As we continue our journey into the new year, we must recognize the amazing year of music we experienced in 2019. Artists all over the world have provided us with new albums, singles, EPs, and tours. In order to fully appreciate the music we’ve received, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite albums from the past year. Keep in mind that this list is ultimately subjective to my personal taste, so you may disagree with a few of the albums on my list! With that being said, let’s get on with the ranking!
10. MAGDALENE by FKA Twigs Starting off my list, we have FKA Twigs’s second experimental studio album MAGDALENE, which was released in early November of 2019 after the release of three singles from the album in April, September, and October of last year. Many have described Twigs’s album as an emotional, reflective and openly honest piece of work. The album has also been highly acclaimed by critics in the short amount of time it has been released. This album includes some of the most angelic and unique-sounding songs I’ve heard in the past few years, and it’s definitely an album everyone should listen to at least once. My favorite track: home with you
9. Norman F*****g Rockwell! By Lana Del Rey Taking spot eight is Lana Del Rey’s sixth studio album, Norman F*****g Rockwell! Out of the six singles from the album, the first two were released in late 2018, with the latter four released in 2019. This album takes on a more psychedelic, soft rock sound. Lana’s album earned a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year, and also the album debuted at number three on the US Billboard 200. Overall, the sound and lyrics of the album are more deeply emotional, smooth, and relatable than a majority of Del Rey’s recent work, earning it a place on my favorites list. If you’re looking for a dreamy and moving experience, you’ll get just what you want with this album. My favorite track: Love Song
8. Fine Line by Harry Styles Coming in eighth place, we have the most recently released album on my list: Fine Line by Harry Styles. Following his first solo album, Styles continues to develop his individualistic style and sound. Fine Line debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and number three on the UK albums chart. Styles released three singles before the release of the entire album in mid-December. The album is described as a psychedelic-sounding experience for listeners, and it made its way into Rolling Stone’s “50 Best Albums of 2019” list. If you have been avoiding Harry Styles and his solo music because of his past discography, I implore you to give Fine Line a chance because I’m sure you will be pleasantly surprised! My favorite track: To Be So Lonely
7. III by The Lumineers Also diverging from the R&B trend that I’ve been subconsciously following, the third studio album from indie band The Lumineers, III, takes the sixth spot on my top 10 list. Tracking the lives of three family members and their struggles with addiction, the album is a more personal, emotional recollection and reflection of the effects of drugs and alcohol on families. Released in September of 2019, Ill hit number two on the US Billboard 200 and marks the band’s second top two album to date. Like I said, this album is a bit different from its predecessors, but if you are looking for more of a stripped, alternative sound, I’d definitely give this one a listen. My favorite track: Donna
6. Apollo XXI by Steve Lacy Heading back into the realm of R&B/Hip-Hop, we have Steve Lacy’s debut album Apollo XXI. Not only is this Lacy’s first solo album (he is mostly known for being a member of R&B/soul/funk group The Internet), but it is also his first Grammy-nominated solo project, as it has been nominated for Best Urban Contemporary Album for the upcoming Grammy Awards. With three singles, Lacy released the full album in May of 2019. Another tracklist full of funk and groove, I would absolutely suggest listening to the album if you’re looking to get down and groovy. My favorite track: Playground
5. Wasteland, Baby! by Hozier Kicking off my top five albums is Hozier’s second studio album Wasteland, Baby!, released in March of 2019. Three of the 14 tracks on the album were released in late 2018 in an EP titled Nina Cried Power. The overall sound of the album is more indie/alternative inspired with piano, guitar, drums, and choirs echoing throughout its entirety along with Hozier’s powerful vocals. A strong, spiritual recollection of memories lies at the core of the album, and Hozier translates those memories to his listeners well with his tone and emotion. I would highly recommend giving this album a listen. My favorite track: Movement
4. ARIZONA BABY by Kevin Abstract Up next is Kevin Abstract’s third studio album ARIZONA BABY. Originally released in two halves (titled ARIZONA baby and Ghettobaby) in early April of 2019 and later released in full towards the end of the same month, the album was heavily inspired by Lana Del Rey’s track “Venice B*tch” off of Norman F*****g Rockwell!, which was previously listed. A combination of experimental rap/hip-hop beats and increasingly personal tracks, the album shows what Abstract is able to do outside of his critically acclaimed boyband Brockhampton (this won’t be the last you’ll hear of the group in this article!) If you’re looking for an emotionally-charged, engrossing hip-hop album, I’d highly suggest listening. My favorite track: Crumble
3. Even in the Tremor by Lady Lamb
Making it to my top three albums, we have Even in the Tremor by Lady Lamb. Singer Aly Spaltro’s use of anecdotes, wordplay, and imagery all combine to form a nostalgic, beautiful sound and style in her album released in her third studio album. Out of all of the albums on this list, Even in the Tremor is by far the most underrated and under-appreciated. Still making a name for herself, Lady Lamb takes a more emotional, down-to-earth approach than most by describing her hopes and fears throughout the tracklist. This album sounds so comforting and familiar and is definitely one to listen to in order to complete some much-needed self-reflection. My favorite track: Oh My Violence
2. GINGER by Brockhampton I told you that you would hear about Brockhampton again in this article, didn’t I? Taking second place on my top 10 list, we have Brockhampton’s fifth studio album GINGER, released in August of 2019. Following the 2018 release of the group’s album Iridescence, the group began to dig deeper into topics of depression, anxiety, and the events revolving around former friend and band member Ameer Vann. The album tackles more emotional trauma and experiences than their past works and has been acclaimed by critics for its maturity, subject matter, and change of pace in comparison to previous works. The band itself claims that this project is their favorite, and I can’t help but agree with them. Give it a listen to see if you agree. My personal favorite track: BIG BOY
1. IGOR by Tyler, the Creator Last, but certainly not least, we have my number one album: IGOR by Tyler, the Creator. Released in May of 2019 and composed of 12 tracks totaling 40 minutes, the entire album was produced solely by Tyler himself. The album follows the story of a love triangle; Tyler is in love with a man who is still strung up on his ex-girlfriend. Throughout the album, Tyler describes his discovery of, devotion to, destruction of, and eventual departure from his fantasy relationship. This “breakup” album showing the darker effects of love and dedication deviates from his older and less mature antics and stories narrated in previous albums, and many view this as one of the most progressive, revolutionary projects of all time. The album hit number one on the US Billboard 200 and has been nominated for the Best Rap Album at the 2020 Grammy Awards. Seeing as this is my number one album from the year, I obviously think you should listen to it. My favorite tracks: NEW MAGIC WAND and GONE, GONE / THANK YOU (I tried really hard to narrow it down to one track, but I genuinely can’t choose between these two)
Honorable Mentions: Ventura by Anderson .Paak, When I Get Home by Solange, 1000 Gecs by 100 Gecs, Father of the Bride by Vampire Weekend, i,i by Bon Iver, ZUU by Denzel Curry, Nothing Great About Britain by slowthai.
So there you have it! My personal top 10 albums from 2019. Like I said at the beginning of this article, this is completely subjective to my personal taste in music. Many may consider it a crime for me not to include albums like Billie Eilish’s When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? or Lizzo’s Cuz I Love You, and I can agree with you on that. So many amazing projects have been released this year that have revolutionized the music industry, but I sadly haven’t gotten the chance to delve into a large handful of these projects (including the two I just mentioned). In the end, artists constantly release new music, and the reception that follows these releases completely depends on the listener’s unique preferences. If you disagree with my choices, feel free to compile a list of your favorites from the year and see how they compare!