- 20 Dec 19
The Hot Press team has compiled a list of our best tracks of the year. Each day we're revealing ten more tunes, all in the lead-up to our absolute favourite song of 2019. Here are the Top 10!
10. Lana Del Rey - ‘Looking For America’ (Polydor Records)
Lana Del Rey released some stunning music this year with her album, Norman Fucking Rockwell!. But it pales in comparison to her single, 'Looking For America', a ballad that she wrote in the aftermath of the back-to-back mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio in August. "I’m still looking for my own version of America/ One without the gun, where the flag can freely fly," she croons over a simple acoustic noodling from Jack Antonoff. Moving, chilling, and utterly beautiful.
9. Bon Iver - ‘Hey Ma’ (Jagjaguwar)
If Bon Iver's latest album i,i signifies the season of autumn, as he stated in the press release, 'Hey Ma' definitely captures the spirit of a golden autumn. The song has a warm energy but isn't without its experimental parts - after all, it's Bon Iver we're talking about. In 'Hey Ma', the king of indie folk fuses together what made his previous albums so appealing: a folk-infused approach of songwriting and unusual sounds and noises, perfectly representing the overall vibe of i,i.
8. David Keenan - ‘Altar Wine’ (Rubyworks)
Keenan bares it all in 'Altar Wine', which explores his personal experience with insecurities, and those that he perceives within Ireland. "As a young man I felt the many stings of sensitivity when greeted with a conditioned societal sense of toxic masculinity which dogged, and still dogs, rural Ireland and the rest of the world," he told Hot Press. The societal commentary, paired with a jarring visual make for a stellar taste of what's to come from Keenan.
7. Vampire Weekend - ‘This Life’ (Columbia)
If this song doesn't get you in a good mood then nothing will. 'This Life' is a cleverly-written indie tune that showcases a more mature side of Ezra Koenig's lyrical songwriting. Instead of seeing the world in black and white, 'This Life' paints a complex and multi-coloured image of a relationship, simultaneously acknowledging the complexities of, well, life. Also, this guitar riff is just so goddamn catchy!
6. Hozier - ‘Almost (Sweet Music)’ (Universal-Island Records Ltd.)
Paying homage to some of the greatest jazz musicians of all time, 'Almost (Sweet Music)' doesn't only give a shout-out to the singer's role models in its lyrics. With a complex rhythm and funky guitar fills, the song takes the best of Duke Ellington, Chet Baker and Co. and gives it a modern twist. This is surely a classic in the making.
5. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - ‘Bright Horses’ (Ghosteen Ltd)
‘Bright Horses’ - one of the most beautiful things Cave has ever recorded – knows that “the little white shape dancing at the end of the hall is just a wish that time can’t dissolve.” Jesus, in his mother’s arms, resurfaces repeatedly, as an image of innocence lost to “a man mad with grief.”
4. Sorcha Richardson - ‘First Prize Bravery’ (Faction Records)
The distorted, driving electric guitar line, paired with some acoustic noodling in the second verse, meld together beautifully in the title track of her debut album. However, it's the vulnerable lyricism and Richardson's alluring vocal delivery that make the track a true delight. B
3. Fontaines DC - ‘Boys in the Better Land’ (Partisan Records)
Plain and simple, ‘Boys in the Better Land’ is a certified anthem. Unapologetically Irish and bursting at the seams with energy, it’s a tune to which you are obligated to raise a pint. An instant classic, you’ll find it on a dance mix wedged in between staples like ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ and ‘Psycho Killer.’ It’s irrepressible, and undoubtedly the best tune to come out of Ireland this year.
2. Sharon Van Etten - ‘Seventeen’ (Jagjaguwar)
Reflecting on a simpler time, Sharon Van Etten takes us on a nostalgia trip unlike any other. On ‘Seventeen’ she yearns for tender adolescence as she recalls exploring the downtown world of the city. Older now and perhaps more jaded, she looks back on her formerly starry-eyed self.
1. Billie Eilish - ‘Bad Guy’ (Darkroom)
Where do we start with this one? The driving bass that pulsates throughout the whole song? Billie's trademark almost-whispering vocal delivery? The revolutionary fusion of electronica, hiphop and possibly a million other genres? That epic drop? The even more epic and meme-worthy "Duh"?
This year, Billie Eilish revolutionised pop music and 'Bad Guy' is the soundtrack to that revolution. This song not only captures the nervous and pressing energy of 2019 but also the transitional era we're living in and the future that lies ahead of us.
You can read the complete list of Hot Press' Top Tracks of 2019 in one brilliant sweep in the Hot Press Annual – in which we distill the highlights and low-points of the year, across 132 vital, beautifully designed pages. Starring heroes of the year Fontaines D.C. on the front we cover Music, Culture, Sport, Film, Politics, the Environment and much, much more. Buy this superb publication direct from Hot Press here.