We are just over halfway through 2019, and the amount of amazing music that we have been blessed with thus far is nearly enough to help us forget about everything less than amazing going on in the world around us…nearly. So, with an ever-growing list of albums, mini-albums, projects, mixtapes, and the like filling up our Spotify queue, we wanted to take a moment to recognize some of the best projects that have graced our eardrums this year. In no particular order, these are 15 of the best albums of 2019 (so far).
Billie Eilish – WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?
Favorite track: “bury a friend”
2019 was undoubtedly Billie Eilish’s breakout year. From delivering a momentous Coachella debut to delivering one of the most anticipated albums of the decade, Eilish did not just leave her mark, she took a blazing hot iron rod and engraved her name. WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? arrived as a thrilling, hypnotic, and brilliantly ominous vision from one of pop’s new stars. Doing more than simply delivering on all the hype that had come to encompass the pop star in the matter of less than year, Eilish broke free of any expectations to present an album that took the world by storm.
Aries – Welcome Home
Favorite track: “BAD NEWS”
Aries is arguably one of the most underrated figures in the music scene today. Originally rising to cult-like fame with a series of YouTube videos that spanned the range from production deconstruction videos to re-imagining Migos as a Mariachi band, the producer and artist’s debut mini album WELCOME HOME proved him to be so much more than just an enigmatic viral force. With an infectious blend of emo, hip-hop, and alternative rock aesthetics, Aries brought to a life a world brimming with soaring highs and crushing lows.
Lizzo – CUZ I LOVE YOU
Favorite track: “Juice”
Self-love feels like Lizzo sounds. Combining her upbringing in Houston rap, gospel soul, and classical flute (yes, the queen kills it on the flute), Lizzo’s major label debut Cuz I Love You cemented her place in the modern hip-hop vernacular. Abounding with humor, charisma, and an overflowing wealth of sexual and body positivity, the 14-track offering is a deft illustration of the power of simply loving yourself and singing your praises delivered in a remarkable package of hip-hop and R&B.
Kevin Abstract – ARIZONA BABY
Favorite track: “Peach” (feat. bearface, JOBA, Dominic Fike)
Few artists can maintain the level of visceral excitement that BROCKHAMPTON leader Kevin Abstract keeps up throughout ARIZONA BABY’s 11-track run. Produced by Jack Antonoff and featuring Ryan Beatty, Dominic Fike, and fellow BROCKHAMPTON members JOBA and bearface, the solo project cemented Abstract as an undeniable hip-hop auteur. With the way Abstract waxes poetry on his past demons, dreams of rap stardom in the context of first seeing Tyler, the Creator live, and the lived gay experience, ARIZONA BABY is essential listening for 2019 and beyond.
Tyler, the Creator – IGOR
Favorite track: “EARFQUAKE” (feat. Playboi Carti, Charlie Wilson, Jessy Wilson)
Any “best albums of 2019” compilation list that does not feature Tyler, the Creator’s IGOR is sorely missing the mark. Tyler, the Creator has long existed as one of rap’s most polarizing figures, but, with the release of Flower Boy in 2017, he released what felt like a landmark album… and then came IGOR. With bold experimental production, a host of spectacular features, and a sound quite unlike anything else out there at the moment, this is Tyler, the Creator’s magnum opus. Well, at least until he drops his next album.
Lewis Capaldi – DIVINELY UNINSPIRED TO A HELLISH EXTENT
Favorite track: “Grace”
In the span of less than two years, Lewis Capaldi has witnessed a meteoric rise to fame. The Scottish singer-songwriter went from amazing crowds in pubs in his native Whitburn to selling out arenas across the world, all thanks to the power of his voice and moving songwriting. It is an innate gift that Scottish singer channels in his long-awaited album DIVINELY UNINSPIRED TO A HELLISH EXTENT, which arrives as a heart-rending portrait of an artist on the rise to worldwide stardom. Plus, it doesn’t hurt he’s a hilarious guy with a stellar Tinder bio to boot.
slowthai – Nothing Great About Britain
Favorite track: “Gorgeous”
Nothing Great About Britain is an obvious social commentary on a post-Brexit Britain, but it is more than just a reaction to a singular political event. The debut album from critically-acclaimed UK rapper slowthai, Nothing Great About Britain is an unflinching glimpse into everything from his upbringing in the council estates of North Hampton to a country increasingly mired in toxic nationality. Sonically, slowthai’s debut is as complex as the social and political issue the UK rapper deftly tackles.
Stella Donnelly – Beware of the Dogs
Favorite track: “Old Man”
A proudly self-proclaimed shit-stirrer, it comes as no surprise that Stella Donnelly first introduced her debut album with a lead single that doubled as a biting single of a generation of men whose time is up. The aforementioned single “Old Man” is not the only moment on Beware of the Dogs that the Australian singer-songwriter leverages her knack for infusing cutting socio-political commentary into an infectious brand of jangly indie rock. From “Boys Will Be Boys” to the titular track “Beware of the Dogs,” Donnelly’s debut carries with it a salient message told through stirring song.
Maggie Rogers – Heard It In a Past Life
Favorite track: “Give a Little”
Maggie Rogers’ musical résumé holds two impressive distinctions. She is one of the few musicians to make Pharrell Williams visibly shed tears, and she released an album earlier this year that you absolutely need to be listening to. Heard It In A Past Life, the lauded debut album from Rogers, combined folk, dance, pop and R&B to unprecedented effect and established her as different sort of star. With a musical vision that stays wholly true to herself, while still finding the space to explore newfound territory, this is an album you need in your life.
Carly Rae Jepsen – Dedicated
Favorite track: “Too Much”
There are no two ways about it; Carly Rae Jepsen is a pop icon. More than just a one-hit wonder (with that being said, “Call Me Maybe” has most definitely stood the test of time), the long-awaited follow-up to Emotion arrived this year to widespread acclaim. Dedicated channels all the joy pop and disco has brought with them over the years to present a collection of songs that relishes in the emotional rush of being both lovesick and heartbroken. This is pop done right.
Flume – Hi This Is Flume (Mixtape)
Favorite track: “How To Build A Relationship” (feat. JPEGMAFIA)
After what felt like an eon of radio silence, electronic auteur Flume returned in brilliant and unconventional fashion. Returning not with an album but a mixtape, Hi This Is Flume saw the Australian producer and artist shying away from the pop-minded inclinations of Skin to deliver a wildly experimental electronic spectacle. Enlisting some of music’s most avant-garde figures, from slowthai, SOPHIE, to JPEGMAFIA, Hi This Is Flume is a glimpse into an artist who forever changed the landscape of electronic music.
Wallows – Nothing Happens
Favorite track: “Are You Bored Yet?” (feat. Clairo)
In many ways, Wallows’ debut album has been a decade in the making. Operating as a band since they were eleven, Braeden Lemasters, Dylan Minnette, and Cole Preston first whisked up a palpable fervor for their full-length project in 2017 with the release of their debut single “Pleaser.” Wallows channeled the excitement surrounding any hint of their highly-anticipated debut album into a collection of exhilarating, emotional-driven indie rock and anti pop perfection. Nothing Happens is a sonic embodiment of a shared childhood dream placed alongside the realities of growing up.
Steve Lacy – Apollo XXI
Favorite Track: “Like me” (feat. DAISY)
Steve Lacy, who you may know as the bassist, guitarist, and producer for The Internet, invokes the mystical air of a decades-long R&B, funk, and soul tradition in his debut album Apollo XXI. There is a novel yet nostalgic quality to the whole affair, as if you were to suddenly awake in the ‘70s with the sun peeking through your blinds on a warm summer day. The timeless nature of Lacy’s debut makes it feel like that this is not only one of 2019’s best album, but perhaps one of this generation’s best.
Nilüfer Yanya – Miss Universe
Favorite Track: “In Your Head”
Black Mirror and breathtaking indie rock build the crux for Nilüfer Yanya’s spellbinding debut album Miss Universe. The West London native’s portrait of reality blurs the lines between dystopic technological vision and haunting picture of reality itself through a collection of songs that nears the sacred, terrifying space of a fully-realized concept album. Whether you take it as a concept album or not, there is a resounding sense of urgency to be found in the exhilarating body of work Yanya has put together.
Ariana Grande – thank u, next
Favorite Track: “thank u, next”
From Arichella to surprise dropping quite possibly the breakup track that will define a generation, 2019 belonged to Ariana Grande. thank u, next illustrated Grande’s consistently jaw-dropping range, her gift for transforming sweet nothings to lovelorn anthems, and most of all, the promise of a lasting pop star. The veritable pop star certainly has come a long way from her humble beginnings as a child star.