The criteria for my favourite songs exists somewhere, like an unwritten constitution, or probably more like that emoji whose brain is scrambled.
It’s a little of how much I played and enjoyed them. It’s a lot about about how many feels and thinks I had about them – and how much I felt compelled to talk about them.
I opt for ‘favourite’ because – unlike ‘best’ – no one’s more qualified to decide this than me. There are undoubtedly ‘better’ songs than some of these (not #1 tho, no way). But what’s the point of a ‘best’ song if i didn’t wholly love it?
The caveated exception: I haven’t heard every song. I’ll even admit my favourite song of 2018 would probably retrospectively be Empress Of’s When I’m With Him – a gloriously textured tune I only heard this year.
My podcast will dive into the top 10/20 in more forensic emotional detail …. but here’s 20 words or less on each of the 50 as of the time of writing.
Playlist links for Apple and Spotify at the bottom.
50. Adore You – Harry Styles
I get the Harry Styles thing now. This song is luxurious high class tender pop. Blissful.
49. Love Has All Been Done Before – Jade Bird
I dig the angsty playful kiss off vibe of this song – it’s a combo that requires a deft touch.
48. Follow God – Kanye West
A shining light on Jesus is King. Wish the album was more of this – i.e. ‘the old Kanye’.
47. Tuesday Feelings – Blood Orange feat. Tinashe
These two always make magic together. One of many sweet ’n smooth R&B tracks in 2019.
46. In My Room – Frank Ocean
Didn’t like DHL so much, but this second non-album single really delivered (get it?).
45. Cross You Out – Charli XCX feat. Sky Ferreira
A pairing of pop music’s most compelling misfits found a suitably strong, epic harmony.
44. Don’t Call Me Up – Mabel
Mabel makes excellent singles. Last year’s Fine Line and this now absolute pop stomper.
43. Late Night Feelings – Mark Ronson feat. Lykke Li
The year’s biggest grower is an after dark emotional tug of war and oh so relatable.
42. Downhill Lullaby – Sky Ferreira
A stomping string-fuelled epic by she who does dark balladry best. Bring on album #2 ASAP.
41. 10% – Kaytranada feat. Kali Uchis
A track that manages to be 100% of each of my favourite K’s. Slinky and sassy.
40. Only Human – KT
I owe Peggy Gou for the 4am intro to this remix of a Nelly Furtado B-side. A highlight of my year.
39. Alewife – Clairo
I owe Song Exploder for the intro to this song and her brilliantly lush thoughtful album. Check it out.
38. Sweet Spot – Kim Petras
The sound of late 90s French House (Modjo, Stardust) with some extra millennial feminine gloss.
37. Never Really Over – Katy Perry
A pulsating baseline and a jolting sonic change-up are just two of my favourite things. Both present.
36. Starry Night – Peggy Gou
My newest fave DJ earns the 2019 Oscar for best original club track.
35. Tempo – Lizzo feat. Missy Elliott
“100% that bitch” and “that bitch y’all slept on” (Pass that Dutch) serve us a thick-shake and it’s damn delicious.
34. Con Altura – Rosalia & J Balvin feat. El Guincho
Making it no longer possible for English speakers to avoid Spanish music. Magnetic, electrifying stuff.
33. Gimme – Banks
Banks makes some of the most compelling experimental music and yet still sounds pop at its core.
32. Don’t Start Now – Dua Lipa
The disco and lyrical nod to I Will Survive elevate this already stellar dance pop dynamo.
31. Stay Flo – Solange
It’s hard to pick one standout from this album. This was the most instantaneously delightful.
30. Motivation – Normani
After two excellent duets, Normani delivers a solo masterclass. PS. The video is fire.
29. Dirty Laundry – Danny Brown
Q-Tip on the beat and rap’s most inventive narrator make this track feel like a movie.
28. Incapable – Roisin Murphy
Roisin brings some disco and all the big lyrical feels – “I must be incapable of love”.
27. There Will Be Blood – Kim Petras
Annual slasher banger from her second Halloween mixtape (also see Close Your Eyes).
26. Taste – Kaytranada feat VanJess
Love the funk and sultry wordplay – “if you want a taste/bring something to plate”.
25. Stormy Weather – Tinashe
The textures and norm-bending sonic landscape of this song fills me with deep dark joy.
24. I’m In It – Haim
Like the best bit from Katy Perry’s Never Really Over in one extended cut.
23. Deep End – Lykke Li (alt version)
From her remixed album, proving that Lykke’s music is so sad/so sexy-iest when stripped bare.
22. Jasmine – Jai Paul
It’s 10 years old or so, but finally this unsuspecting romantic jam was officially released.
21. Bloodline – Ariana Grande
One of many standouts on TUN, but easily the one that most hooks you in.
20. Anytime – Jean Deaux (feat. Kehlani & ROMderful)
A delorean back to 90s neo-soul, this new era of Chicago talent continues to blow my mind.
19. So Hot Your Hurting My Feelings – Caroline Polachek
What a sentiment, what a song – “can’t deal”. She out Haim’d Haim at their own game.
18. Thotiana (remix) – Blueface feat Cardi B & YG
25% for the beat/chorus. 75% for the Cardi verse. Mimosas, CPR, plan B, ‘nuf said.
17. Gloria – Tierra Whack
More eccentric elegance from the queen of Whack World. This beat – and artist – is so loveable.
16. Too Much – Carly Rae Jepsen
CRJ’s music is evolving splendidly. This is just too goddamn much. Gorgeously vulnerable.
15. Norman F******g Rockwell – Lana Del Ray
There is some Fiona Apple bad-ass wordplay to this deep beauty. From the opening line, it stings.
14. Playing Games – Summer Walker feat. Bryson Tiller
00s R&B is revived, right down the Destiny’s Child throwback. Bryson Tiller’s verse is also divine.
13. Hot Girl Summer – Megan Thee Stallion feat Nicki Minaj & Ty Dollar $ign
A catchphrase cum song, then anthem. But really it’s a way of life and MTS is the leader.
12. Find U Again – Mark Ronson feat. Camilla Cabello
Probably my most played song of the year. HA! Maybe it’s cheesy. Definitely it’s a bop.
11. Bad Guy – Billie Eilish
How this weird and wonderful song works, no one knows. Not even slightly sick of it, one bit.
10. Gold Teeth – Blood Orange feat. Project Pat, Gangsta Boo & Tinashe
Love every single second and moment on this. Dev Hynes created something truly special.
9. Face – Niia
Niia’s 2016 LP ‘i’ is criminally overlooked. Face goes one step further – issa decadent soundtrack.
8. Hard to Believe – Kindness feat. Jazmine Sullivan (and Sampha)
The ambience, the beat drop at 0.47 and Jazmine’s velvet vocals carry it all the way home.
7. Cruel Summer – Taylor Swift
Could have been the best song on 1989. YES, it’s THAT good. A potion of pop perfection.
6. Sad Day – FKA Twigs
A tragic fairy tale from Earth that sounds like it’s from another galaxy. Twigs at her very best.
5. Cash S**t – Megan Thee Stallion feat. DaBaby
No other track covers so much of what Megan’s rap is about: cash, sex and spitting precision bars.
4. Mile High – James Blake feat. Travis Scott
If you ever wondered how James Blake got on hip-hop’s speed dial, here’s the answer. Dreamy.
3. Beetlejuice – Mariah the Scientist
Not a single word or sentence wasted. This is how you write clever, cutting lyrics and tell a kick-ass story.
2. Mariners Apartment Complex – Lana Del Rey
Commanding boats, pondering relative ‘bests’ and “I’m your man”. Pure adulterated poetry.
1. Gone – Charli XCX & Christine and the Queens
The world will one day realise the gravity and grandeur of this song … and Charli’s vision. Hands down, the very best.
You can listen to the playlists here: