Greater than 50 Guardian music writers have been polled for his or her favorite albums and tracks of the 12 months, and a bewilderingly advanced spreadsheet was created to tally their votes. Forward of our countdown of the ensuing 50 finest albums of the 12 months, we’re kicking off with a listing of the 20 finest songs. We’ve additionally put as many as potential of the 593 tracks that have been voted for right into a Spotify and Apple Music playlist.


Fats White Household – Ft

For the Serfs Up! album, which opened with this monitor, Fats White Household moved to Sheffield to get off heroin – however, it transpired, this merely meant not injecting it. That paradox suffuses Ft: its groove has very a lot acquired its shit collectively, however there’s nonetheless a illness at its coronary heart. It’s like a sleazy wallflower who slinks out of the dingy nook of some dive bar, and, snake-hipped, begins throwing some unexpectedly spectacular disco shapes on the ground. BBT

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Groove … Fats White Household. {Photograph}: Sarah Piantadosi


Lizzo – Tempo (feat Missy Elliott)

Lizzo made her title this 12 months along with her powerfully optimistic affirmations of selfhood, however Tempo tees off in a lot snarkier type: “Sluggish songs, they for skinny hoes,” she declares. “I’m a thick bitch, I would like tempo.” Certain sufficient, it is a sterner, clubbier monitor than her different massive 2019 hits Juice and Reality Hurts (the latter not eligible for this listing because it first got here out in 2017). Her incitement to cunnilingus is admirably informal, however Missy Elliott steals the present along with her menagerie of purrs and trills. BBT


Mark Ronson – Late Night time Emotions (feat Lykke Li)

Self-destructive behaviour wouldn’t be so frequent if there have been no thrill concerned: the fantasy that your needs would possibly pan out in any case, despite the fact that you understand there’s not a hope in hell. It’s that perverse optimism that Mark Ronson captures in Late Night time Emotions. At the same time as Lykke Li catalogues the torments doled out by her would-be lover, the distant metal pan chime, glowing disco refrain and sugar-spun melodies preserve the glimmering mirage of risk. LS


Normani – Motivation

Motivation is the pop equal of an Olympics-winning gymnastics routine: Normani serves take-it-or-leave-it cool, easy vocal exercises and nonchalant cheerleader authority on the Ariana Grande co-write. Within the video, her athletic choreography and reversion bellybutton piercing evoke the drilled spectacles of millennium-era Britney and Beyoncé. The previous Fifth Concord member swiftly establishes her personal model of excellence, and calls for that lovers and followers alike recognise her sport. LS

Cool … Normani. {Photograph}: Dennis Leupold


AJ Tracey – Ladbroke Grove

AJ Tracey might need been a contact apprehensive about his mainstream prospects: the primary single from his album solely reached No 18 within the charts, and he was upstaged on certainly one of his greatest tracks up to now, Thiago Silva, by the bucket-hatted Alex going viral with AJ’s verse on stage with Dave at Glastonbury. Fortunately, he had Ladbroke Grove up his sleeve. This shamelessly nostalgic UK storage monitor dominated the summer time, AJ toasting like a membership MC being heckled with champagne. No road nook was left unmolested by the phrases “Yo, it’s the hyperman set!” blasting from a hatchback’s open home windows. BBT


Lana Del Rey – The Biggest

Having the liberty to not care is tougher to come back by for some individuals than others – and tougher to come back by in any respect lately. These uncommon moments of reprieve aren’t the banner reminiscences of psychological supercuts, however fleeting sensations you don’t miss till they’re gone. On The Biggest, Lana Del Rey watches these squandered moments slip away on the breeze as information of missile assaults, forest fires and Kanye West darkens the horizon. Elegant and valedictory, it’s a masterpiece of west coast songwriting classicism: “I assume I’m signing off in any case,” she gasps, and a wealthy, rusty guitar solo soars out of the gate, languid and carefree as a skateboarder crusing alongside the boardwalk. LS


Stormzy – Vossi Bop

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With a Glastonbury headline slot on the horizon and a crown to take care of, you’d be forgiven for considering Stormzy would return with some sort of weighty, state-of-the-nation opus. Nah: the twitchy, tantalising Vossi Bop was a uncooked reminder of his charisma, the way in which he kisses phrases just like the pope anointing a child (“gyal say I’m bougie”) and the way pretenders wither to mud in his gaze. “The principles are kinda totally different while you’re baddin’ up the sport,” certainly. LS

Charisma … Stormzy. {Photograph}: Anthony Harvey/Rex/Shutterstock


Dave – Black

Not like the three tracks from his album Psychodrama that reached the Prime 10, Black scraped the Prime 40, and – being a bleak, jaded treatise on modern racism – it caught out like a sore thumb amid the poppy stuff on daytime Radio 1. Dave confronts one ailing after one other like he can scarcely consider his personal phrases: colonialism, social mobility, media sensationalism … however in the end, there’s such delight as he considers his hair, his historical past, his pores and skin. BBT


Huge Thief – Not

With two albums in 2019 stuffed filled with immediately basic songs – Forgotten Eyes, Cattails, Shoulders, Orange – Brooklyn’s Huge Thief are the band of the 12 months. Votes from our critics have been break up throughout six totally different songs, however edging out in entrance was Not, a masterpiece of indie rock with a savage reality at its coronary heart. In a world besieged by lies, we are able to not say what we’re, solely what we’re not. This comes out as a wry, poetic laundry listing from Adrianne Lenker: “Not a ruse / Not warmth / Not the fireplace lapping up the creek / Not meals / That you simply eat.” The matter-bending guitar solo has the ragged glory of Neil Younger’s most interesting. BBT


Rosalía and J Balvin – Con Altura

It’s exhausting to recollect any self-made star having such a swift and well-deserved rise to the highest as Rosalía, who already instructions outsized affect given her comparatively transient profession up to now (see: Camila Cabello’s second album). This 12 months she launched a humiliation of sensible one-off singles that exhibit her wide-ranging prowess, from uncompromising experimentation (A Palé and Aute Cuture) to nimble pop flexes reminiscent of Con Altura. It’s utterly addictive: the mixed charisma of the Spanish star and J Balvin snaking across the blunt dembow stutter and a synth whirr that coos like a curious wooden pigeon. LS

Rise …Rosalía and J Balvin. {Photograph}: Wealthy Fury/Getty Photographs for Coachella


Georgia – About Work the Dancefloor

One of many 12 months’s warmest success tales: when Georgia launched Began Out, the primary single from her second album for indie Domino, on the finish of 2018, it turned a shock Radio 1 hit. So did its follow-up, About Work the Dancefloor, prompting the label to push her album to 2020 to present the singles time to breathe. AWtD is a high quality teaser for a report that’s definitely worth the wait, displaying off Georgia’s newfound give attention to songcraft and the depth of her references as a producer (the satisfyingly meaningless title is her tribute to the robotic proclamations of Detroit techno forefathers Cybotron). Lacing the juddering pulse of adrenaline along with her weak vocal supply, AWtD places Georgia within the massive, Robyn-shaped pop leagues. LS


Clairo – Luggage

The recent, wretched illness of younger love is rendered so acutely right here by 21-year-old US indie-pop star Clairo. There’s a sullen black humour as she war-games the worst factor that might occur – her lover strolling out with their luggage – as a strategy to edge away from the erotic terror of the very best factor occurring. “Are you able to see me utilizing all the things to carry again?” she frets, holding nothing again. The backing, an idle however quietly feverish patter of storage rock, additionally tries to play it cool however can’t fairly handle it, its important instrumental melody looking up and down for a foothold. BBT

Black humour … Clairo. {Photograph}: Hart Leshkina


Richard Dawson – Jogging

This was the Newcastle outsider people artist’s poppiest second by far – and likewise, in a listing filled with tender humanity, his most powerfully humane. He voices somebody “scuffling with nervousness”, who’s freaked out by a tutting checkout lady and thinks a busker is utilizing Wonderwall to swear at them. Racist violence is shut at hand. However jogging – represented right here by a rolling beat paying homage to, appropriately, Kate Bush’s Operating Up That Hill – retains them going. The dogged, synth-laden climax is a triumphant affirmation of the human spirit by means of private and social collapse. BBT


Vampire Weekend – Concord Corridor

The east coast sibling to Lana Del Rey’s The Biggest: how did we get right here, with antisemitism resurgent and “depraved snakes inside a spot you thought was dignified”, Ezra Koenig asks? As with Del Rey’s valedictory ballad, he avoids apparent musical darkness and shoots for a extra putting distinction by invoking the vivid, pleased sounds of assorted Twentieth-century utopias: the pattering hand percussion calls again to hippies sitting in circles in the course of the age of Aquarius; its candy guitar filigree is straight out of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, the present that taught empathy to a era of American youngsters. The rising piano chatter sits midway between home music and Bruce Hornsby, and by the point the shaky beat kicks in, it’s was the ecstasy-laced optimism of the Stone Roses. These eras rise and fall, Koenig suggests, providing his personal music so it is perhaps remembered as a gesture of hope and mind throughout a very mindless one. LS


FKA twigs – Cellophane

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You think about FKA twigs was considering of Blue-era Joni Mitchell when she named her comeback single. “At that interval in my life, I had no private defences,” Mitchell mentioned years later. “I felt like a cellophane wrapper on a pack of cigarettes. I felt like I had completely no secrets and techniques from the world and I couldn’t fake in my life to be sturdy. Or to be pleased. However the benefit of it within the music was that there have been no defences there both.” Twigs’s Cellophane comes from the identical place, the place honesty turns into confrontation. “Didn’t I do it for you?” she asks an ex-lover, as glacial piano and a pocked beat recommend somebody circling a treasured museum exhibit and gesturing at its spectacular aspects: what sort of moron might disregard such magnificence? However her contempt ebbs away, changed by gasping desperation that reveals the harm achieved by their neglect. LS

Confrontation … FKA twigs


Lizzo – Juice

It’s a false impression that tumultuous political occasions produce higher music, however relative prosperity is actually answerable for its justifiable share of drivel. The shut of the Obama period was outlined by the trifecta of Daft Punk’s Get Fortunate, Pharrell’s Glad and Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson’s Uptown Funk, all mining retro good vibes that have been addictive but asinine. Juice is minimize from the identical fabric, with a warped VHS vibe that solely provides to the throwback air. But whereas her predecessors served up toothless victory-lap optimism, Lizzo’s calling card single runs on defiance: she’s not trying to the mirror on the wall to affirm her excellence, however proclaiming it with a riot of radical meals gags. She’s “the pudding within the proof”, “drippin’ a lot sauce acquired a bitch wanting like ragu”. LS


Billie Eilish – Unhealthy Man

Pop tends to face up straight, however Unhealthy Man crouched. It was a delightfully malevolent presence within the charts this 12 months, a shadow between the sprightly boasts of pop-rap and the howled emotion of pop ballads. The melody is the sort of factor Tim Burton would use to announce the arrival of an evil Victorian workhouse proprietor. Eilish, casting herself as a “might-seduce-your-dad kind”, teases you proper in your ear, so shut you’ll be able to hear each tiny creak and breath – after which, with that none-so-teenage “duh!”, she laughs at how a lot she’s freaked you out. The result’s essentially the most unique pop music of the 12 months. BBT


Charli XCX- Gone (feat Christine and the Queens)

The strain of expectations is a subject that pop stars, jaded after their ascent, typically find yourself visiting. However they’re hardly ever this tortured. “Am I a smoke? Am I the solar? Who decides?” wonders Chris, poetically dropping management of her personal narrative; Charli, in the meantime, is “simply now realising they don’t care”, and, chillingly, she might imply anybody. The glitched-up coda sees that means dissolve altogether. However the brilliance of the echoing electro-funk backing gives a route out: you’ll be able to at all times dance by means of a disaster. BBT

Narrative … Charli XCX. {Photograph}: Marcus Cooper


Sharon Van Etten – Seventeen

Rising up largely means shedding naivety, getting much less headstrong, sanding down the youthful volatility that simply provides pointless friction to life. However what if we easy off the flawed edges, betraying idealism and dedication for the sake of a better journey? On Seventeen, Sharon Van Etten beholds her youthful self with equal measures tenderness, frustration and envy, whereas remaining nicely conscious of how resistant that tempestuous lady can be to her concern; how withering she can be of what she has turn out to be. A Jersey lady herself, she borrows basic Springsteen-y triumph for this completely pitched epic powered by heroism and hubris. LS


Lil Nas X – Outdated City Highway (remix feat Billy Ray Cyrus)

Not solely is it the preferred music of 2019, spending a record-breaking 19 consecutive weeks at No 1 within the US, plus 10 weeks within the UK Prime 3, Outdated City Highway can also be essentially the most 2019 music of 2019. Its preliminary traction got here from individuals miming to it on TikTok as a part of the “yeehaw” viral craze for amusingly hackneyed cowboy shenanigans. It was then boosted by an identity-politics controversy after it was deemed not nation sufficient for the nation charts – the next addition of the none-more-country Billy Ray Cyrus for the remix was a rebuttal of utter mic-drop magnificence.

Utilizing the absurdist deadpan humour of meme tradition weaponised its on-line reputation, whereas splicing rap and nation earned it twice as many followers – and the road “ridin’ on my tractor / lean all in my bladder” did each directly. It might all have been for naught, although, have been it not a totally sensible music, high to backside. Each half, from the drawled verses to the hearty refrain and taunting bridge, sounds wonderful hollered from the again of a automotive, karaoke bar, or Shetland pony journey. Its greatest line could also be a triple adverse – “can’t no one inform me nothing” – however Outdated City Highway’s success is nothing however optimistic. BBT

Playlists compiled by Lowri Ellcock.

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