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Top 25 albums of 2019

…it’s not been a classic year really, has it

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This year may have been pretty decent for singles, but for albums? Not so much!!! There were very, very few excellent pop LPs released over the last year, but there were at least a handful with some decent bops’n’bangers in tow.

Have a look back through my 25 favourites below, and you can read up on my Top 50 Singles of 2019 here, and Top 25 Scripted TV Shows of 2019 here. Films still to follow.


25. Hurts 2B Human – P!nk

It’s odd thinking back to how much I loved P!nk’s 2012 bopfest The Truth About Love, and then kinda just… forgot about 2017’s Beautiful Trauma, and didn’t pay much attention to Hurts 2B Human when it came out earlier this year. So what changed? Not a lot, really; P!nk’s sound has kinda been the same since 2008. But! I’ve since come to appreciate that that’s no bad thing: this album is safe, yes, but in a way… that’s pretty comforting.


24. Beauty Marks – Ciara

Thinkin Bout You is one of my favourite singles of the year, and the rest of this album is pretty great as well. Is it up there with Ciara’s very best? Not quite. But with a guest appearance from Kelly Rowland and under-valued past singles Dose and Level Up, it’s impossible to dislike.


23. Songs For You – Tinashe

I won’t pretend I wasn’t mainlining Flame for months on end, but Tinashe was fucked over quite a bit by major label shenanigans, and her newfound independence is a great fit for her. Songs For You feels like the proper follow-up to Aquarius; all unrestrained creativity and vocals that sound like they’re directly from the heart.


22. Get To Know – Becky Hill

It’s essentially Now! Becky Hill, but Get To Know is a really cracking opportunity to appreciate just how many HITS this under-appreciated artist has quietly notched up over the last few years. The new stuff is brilliant too (I especially love Stranger), proving that – while she’s already achieved so much in the eight(!!!!) years since The Voice – Becky is still only just getting started.


21. GIRL – Maren Morris

I was expecting a bit more of a pivot to Full Pop after the monumental success of The Middle, but GIRL is still a solid record. Song For Everything might be a bit too ~basic for some but I bloody love it, and Flavour is a BIG MOOD.


20. Head Above Water – Avril Lavigne

Fun fact: Avril Lavigne has still never put out a bad album. This latest offering certainly isn’t as “hit”-packed as its predecessors, and there is a liiiiittle bit of a sag in places (Dumb Blonde? Whew!!!), but the best stuff is awesome: the dramatic Tell Me It’s Over is the highlight, while the title track is up there with her best ballads, and Souvenir is lovable enough to fit on 2002’s Let Go.


19. Madame X – Madonna

It’s the best of times, it’s the worst of times: Madame X stumbles a bit in places, but when it’s good, it’s fantastic. God Control has rightly become a huge fan favourite, and Medellín is my favourite Madge lead single since Hung Up. And ultimately, as flawed as this may be in places, it’s still so exciting and inspiring to hear someone overflowing with creativity after this long in the game.


18. Sucker Punch – Sigrid

I had higher expectations from this, but Sucker Punch is still so much better than a lot of people gave it credit for. In fact, apart from Don’t Feel Like Crying (which, to be fair, did its job charts-wise), there aren’t any outright bad songs. The title track is among her best ever, and Basic, Mine Right Now and Never Mine are also big treats.


17. Charli – Charli XCX

It’s been a great year for Charli, in fairness: White Mercedes is a stunning semi-ballad, Blame It On Your Love is a stellar Lizzo-ified update on Track 10, and Gone – with Christine and the Queens – could be her best-ever cut. I can’t say I’ve gone back and listened to this album end-to-end again since its release, but I did really like it.


16. Slayyyter – Slayyyter

Have you ever seen the movie Music And Lyrics from the mid-2000s, in which Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore have to write a song for a Britney-style popstar? Not gonna lie, this album reminded me a lot of the sort of ‘semi-parody’ songs that popstar does; or the kind of send-up of the genre you’d hear on The Other Two or from Alexis on Schitt’s Creek. I do like it and it is really good!!!!!!! But since that thought crossed my mind, I haven’t been able to un-think it.


15. Courage – Celine Dion

Just a load of well-made, efficient pop songs; being sung perfectly by one of the greatest vocalists of all time. Nothing more, nothing less.


14. WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? – Billie Eilish

I can’t say that I’ve truly ~cOnNeCtEd~ emotionally with the music of Billie Eilish, but fucking hell, what a talent. I’m in awe. She has undoubtedly left a huge footprint on music in 2019 and I’m sure she’s set the pace for a lot of what we’re going to hear in 2020. This is a very well executed debut album.


13. Lexicon – Will Young

It’s no surprise whatsoever that this album is truly beautiful in places. The likes of Dreaming Big and lead single All The Songs are the big favourites for me, and the vocals are stunning as ever. What a treat to still have Will being an excellent popstar after all this time! A king!!


12. Sunshine Kitty – Tove Lo

There’s a LOT to love on Sunshine Kitty, even if it’s not the kind of all-out slam-dunk Tove Lo has given us in the past. Final song Anywhere U Go is the highlight; while lead single Glad He’s Gone, Kylie(!!!) duet Really Don’t Like U and Jax Jones team-up Jacques also hit the spot. Tove has done a lot more for pop music this decade than she’s been given credit for.


11. Doom Days – Bastille

You know what I forgot until recently: when Bastille first came out, I was a massive fan. That Bad Blood album? A triumph!!! Since then, I don’t know if their quality of output slipped or I just got wrapped up in… I dunno, being gay… but I heard Doom Days very recently and loved them all over again. Dan Smith is an underrated force for good.


10. LOVE + FEAR – Marina

There is a lot of EMOTION on this album, which made it a bit hard to get my head around on first listen; but it is another fine showcase of Marina’s songwriting talents. LOVE + FEAR is heavy-going at times but there’s some great work on here; Orange Trees, Handmade Heaven and Clean Bandit bop Baby among the standouts.


09. Cuz I Love You – Lizzo

Even if the strike rate dips a bit in the second half, Cuz I Love You still has enough 10/10 songs on it to make the other pop girls WEEP with jealousy. Cuz I Love You into Like A Girl into Juice into Soulmate into Jerome? Your fave could only DREAM of it! Tempo is awesome too, and of course the addition of ye olde Truth Hurts to the deluxe edition was a smart move for obvious reasons. This has felt like the Year of Lizzo in pop culture, and deservedly so.


08. Fine Line – Harry Styles

Harry found his way around a good melody on his second album, a strong improvement on his promising debut. Recent single Adore You is just divine, while Lights Up rightly turned a lot of heads and Falling is UGH beautiful. I still haven’t decided if Treat People With Kindness is atrocious or fantastic, but if it’s going round your head for days at a time then that’s at least a small win, right?


07. Dedicated – Carly Rae Jepsen

Dismissed and forgotten by many people for just Not Being Emotion, Dedicated does have a lot going for it: Too Much, Want You In My Room, The Sound, Right Words Wrong Time, Party For One, Happy Not Knowing… plenty to keep any self-respecting millennial gay fed and watered! There are duds too, of course (No Drug Like Me says good afternoon!) but in a year almost entirely devoid of perfect albums, you can do a lot worse than this.


06. Norman Fucking Rockwell – Lana Del Rey

Listen, I won’t lie to you, I’ve found it hard to fall as deeply in love with this as The Masses, which I think is just because I have very basic taste and this is a much quieter and less hook-filled affair than I’m used to. But! The quality of songwriting is outstanding, and this is easily my favourite Lana album since Born To Die. This album feels like a real moment.


05. Pang – Caroline Polachek

I hadn’t even heard of Caroline before this year (I know, I know), but Pang has me all-in. So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings is a great bop, the title track is delicious and Door is also a standout. Thank you to whoever introduced this artist to my ears.


04. The Sun Will Come Up, The Seasons Will Change – Nina Nesbitt

I didn’t realise how much I loved this album until I put this list together, and realised I’d listened to it much more than the most “critically” “lauded” records of the year. It’s a very strong pop collection in that it’s got the perfect blend of catchy, infectious bops, and more introspective, emotive ballads – and it does all that without ever crossing into Boring.


03. Saves The World – MUNA

No such thing as a Difficult Second Album for MUNA: Saves The World is another triumph, perhaps even more emotionally devastating than 2017’s About U. Katie Gavin is an absolutely fantastic lead, and the trio’s songs tackle complicated emotional dilemmas beautifully. Stayaway, for example, isn’t about the dramatic act of ending a relationship but struggling with the empty aftermath of it; and Taken is a frank admission of wanting to steal someone else’s partner in a misguided bid for self-worth. But it’s not entirely made up of depressing ballads: Number One Fan is a fun pep-talk to yourself, while Good News (Ya-Ya Song) is a pure shot of hands-in-the-air catharsis. Brilliant stuff.


02. Lover – Taylor Swift

I was so relieved when Lover turned out to be really good: it’s long, yes, but actually Me! and You Need To Calm Down are the only songs I could properly do without (now that London Boy has become semi-ironically accepted as a gem). Cruel Summer is poised to be one of the best singles of 2020 if given the release it deserves, while the title track is one of Taylor’s finest love songs, Cornelia Street still makes me a bit emotional, Paper Rings is a riot, The Man is super clever, and False God is the kind of vibey territory I’d love her to play with more in the future. As for I Think He Knows and Death By A Thousand Cuts, they are simply two of the best tracks she’s ever made, if you ask me. Of course this doesn’t top 1989 (what will?!?!?!?!), but it comes a lot closer than I expected.


01. thank u, next – Ariana Grande

How do you follow-up a great album if your name is Ariana Grande? By releasing an even better one less than a year later, apparently. thank u, next is the sound of a star at the very height of her superpowers; firing off mature, trap-infused pop with an assured confidence, making it all sound incredibly easy. This is an album that has you dancing one minute and crying the next; the likes of NASA, 7 rings and the title track keeping toes tapping while fake smile and ghostin are full-on emotional assaults. Elsewhere, break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored (Christ these lower-case titles are a pain!!!) is one of the year’s best singles, and those whistle notes on imagine are still jaw-dropping. Where the everloving fuck does she go from here?!

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Playlisted 2020, week 3: At least this hellish month is delivering bops

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Q1 is truly the new Q4, it seems: there was a lot of good stuff out this week, not just in terms of singles but albums too (Halsey, Louise, Gabrielle Aplin), though I haven’t really deep-dived (deep-diven? deep-dove?) into those just yet.

Anyway here are the eight, yes eight!!!, new songs I’m adding to my rolling all-important (…) 2020 playlist this week. Said playlist is here if you want to keep track (it’s also embedded at the bottom of the post), and here’s the best from last week.


Bikini Porn – Tove Lo

Sun-soaked hedonism is a strange flavour for bleakest January but obviously I’m more than happy to gobble up anything Tove Lo serves, and this is possibly my favourite new track of the week. Co-written and produced with Finneas O’Connell, I love the slightly dark edge the production gives the otherwise fun lyrics – thanks mainly to that thick vocoder-heavy backing vocal. Addictive.


Disco – Cheerbleederz

A song that rivals Staying Up Late for the title of Cheerbleederz’ Best Song Yet, Disco’s topline is its greatest asset; a charming melody + lyric combo supported by gorgeous harmonies and windows-down-wind-in-your-hair guitars.


In The Afternoon – Josef Salvat

Not to be dramatic but after the incredible Modern Anxiety, this is simply another completely lush, bullseye-hitting assault on the SOUL. In The Afternoon – which is fantastic in either its English or French carnations! – has an absolute butterfly-rush of a chorus and Josef’s voice sounds dreamy on the higher ad-libs towards the end.


New Me – Ella Eyre

‘Lol’ that I first heard this on Thursday and dismissed it as an overly chaotic mess, and then spent most of yesterday getting my fucking life to it. The post-chorus bit is just great, isn’t it?! I really can’t call if New Me will be a hit or not (for all her success, Ella has never reached the Top 10 on a song that’s not a collaboration), but I hope it is. 2020 marks five years (!!!) since the Feline album and I’m ready for her to start regaining some serious momentum.


Comme Des Garçons (Like The Boys) – Rina Sawayama

For anyone uninitiated, this is a great Rina gateway song, and I say that because… it was my Rina gateway song. I finally gave her a proper look after seeing people rave about her on the ol’ Twitter timeline, and friends, I was not disappointed (although loads of her past stuff is ringing bells so I must have checked her out before and forgotten, who knows). This is the sound I think Dua Lipa’s gunning for on her new era, but I have a suspicion – quality-wise, at least – Rina will out-do her.


Me & You Together Song – The 1975

We’re back in Chocolate-style territory here; a ballpark that Lawson wouldn’t have turned their nose up at eight years ago. The melody on the verses is actually a bit What I Go To School For-y, isn’t it? It’s nice to hear a sugary, uplifting, American Pie soundtrack-friendly love song from this lot; a much-needed shot of heart after a hellish couple of weeks in Global Events.


What A Man Gotta Do – Jonas Brothers

Sucker was huge for the reformed JoBros last year, and while I highly doubt What A Man Gotta Do will hit the same heights, it more than justifies the guys’ potential for a serious long-term comeback. The brilliant Jess Agombar of ex-Parade fame is on the writing credits, and I am very happy to generate her some streaming royalties!


Bury Us – The Naked And Famous

TNAF are one of those acts who never come to mind when I think of my favourites, but I’m always very pleased to hear from them. Bury Us isn’t quite as incredible as I thought it might have been after the intro and first verse, but it’s still a very welcome return.


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Playlisted 2020, weeks 1 and 2: Here are the first nine decent songs of the decade

Q1 is the new Q4

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I tried this in 2019 but I had too many plates spinning to keep it up beyond early March… so let’s see how we get on in big old 2020 (I managed to see the 100 Songs of the Decade thing through to the very end, right?!?!)

As I know many people do, each year I start a playlist on Spotify on which I add any and all good pop songs as-and-when they’re released. It comes in very useful in December when trying to remember the year-end best-of, I tell ya.

So once again I’ll try and get into the habit of writing every weekend about the songs that I’m adding; which I’m sure some weeks will be just one song and others will be fucking tonnes, but who doesn’t love unpredictability?!?!

You can follow Playlisted 2020 on Spotify here if you so choose. Last year I added 183 songs to the 2019 one, so be warned IT’LL GET LENGTHY!

I didn’t even think to kick this off last weekend (lol, good start) so strap in; we’re doing Weeks 1 and 2 in one post. Here are the first good songs of 2020, and the first to qualifty for THE PLAYLIST. Firstly, the two I would have written about last weekend if I had my wits about me:


Miss You 2 – Gabrielle Aplin and Nina Nesbitt

I ended the decade being much more ~into Gabrielle Aplin and Nina Nesbitt than I ever would have expected when they first came “on the scene”; Gabrielle winning me over with Waking Up Slow and Nina delivering one of the few genuinely great pop albums of last year. And while I’m actually not familiar with the original Miss You, this sequel(?) is a great little moody, waft-a-long semi-ballad that packs an effective electro-oriented edge whilst keeping the trusty piano front-and-centre. I can’t say I’ve had this on repeat since it dropped last week but I’ve certainly enjoyed it while it’s been on, yaknow?


Wrong Direction – Hailee Steinfeld

Can you believe it’s nearly HALF a DECADE since Hailee’s debut single; fifth best song of the decade Love Myself? Frustratingly, it still doesn’t feel like she’s gained much ongoing momentum, and 2019 was especially quiet for her music-wise – but Wrong Direction’s appearance on New Year’s Day indicates that maybe 2020 will be more fruitful.

It’s not a banger, of course, and if it’s not about Niall Horan then someone somewhere certainly knew what they were doing with that title. I also don’t really see how it’s going to do the business numbers-wise (perhaps Lose You To Love Me was the blueprint), but I think Hailee’s vocals are delivered beautifully and it’s my favourite release of hers since Colour. It’s really clicked with me in the last few days.


And now to the best of this week’s crop:

Make U Cry – Torine

Here it is! The first all-out bop of the decade. I don’t think I’ve come across Torine before – Spotify says this is only her third single – but you can bet I’ll be going back to catch-up now, yessir!!

I love the topline on this, and the way the first chorus effectively edges you right up until you’re half-way through it. Comparisons are lazy, I know, but if you need a quick sell: it’s Sigrid meets Sorry I’m Late-era Cher Lloyd, while vocally we’re not a million miles away from HRH Zara Larsson.

I’m obsessed with this; my first Repeat One direct-hit of the year.


Diamonds – Megan Thee Stallion & Normani

Hope it’s not too reductive to compare the Birds of Prey soundtrack to the Charlie’s Angels soundtrack considering they are similar projects for similar-genre movies – but if you were to compare Diamonds to Don’t Call Me Angel, this would be an EASY win.

I’m so excited for both of these artists, especially Normani, to completely conquer the year ahead; and this is a fantastic start. I had this blasting in the car to Tesco’s yesterday (yes, I’m a local, what of it!!) and WHEW!!!

Also: a VIDEO.


You Should Be Sad – Halsey

Halsey’s new album Manic is out next week and you can count me very much in as far as excitement is concerned. This song is a big, big mood; I love all the harmonies, the little topline flourishes, the jarring blast of synthesised guitar over the otherwise simple acoustic-led backing… excellent work from Greg Kurstin, and eeeeexcellent work from Halsey. Props also for the Shania leopard-print outfit in the video.


Rare – Selena Gomez

The title track (and latest single) from the first blockbuster pop album of the year, Rare returns us to the sparse Bad Liar type of pop Selena has proven form with. And as with the likes of Bad Liar, the lyrics are witty and quirky (“Saw us getting older, burning toast in the toaster”) – and now there’s even what sounds like a dobro wailing away in the background. It’s Very Selena Gomez, and it’s Very Good.


24 Hours – Georgia

Georgia also has an album out this week, and 24 Hours doesn’t – on first listen, anyway – quiiiiite smash the bullseye in the same way as About Work The Dancefloor, but I love the slightly woozy chorus and the pulsating production. I haven’t properly deep-dived into the album yet but… well, it’s hardly gonna be shit, is it?


Better Off Without You – Becky Hill feat. Shift K3Y

The chorus is a bit of a sledgehammer to the face after the sweet promise of the intro and verses, but I really like this from Becky Hill; who now seems to have found her home in reliable, enormous dance music. As a pop subgenre, This Sort Of Thing isn’t necessarily my favourite, but I’m always rooting for Becky and I hope this is a big hit for her.


Stop This Flame – Celeste

The BBC Sound of 2020 winner will have a lot of eyes on her now, and Stop This Flame is an irresistibly rousing track to introduce those who are just getting to know her. The iconique oneofthosefaces NMF round-up yesterday said this is the stuff of Jools Holland – not in a bad way! – which is spot-on. As such I’m not sure if it’s the kind of thing I’ll come back and actively seek out over the next week, but goodforher.gif.


Here’s the playlist, btw:

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100 Songs of the Decade

The best bops, bangers and ballads from 2010-2019

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What are we even calling this decade? The tens? The teens? In 2009 some madmen were floating “the tenners” but… I mean that was never a thing, right?

Whatever it is, I’ve marked it by doing the only two things I can do: be extra, and make a list.

If you’ve just joined me: one song a day for the last 100 days of the year, I’ve written about my personal favourite pop singles from January 2010 to the present. Mostly in no particular order, except the Top 10. Follow the Spotify playlist here, and there’s also one on YouTube here.

Click through the list below for “thorough” “analyses” of the songs covered.












Here were the first 90 songs, delivered in no particular order:

You can follow the rolling playlist on Spotify here.

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