If you’re reading this, that means that 2019 is already half finished—I know, we’re just as shocked as you are. Since half of the year has already pasted, that means we’ve already experienced half a year of new music, and since summer has arrived, new music is always a good thing to have in your pocket. So, in the vein of P!nk’s 2010 compilation album Greatest Hits…So Far!!!, here are our picks for some of the year’s best songs and albums…so far.
Avril Lavigne, Head Above Water
In what can only be described as one of her most emotionally intense offerings to date, Avril Lavigne returned earlier this year with her first album in nearly six years. Head Above Water deals with a lot of emotions lyrically—most of which were inspired by her battle with Lyme disease, which contributed to her absence from the limelight in recent years—as well as themes of heartbreak, overcoming emotional difficulties, and growing up. For those who have indeed grown up listening to Avril Lavigne, Head Above Water is a breath of fresh air. Full review here.
Betty Who, Betty
After parting ways with her previous label RCA last year (with whom she released her first two albums), Betty Who took the pop music world by storm with her third studio album and first record released independently, Betty. Reminiscent of Robyn and Carly Rae Jepsen, the album throws everyone’s expectations of her out the window in favor of a carefree, unapologetic approach that certainly resulted in one of this year’s most standout pop efforts.
(Photo: LÉON Recordings)
In one of the most impressive debut albums in recent memory, Swedish singer/songwriter LÉON released her first full-length record after years of impeccably underrated EPs released under Columbia Records. Emotional but not melancholy, catchy and upbeat but free of gimmicky sounds, LÉON celebrates dancing your tears away with an indie pop meets soul sound reminiscent of Adele, Amy Winehouse, and Lana Del Rey, but still incredibly unique equipped with LÉON’s songwriting ability to punch you in the heart.
Ben Platt, Sing to Me Instead
Remember Benji from Pitch Perfect who won a Tony Award for his critically acclaimed run as the title character in the Broadway play Dear Evan Hansen? Well, since more than proving his vocal ability on the stage, Platt signed with Atlantic Records and released his debut studio album, Sing to Me Instead, an easy-listening ode to quieting the voices in our heads, finding love, fighting the fear of growing older, and learning to love life. Think Michael Bublé, but with a bit more of an emotional edge that packs a punch you don’t see coming.
Marina, Love + Fear
Marina, now without the Diamonds, returned with her fourth studio album whose general theme revolves around a psychological theory that love and fear are the only two human emotions, and we cannot feel them at the same time since they are opposites. Marina, however, proves very quickly that these emotions overlap almost constantly: love, fear, happiness, sadness, anxiety, depression, and so many others are explored throughout Love + Fear, two 8-track collections that form a set. Throughout a journey to feel like a real human being again after being in the spotlight for too long, Marina offers her own take on the experience of living life and what it truly means to be human. Full review here.
Olivia O’Brien, Was It Even Real?
I discovered Olivia O’Brien last year by chance when one of her music videos popped up in my recommended videos section on YouTube. I was instantly taken aback by the dark but honest tone of her lyrics—an artist who puts particular feelings into words that we often don’t want to say out loud. She’s said in interviews that she has suffered from depression since she was seven years old, and has used songwriting as an outlet for her feelings for as long as she can remember. Was It Even Real?, O’Brien’s full-length debut album, deals with themes of heartbreak, depression, anxiety, bad habits, self-destructive habits, and learning to love yourself—with some catchy bops about boy problems, too. It also just feels real, despite what the title suggests: the truth is, as much as we’re told we need to love ourselves first and let go of all negativity and bad habits and whatever else, we still find ourselves unable to let go because those things are hard. It also celebrates the reality of accepting our bad habits and our depression or anxiety, because fighting the feeling often gets you nowhere. Full review here.
“Don’t Feel Like Crying” – Sigrid
Sometimes you just don’t feel like crying, and sometimes you just have to dance! Sigrid puts this feeling into words in the last single released ahead of her debut studio album, Sucker Punch.
“Thief” – Alice Chater
In the vein of “Sweet But Psycho” by Ava Max, British pop singer Alice Chater provides her own attempt to break into the Top 40 with a new pop song whose sound and lyrics offers throwback vibes to the 2000s.
“Don’t Call Me Up” – Mabel
In what can only be described as the year’s biggest breakout pop song so far, Mabel is set to release her full-length debut album this summer and hopefully it will contain more contagious, sassy bops like this one.
“I’m So Tired…” – Lauv & Troye Sivan
A love song about hating love songs? With a music video released on Valentine’s Day? We are here for it.
“Love Me & Let Me Go” – Ashley Tisdale
A poignant love song about breaking up with your anxiety and separating yourself from it, released as the second single from Ashley Tisdale’s first album in ten years, Symptoms.
“Low Key” – Ally Brooke feat. Tyga
Fifth Harmony’s Ally Brooke proved with her debut single that we should low-key, low-key get to know her as a solo artist. We are hooked and listening intently for whatever comes next!
“Love Myself” – Olivia O’Brien
A power anthem about loving yourself and everything you see in the mirror wholeheartedly, even when that’s hard.
“Bad Habit” – Ben Platt
Sometimes we just have one of those days when we don’t want to come out, and we turn back to that bad habit. But Ben Platt is here to remind us that it’s okay, because he does that, too.
“Bloodline” – Ariana Grande
On the best song from her latest studio effort Thank U, Next, Ariana Grande sings about dismissing other people’s negativity and expectations, and loving who you are, as you are.
“The Feeling” – Victoria Duffield
In what is probably already the year’s most underrated jam from her new album Day Won, Victoria Duffield sings about when the feeling is just so strong and so happy, all you want to do is sing along.
“Dumb Blonde” – Avril Lavigne
If I may borrow a comment from YouTube… “this sounds like the song from the credits of a 2006 movie.” If we disregard the glib version featuring Nicki Minaj, which unfortunately is the only version available on streaming services, “Dumb Blonde” is Avril Lavigne’s most memorable single to date, sassily dismissing other people’s interpretations of her as well as anyone who has ever felt stereotyped.
“Last Hurrah” – Bebe Rexha
A short but sweet celebration of attempting to let go of bad habits, but then realizing that you’ll still be the same tomorrow if you don’t.
“You and I” – LÉON
An ode to both love and heartbreak, LÉON delivers a contagious lead single from her debut album, making clear why she’s definitely one to watch on this year’s indie pop scene.
Listen to our playlist on Spotify to hear some more of our picks for the best songs of 2019 so far! Be sure to give the playlist a follow as well, since we will be updating it regularly with more picks for the year’s best as they come at us!