10. The Japanese House, Good At Falling
I’ve been waiting for The Japanese House to release a full-length since 2016 when I fell head over heels in love with their song “Swim Against The Tide.” Though some of my catalogue favorites of theirs didn’t make the album, and though I still prefer the original “i saw you in a dream,” this dreamy, vibrant album debut brought with it new favorites and really stands out as a beautiful collection of their work. One of the more unique releases this year.
Best Tracks: Maybe You’re The Reason, We Talk all the Time, You Seemed So Happy, Follow My Girl, Worms
9. H.E.R., I Used To Know Her
H.E.R.’s near 20 track album is riddled with smooth, acoustic R&B sung from laid back alto to impassioned mezzo. I love H.E.R.’s subtle confidence and she’s carved out a really interesting and important niche in modern rhythm & blues. She weaves themes of love, spirituality, and personal narrative in such a graceful way.
Best Tracks: Carried Away, Feel A Way, As I Am, Hard Place, The Lord Is Coming
8. Ben Platt, Sing To Me Instead
Ben Platt’s debut album!! I adore this man and was so excited when he announced he’d be starting an artist project. I had the honor of getting to see him in Dear Evan Hansen in 2017, one of the best performances from an actor I’ve ever seen on stage, and Platt brought that sensitivity and insane vocal control into Sing To Me Instead.
In 2019, you gotta love an album that doesn’t hide behind funky production and lazy vocals. I love how creative we can get with production these days, and I believe it is an art form within itself, but it was so refreshing to just hear great songs accompanied by real instruments and the perfect voice of Ben Platt.
Best Tracks: Bad Habit, Ease My Mind, Grow As We Go, New, Better
7. Taylor Swift, Lover
I hate how you make me love you, Tay. My first listen through of Lover I thought “meh.” There was also wayyy too much to take in all at once. 17 tracks and all so varied. But that’s exactly why I ended up loving it so much — I think it’s her most diverse album to date. 1989 was perfect, and I actually really like reputation unlike a lot of folks, but Lover allowed us to go back to her country roots and further into her neo-pop sound all at once.
You can read a deeper analysis of the songs on Lover in my rank article here.
Best Tracks: I Forgot That You Existed, Cruel Summer, Lover, The Man, False God, Cornelia Street, You Need to Calm Down, Death By A Thousand Cuts, Afterglow
6. Lizzo, Cuz I Love You (Deluxe)
I’m cryin’ cuz I love Lizzo. Wow I’m sure no one has ever used this opening line!
Cuz I Love You is chock full of self-love bangers and each track is melodically unique. To call her “the new Beyoncé” is reductive and to be quite frank, a bit racist and sexist? She isn’t the new Beyoncé cause Beyoncé is eternally relevant. And cause she’s Lizzo. She is the perfect artist for our current cultural moment and I loved this debut album.
Best Tracks: Cuz I Love You, Juice, Like A Girl, Soulmate, Jerome, Water Me, Boys, Truth Hurts
5. MUNA, Saves The World
I can’t remember if it was Pitchfork or another publication, but they summed up their album title perfectly: to save the world you must first save yourself.
I tweeted at one point this year that “Number One Fan” is the indie-sad-white-girl version of Lizzo’s “Soulmate.” This album is also about self-love, but more about the necessity of self-preservationism, self-awareness and self-restraint to ultimately achieve self-love. I think MUNA has one of the most unique sounds in the indie pop space. Their lyrics are so vivid and paint beautifully sad and relatable portraits. Amazing sophomore album.
Best Tracks: Number One Fan, Stayaway, Who, Pink Light, Hands Off, It’s Gonna Be Okay Baby
4. Ariana Grande, thank u, next
It’s crazy that in a lot of ways I favor this album over 2018’s sweetener, and yet this is sitting at #4 while sweetener sat at #1 on my list last year. But like I predicted, this release year far outweighed last year in my opinion. My top 10 list was simultaneously easy and impossible!
This album really felt necessary to her artistry and just her self-expression as a human being. It delved much more into r&b and hip-hop and I think we were all here for it. And “thank u, next” has solidified its spot in the pop zeitgeist forever.
Best Tracks: imagine, NASA, bloodline, make up, thank u next, break up with your girlfriend I’m bored
3. LÉON, LÉON
If you don’t know LÉON yet, NOW IS THE TIME.
This year LÉON released her self-titled debut album and it’s so so good. Incredibly dynamic songs, and I think her sound is also really unique in the pop space without trying too hard to be. I got the pleasure of seeing her in Nashville, and did a show review of it, and she just blew me away. Solid performer with a super authentic personality. You can read my show review here and check out this amazing record if you haven’t yet.
Best Tracks: Lost Time, Falling, Hope Is A Heartache, Baby Don’t Talk, Better in The Dark, You and I
At the close of 2018, I tweeted “who here already knows Maggie Rogers’ album is gonna be their favorite of the year?” (and she liked it omg!)
Maggie’s album sits at a veryyyy close second to my top album. She’s carved out her heavily nuanced sound and it incorporates so many genres yet still works perfectly in the 2019 mainstream landscape. I saw her live for the first time this year and she has so much energy without sacrificing her vocal control. This album’s SO good. Maggie for prez.
Best Tracks: Honestly all but the title track.
1. Sigrid, Sucker Punch
Deciding whether to put this album or Maggie’s as my top stressed me out way more than it should have. But eventually, I had to go with my gut, and with the album that proved to be my favorite via Spotify data.
WHAT A DEBUT this was. I had heard her 2017 release “Don’t Kill My Vibe” once or twice and was looking forward to hearing her youthful, joyful and impassioned full length. And unbeknownst to me, it would become my favorite of the year. I loved track after track immediately: the production, the concepts, the energy. Sigrid was another artist I got to see live for the first time this year and she blew me away too. Her performance was down to earth and she nailed all the vocal intricacies of her songs. All hail my top album of 2019!
Best Tracks: Honestly all but Level Up.
*=very close calls
Betty Who, Betty*
Kehlani, While We Wait*
Emily King, Scenery*
Bon Iver, i,i
Joseph, Good Luck, Kid
Dermot Kennedy, Without Fear
The Tallest Man On Earth, I Love You. It’s A Fever Dream.*
James Blake, Assume Form
Kevin Garrett, Hoax
Khalid, Free Spirit
Anderson .Paak, Ventura
Vampire Weekend, Father of the Bride
Jonas Brothers, Happiness Begins*
Noah Kahan, Busyhead
Ingrid Michaelson, Stranger Songs
Wilder Woods, Wilder Woods
Corey Kilgannon, As Above, So Below
K. Flay, Solutions
Lana Del Rey, Norman F****ing Rockwell!*
Marc E. Bassy, PMD
Harry Styles, Fine Line*
Stephen Day, Guess I’m Grown Now
Michael Kiwanuka, KIWANUKA
Hozier, Wasteland, Baby!
Sharon Van Etten, Remind Me Tomorrow
Phoebe Bridgers & Conor Oberst, Better Oblivion Community Center
Maren Morris, GIRL
Carly Rae Jepsen, Dedicated
Tyler Hilton, City on Fire
Flume, Hi This Is Flume (Mixtape)
Amanda Lindsey Cook, House on a Hill
Sara Bareilles, Amidst the Chaos
Billie Eilish, WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?
Bear’s Den, So that you might hear me
Judah & The Lion, Pep Talks
Damien Jurado, In the Shape of a Storm
Big Thief, U.F.O.F.
Local Natives, Violet Street
The Head and The Heart, Living Mirage
Kirk Franklin, LONG LIVE LOVE
Daniel Caesar, CASE STUDY 101
Ed Sheeran, №6 Collaborations Project
Mark Ronson, Late Night Feelings
Chance the Rapper, The Big Day
Penny and Sparrow, Finch
Beyonce, The Lion King: The Gift
Cage The Elephant, Social Cues
Jenny Lewis, On The Line
Red Hearse, Red Hearse
Lily & Madeleine, Canterbury Girls
Noah Gundersen, Lover
Snoh Aalegra, — Ugh, those feels again
The Band CAMINO, tryhard
Keane, Cause and Effect
The Avett Brothers, Closer Than Together
Moonchild, Little Ghost
A R I Z O N A, Asylum
The Brook & The Bluff, First Place
Allen Stone, Building Balance
Milky Chance, Mind the Moon
The Highwomen, The Highwomen
Camilla Cabello, Romance
Coldplay, Everyday Life
King Princess, Cheap Queen