seven-piece ensemble brings a heavy warmth to this melodic track." Michelle Kicherer, Contributing Writer
YBN Cordae - "Thanksgiving"
'"Thanksgiving" is a true standout from Cordae's Grammy-nominated The Lost Boy and has it all: vivid imagery, a feel-good chorus, and silky raps." Jack Steindorf, Contributing Writer
Young Thug - "Hot"
"Being a long time Thug fan, I'm glad he was getting the love for this project - even though it's not the best from his discography in my opinion. "Hot" was easily the standout of his 2019 album So Much Fun. The video with Travis Scott took the song to another level and solidified it as one of my favorite moments of this year's more mainstream hip-hop tracks." Sky Taylor, Contributing Writer
"For years, Young Thug has been overlooked as a playmaker in the rap game. So Much Fun showed everyone and they mamas that we need to put more respect on his name. Coming in at #1 on Billboard, we can't deny Young Thug as a legend in the hip hop scene with this project." Vicky Inoyo, Contributing Writer
Below is a full playlist of EARMILK's 'Best of 2019'