2019 was a strong finish to a great decade of music — here are my 50 favorite releases of 2019. Thanks for reading, as always.
It’s easy for end-of-decade years to become an afterthought in terms of the music they produce. Most music publications dropped their “best albums of the decade” features in early October. At Chorus.fm, we held off until December 9th. Still, when you spend months of the year reflecting on past years, and on the albums you loved from throughout a whole decade, the music from the year you’re currently living in can get overlooked, forgotten, or short-changed on listening time.
I suppose we were guilty of that sin ourselves, as our “albums of the decade” list ultimately lacked a single entry from 2019. Call it anti-recency bias, or maybe just an occupational hazard of having to start planning and compiling these lists months before any readers actually lay eyes on them. But therein lies the beauty of still being able to revert to old routines: to end the year with a proper tribute to everything it had to offer on its own.
And 2019 certainly had plenty of riches to offer, from old favorite bands delivering some of their sturdiest albums in years, to one of the strongest slates of debut talent I can remember getting in a single 365-day timeframe. Taking in the scope of a decade and all the music it gave us is a fulfilling experience; it’s certainly something I invested a lot of time in this year. But there’s also something wonderful about being past that now, and about being able to take things day by day again: week by week, release day by release day, album by album. Making lists is fun, but listening and discovering will always be the greatest parts of being a music fan. Here’s to the 25 albums that we discovered, listened to, and loved most in 2019. [CM]
I’ll always remember 2019 as the year I got married; however, it ended up being a pretty incredible year for music and entertainment as well. As we finish up this decade, I reflect back on just how many of these lists I’ve made. It’s a yearly tradition that I enjoy because it allows me to no only reflect on the past year and reevaluate everything I listened to and consumed, but it creates a little snapshot in time that I can re-visit in the future and remember what I was enjoying and listening to during that moment in time. I thought it was a good year personally, wrapped around a tough year globally. Thank you to everyone that reads this website on a daily basis; I hope you enjoy my list and maybe find something new to love.
The staff compiled best of 2019 list can be found here.
I wrote a lot of album blurbs in 2019. If you’re reading this post, you probably already know that 1) I’m an insane person, and 2) my big writing project this year was a rundown of my 200 favorite albums of the 2010s. I concluded that project in mid-December, around the same time that everyone else in the music criticism world was sharing their “Best of 2019” lists. For a few days, I debated not even writing up a list this year. I was so emotionally exhausted after pouring so much of myself and my life into that end-of-decade piece that I just couldn’t see myself sitting down to do it all over again—albeit, on a much smaller scale. But then I started delving back into my favorite 2019 albums, albums that I maybe hadn’t spent enough time with in my race to relive a full 10 years of music. And then I started making late-year discoveries, new albums I’d overlooked that excited me greatly. Ultimately, I decided I couldn’t let a year end without the big-list ritual that I have followed every year since 2011.
I did give myself some extra leeway this time, though. Instead of going to 40 albums, as I have for the last several years, I stuck to 30. I also opened the door for late additions (and for the corresponding deletions they would require). The resulting list is not at all what I expected it would look like even two months ago. It’s a list loaded with exciting new talent and with albums that I can’t wait to spend more time with, brushing up against records I’ve already listened to hundreds of times, from artists I’ve loved for many years. I can’t say it’s my favorite end-of-the-year list that I’ve ever made, but it might be the most unexpected. I could feel my music tastes yearning to shift and grow in new directions while compiling this collection of 30 albums, which is frankly a very exciting place to start a brand-new decade. So bring on the 2020s! But first, here are my 30 favorite albums of 2019.
What a year. It feels like at least one Friday a month I was rambling around the site about another incredible release day we were being treated to. When I sat down to make this list, the number of albums I’d listened to this year that I enjoyed wound up at about 270. And sure, there are some obvious factors to this that I think a lot of us share — the way this decade has sculpted how we consume music, for one. The 2010’s made discovering new music one of the single easiest things a person can do, and one of the most entertaining activities with ten bucks in your pocket and an internet connection.
But I think the ease and passion for discovery are only the cause for a bigger reason why this was such a remarkable year in music. Because naturally with more music will come more open mindedness, more inspiration, and more tools for artists to create a unique price of art. With each year, that tool belt grows, and we see artists framing their vision of certain sounds differently than we could have ever imagined — blending influences from all directions and being encouraged to tell their stories. In the passing of time, it becomes more difficult to not fall in love with an astonishing amount of music.
2019 was a year that gave us outstanding debut records, tremendous follow-ups from several established bands, as well as some surprise albums that I never would have thought to make my list at the beginning of the year. My list and listening taste are as eclectic as it’s ever been and I’m perfectly happy with that. Here are 30 albums I felt are worthy of your attention and ears delight.
What a year. At times, it seemed as though I’d never had enough music to listen to. Then, at the busiest times of the year, I felt like I had fallen dreadfully behind and wouldn’t find my way back to consuming new music the way I did at the beginning of 2019. It’s also a year that found me diving into discographies of artists I should have devoted myself to much sooner: from Portishead to R.E.M. to mewithoutYou. It’s been another delightful year for music.
After much thought and almost giving up on creating my End of 2019 list, I have finally chosen my favourite music from the past year. Some albums have landed as honourable mentions, particularly if they were released too late (sorry, Harry Styles!), or I just couldn’t move these albums around again. To be honest, I simply don’t watch enough movies to warrant a favourite list of films. Same case with television (although, I’m marginally better there). I hope you find some music that connects with you the way it has with me. Without further ado, here are my top 30 albums of 2019. Plus, some equally special honourable mentions!