Monday, 30 December 2019

The Best Of 2019 - numbers 20 to 1

JUMP TO: 40-21 II 20-1

As years go, 2019 was not a bad one for music. I easily came up with 200 songs for my full year-end list, which is more than can be said for 2016 and 2017, but the list of tracks I truly love seems to get shorter each year. Here are the 20 songs I loved the most this past year...

20. "Fantasy" by Sofi Tukker

They haven't been seen on the ARIA top 50 since their debut single, "Drinkee" (which managed to be certified gold despite only reaching number 42), but this is the first track by electronic duo Sofi Tukker to pique my interest. "Fantasy" was the lead single from Dancing On The People, the latest EP from singer Sophie Hawley-Weld and producer Tucker Halpern. 

19. "Nowhere To Go" by Hayden James featuring NAATIONS

Released just ahead of his debut album, Between Us, this track from Australian DJ/producer Hayden James - his best yet - was a collaboration with fellow homegrown dance act NAATIONS, the duo comprised of Nat Dunn (formerly known professionally as Tali) and Nicky Night Time (previously in Van She), who appeared on my second favourite song for 2017 with Duke Dumont and Gorgon City. 

18. "Tonight (Bright Light Bright Light remix)" by Bananarama

Regular readers might be aware that Bananarama are my favourite girl group of all time, so naturally a new album from Sara Dallin and Keren Woodward - their first in a decade - was always going to attract my attention. And the duo, who I saw again in concert earlier this year (a much better show than the one a few years back), have a number of songs on my year-end top 200 from that album, In Stereo. My favourite track is this remix of "Tonight" by the song's co-writer Bright Light Bright Light (who is no stranger to my charts), which was issued as a bonus track on the "Looking For Someone" single.

17. "Torn" by Ava Max

I'm a late comer to Ava Max (real name: Amanda Koci), with her breakthrough hit, "Sweet But Psycho", and follow-up "So Am I" not doing much for me. But pure pop tune "Torn", which features a snippet of ABBA's "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)", proved irresistible.

16. "Somebody Wants" by The Lovers Of Valdaro

I discovered this Swedish duo at the very end of 2018 thanks to their EP, Euphoric Melancholic Electronic, which just about sums up the type of music I like. In 2019, they competed with this song in Melodifestivalen, the Swedish competition to choose an entry for Eurovision, and although they didn't end up getting chosen, they wound up on my year-end list higher than the song that did (which we saw back at number 22).

15. "The Real Thing" by Client Liaison

I made a conscious effort to see more current artists perform live in 2019 - and not just veteran acts - and this Australian pop duo is one whose concert I did attend. The synthpop pair comprised of singer Monte Morgan and producer Harvey Miller, who placed much lower down on my year-end lists for 2015 and 2016, released their best song yet in the form of "The Real Thing", which was a highlight of the gig.

14. "Higher Love" by Kygo x Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston's cover of Steve Winwood's "Higher Love", which was included as a bonus track on the Japanese edition of 1990's I'm Your Baby Tonight, has long been on my list of songs I want to own. Although it's not the original version, this remix by Norwegian tropical house DJ/producer Kygo did the job, and became my favourite track of his, surpassing his 2015 breakthrough, "Firestone".

13. "Faster To Nowhere" by The Lovers Of Valdaro

Here they are again, singer Erik Gabriel and producer Adam Warhester with their most recent release, another slice of melodic Scandipop. Hope there is more where this came from in 2020.

12. "You And I" by LÉON

More Swedish synthpop now with this single by 26-year-old Lotta Lindgren, who goes by the name of LÉON and has been releasing music since 2015.

11. "Don't Start Now" by Dua Lipa

Another singer who emerged in 2015, but who has enjoyed much greater success in the years since, is England's Dua Lipa. The first taste of her second album, Future Nostalgia, and its disco-pop direction, "Don't Start Now" was my favourite track of hers since "Hotter Than Hell" back in 2016.

10. "Late Night Feelings (Krystal Klear remix)" by Mark Ronson featuring Lykke Li

Mark Ronson's Late Night Feelings is probably my favourite album of 2019, although I wasn't a huge fan of its lead single, the Miley Cyrus-featuring "Nothing Breaks Like A Heart", which slipped into my top 200 for 2018. But the title track, which was released ahead of the album as its second single, was a different story. In its original form, the track is a slinky piece of disco-influenced sophistipop with pristine vocals by Swedish singer Lykke Li, while the Krystal Klear remix, which I prefer, steps things up a notch.

9. "White Lies" by M-22

Anything that sampled Inner City's "Good Life" was always going to be alright with me, and this dance track by Brit Matt James and German Frank Sanders did its source material proud, adding a tougher edge to the 1988 house classic. Vocals on "White Lies" are handled by KABBA, who used to go by the name of A*M*E and has popped up in my year-end countdowns over the years as a featured singer and an artist in her own right.

8. "Lightning" by Bag Raiders featuring The Kite String Tangle

All four of the singles from their self-titled debut album landed on my year-end charts between 2009 and 2011 - the best of which was "Way Back Home" - but Australian dance duo Bag Raiders eclipsed that with this lead single from their long-awaited second album, Horizons. "Lightning" is a collaboration with fellow local dance act The Kite String Tangle (aka musician/producer Danny Harley).

7. "Don't Leave Me Lonely" by Mark Ronson featuring YEBBA

The highlight of what is a stunning album, "Don't Leave Me Lonely" is one of three tracks on Late Night Feelings featuring vocals by Abbey Smith - her stage name is her first name spelt backwards. The American singer also featured on Ed Sheeran's "Best Part Of Me" - an ARIA top 20 hit in 2019.

6. "All The Songs" by Will Young

The one thing Will Young doesn't get enough credit for is his inventive music videos, with this lead single from Lexicon being accompanied by another visually arresting clip, not least of all because he gets his kit off as not one but several different characters. "All The Songs" was one of several standout tracks from the album, including "My Love" (which we saw at number 34), "Forever" and "Get Me Dancing" (both of which also made my top 100).

5. "Tokyo" by White Lies

They peaked just outside my top 10 for 2009 with "To Lose My Life", the title track of their debut album, and despite releasing plenty of music in the years since, it's taken until this anthemic single from fifth album Five for British band White Lies to impress me as much again. Fun fact: this is the third time a song featuring Tokyo in the title has landed in my year-end top 10, following The Wombats' "Tokyo (Vampire And Wolves)" in 2010 and last year's "Tokyo Nights" by Digital Farm Animals, Shaun Frank & Dragonette.

4. "I'll Be Your Girl" by Carly Rae Jepsen

Where would music be without Carly Rae Jepsen, who continues to fly the flag for unashamed feel-good pop? A lot less bright, that's for sure. Although "I'll Be Your Girl" wasn't an official single from the Canadian's fourth studio album, Dedicated, it was the standout track for me. Actual single "Now That I Found You" just missed out on a spot in my top 40.

3. "Wish You Well" by Sigala featuring Becky Hill

If anything were to prove the demise of the studio album, especially among dance acts, it's the fact that former The Voice UK contestant and collaboration queen Becky Hill hasn't even bothered to release a studio album, opting instead to issue Get To Know - a best of compilation covering her career highlights to date. Included on the album is this pumping dance track she recorded with Sigala - my favourite thing either of them have released. Becky also placed just outside my top 40 with "I Could Get Used To This" with Weiss.

2. "Blinding Lights" by The Weeknd

Evidence that you should never be too hasty in compiling your year-end chart - they start surfacing in November! - this track was one of two The Weeknd released at the very end of that month. The other, "Heartless", reached number 1 in the US, but I much prefer "Blinding Lights", probably because it was co-written and co-produced by Max Martin.

1. "Never Let You Go" by Georgia

Her single "About Work The Dancefloor" wound up on lots of year-end lists (and can be found lower down my top 100), but it was the follow-up by British singer Georgia Barnes that did it for me. Boasting the year's most uplifting chorus, which reminds me for some reason of Tegan & Sara's "Closer", and a "Hungry Like The Wolf" synth pattern, "Never Let You Go" is unqestionably my favourite track of the year.

My top 200 for 2019 in full:

1          NEVER LET YOU GO Georgia
2          BLINDING LIGHTS The Weeknd
3          WISH YOU WELL Sigala featuring Becky Hill
4          I’LL BE YOUR GIRL Carly Rae Jepsen
5          TOKYO White Lies
6          ALL THE SONGS Will Young
7          DON’T LEAVE ME LONELY Mark Ronson featuring YEBBA
8          LIGHTNING Bag Raiders featuring The Kite String Tangle
9          WHITE LIES M-22
10        LATE NIGHT FEELINGS / KRYSTAL KLEAR MIX Mark Ronson featuring Lykke Li
11        DON’T START NOW Dua Lipa
12        YOU AND I LÉON
13        FASTER TO NOWHERE The Lovers Of Valdaro
14        HIGHER LOVE Kygo x Whitney Houston
15        THE REAL THING Client Liaison
16        SOMEBODY WANTS The Lovers Of Valdaro
17        TORN Ava Max
19        NOWHERE TO GO Hayden James featuring NAATIONS
20        FANTASY Sofi Tukker
21        LET YOU Cheryl
22        TOO LATE FOR LOVE John Lundvik
23        DON’T FEEL LIKE CRYING Sigrid
24        TO THE END Elliphant
25        SPARKING MY FIRE Sachi featuring Roe
26        SOLID GOLD PNAU featuring Kira Divine and Marques Toliver
27        BODY BACK Gryffin featuring Maia Wright
28        NO GOOD Ally Brooke
29        RED IS THE WAY Xenomania presents Paige Cavell
31        IN THE MIDDLE (SAD BANGER) Chlöe Howl
32        SHADOWS Alphabeat
33        SUCKER Jonas Brothers
34        MY LOVE Will Young
35        DON’T CALL ME UP Mabel
36        ALL DAY AND NIGHT Jax Jones & Martin Solveig present Europa
37        MINE RIGHT NOW Sigrid
38        YOU AND I Owl Eyes
39        PIECES OF US Mark Ronson featuring King Princess
40        SPELL Hot Chip
41        NOW THAT I FOUND YOU Carly Rae Jepsen
42        FOREVER Will Young
43        STUFF LIKE THAT Bananarama
44        I REMEMBER Betty Who
45        I COULD GET USED TO THIS Becky Hill & Weiss
46        FUTURE NOSTALGIA Dua Lipa
47        SO GOOD (DISCOMIX) Kohib featuring Dagny
49        BAGGAGE Gryffin, Gorgon City, AlunaGeorge
50        I’M ON FIRE Bananarama
51        GO HARD Olly Murs
52        LOST Clara Mae
53        MY SALVATION Lighthouse Family
54        HUNGRY CHILD Hot Chip
55        BACK & FORTH MK, Jonas Blue & Becky Hill
56        EYES OFF YOU M-22 with Arlissa & Kiana Ledé
58        NICE TO MEET YA (DIPLO REMIX) Niall Horan
59        RECORD COLLECTION Kaiser Chiefs
60        SORRY Joel Corry
61        FRESH LAUNDRY Allie X
62        VIOLENCE Grimes & i_o
63        ALL THE TIME Zara Larsson
64        CHANGING Becky Hill
65        BETTER Emma Jensen
66        HIGH HEELS Melanie C featuring Sink The Pink
67        WHO DO U LOVE? MONSTA X featuring French Montana
68        STRANGER LOVE Capulets
70        TAKE YOU HOME Dido
71        GONE Charli XCX & Christine And The Queens
72        NOT YOUR TYPE Ria Mae
73        THE POWER Duke Dumont featuring Zak Abel
75        WANT YOU IN MY ROOM Carly Rae Jepsen
76        RIDE ON TIME (79 DISCO MIX) Black Box
77        SUMMER LOVER Oliver Heldens featuring Devin & Nile Rodgers
78        NAKED ALONE L Devine & INDIIA
79        AN OPEN MIND Pet Shop Boys
80        GET ME DANCING Will Young
81        FLOWERS DJ Spoony featuring Sugababes
82        THINKIN’ BOUT YOU Ciara
83        WORLD BELOW Raindear
84        FOOL FOR LOVE Nadine Coyle
85        HEAL ME Grace Carter
86        SALT Amy Peters
87        ANOTHER LIFETIME Luxxury & Scavenger Hunt
88        FRIDAY MOTi featuring JGUAR
89        FIND U AGAIN Mark Ronson featuring Camila Cabello
90        ARE YOU LONELY Steve Aoki & Alan Walker featuring ISÁK
91        THE HUMAN STONE KDA featuring Angie Stone
92        HIDE Franky Wah featuring Robinson
93        LOVING U Initial Talk & ILY
94        MELODY OF LOVE Hot Chip
95        I WANT YOU Wrabel
97        THE BEAT SUPREME Client Liaison
98        WHY DON’T YOU JUST CALL ME Antony & Cleopatra
99        CASTLES Freya Ridings
100      ROOMS Self Esteem
101      RITUAL Tiësto, Jonas Blue & Rita Ora
102      SALT Ava Max
103      STILL SLEEPING Jai Wolf
104      BORED Julie Bergan
105      SOMEONE NEW Astrid S
106      TURKISH DELIGHT Roses Gabor
107      WOLVES Shining
108      LA Boy Harsher 
109      TIME AFTER TIME Franky Wah featuring Jessie Ware
110      THE HUNGER Bat For Lashes
111      HERE WITH ME Marshmello featuring CHVRCHES
112      BLOODLINE Fallulah
113      ALL MY FRIENDS Madeon
114      ANOTHER PLACE Bastille & Alessia Cara
115      GOTTA GET UP Moody
116      FEELIN’ RIGHT Eli Moon
117      HARDER Jax Jones featuring Bebe Rexha
118      DREAMLAND Pet Shop Boys featuring Years & Years
119      NEW YORK CITY Kylie Minogue
121      SCREAM Ivey
122      POWER IS POWER SZA, The Weeknd & Travis Scott
123      OH JULIAN Junior Brielle
124      777 KDL featuring Ferras
125      ALL THIS LOVE Robin Schulz featuring Harlœ
126      SUPERNOVA Kosling & Blackcode featuring Alessa
127      CHAMPAGNE AFFECTION Client Liaison
128      NOW I’M IN IT Haim
129      BAD AS THE BOYS Tove Lo featuring ALMA
130      JECKYLL & HIDE Bishop Briggs
131      GIMME Banks   
132      SUPERPOWER Adam Lambert
133      THINK ABOUT US Little Mix featuring Ty Dolla $ign
135      BODIES Ivey
136      ONLY HUMAN Jonas Brothers
137      JULIEN Carly Rae Jepsen
138      BOYFRIEND Charlotte OC
139      HELLO HAPPINESS Chaka Khan
140      DO NOT DISTURB Mahalia
141      DON’T HURT LIKE IT USED TO Grace Carter
142      DANCING WITH A STRANGER Sam Smith / Normani
143      REALLY DON’T LIKE U Tove Lo featuring Kylie Minogue
144      NO MORE Nimmo
145      HOSPITALIZED Broods
146      CYCLES Besomorph
147      TIMEBOMB Walk The Moon
148      WITHOUT A BLUSH Hatchie
149      OMG Gryffin with Carly Rae Jpesen
150      ONLY IF YOU WANT IT Magdalena Bay
152      ABOUT YOU Otto Knows
153      PEACH Broods
155      PARTYING ON MY OWN Alexina
156      SOMEBODY Bodin
157      I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU Jung
158      BONES Moyka
159      LOVE Simon Curtis
160      PROPHET King Princess
161      ANY OTHER WAY Jens
162      LOST IN THE FIRE Gesaffelstein featuring The Weeknd
164      TEENAGE MINDS Jubël
166      NO GOODBYE Paul Kalkbrenner
168      NOW OR NEVER Beverley Knight
169      DANCE MUSIC Bananarama
170      NO PLACE Backstreet Boys
171      ZERO GRAVITY Kate Miller-Heidke
172      FLAMES SG Lewis featuring Ruel
173      I TRIED Yaeger
174      KARMA Robinson
175      ONE TIME Vera Hotsauce
176      CRAVING ISA
178      BETTER BY MYSELF Hey Violet
180      FEEL IT Gia Woods
181      HEAL Jax Anderson
184      THE FIRST ONE Astrid S
185      SAVE ROOM FOR US Tinashe featuring MAKJ
186      TRUE LOVE Ariana And The Rose
187      GOOD INTENTIONS Magdalena Bay
189      BODY TO BODY Lilly Ahlberg
190      BLAME IT ON YOUR LOVE Charli XCX featuring Lizzo
191      SOMETHING HAS TO CHANGE The Japanese House
192      CALLING YOU Peachy Pavement
193      WASTE MY TIME Silver Sphere
195      LACK OF LOVE Friendly Fires
196      LET YOU KNOW Flume featuring London Grammar
197      SELFISH Jessica Mauboy
198      FAVOURITE THING Fleur East
199      I’M SO TIRED… Lauv / Troye Sivan
200      ANOTHER LOVER Leland

And here it is as a Spotify playlist:

Coming up in January 2020, I'll be carrying on my 25 Years Ago... posts into 1995, and I'll jump way back to recap the Australian singles charts from 1980.

1979 II 1980 II 1981 II 1982 II 1983 II 1984 II 1985 II 1986 II 1987 II 1988 II 1989
1990 II 1991 II 1992 II 1993 II 1994 II 1995 II 1996 II 1997 II 1998 II 1999
2000 II 2001 II 2002 II 2003 II 2004 II 2005 II 2006 II 2007 II 2008 II 2009
2010 II 2011 II 2012 II 2013 II 2014 II 2015 II 2016 II 2017 II 2018 II 2019

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