Jark's Definitive Top 50 of 2019

Discussion in 'End Of Year Charts' started by Jark, Dec 13, 2019.

  1. Jark

    Jark bon appètit, baby

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    Hello!

    I've assembled a list of my top 50 songs of the year. The only criteria is that they had to be released between January 1 and December 13.

    Let's just dive right into this.
     
  2. Jark

    Jark bon appètit, baby

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    Here are a few which didn't make the cut for one reason or another, but are all great in their own way.

    Amber Mark - Mixer - this song fucking drips funk and sex, it's lead a long-overdue R&B revival chez Jark
    AURORA - The River - so lovely and feel-good
    Camila Cabello - Easy - could be saccharine but in Camila's hands it's just romantic and sweet
    Caroline Polachek - Door - very into the dreamscape of the quasi-operatic lead single from Pang
    Ciara - Thinkin Bout You - I used and abused this hardcore for a few months. Flirty lightweight bop
    Dido - Still On My Mind - the title track is probably the best song on the album, gorgeous chorus
    Flume ft London Grammar - Let Me Know - a collab I didn't see coming with a beautifully wobbly synthline
    King Princess - Tough On Myself - a rich groove with excellent lyrics ("sitting alone making fun of myself")
    Lil Nas X - Old Town Road (Remix) - for once an inescapable monster smash which fully deserves it
    Lolo Zouaï - Caffeine - simmery number from the excellent french-US R&B chanteuse
    Mabel - Bad Behaviour - serious missed single potential with this one, a major groove
    Madonna - God Control - the highlight of an album I stopped using after 3 weeks
    Marina - End of the Earth - one of the highlights of Love & Fear, builds to something quite epic
    Sunmi - NOIR - deliciously dark K-pop with a suitably dead-eyed video (killer final shot)






     
  3. SDF

    SDF We're all Angles in Chainz

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    @Jark the queen of countdowns is back :disco:

    Will we ever know who was number 1?
     
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  4. OutSynk

    OutSynk My name is Matilda.

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    No.
     
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  5. Jark

    Jark bon appètit, baby

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    let's go :disco:

    50. Mark Ronson ft. Ilsey - Spinning

    Not quite the best song on Mark Ronson's female-assisted heartbreak album, but almost, Spinning takes the hook of title track Late Night Feelings and (with vocals from songwriter Ilsey Juber) . strips it back into a painfully delicate reprise, like the lowest-ebb hangover after a big night of dancing through the pain. It's sad and totally gorgeous.

    49. Aly & AJ - Not Ready to Wake Up

    I did not know Aly & AJ from the first go-around - even Potential Break-Up Song had passed me by - so when I chanced upon their two post-comeback EPs this year it was essentially like discovering a brand new act, one who happens to be the full package and can seemingly write brilliant electropop bangers in their sleep. Their quality control is pretty ridiculous but this is perhaps the highlight of the newer EP, marrying a light, infectious rhythm with a hook that's all sun and blue skies.

    48. Carly Rae Jepsen - Want You In My Room

    Carly's return has been a weird one for me. Objectively I think it's a really strong album that can be played start to finish, only skipping Julien (and probably a stronger work than Emotion on balance). That said I really haven't gone back to it much at all - maybe it's too much sugar in one serving, or maybe it'll have a second wind. Either way, this sub-3 minute blast of joy is the easy standout, a sax-assisted Jack Antonoff production which pushes her sound into new territory and bottles all the same feelings of euphoria as Run Away With Me in a more forward-thinking package. A big tune.

    47. Charli XCX ft Sky Ferreira - Cross You Out

    This mellow, airy 80s power-pop banger may not reach heights as stratospheric as Gone, but still Sky Ferreira delivers a gorgeous vocal for her return to pop (which she has since capitalised on by releasing, of course, absolutely nothing). Cross You Out goes about its business in such relaxed, unhurried fashion, it's hard not to be won over by its easy bliss. Sky now has beef with Charli's protégés, Nasty Cherry, so don't expect a pt II.

    46. Ellie Goulding - Sixteen (99 Souls Remix)

    Take a decent but unremarkable Ellie Goulding single with faux nostalgia lyrics. Recruit 99 Souls to put a donk on it. A major banger is born.
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2019
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  6. Jark

    Jark bon appètit, baby

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    45. RAYE - Love Me Again

    I can't quite believe RAYE is only 22. She's been around 3 years or so at this point, building a name for herself with various collabs (You Don't Know Me is one of the club bangers of the decade) and her excellent vocals, but the material has been hit and miss. With the lightweight, highly melodic pop of Love Me Again (and follow-up Please Don't Touch) it feels like she's found her lane, sliding over slinky melodies that drip with bittersweet melancholy while questioning if she can get anything right ("I've been trying to move on, and failing terribly at that too"). There's so much potential here for the emergence of a great popstar.

    44. Allie X - Fresh Laundry

    I love Allie X. Her quality control has been a bit all over the place on her various projects to date, but there's something about her - that elastic voice, the weird aesthetic, her ability to really sell a song. All of that comes together beautifully on Fresh Laundry. It took a few plays to click, but once it did I felt like this was a song I'd be able to come back to without getting bored - the breathing space in the beats, the oddly mundane lyricism, the quasi trip-hop nature of the production, it's all so inviting. Seeing her perform this live while opening for Marina was such a treat. Bitch sure loves a wind machine! :disco:

    43. Tove Lo ft Kylie Minogue - Really Don't Like U

    A collab between national treasure Kylie Minogue and dirty-minded Swede flopstar Tove Lo was the unexpected hookup I never knew I needed until it came along. Despite their seemingly opposing sensibilities, they prove a smart match on Really Don't Like U, their voices blending together seamlessly on the chorus until it's unclear who's singing. Lyrically, the story of bumping into some bitch at a party whom you hate, purely on the unreasonable grounds that she's your ex's new piece, is petty but, let's be real, also relatable. More of this please.

    42. Madonna ft Maluma - Medellín

    It feels like a lifetime ago now that Medellín came out - perhaps that has something to do with how quickly the album came and went, or how exhausting it's been following Madame's mortgage-paying antics on tour. I remember the excitement of the live premiere thread - that feeling of disbelief that Madonna was back with a lead single that felt fun, fresh, on-trend in some ways but still eccentric and thoroughly her, which had seemed so unlikely after MDNA and Rebel Heart were announced with such damp squibs of lead singles. The rush may not have lasted but Medellín remains a minor triumph.

    41. Marina - Enjoy Your Life

    Widely despised on Popjustice for its clumsy self-help lyricism, I personally consider this song to be a total ray of light which, while "safe" in every way, nonetheless puts Marina's newly diamond-less voice in full focus. It's sunny, it's synthy, it's really quite lovely - although there's better still to come from this album.
     
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  7. KindaCool

    KindaCool KayCee

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    I'm gonna need an insurance policy for all Jark countdowns from now on.
     
  8. Jark

    Jark bon appètit, baby

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    40. LÉON - Falling

    Why wasn't Falling one of the biggest hits of the year? I'm not sure - all the ingredients are there. It's insanely catchy, has that feel-good brassy production that always goes down well with radio, and Léon's voice twists around the melodies with such imperial effortlessness and warmth that you'd happily listen to hear singing the phone book, or the bible, moving elastically from lower register to falsetto and stopping everywhere in between. I'm so excited to hear more from her because this song (like several others on the album - Baby Don't Talk, You & I, Hope is a Heartbreak are also essential) speaks to an artist with a properly exciting future.

    39. Miley Cyrus - Mother's Daughter

    Actually getting an album out feels like a challenge for the big pop girls in 2019, and more than six months after Mother's Daughter was unleashed, Miley's album seems to have joined various others in the realm of the mythical - which, if the quality of this and Slide Away is anything to go by, is a real shame. Written with ALMA, Mother's Daughter might be a bit of an eye-roller in how hard it sells Miley's bad bitch attitude - if not for the fact that Miley can sell almost anything, and on the summer festival circuit she sold the living shit out of this, nowhere moreso than at Tinderbox in Denmark, a performance which in my opinion cemented her as a fucking star. Special shoutout to "I'm nasty, I'm evil." Me too, sis.

    38. King Princess - Hit the Back

    King Princess, one of the most exciting breakthrough acts of the last couple of years and perhaps the closest to being a fully-fledged star already, has described Hit the Back as "an anthem for bottoms everywhere", and the not-exactly-subtle lyrics don't leave much room for interpretation on that score. "Tell me you need respect / You know that I'm around, I'm your pet." That the synthline contains more than a hint of Say You'll Be There by the Spice Girls makes this a true full-circle homosexual moment, and for all that her ballads are beautiful, I'm very down for more uptempo energy along these lines. Watching her lose her shit on stage (see SNL above) is extremely endearing. Truly a star.

    37. Eden XO - So Lucky

    This absolute glitterbomb of an electro-banger from the stunningly unsuccessful Spoti girl Eden XO is essentially a Kylie Minogue song from Light Years/Fever/X, so it goes without saying that it's an incredible explosion of joy from start to end. Lyrics like "no use in fighting things you cannot change, no use in crying over spilled champagne" keep So Lucky firmly planted in the garden of homosexual pop, and the extended outro keeps the party going until the floor is nothing but a pool of Moët. :disco:

    36. Mark Ronson ft Angel Olsen - True Blue

    True Blue is that rare song - the undeniable centrepiece of an album around which everything else spins in its orbit, so clearly the best thing on Late Night Feelings that it's hard to fathom why it still hasn't been given the single treatment (whatever that means in 2019). It's simply glorious - the driving rhythm of the bassline beneath Angel Olsen's bluesy 40-a-day vocals making six minutes feel more like three. The casual way the lyrics switch from nonchalant ("fucking around and falling in love...") to mildly accusatory ("I ran to you and you know why") before finally giving in to the ecstasy of it all ("love the way you read my eyes...") is masterful. But then everything about this song is.
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2019
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  9. Jark

    Jark bon appètit, baby

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    35. P!nk - Walk Me Home

    Probably not a popular inclusion, but considering the story of how P!nk's 8th album came together - mostly made up of rejects from Beautiful Trauma, which in itself was a pretty weak record - it's actually not a bad effort at all, and Walk Me Home stands as probably my favourite P!nk single since Try. It's just so warm and lovely, and her voice now has become an instrument which glides masterfully over everything else - she's never sounded so good. As another anthemic number for the next decade's tour setlists, Walk Me Home does the job perfectly. Great video too.

    34. Mabel - Don't Call Me Up

    This time last year who would've seen Mabel's annus mirabilis (lol annus) coming? After One Shot stalled at #44, it wasn't clear what would be next for the daughter of Neneh Cherry and Cameron "Overload" McVey. Polydor waited for Christmas to pass and then dropped Don't Call Me Up, a slice of Dua Lipa-lite tropi-pop, in the new year, its infectious chorus and fuck-you-I'll-go-out-alone lyricism picking up exactly where New Rules left off, giving Mabel by far her biggest UK hit to date plus top 10s in Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, the Nordics and beyond. The jury out is still out on whether she'll be a major player in pop for a while - for my money the album, although overly A&R'd/focus-grouped, is a touch better than Dua's debut and shows plenty of potential for improvement next era. But Don't Call Me Up remains one of the last big, shameless, balls-out pop smashes of the decade, and for that we should be very grateful indeed.

    33. Sam Smith ft Normani - Dancing With a Stranger

    Also released in January was this comeback single from Sam Smith, which tore up their previously established rulebook of releasing exclusively mom-targeted balladry by teaming with Normani - not the likeliest of collabs, but their voices blend surprisingly well - for Dancing With a Stranger, a slinky, shimmery slice of understated electropop which shifts the blame onto a former lover for forcing the duo to go out and find someone who'll appreciate them: "look what you made me do, I'm with somebody new / I'm dancing with a stranger." I don't know what it is but there's something slightly George Michael-ish about the whole package, like a contemporary, more made-for-radio take on something from Older. I abused it to death at the time and rarely listen now, but I still appreciate this song for the excellent low-key heartbreak banger it is.

    32. Snakehips ft Anna of the North - Summer Fade

    Before this year began I'd never heard of Anna of the North, and then just as I began discovering her first album (via the excellent Lovers), along came this end-of-summer collab with Snakehips. Ridiculously catchy and strangely unstructured, made up of about 3 moving parts which all could pass as a chorus and which randomly repeat over and interrupt each other, Summer Fade is seriously un-showy in the way it makes it case for being one of the best songs of summer 19. When the final "chorus" hits it feels like a slow hypnosis taking effect, spurred on by Anna's flirty vocals dancing around a twinkly groove that just keeps on going. A total delight.

    31. Agnes - Limelight

    Dua Lipa may be bringing back disco to the top 40, but who's bringing it back to the top 400? Agnes, in Sweden only. For her first new music in over 6 years, the One Last Time chanteuse anonymously sent out a vinyl containing Limelight and I Trance, two full-blown house and trance tracks, respectively, on which she fully embraces her inner disco diva, taking her vocal to places it could never go on a straight-up pop song, and finding new depth and darkness in the process. I Trance is fine enough, but it's on Limelight that the reinvention really comes to life, commanding somebody unseen to "go get lost in the limelight, baby, go get rid of the pain / lose yourself in the limelight, go get carried away," in the grand dancefloor-as-therapy tradition of every true diva from Donna Summer to Diana Ross. The spliced, vocodered backing vocals may root it in 2019, but Limelight is an immediate new classic of the genre in every way.
     
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  10. Jark

    Jark bon appètit, baby

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    I'll continue this tonight but I'd like some comments please!

    Also - almost halfway. Am I actually gonna do this?!
     
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  11. OutSynk

    OutSynk My name is Matilda.

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    I haven't heard most of those songs sorry Jark.

    I hope you can finish this one though (you won't).
     
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  12. SDF

    SDF We're all Angles in Chainz

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    I properly love Walk Me Home. I agree about her voice just gliding and it’s such a warm track.
     
  13. SDF

    SDF We're all Angles in Chainz

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    Love Mabel and Mark Ronson too

    if you make it to the end of this countdown we should really do a whip round for you
     
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  14. ameraal

    ameraal huzzah!

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    about half of these will be making my list too.

    that agnes song is immense. i almost feel bad for picking another one of hers over it.

    go get lost in the limelight, baby, go, go, get rid of the pain *.* ad infinitum.
     
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  15. Pipo

    Pipo extra large & extra hard

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    ugh Sam Smith what a hateful cunt.

    THEM ASIDE:rolleyes: what a lovely countdown Jarkie mwah
     
  16. ameraal

    ameraal huzzah!

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    i finally managed to read through everything and i have a small request: could you please put each song in a separate thread? or would that be overkill? there are some entries i would like to like more than others.

    apart from that dua lipa vs mabel is one big pop girl celebrity death match i am here for. they've been following a cimilar trajectory and are neck in neck in my estimations though i haven't bothered with either's album. the last big singles have been great - mabel wins for song with don't call me up, but dua wins for style.
     
  17. Jark

    Jark bon appètit, baby

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    :D for you, am, anything

    (optimistic of you to assume it'll carry on!)
     
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  18. ameraal

    ameraal huzzah!

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    you should silence the haters and finish it right now! (a simple list will suffice if you can't be assed).

    ps i've accepted there is little justice in the world of pop so god bless the agneses and leons of the world.

    pps i hate miley's new stuff, cabello is shit and dancing with a stranger is a better song than its billed artists.
     
  19. Jark

    Jark bon appètit, baby

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    30. Miley Cyrus - Slide Away

    Miley has had such a weird year. On a personal level, with the break-up (seemingly for good this time) of her marriage to Liam, it must have been pretty shit for her. Musically, coming back with Mother's Daughter and following it up with Slide Away should have made 2019 the year she finally won back some of that Bangerz cultural capital - but neither exactly smashed. In the case of Slide Away in particular, it's hard to make sense of why - song and video make explicit reference to her tabloid drama while also being quite brilliant in their own right. With frequent collaborator Mike WILL on the decks, Slide Away is an unexpected swerve into that rarified sonic territory of Pure Shores / Ray of Light - all gentle tides and quiet storms exploding gracefully onto the shore when the chorus hits. Her VMA perf (in which she sneakily twists "you're right, we're grown now" into "I'm grown now") is another outstanding performance from her already vast arsenal. Flawed but truly an artist, watching Miley add to her legacy with songs like this continues to be a pleasure.
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2019
  20. Jark

    Jark bon appètit, baby

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    29. Georgia - About Work the Dancefloor

    Where did this song come from? A huge, balls-out banger with a grammatically questionable title, About Work the Dancefloor breezed in from nowhere to generate some good buzz as one of the songs of spring, making Georgia somebody to watch for - although I've been watching and the only thing she released after this was a bit shit. Still, it's been a good year for her with a Glastonbury perf surely the highlight, although perhaps the pressure is on now to create something as energetic, joyous and free as this, comfortably her best song to date. @ me when she comes through, @ameraal.
     
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  21. Jark

    Jark bon appètit, baby

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    28. Sasha Sloan - Thoughts

    There's something about this woman that I really like but can't quite pinpoint. On paper she's just another Spoti girl with a pretty voice and "earnest" singer-songwriter creds. Other tracks from her EP like "at least I look cool" call out Instagram culture and '10s-flavoured narcissism as if that kind of commentary is original or something. Does she offer anything you can't find elsewhere? Not as far as I can tell, but she does seem to have an excellent ear for melody and a tone which is almost disarming in how open and vulnerable it is. That vulnerability is on full display in Thoughts ("I'm scared they're all laughing so I make the joke first / if I beat 'em to the punchline then I can't get hurt"), with immediate hooks layered on top of an infectious guitar and percussion-driven rhythm. The chorus here simply melts, and the collision of hopelessness and optimism speaks to me on some level. Do give this one a shot if you aren't already familiar.
     
  22. Jark

    Jark bon appètit, baby

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    27. Terror Jr - Pretty/Terrified

    An entire album of Terror Jr's "LA is a narcissistic hole, the women are skinny and unhappy, my soul is empty" shtick can be a bit much, but on the best songs from the duo's "Unfortunately, Terror Jr." - namely Pretty and Terrified, which I've assembled into a double-A side for the purposes of this countdown - that subject matter comes together beautifully with their sparse electropop arrangements and Lisa Vitale's high, childlike vocals to tell pulpy stories of fame and misfortune. Terrified is an ode to keeping your love on lockdown because the inevitable heartbreak just isn't worth it anymore ("on the outside, I'm smiling like I've never been stung / but on the inside, I'm screaming at the top of my lungs") - again, hardly a fresh perspective, but executed so delicately here it's impossible not to feel touched - while Pretty, which perhaps has the edge, is a more callous look at Hollywood's seductions and pitfalls. "Champagne in my veins, bleach soaking into my brain / the city's making me crazy / but they say pretty is pain." There's something very capital-P pop about their lyricism and the way their hooks are constructed - simplicity over extravagance. Both are a delight.
     
  23. Jark

    Jark bon appètit, baby

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    26. HAIM - Now I'm In It

    After a hazy, strangely low-energy second album wiped out a lot of the goodwill they'd accumulated with their thrilling debut, HAIM might not have begun 2019 as the band the internet was checking for - in some ways it felt like MUNA had moved in to occupy some of their space in the pop landscape, although that trio is more explicitly pop. But talent should never be written off, and HAIM's second single of this year, Now I'm In It, is an absolute behemoth of a song which homages the relentless energy of Savage Garden's I Want You while constructing a tale of a slow descent into depression. By the time the angelic middle 8 comes around, the bass dropping out to put Danielle's falsetto vocal in focus ("took me so long... / to fall / now I'm in it, now I'm in it") you could be forgiven for thinking that feeling bad has never sounded so good. More of this would be most appreciated.
     
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  24. Jark

    Jark bon appètit, baby

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    Jark's Top 10 Albums of 2019

    10. Tove Lo - Sunshine Kitty

    I worried I might be disappointed by Tove's fourth album, and that a second consecutive album I couldn't really get into might confirm that she's not really for me anymore. If it's not quite a triumph, Sunshine Kitty is at least a fun, well-sequenced series of bops which prove ridiculously on-brand for pop's most merrily sexually-liberated chanteuse. What it lacks in classics - don't expect to find a True Disaster here - it makes up for, more or less, with the omnipresence of Tove's unmistakeable character, and closing track Anywhere U Go brings the titular philosophy to life in gloriously sun-drenched fashion.
    Cherry pick: Bad As the Boys, Stay Over, Glad He's Gone, Really Don't Like U, Anywhere U Go

    9. Kim Petras - Clarity

    There's something almost alarming about the military precision with which Kim Petras is assembling her discography, churning out pop which gently pushes her brand forward without making any attempt at revolution. Clarity is the perfect coming together of her songwriting (which is excellent but borders sometimes on too formulaic - chorus first, verse, chorus, repeat, outro where the middle 8 should be etc) and the deliciously shiny production of Aaron Joseph and, umm, you know. We won't talk about that - instead let's focus on the fact that Sweet Spot is a divinely slinky slice of Light Years-era Kylie-aping disco.
    Cherry pick: Sweet Spot, Blow It All, Broken, Do Me

    8. Caroline Polachek - Pang

    Fourteen tracks long but devoid of a single bad song, Pang is a tight solo debut which finds the former Chairlift frontwoman fine-tuning her astonishing voice, packaging it into something more accessible while still hitting notes nobody else could dream of. I Give Up and the indulgently etheral first single Door are easy highlights, but it's So Hot You're Hurting My Feelings which really illuminates. That gasp!
    Cherry pick: Door, I Give Up, Caroline Shut Up, So Hot You're Hurting My Feelings

    7. Harry Styles - Fine Line

    A serious step-up, Harry's sophomore effort touches on various points of reference from 70s light rock to psychedelic funk but never takes itself too seriously, and finds euphoria and joy at regular intervals - only his slightly-too-restrained vocals prevent some songs from going stratospheric.
    Cherry pick: Golden, Watermelon Sugar, Cherry, Sunflower Vol. 6, Fine Line

    6. Shura - Forevher

    Not the triumph her best-of-the-decade debut was, but Forevher finds Shura in a different state of mind, in love rather than broken, and at times beautifully bottles the thrill of being in somebody's thrall. A bland middle section never takes off, but closer Skyline (Be Mine) channels the same other-worldly euphoria as White Light to blinding effect.
    Cherry pick: BKLYNLDN, Religion (U Can Lay Your Hands On Me), Side Effects, Control, Skyline (Be Mine)
     
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  25. Jark

    Jark bon appètit, baby

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    5. MUNA - Saves the World

    MUNA's second album had a mountain to climb - how do you follow-up a towering debut like About U? - but instead of attempting to do so it kind of took a detour and scaled a different peak, a climb more about endurance than the height of the summit (has this metaphor fallen off a cliff yet?). Some of the sheer unbridled emotion of that first album is scaled back here into something more muted and introspective - it's an album about finding ways to face heartbreak head-on, rather than folding to it completely. The production in general is a little less impressive this time, but the songwriting and lyricism in its hyper-specificity is pretty jaw-dropping start to finish. Hard to pick a favourite lyric, but Stayaway comes close - "Any little misstep, I'll be at your doorstep, talkin' bout forgiveness, giving you my heart back, just so you can break it one more time before I say... I gotta stay away." Fuck. That is, obviously, the best song here by quite a distance and a total :disco: affair.
    Cherry pick: Stayaway, Navy Blue, Never, It's Gonna Be Okay Baby

    4. Marina - Love + Fear

    Widely derided online, but Love + Fear (although a clear step down from the thrilling glory of Froot) is not a bad album - at times it's a really very good one. Her voice now is fully transformed into an instrument and she sounds imperial here. Clearly things did not quite go to plan with this record - it's a made-for-radio affair without anything that sounds like a radio hit, and her personality sometimes goes missing behind the live laugh love platitudes - but songs like End of the Earth and the brilliant To Be Human thoroughly knock and add something new to the Marina repertoire.
    Cherry pick: Handmade Heaven, Enjoy Your Life, Believe In Love, To Be Human,End of the Earth

    3. KAYTRANADA - BUBBA

    Hypnotic club beats from some mysterious future where exclusively beautiful people dance all night long. Thank god for an album that understands the value of keeping the record spinning and the night going - no toilet breaks here (except for the shit Estelle track obv), only killer features from a roster of names which reads like a who's who of underrated R&B brilliance - Tinashe, Kali Uchis and VanJess, to name just a few. BUBBA isn't just a command to the dancefloor - it's a statement of intent from an artist who's only just begun showing the world what he's capable of.
    Cherry pick: 100%, Taste, Go DJ, What You Need, The Worst In Me

    2. James Blake - Assume Form

    James Blake was not on my radar before this album. I still haven't backward-investigated, and in fact I'm scared to because the quality of Assume Form is so high I can't imagine how it could match up - this is a record executed with such delicacy and tenderness and love that playing it almost feels like an intrusion. And how rare to hear a work about falling in love, devoid of heartbreak and with only a few sporadic nods to the anxiety of falling, and to feel such intense, heightened emotion. It's a mood piece rather than an everyday listen, but Assume Form is the kind of once-in-a-career record most artists would kill for.
    Cherry pick: Assume Form, Mile High, Barefoot in the Park, Can't Believe the Way We Flow, Don't Miss It

    1. Lana Del Rey - Norman Fucking Rockwell!

    As if it could be anything else. Consider NFR! a full circle moment - almost a decade after Lana had critics thinking they were so smart for concluding that Lana Del Rey must be a character as opposed to the real artistic voice behind the music (and dutifully roasting her for it), this character now has them eating out the palms of her hands. This is, objectively, her best record - a masterpiece which can enjoyed start to end (Bartender? I don't know her!), boasting multiple career-bests and elevating her artistry to such a high level that looking back on her lyricism and storytelling from Born to Die and Ultraviolence now feels borderline comical.
    Cherry pick: Love Song, The Next Best American Record, Cinnamon Girl, Doin' Time, California
     
  26. Jark

    Jark bon appètit, baby

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    this will continue SOON but some more interaction would be QUITE NICE as I feel like I'm monologuing TO MYSELF
     
  27. Mats

    Mats User

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    hurry up, Jarkette, I need some pickings for tonight!
     
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  28. ameraal

    ameraal huzzah!

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    is shura's debut really your favourite album of the decade? i quite liked forevher but it does feel like a bit of a lull after nothing's real. i have nothing good to say about the james blake record, i used to quite like him but his last two albums have been complete snoozefests in my estimations. marina was probably my biggest disappointment of the year.

    i really feel like i should investigate styles - there simply has to be a decent male pop star around and i can't seem to get into any of the others.
    saw kim petras' icy during my stay back home. is there a point to kim petras other than serviceable generic pop songs and realness (slash old-timey sex appeal)?

    also: nfr is officially the most overrated album ever.
     
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  29. Pipo

    Pipo extra large & extra hard

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    About Work the Dancefloor really did THAT! what a wonderful unexpected banger
     
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  30. Jark

    Jark bon appètit, baby

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    not an album of the year list to your taste then :D do investigate the Harry record! The songwriting is really strong.

    I will continue this TONIGHT - I've got some write-ups ready to go cos I'm PREPARED for ONCE
     
  31. POP!

    POP! Coupure Électrique

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    NFR where it should be :disco:

    I can't say I agree with you about "Bartender", though, the only weak link on it for me is "The Greatest". I suppose I see the appeal, it's just not my cup of tea or what I want from Lana.
     
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  32. SDF

    SDF We're all Angles in Chainz

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    I really ought to give the Harry Styles record a spin
     
  33. SDF

    SDF We're all Angles in Chainz

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    Actually come to think of it, the only album I’ve really spent any time with in your list is Marina’s.

    I’ll give the others a listen too.
     
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  34. Jark

    Jark bon appètit, baby

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    25. Sam Smith - How Do You Sleep?

    Following up Dancing With a Stranger with a complimentary slice of sleek dance-pop, Sam delivered a summer bop which sat in the sweet spot of a venn diagram with equal appeal to the gays and the mums - that's talent! Despite some echoes of 2016 in the spliced-up post-chorus, How Do You Sleep? keeps things relatively fresh, turning the finger of blame on somebody who plays mind games and doesn't feel an ounce of guilt about it - "What have I become, lookin' through your phone now? / Love to you is just a game..." - before the satin smooth chorus makes that pain feel like a rich after-dinner cocktail.
     
  35. Jark

    Jark bon appètit, baby

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    24. Shura - Side Effects

    As mentioned in my mini Forevher write-up, Shura's second album is about love - blissful, uncomplicated, infectious, riding the wave of the honeymoon phase for as long as possible. All of that is captured beautifully on Side Effects, the bluesy album opener. She leans gleefully into the cliché in the verses - "Paris is a dream come true / and we don't even need to explore" - before the structure of the song falls out and gives way to an extended post-chorus/outro of "what it is, what it is... is so good.". And you know what? She's not wrong at all.
     
  36. Jark

    Jark bon appètit, baby

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    23. Katy Perry - Never Really Over

    At this point Katy Perry's grand return at the beginning of last summer, and soft re-positioning as an artist who could bother the upper echelons of the Hot 100 once again, feels a bit like a gay fever dream. Did it really happen? Apparently so, even if all of the momentum gathered by Never Really Over has been so thoroughly squandered at this point that she's back to square one. Still, when the pop is as unabashed and celebratory as this, bitching about chart positions seems a bit futile. Produced by Zedd('s ghost team) and with a writing credit for Dagny, whose almost-as-brilliant banger Love You Like That served as inspiration, NRO executes its brief - create a monster summer anthem that feels idiosyncratically Katy but adds a necessary touch of maturity - with total aplomb and a genuine sense of joy, and while it's a shame it couldn't be a springboard to something bigger, it stands nonetheless as one of the very best songs in Katy's impressively-stacked back cat of hits.
     
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  37. Jark

    Jark bon appètit, baby

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    22. MUNA - Navy Blue

    For my money the best album track to be found on MUNA's slightly more uneven second album, Navy Blue conjures images of driving aimlessly along the California coast while Katie Gavin tortures herself with all the unresolved emotions leftover from the wreckage of a relationship. The song reaches its emotional climax on the extended, gloriously subdued middle 8-outro: "Do you know that I've been holding my breath all of this time? / Weren't you gonna love me if I just did everything right? / I'm so blue...". The oceanic imagery of the lyrics combines with one of Gavin's most delicate vocals to paint of a picture of a heartbreak as vast and overwhelming as the sea. Stick it on when you're feeling blue and soak up the misery.
     
  38. Jark

    Jark bon appètit, baby

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    21. Lana Del Rey - The Next Best American Record

    Oh, I love this song. Originally intended as the lead single from Lust For Life and then cut from the album when it leaked (its video went instead to White Mustang, bizarrely), its sound is actually way more in line with that of Norman Fucking Rockwell!, so the universe had its way in the end. And what a crime it would've been if a song this good, this huge, was never anything more than a leaked mp3. Beginning as an acoustic guitar number, The Next Best American Record slowly morphs into something bigger until, in its final two minutes, the sound of smashed glass ushers in a crescendo of high drama. Lyrically, the album version is changed from the demo, shifting the focus from an egocentric star ("There was nothing left by the time we got to bed / baby, that's a shame / you did it all for fame") to a couple ("we gave all we had 'til the time we got to bed / cos we knew we could / it was just that good") whose life together is defined by being the absolute shit. It's not humble, but who gives a fuck about that?
     
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  39. POP!

    POP! Coupure Électrique

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    The fact that I endlessly played the demo version of "The Next Best American Record" may have tainted the album version for me. By any measure, the verses ("my baby used to dance underneath my architecture...") are so intimate and lovely in either version. Not a huge fan of the album version re-work of the chorus (particularly the second half), which sounds clunkier than the demo to me. What I love about NFR is that it shows she can still do Born to Die-esque magic (See "Cinnamon Girl") and warmth like this or "Happiness is a Butterfly".

    Regarding Katy, I quite like "Never Really Over" for what it is, but the only Katy adjacent track I've regularly re-visited this year is "365". She seems gun shy to release another full blown album because she is scared it will flop like Witness, but shoving out 6-7/10 tracks every 3 months with diminishing returns is not the answer. If she had any momentum with NRO it is certainly gone now. I'd like her to follow Miley and do an EP or two.
     
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  40. Jark

    Jark bon appètit, baby

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    I'm not sure Miley is the model to base her strategy on teebs :D
     

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