The meaning and essence of a song affects everyone differently. What might be a “throwaway” song for one person could be someone else’s unique soundtrack to the year.
We all listen to song’s differently. Some of us focus on the BPM or the layered production while others focus on the melody, and others focus on the lyrical content and what the artist wants the listener to feel. So it’s no surprise that we are in turn all attracted to different songs and react differently to them.
So in saying that, 30 particular songs stood out to ThomasBleach.com over the year, and I personally believe also impacted the sonical market and how some other artists are approaching their new projects. But the real question is; did your favourite song of 2019 make the list?
30. Nasty Cherry – Win
Introduced to the world by the musical genius that is Charli XCX, Nasty Cherry are an exciting new all-female band that you need to get to know. Their debut single ‘Win’ was an anthemic first taste to what their debut EP ‘Season 1’ embodies.
The punk fuelled hooks compliment their pop sound with a very confident, bold and reflective attitude. With an 80’s reminiscent synth breakdown at it’s crux, they really hone their production with a slick DIY approach which will make you sit up and pay attention to them.
Favourite Lyric: “I tell you secrets, I tell you lies. You think I’m broken on the inside”.
29. Sophia Messa – What Am I Gonna Do With You
New York newcomer Sophia Messa has spent 2019 introducing herself to listeners with a sophisticated pop sound that perfectly soundtracks a coming of age story in the Big Apple.
‘What Am I Gonna Do With You’ immediately commands your attention and gives you a slick mix of sass and coming of age commentary. Exploring the raw and tingly way someone can make you feel after you first meet them, she explains that first inkling of hope she was subjected to that captured the spark.
The playful track gives you an epic DIY dance beat drop that will have you grooving and serving a lot of sass. An anthem in it’s own right.
Favourite Lyric: “Ugh, I hate that you’re so beautiful”.
28. MUNA – Number One Fan
Taking a different approach to self-love, MUNA returned with this bold track that will have you feeling so many different kind of ways. ‘Number One Fan’ is a self appreciative anthem that puts a focus on becoming your own number one fan which is a weird sentiment but an important one.
The song hears the Californian three piece delivering a bolder electronic sound that compliments a contrast to their stunning dark pop album ‘About U’ which explored an honest vulnerability. With a pulsating dark beat and hard hitting drums driving the verses, they lead into a groovy chorus with HAIM inspired guitar riffs that gave it that funky feel. But then they add in a big angsty electronic twist that will have you vibing HARD.
Favourite Lyric: “So I heard the bad news; nobody likes me and I’m gonna die alone”.
27. Holy Holy – Frida
‘Frida’ is named after Holy Holy’s lead vocalist Timothy Carroll’s daughter and explores the way that gender stereotypes are perpetuated into every day life. So to match it’s serious note this song takes a very cinematic musical direction while still holding onto their initial alt-rock roots.
This song has been made for personal reflection and when you listen carefully to the lyrics your mind will start running and you heart will start pouring.
Favourite Lyric: “Don’t you know that the world was not made for the girls but for the boys and I know its wrong, I know it’s not right”.
26. CXLOE – Low Blow
in 2019, CXLOE proved to me that she can do no wrong. ‘Low Blow’ is a track that oozes confidence and attitude as she confronts an industry that has left her feeling a little dumb-founded. It’s a song you wish you could sing to anyone who has ever wasted your time or made you feel stupid for having lead you on.
She manages to continue the DIY stylings of her last releases and still head toward a heavier pop polish in a huge way. The way this song explodes in the chorus is exciting and has been made to experience live.
Favourite Lyric: “I used to treat you like religion, now you’re hard to believe in”.
25. G Flip – Drink Too Much
Picking up where ‘Killing My Time’ left off, G Flip leads the way with a groovy riff and pulsating synths that will have your feet immediately moving and your vocal chords warmed up for a singalong.
‘Drink Too Much’ has this grand feel and sound to it which interestingly uplifts the storyline of her doubting herself. She questions her insecurities, intentions and the way people react to her whilst asking if she’s enough. It’s a brutally honest song which has this slick and polished pop production that takes the storyline to new heights and into an anthemic zone.
She also introduces a whole new audience to who Steph Claire Smith is.
Favourite Lyric: “No one wants to ride my wave. Am I really that insane?”.
24. Jessica Mauboy – Little Things
2019 saw Jessica Mauboy opening herself up in a hyper vulnerable way and showing a side to her that listeners have never seen or heard in the past. ‘Little Things’ was a perfect segue into this candid nature as she dives deep and gets super intimate.
The simple but beautiful piano ballad is a heartbreaking but real song about the ups and downs of love. Guiding you on an emotional rollercoaster, this low key piano ballad transforms with the addition of swaying strings. Candidly discussing her relationship, she reflects on the moments where she’s gotten a little choked up by things he’s said or the misguided actions he’s made that he hasn’t realised has made an impact on her. It’s a sweeping and simple ballad which is so beautiful and ultimately memorable.
Favourite Lyric: “the little things, they mean so much more”.
23. Julia Michaels – Happy
Julia Michaels is what the future of pop music looks like; raw, honest and experimental. The 26 year old singer-songwriter has written some of the biggest pop songs of the past five years with the likes of Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Britney Spears, Shawn Mendes and Christina Aguilera. But she’s also written herself a killer discography that has kickstarted her solo career in a big way.
One of those songs is the angsty ‘Happy’ where she just let’s the world have a piece of her mind. Sonically the song takes an experimental approach which isn’t normal for a straight up pop song but she does it in a really cool way. The hook is one that you want to scream at the top of your lungs and make sure that everyone hears.
Favourite Lyric: “And sometimes I think I kill relationships for art. I start up all this shit to watch ’em fall apart. I pay my bills with it, I watch ’em fall apart then pay the price for it. I watch ’em fall apart”.
22. Ariana Grande – NASA
The hype surrounding Ariana Grande is officially next level. She’s the global superstar who has defied all odds, picked herself up through some very public tough times and has continued to empower and inspire young women with her pure strength through her music.
Following the release of her fourth studio album ‘Sweetner’ she released another new record earlier this year which proved she is an artist that is here to stay.
‘NASA’ is a RNB-pop song that relies on it’s moody layering to drive the production but she gets the gradient so right as she turns it into a bit of a sexy and empowering vibe. She admits that sometimes she needs some space from her lover and she wants everyone to know that it’s absolutely okay.
There’s a lot of hype surrounding ‘7 Rings’, but in my opinion, this song is 10x better.
Favourite Lyric: “It’s like I’m the universe and you’ll be N-A-S-A”.
21. Georgia Maq – You’ll Be Singing My Name
Georgia Maq’s surprise solo debut album might be a late addition to the 2019 countdown but that doesn’t make it any less impactful. ‘Pleaser’ is a short collection of indie-pop tracks that show the Camp Cope lead singer in a whole different light.
The anthemic ‘You’ll Be Singing My Name’ instantly becomes an untouched highlight on the record and deserves to become as single immediately. Every time I hear it I just want to throw my hands up in the air and scream the lyrics while walking down a busy street. It has a lot of confident emotional energy behind it which is accompanied by a similar instrumentation and feeling that Lorde’s ‘Green Light’ inhabits.
Favourite Lyric: “Broken heart, it always heals on its own. Sing my name but I’ll still leave alone”.
20. Selena Gomez – Lose You To Love Me
‘Lose You To Love Me’ is the lead single from Selena Gomez’s forthcoming third studio album and hears her highlighting a raw maturity that has evolved since the release of the highly praised ‘Revival’ and the drip-fed promotional singles that followed.
Stripping the production back to just a simple piano with the addition of strings and vocal harmonies evolving throughout the song, this track feels grand but raw at the same time. It doesn’t feel over-cooked and perfectly allows the raw emotion to drive the heart and feeling of the song.
Favourite Lyric: “I needed to lose you to find me. This dancing was killing me softly. I needed to hate you to love me”.
19. Elliot Jones – I’m In Love
Elliot Jones is ready to have you professing your love and embracing all of your internal emotions that you may be a little afraid to let out. The Los Angeles singer-songwriter is a newcomer that is boldly making his mark as an independent artist and is making himself an artist you need to keep your eye on.
‘I’m In Love’ is a hopeful love-sick track that explores the uncontrollable feeling of falling in love with someone and not being able to stop your feelings from escalating.
Comfortably sitting in the indie-pop sound space, the song pulls references to the likes of LAUV, Cub Sport and Troye Sivan as he dives into that emotionally romantic realm and gives you a very intoxicating feeling.
Favourite Lyric: “I have visions all of the time. We’re speeding fast on the five, not scared to die because I’m in love”.
18. Katy Perry – Never Really Over
Are you ready for a fact? ‘Never Really Over’ is Katy Perry’s best track since the release of ‘Chained To The Rhythm’ and there’s no denying it.
The playful single explores the symbolic contrast of the dark and light experiences from every relationship you have in your lifetime. No matter how something ends, it’s never really over. There’s always going to be some kind of feeling attached to that person and some unanswered questions that will forever play on your mind.
Returning to her dreamy pop roots this song floats in that EDM-pop crossover world that co-producer ZEDD has perfectly intertwined into all of his releases. But the chorus explores this nostalgic feeling 80’s synth that is so carefree, euphoric and ultra fun. It will have you smiling immediately and will have you just wanting to dance your tears away.
Favourite Lyric: “Just because it’s over doesn’t mean it’s really over. And if I think it over, maybe you’ll be coming over again. And I’ll have to get over you all over again”.
17. Client Liaison – The Real Thing
In 2019 Client Liaison brought it all back to be about the music. ’The Real Thing’ is a song that was born into the world with an 80’s aesthetic that deserved to be embraced. The production is the perfect amount of experimentation with polished synths reminiscent of the era and a groovy baseline driving the mammoth track.
Finding the right balance of preaching positivity and not becoming too cringe worthy, they create an anthem that you will want to blast every morning to pump yourself up for the day/week/month/year ahead.
Favourite Lyric: “Just find your rhythm and dance to the beat. You gotta know that you’re the real thing”.
16. Mabel – Don’t Call Me Up
Last year we had Dua Lipa’s ‘New Rules’ to get us through the legion of fuckboys that try to ruin our lives but this year Mabel came to the rescue with her anti fuckboy anthem.
‘Don’t Call Me Up’ is a rhythmic song all about not coming back and she really serves a lot of attitude in this one.
It’s catchy as fuck and you just need it in your life.
Favourite Lyric: “Don’t call me up. I’m going out tonight. Feeling good now you’re outta my life. Don’t wanna talk about us”.
15. Hazlett – Fireworks
Brisbane singer-songwriter Hazlett created the perfect soundtrack of romantic hope earlier in the year with the beautiful ‘Fireworks’. Capturing the raw emotion of trying to pick up the pieces and throwing your all into something hoping to create sparks and feel fireworks inside you, this is one romantic song you won’t want to forget.
It has this beautiful, romantic and heartbreaking imagery which will have you feeling so many emotions at once as you imagine the fireworks signifying your hope and desires bursting in the night sky. With his guitar roots he harmonises through the verse and chorus as the song builds momentum with the addition of a full band sound. And during the chorus there is a unique static of fireworks bursting in the background which will have your heart and mind racing as the imagery takes over
Favourite Lyric: “We could rise forever, burn into matter. And I could be your firework”
14. Julia Michaels – Falling For Boys
Julia Michaels is one of the world’s biggest songwriters and that’s not just a frivolous statement, that’s a fact. And she’s proved that with a second song included in the 2019 countdown.
‘Falling For Boys’ is an immediate stand out from her EP ‘Inner Monologue Pt 2’ with it’s candidly honest delivery. Reflecting on her past relationships and her unfortunate taste in boys (not men) she gives you a strong moment of vulnerability and empowerment as she seizes her own narrative.
Lead by the strumming of a guitar, a simple pop beat layers over to give this indie-pop track a little edge that correlates with it’s honest lyrical content.
Favourite Lyric: “Cause I like guys with big lips that treat me like shit. That only want my hips when it’s convenient for them. People I can fix that leave when they’re good again. I keep falling for boys and mistaking them for men”
13. Lovemedo – Re-Like You
Lovemedo is living proof that you don’t need to be a major label act to create a big impact with your music. This Central Coast newcomer dropped one of the best songs of the year in May and kickstarted the launch of his musical project.
‘Re-Like You’ is a song with a whole lot of personality, emotion and feeling. From a first listen he draws you into this experimental and relatable world of pure honesty as he admits he still has feelings for his ex and cares about them even though he knows he shouldn’t.
It has a vey nostalgic feel to it whilst hinting at the idea that he may live in the future with a really thoughtful production style. His sound is reminiscent of LAUV, Troye Sivan an LANY with his synth indie-pop vibe layered in a DIY format.
The playful lyrics show a very candid and funny side of this subject whilst he backs up this concept with a really innovative production style with the sound of glass shattering and 80’s influenced synths and drums taking over.
Favourite Lyric: “I wanna see you, but I don’t want to re-like you”.
12. Khalid feat. Disclosure – Talk
Khalid knows how to write and deliver a banger. Teaming up with Disclosure for ‘Talk’ he heads towards a groovier polished production which compliments songs like ‘8teen’, ‘Another Sad Love Song’ and ‘American Teen’ from his debut album.
Disclosure have taken a similar production approach to their work with Sam Smith by allowing his soulful and smooth R&B vocals to shine through the slick production. It also has quite a DIY element to it which makes it uniquely stand out which is why mainstream radio fell in love with it so easily.
Favourite Lyric: “Can we just talk? Talk about where we’re going before we get lost, lend me your thoughts”.
11. Harry Styles – Watermelon Sugar
Harry Styles slid his way into the 2019 countdowns in the last minute with an epic album and an impressive collection of tracks. One of those songs is the groovy ‘Watermelon Sugar’ which is already proving itself to be a grower on listeners.
The sexually driven pop-rock track is a playful ode to a relationship he had during a steamy summer and the party behaviour that pursued.
With a lot of attitude and rawness behind the delivery, he manages to delivery a strong contrast between the lyrics, vocal delivery and sonical production. With the production growing throughout the duration, Styles stays true to his alt-pop/rock roots and doesn’t try to sensor his sound for radio.
Favourite Lyric: “Breathe me in, breathe me out. I don’t know if I could ever go without, watermelon sugar high”.
10. Oh Wonder – Hallelujah
Reflecting on the hope and belief they had within themselves to follow their dreams and create a career from their music, ‘Hallelujah’ hears Oh Wonder preaching to like minded souls to follow their dreams. No matter in what industry or path it is, your dreams are valid and your happiness is the most important thing.
It’s an anthem for anyone who has ever been told no or been told that their goal is unrealistic. It’s something that any creative or driven person will be able to connect with on a deep level and find an empowering feeling within the context.
From a first listen you will realise that this song is special. Their harmonies are so warm with both of them singing with each other throughout the song creating a unity. It’s full of hope and raw heart with a very bold and important message that encourages everyone to follow their dreams no matter how big or small they are.
Favourite Lyric: “Somedays I don’t think my momma thinks I’m good enough to be a superstar. But one day I will show her I’m a diamond in the rough, I’ll be a superstar”.
9. Mallrat – Charlie
With it’s slow burning production, ‘Charlie’ builds up to a euphoric emotional release that embodies the perfect road-trip soundtrack to your sun-soaked memories as well as creates another wholesome singalong for Mallrat’s live set.
The dreamy and nostalgic song is all about the love you feel for someone and the reciprocative love you want to feel back. Beginning with a stripped back production of just a simple piano, it’s a very raw and soothing contrast to the sound we have heard from the Brisbane singer-songwriter in the past.
Adding in finger clicks, rhythmic hand claps, dreamy synths and angelic harmonies throughout the track, she creates a wholesome and euphoric feeling that you’ll find yourself smiling along to instantly.
Favourite Lyric: “I just might love you forever. I hope you warm up to me”.
8. Normani – Motivation
Now this was a KILLER debut! Like, Normani honestly did THAT with ‘Motivation’.
Soaked in nostalgia, this is the type of RNB-pop song you would’ve expected to hear in the mid 2000’s from the likes of Kelly Rowland, Ashanti, Keri Hilson, Cassie and Ciara. And that’s why it worked so well because no one is making music like this at the moment. Everyone is too concerned about beat-drops and mainstream connectivity, where as she’s just gone in and made a killer song and its worked. She delivers it with such confidence and conviction that the whole world were immediately on board with her.
The playful and feel good track sees her owning who she is as an female and as an artist and you can’t help but start grooving along to the slick production that accompanies the infectious melody from the first 10 seconds.
Favourite Lyric: “I’ma break you off, let me be your motivation to stay and give it tonight. And, baby, turn around, let me give you innovation. Hey, cause I do it so right”.
7. Cub Sport – Party Pill
By now you’ve probably read the ThomasBleach.com Album Of The Year countdown piece and you would have discovered that Brisbane indie-pop group Cub Sport rightfully took the number one place. And a lot of that decision was down to this flawless song.
‘Party Pill’ offers a romantic and honest retelling of the time Nelson fell in love with his fellow bandmate and now husband, Sam Netterfield.
The sweet chorus will have you swooning whilst the honest verses will inspire you to constantly believe in yourself. Artistically deciding to bleep out the word “shame” from the line “That was love, I was too young to see. My shame took it all away from me”, they encourage people to think “shame” is a dirty word and to fully embrace yourself which is an incredibly strong message for their younger fanbase. And we can’t help but officially stan.
Favourite Lyric: “I think I’m gonna love you for a long time. Boy, I can’t go a minute without you on my mind”.
6. Greyson Chance – Yours
2019 sees Greyson Chance reintroducing himself to the world as a mature man. His long awaited sophomore studio album ‘portraits’ is a bold, emotional and honest collection of tracks that dives head first into the last year of heartbreak and confusion that haunted his mind. And a song from that record that became an anthem of my year was the euphorically tinged ‘yours’.
The synth driven ode reflects on Chance’s love interested always being “his” even though he’s out on the road touring and making music. He wants them to know that he’s always thinking about them and it’s so beautiful and real.
The production is bright and euphoric and will have you feeling all the loved up emotions he conveys so authentically.
Favourite Lyric: “No matter who I’m with, it’s you that I adore. If you’re not sure, baby I’m yours”.
5. JP Saxe & Julia Michaels – If The World Was Ending
Hitting you right in the feels, JP Saxe and Julia Michaels teamed up for an end of the world themed love song that will have you thinking quite deeply about your past relationships and questioning the big question of, “what if”..
Written after the Californian coast earthquake earlier this year, ‘If The World Was Ending’ reflects on the ones that have gotten away, and the ones they still have a deep regard for. They then question if the world was ending if they would come over and spend the last moments together and put their differences aside.
Layered with soothing harmonies that accompany a simple piano arrangement with cinematic synths adding to the atmospheric approach of the hook, they give you a simply beautiful moment.
Favourite Lyric: “I know you know we know we weren’t meant for each other and it’s fine. But if the world was ending, you’d come over right?”.
4. Billie Eilish – Bad Guy
Billie Eilish is officially one of the biggest names in music, and something tells me that she’s going to sweep big at the 2020 Grammy Awards.
During my album review of ‘When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?’ I called ‘Bad Guy’ unstoppable and there’s honestly no better word for it.
The anthemic track is so different and absurdly unique that it became one of the biggest songs of the year.
It’s full of bass, attitude and playfulness. It’s a very experimental song about taunting a lover’s power which will be immediately stuck in your head and will have you pressing replay over and over again.
Favourite Lyric: “I’m the bad guy, duh”.
3. CXLOE – I Can’t Have Nice Things
The fact that CXLOE isn’t already one of the biggest Australian exports still confuses me, but something tells me her rise to stardom is going to continually rise in 2020.
But she hands down had one of my favourite songs of 2019 with the immaculate ‘I Can’t Have Nice Things’. The experimental pop song hears her perfecting the dark pop sound that she’s been playing wth over the past year and a half and moves into a even more polished territory. The offbeat synth delivery during the verses and the vocal breakdown during the pre-chorus slightly reminds me of ‘Hands To Myself’ by Selena Gomez. But she turns it all the way up with a Banks and Tove Lo inspired attitude that turns this polished pop track into a dark, moody and cool moment.
She played with the structure of the song a little since debuting it in her live set last year and instead of giving the listener the chorus straight away she strategically holds back. She finally unveils the pulsating and unforgettable hook after the second verse and it’s right there and then that you realise that this song is a HIT. The way the song has been produced is incredible, the storyline is heartbreakingly therapeutic and the structure is memorable.
Favourite Lyric: “I warned you not to give me things I can easily break”.
2. Dua Lipa – Don’t Start Now
2020 is going to be a big year for Dua Lipa and that prediction solely comes from how huge the first single from her forthcoming sophomore studio album was.
Gagged. That was my immediate reaction as ‘Don’t Start Now’ rolled into the first chorus. The confidence that oozed through her delivery was electric and so infectious.
Warming the listener up during the pre chorus she calls out her man who is trying to get back into her life with a self growth realisation. “Aren’t you the guy who tried to hurt me with the word goodbye? Though it took some time to survive you I’m better on the other side”.
The sassy disco-pop number feels like the mature sister to ‘New Rules’ and has already started climbing the charts in its footsteps.
Favourite Lyric: “Don’t show up, don’t come out. Don’t start caring about me now”.
1. Lizzo – Juice
2019 was the year of Lizzo. There’s no denying that fact. She whole heartedly made 2019, HER year. And on January 3 she released her first single from her major label debut album, and twelve months later I’m naming it the best song of the year.
Juice’ is a bold and catchy anthem that will have you partying every day like it’s New Years Eve and putting your hand to anyone’s face that tries to tell you that you don’t deserve any less than the best.
The groovy pop banger cites influences from Bruno Mars album cut ‘Perm’ and early Fleur East with similar brassy big band deliveries. The production is very playful which intertwines well with the sassy and empowering storyline that hears her not being afraid of holding back. Her hip-hop roots remain cemented with lines like “Heard you say I’m not the baddest, bitch, you lie” whilst the pop melody of the chorus is sugary sweet and euphorically catchy.
Favourite Lyric: “Ain’t my fault that I’m out here getting loose. Gotta blame it on the Goose. Gotta blame it on my juice, baby”.