Sunday, 29 December 2019

The Best Of 2019 - numbers 40 to 21

JUMP TO: 40-21 II 20-1

Like last year, I'm only just getting my year-end list together in the final days of the year - and once again I'll just leap ahead to my favourite 40 songs of 2019. (I also have a decade-end chart to compile, so time is short for music geeks like me, you know.)

40. "Spell" by Hot Chip

I've liked a bit of Hot Chip over the years - songs like "Over And Over" and "Ready For The Floor". But the decision to work with outside producers on their seventh album, A Bath Full Of Ecstasy, resulted in a string of more focused synthpop tunes - songs like "Hungry Child" and "Melody Of Love", which are lower down on my year-end list, as well as "Spell", which was a reworking of a track Joe Goddard and Alexis Taylor wrote when they were contributing to Katy Perry's Witness album.

39. "Pieces Of Us" by Mark Ronson featuring King Princess

The first of three songs from Mark Ronson's Late Night Feelings album inside my year-end top 40, "Pieces Of Us" features vocals by King Princess (real name: Mikaela Straus), who is signed to the DJ/producer's record label.

38. "You And I" by Owl Eyes

Six years after the release of her debut album, Nightswim (one of its tracks "Closure" featured in my year-end top 100 for 2013), the singer born Brooke Addamo traded in dream pop for a pulsating slice of electronica with this Donna Summer-meets-Sophie Ellis-Bextor tune.

37. "Mine Right Now" by Sigrid

She spent the previous couple of years building up a solid catalogue of tracks, including "Strangers" from 2017 and 2018's "Sucker Punch", and in 2019, Norwegian singer Sigrid got around to releasing her debut album, also titled Sucker Punch. "Mine Right Now" was just one of many song included on it with a killer chorus - and we'll see another before the end of this post.

36. "All Day And Night" by Jax Jones & Martin Solveig present Europa with Madison Beer

In case it wasn't obvious from the convoluted credit, Europa is a collaborative project between England's Jax Jones and Frenchman Martin Solveig, kind of like Diplo and Mark Ronson's Silk City. Together, the DJs/producers recruited American singer Madison Beer to front their debut offering.

35. "Don't Call Me Up" by Mabel

Following in the footsteps of her mother, Neneh Cherry, and stepbrother, Marlon Roulette, Mabel McVey made a huge impact on international charts in 2019 with her Dua Lipa-esque tropical house track "Don't Call Me Up". It wasn't her first hit back home in the UK, but by reaching number 3 there it became her biggest, while in Australia, the song took her into the top 20. Fittingly enough, her debut album, also released this year, was called High Expectations

34. "My Love" by Will Young

He might never have scored a hit in Australia, but Will Young has been a regular on my year-end charts since his Pop Idol win back in 2002. "My Love" was the second single from his seventh album, Lexicon, which saw him re-team with Richard X, who produced 2011's Echoes. We'll see the lead single in the top 20.

33. "Sucker" by Jonas Brothers

Six years after they last recorded together - and following numerous solo musical and screen projects - siblings Joe, Nick and Kevin Jonas returned as Jonas Brothers and delivered easily their best ever single in the form of "Sucker". To prove just how far the boy band have come since their teen scream days, the video featured the trio's significant others, Nick's wife, Priyanka Chopra; Joe's then-fiancée, Sophie Turner; and Kevin's wife, Danielle.

32. "Shadows" by Alphabeat

Next up, another musical comeback, this time from Danish band Alphabeat with their first release together in six years. While "Shadows" was everything I could hope for from the band who dominated my year-end countdowns in 2008-2010, the accompanying album, Don't Know What's Cool Anymore, didn't quite live up to my expectations.

31. "In The Middle (Sad Banger)" by Chlöe Howl

She just missed my year-end top 10 in 2014 with "Rumour" and British singer Chlöe Howl came back on my radar this year with this stand-alone single, which lives up to its "Sad Banger" subtitle.

30. "Death Of Me" by PVRIS

Since they placed third in my year-end countdown for 2017, American rock band PVRIS have been signed by major label Reprise. "Death Of Me" was the first taste of their more "pop-driven" direction under their new record deal.

29. "Red Is The Way" by Xenomania presents Paige Cavell

Pop in the 21st century would have sounded very different without British production team Xenomania, who, besides being responsible for Girl Aloud's output, produced a mountain of my personal favourites from the likes of Annie, Pet Shop Boys, Mini Viva and Florrie. Taking the artist credit they've deserved for a long time, Xenomania's latest forward-looking pop tune is fronted by British singer Paige Cavell.

28. "No Good" by Ally Brooke

She may not have had the exposure of ex-band-mates Camila Cabello or Normani, but for my money, this is the best solo release by a former member of girl group Fifth Harmony. Like The Prodigy's "No Good (Start The Dance)", "No Good" takes its hook from Kelly Charles' "You're No Good For Me".

27. "Body Back" by Gryffin featuring Maia Wright

He first caught my attention as the remixer of one of the numerous versions of Years & Years' "Desire", but in 2019, American DJ/producer Gryffin came into his own as an artist, with "Body Back" my favourite of a trio of tracks from his debut album, Gravity. The other two, "Baggage" (with Gorgon City and AlunaGeorge) and "OMG" (with Carly Rae Jepsen), place lower down this list.

26. "Solid Gold" by PNAU featuring Kira Divine and Marques Toliver

They've been making music since 2000, but, other than 2008's "Embrace", PNAU hasn't really connected with me. Until now. This track featuring vocals from Kira Divine (who performed on their ARIA top 10 hits, "Chameleon" and "Go Bang") and Marques Toliver changed that. One of the most joyous songs of the year.

25. "Sparking My Fire" by Sachi featuring Roe

More uplifting dance music now from the New Zealand duo comprised of Nick Crisp and Will Thomas, with featured vocals from American singer Roe. The pair also worked with the Auckland Gospel Choir and a horn section on the track.

24. "To The End" by Elliphant

It wouldn't be one of my year-end charts without a healthy representation from Sweden - and here's another song from the centre of Scandipop. Taken from 2018's Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, "To The End" is a moody synth-driven track by singer-songwriter Ellinor Olovsdotter. 

23. "Don't Feel Like Crying" by Sigrid

From Sweden we pop back over to Norway for another song from Sigrid Raabe. As its title suggests, the string-laden track is about avoiding wallowing after a break-up with Sigrid doing some amazing "no tears here" dancing in the music video.

22. "Too Late For Love" by John Lundvik

Back to Sweden now for this year's Eurovision Song Contest entry from the nation that has been responsible for some of the best tunes to compete in the international camp-fest. Although it didn't win - I can't at this point even recall the song that triumphed: "Arcade" by Duncan Laurence - "Too Late For Love", with its gospel choir and key change, was my favourite on the night (or early morning here in Australia). The ESC performance is below; the studio recording is here.

21. "Let You" by Cheryl

We finish this batch of songs with a track by a woman who had topped the British chart on five previous occasions as a solo artist, not to mention her number 1 hits with Girls Aloud - and so a peak of number 57 on the UK top 100 must have been a bit of a disappointment for Cheryl (what even is her surname these days?). Co-written by GA band-mate Nicola Roberts, "Let You" was her best release in years and certainly deserved better.

Listen to the songs featured above (as well as the rest of my top 200) on my Spotify playlist:

Next up: I'll count down my 20 favourite songs from 2019, including a posthumous hit for a music legend, a band I haven't listened to since the start of the decade and the female singer who is almost single handedly saving pure pop. 

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