Topher’s Top 100 Tracks of 2019
100. Antlerhead – Ok
99. Aly & AJ – Church
98. Bishop Briggs – CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?
97. Brittany Howard – He Loves Me
96. Maple & Beech – Under My Nose
95. Tame Impala – Patience
94. Vacay Nick – Good Riddance
93. Doja Cat – Say So
92. JAC – Thick
91. liily – Sepulveda Basin
90. Graham The Empire – It’s What You Do
89. Taylor Swift – The Man
88. flor – slow motion
87. Anderson .Paak – Reachin’ 2 Much
86. Ozomatli – El Otro Lado
85. BROCKHAMPTON – IF YOU PRAY RIGHT
84. Bicurious – I Don’t Do Drugs, I Just Sweat a Lot
83. Katie Pruitt – Expectations
82. clipping. – Nothing Is Safe
81. Paco Versailles – Lilac Moon
79. Danny Brown – Best Life
78. Vampire Weekend – Flower Moon
77. Hobo Johnson – I want a dog
76. COIN – Let It All Out (10:05)
75. The National – Light Years
74. Jeremiah Stokes – Escapism
73. Daniella Mason – Get Me Out of My Head
72. E. VINCENT – Hours
69. Dreamville – Down Bad
68. James Blake – Tell Them
67. Billie Eilish – all the good girls go to hell
66. Finish Ticket – Black Horse
65. The Band Royale – Loose Lips Sink Ships
62. Cage the Elephant – House of Glass
61. Hoops – They Say
60. Ghost Soul Trio – Circles
59. Red Hearse – Red Hearse
58. PVRIS – Old Wounds
57. Steve Lacy – Playground
55. White Reaper – Might Be Right
54. Sirius Blvck – Woah!
53. liily – Wash
52. Leslie Odom Jr. – Under Pressure
51. Making Movies – Delilah
50. Hozier – Dinner & Diatribes
48. Lizzo – Tempo
47. Moby Rich – Currents
45. White Reaper – Saturday
44. Matt Maeson – Legacy
43. Kanye West – Closed On Sunday
42. Hobo Johnson – Typical Story
41. ROSALÍA – Milionària
40. Emma Peridot – Bones
39. The Maine – Broken Parts
38. Silversun Pickups – Freakazoid
37. Maggie Rogers – Retrograde
36. Noah Gundersen – So What
35. Coldplay – Orphans
34. Sarob – Scales
33. The Band Royale – Surf Kings
32. Juan Luis Guerra 4.40 – Kitipun
31. Finish Ticket – Dream Song
30. Brittany Howard – History Repeats
29. The Maine – Numb Without You
28. Vampire Weekend – Harmony Hall
27. Noah Gundersen – Lover
25. FINNEAS – I Lost a Friend
2019 was a breakout year for pop sensation Billie Eilish, but it was actually her brother and producer who wrote one of the best songs of the year. “I Lost a Friend” is a chilling, contemplative tune chock full of quotable one-liners, showcasing FINNEAS’ talented songwriting on full display.
24. Monica Moser – Shortcut
Throughout the year there were several songs for me that I wish I‘d discovered right after they released instead of months after the fact, but Monica Moser’s lone single from 2019 is the most notable of them. Sonically “Shortcut” is full-bodied and yet somehow feels minimalistic at the same time, a feat I quite honestly didn’t think possible. It also epitomizes the term “low key bop,” a pattern I just recently began noticing in music.
23. Harry Styles – Adore You
Speaking of bops, Harry Styles released the bop of the year with “Adore You.” The third single from his sophomore LP grooves, rocks, and will make you want to sing along just about as much as you’ll want to dance to it. It’s by far the strongest of the singles released from Fine Line, and I would also argue that it holds the title for best music video of the year.
22. Bonelang – Yellow Teeth Da Di
2019 was big for Chicago-based duo Bonelang, who finally released their long-anticipated full-length debut back in June. The album’s highlight for me, “Yellow Teeth Da Di,” is this intensely percussive banger with a melodic delivery and biting rhyme schemes. It falls somewhere within the hip-hop, alternative, and indie realms, all at once.
21. The Maine – Flowers on the Grave
“You don’t plan life, you live it. You don’t take love, you give it. You can’t change what is written, so when fate cries, you listen.” These are probably my favorite lyrics from the entire year, and they aren’t even the best part of “Flowers on the Grave.” With it, The Maine closes out their seventh album in stellar fashion. The nine-minute epic boasts sweeping strings, rocking guitars, a simple yet powerful refrain, and a chilling outro that brings things on You Are OK full circle.
20. DisTinct – Colors
Even though DisTinct has since released two more tunes of his own and featured on countless others, his January single “Colors” is the one I keep coming back to. The two-part track contains significantly different beats, moods, even flows, all connected by one seamless break, roughly halfway through.
19. Durand Jones & The Indications – How Can I Be Sure
The jazzy, soulful penultimate track from this Bloomington quintet’s sophomore LP is a fun yet fierce jam that features some fantastic falsettos courtesy of drummer Aaron Frazer. “How Can I Be Sure” will make you wish for permanent warm weather, if for no other reason than to roll down your car windows and attempt to hit those same insanely high notes Frazer does.
18. Bitter Breath – Enjoy the View
On their second single, Midwest metalcore collective Bitter Breath changes tempo so many times that I eventually gave up trying to keep track. It’s something done so well and so effortlessly that it is often hard to even pick up on in the first place. Another thing that you might miss on “Enjoy the View:” its underlying beauty, specifically on the song’s chorus. But I suppose that’s to be expected with an all-out aural assault like this one.
17. Of Monsters and Men – Alligator
Icelandic indie collective Of Monsters and Men kicked off their stellar third studio album in crushing fashion: with this massive, visceral rocker that will blow all of your hair back. Other than recognizing frontwoman Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir singing lead on “Alligator,” it was hard for me to imagine this being the same songsters behind the early decade smash hits “Little Talks” and “Mountain Sound,” but I’m not mad about it.
16. THE WLDLFE – Replace It, Forget It
While 2019 was the first year we didn’t see an EP or album from THE WLDLFE, that didn’t stop the indie pop group from churning out quality tunes. In fact, their most recent single is easily the strongest song they have ever written, thanks in part to a roaring guitar line and powerful vocals, the latter of which are courtesy of singer and multi-instrumentalist Carson Hogan. Our editor Ryan called “Replace It, Forget It” the quintet’s catchiest tune yet, and I couldn’t agree more.
15. Joshua Powell – Black Lodge (water)
When I first heard Joshua Powell’s “Black Lodge (water)” over a year ago, it was in the context of his latest and greatest LP, January’s PSYCHO/TROPIC. Although it serves as the perfect preview of the album (in the rare case that you haven’t heard it by now), the haunting opener stands on its own outside the context of the record as well. After all, “Black Lodge (water)” is as subtle as it is grandiose; as epic as it is ethereal.
14. Silversun Pickups – It Doesn’t Matter Why
The lead single from Silversun Pickups’ fifth full-length (and first in nearly four years) boasts a rich string arrangement and a rocking backbeat, but what really stuck with me about “It Doesn’t Matter Why” was the simplicity and cleverness behind the lyrics. “It doesn’t matter why we’re known, we’re just known.” Touché Silversun Pickups, oh and welcome back.
13. Mini Mansions – Bad Things (That Make You Feel Good)
I was beyond ecstatic when I learned of Mini Mansions’ third LP early on in the year, even more so when the Los Angeles-based trio released this as the third single from the album. Between the desert-like roar of the guitars, the foot-stomping groove of the rhythm section, and the raspy croons of frontman Michael Shuman, it’s no wonder “Bad Things (That Make You Feel Good)” remains the highlight of Guy Walks Into a Bar….
12. Making Movies – Cómo Perdonar
Making Movies was my favorite discovery of 2017, but this year the Afro-Latino alt.-rockers handily topped that one with all the moves they made, including the release of their newest effort ameri’kana. One of three collaborations with both Flor De Toloache and Rubén Blades this year, the opening track from the record tackles the political injustices at the border, and does so over a meandering, mid-tempo shuffle that changes keys more than a few times.
11. Superlaser – Interestelar
“Un shock sonoro,” translated from Spanish as a “resounding shock” or “a surprise out of the blue:” the first sentence of their biography is precisely how I would describe Superlaser, having just caught wind of the band myself less than a month ago. I could literally just copy and paste their entire bio and it would give you a solid idea of what the Alicante-based collective has to offer now and coming in 2020. But that simply wouldn’t do them, or this song, justice. Indeed, the debut single from the five-piece, “Interestelar,” is this soaring, futuristic-sounding rock chart that will make you feel like you’re on a journey through space.
10. half•alive – Creature
Although it would be foolish to classify indie pop trio half•alive simply as a “Christian band,” it’s hard to ignore the powerful lyrics and allusions to faith made on “Creature,” particularly at the song’s conclusion. As Ryan so eloquently put it in his review of the album, it’s a bold move, both gutsy and admirable. I would even classify it as a “worship song.” (Yes, that “friend” was me.) Sonically, the closer from Now, Not Yet ebbs and flows akin to Vitals-era MUTEMATH, something that no doubt can be attributed to the song’s producer (and MM frontman) Paul Meany.
9. Noah Gundersen – Robin Williams
Isolate each verse from “Robin Williams” and you’ll have five unique but equally-profound messages. After being parsed together with this vibey instrumentation that sets the pace for much of Gundersen’s Lover, these five verses collectively become what is one of the strongest songs from the entire year.
8. Michael Kiwanuka – You Ain’t The Problem
Few feelings are better than a song that fully realizes its potential, when everything you expected or hoped for the songwriter to do has been done, and done well. So whenever songs like that do come along, it’s truly a satisfying experience. Such is the case with “You Ain’t The Problem.” Add in the fact that the expansive instrumental breaks to open and close the song make up over half of its lifespan, and it makes sense why this Michael Kiwanuka track had me anticipating his newest album for months.
7. Vampire Weekend – Sunflower
One of the first things I listen for in a song is whether it has a groove, and for this Vampire Weekend single, that happens immediately. It’s such a fun, summery tune – between the foot-tapping funkiness and the perfectly-placed scatting – that the collaboration with Steve Lacy (who makes his third appearance on this list) felt like the perfect track to lead off the Summer Grooves playlist you helped us curate back in May. Oh, and did I mention that the trippy music video was not only directed by Jonah Hill, but also features a guest cameo from Jerry Seinfeld? Millennial comedy nerds rejoice!
6. Hembree – Almost
As soon as I heard “Almost” for the first time, I knew it would be one of my favorites from the year. I was initially blown away by the brute force and intensity of House On Fire’s second single, and although that still holds true today, what impresses me more now is how the franticness of frontman Isaac Flynn’s lyrics runs perfectly in tandem with the vicious groove. It’s a theme characteristic throughout much of Hembree’s full-length debut, but most evident on “Almost.”
5. Michigander – Misery
To be filed under acts that WILL blow up in 2020: Michigander. The indie rock singer and songwriter was recently picked up by Coldplay’s booking agent, less than a year after being signed to C3 Records. He already has a single at alt. radio stations now, in addition to three stellar EP’s to his name (one of which released just a few months ago). The single, “Misery,” is a driving rocker that somehow feels both triumphant and cerebral. How Jason Singer does it, I don’t know, but it looks like all of this hard work he’s put in over the years is finally paying off.
4. Making Movies – Accidente
Just when I thought Making Movies couldn’t top “Cómo Perdonar” and were going to take a breather after the release of ameri’kana, they had to go and put out the most chilling song they’ve done yet. Not unlike “Cómo Perdonar,” the standalone single from November is this mid-tempo shuffle with a meandering bassline courtesy of Diego Chi. While it’s his brother Enrique whose powerful vocals are at the forefront, it is his own otherworldly falsettos that play a pivotal role (even more so than before) on “Accidente.”
3. Coldplay – Arabesque
As for Coldplay themselves, 2019 saw the return of the pop rock superstars with the release of their double album Everyday Life. The whole release feels ambitious, but the most daring move they’ve made (maybe ever) came with the co-lead single “Arabesque,” a sprawling left-field opus that features a rousing groove, a rambunctious horns section, and an entire verse in French thanks to a guest spot by Stromae. Everything comes to a climax on the outro, a boisterous cacophony of horns where frontman Chris Martin screams “SAME F*CKING BLOOD!” Yeah, it’s tough for anything to follow that.
2. Hembree – Culture
I heard the lead single from Hembree’s debut in the first month of the year and yet even now, a full eleven months later, the pulsing, grooving “Culture” still feels fresh, as if I’m just hearing it for the first time. It may not have the same raucous ending as “Arabesque” before it, but the alt.-rockers more than make up for it with the song’s sheer listenability. I’d be very shocked by anyone who doesn’t feel the sudden urge to tap their foot and sing along, because this one’s an absolute jam. Yes, “Culture” is handily the best single that released in 2019.
1. Noah Gundersen – Out of Time
“Out of Time” is the pinnacle of Lover, and with an album as phenomenal as this one is, that in and of itself is quite the feat. The trippy, dynamic deep cut is arguably the strongest Gundersen has written to date. No track from 2019 has stuck with me as much as this one has, so it was only logical to name “Out of Time” my song of the year.
Listen to all of the songs below on my Spotify playlist: