I was waiting until I'd finished typing this up before I would decide to post this, and as of just a moment again, most of the important stuff is all finished. So on Thursday, my latest assault of a lot of music and a lot of words will begin.
In the immortal words of Tkay Maidza, last year was weird. I had a spur of the moment attempt in submitting to SGDQ, having previously attempted AGDQ in 2017. I was initially hopeful that I had a chance just because it felt like they were relatively quiet about promoting it this year, only for me to find out that about 2000 people had submitted with only about 150 vacancies. So whenever I mentioned that I'd submitted, it was always with the expectation that it would go nowhere. As someone who is frequently dizzy and loses all mental faculties in the morning (just a couple days ago, I was convinced that I tweeted a weird inside joke that reads as extremely sexist out of context, further because I knew only at this time of day would I not think something like that through), I cannot begin to describe the bizarre feeling of seeing myself accepted. It was like the 5 stages of grief, but instead for something unexpectedly good. I must be dreaming, I must have misinterpreted it, there must be a mistake. Seeing my relatively niche speed game in an event alongside some of the biggest games, and biggest names in speedrunning is so jarring. And so a few months later, after having only spent about a week of my life outside of two states of Australia, I find myself stumbling through customs in LAX with my dream and too many layers of clothing to make the experience at all convenient. I'm not particularly convinced the overseas experience is for me, there's a lot of moving pains having all your usual conveniences either taken away or altered significantly, to the point that feeding myself became a major roadblock in general. But still, being at SGDQ was such a memorable experience. Outside if the clique-ness where most people are in groups and so I feel scared to approach them (particularly if I recognise them, ahhh), I never at all felt like I was making a scene just by being me. I even got to feel a bit special because everyone at the event had a name tag, but I was one of the minority with a 'runner' name tag, which at least got a few people talking to me on elevator rides. Actually I remember having a long conversation with someone at the Minnesota airport (we ended up waiting like an hour for a shuttle bus), fanboying over speedrunning in general and casually getting to mention that I was doing a run as well. We kept bumping into each other at the hotel which was amusing. There was an unexpected mishap upon arrival, because I didn't realise just how difficult it would be to get WiFi, which I was relying on to get into contact with my commentators. It JUST SO HAPPENED that I ended up checking into the hotel at the same time as one of them, who I had not seen in person before this, but faintly recognised their voice and so getting to surprise them. It was thanks to heading to their room to borrow their laptop that I managed to get the ACI counted up that night :p We had a lot of fun hanging out, preparing for the speedrun, which is where so many of those troll moments in the commentary came about. Preparing for the run itself was very important, and I'd ended up installing Furi on I think at least 10 different computers there, doing multiple runs every day. Most notably as I tweeted out, the day before my run, I had two early morning runs. The first one was awful, mediocre, possibly the worst run I did all week. The next one beat my previous world record by about 15 seconds, despite me avoiding risky early time saves because these were no-reset runs. Not a single other person was in the room at any point of this, I wasn't recording it because 1. I don't know how I could there, 2. Why bother when I wasn't even attempting WR pace, nor was I getting close. This run was so spectacularly good that I only eventually managed to beat it 5 months later largely thanks to a new exploit. The on camera run felt like it was there and done in a blink of an eye. The most memorable thing for me though is not anything during the run, but beforehand. We were told in email to arrive 15 minutes before the run started, which I knew, I'd re-read the instructions many times. I spent that morning just watching the event from my hotel room, and then some 45 minutes before my run, I get an urgent message on discord to get to the stream room immediately. I assumed it was a mix up but arrived anyway, and ended up seemingly opening Pandora's Box. Despite the event having been going for over 3 days at this point, apparently it was me who showed the staff the misunderstanding, since it was ALWAYS supposed to be that you get there 45 minutes in advance. In general it was really eye-opening to see things from behind the scenes. There was a lot of stress about the fact that the runner just before me was so focused in on his commentary, that he wasn't giving any break for donation reads, or to promote an incentive run that was coming up (hence my awkward StarCraft shout out in my run). I went back to my hotel room with my email absolutely buzzing with twitch follower notifications, and my Twitter notifications also went wild for a bit because I was inadvertedly tagged in a Q&A. There's an interview at the end of my run which has nothing to do with me, but I'm tagged in every tweet that shows up on screen. I also spent much of that weekend on the Puyo Puyo Tetris arcade, having wholesome fun with people of all skill levels (there was a Puyo Puyo player who absolutely destroyed me), because ever since Tetris 99 came out I have been on a massive Tetris kick. Not many people can claim to have won Tetris 99 matches on both sides of the world. On the whole though, as relatively uneventful as it felt, I feel like my US trip is something that I will have dumb anecdotes from for a very long time.
This was such a big part of my 2019 that I feel like music has taken a backseat. I'd even further branch Tetris into this because I've spent so much time putting a task on my plate as I listen to music that I suspect I'm not really taking in the music as well as I should. Making this list too longer than it probably should have because there are so many songs that I could just not really recall without listening back to them. This could also be a symptom of me having heard way too much music in my lifetime to possibly remember everything, but I dunno. I think 2019 was an interesting year though. I feel like it'll never really get its dues though because I feel like people making end of decade lists are hesitant to include such a fresh year in their proceedings (if they even waited for it to be over), and now, after enough time, we'll be referring to everything with respect to the 2020s as a decade. Come 2029, and you'll see stuff dismissed as 'being from 2019' and thus ejected from all possible conversation. Then again, late 2019 is already having trouble showing itself. I heard "Senorita" when I was overseas in June, and that is the last song released to go to #1 on the ARIA Chart still. Mainly though, I think I got into too much of a perfunctory groove with my music discovery, to the point that there is so much that I just haven't listened to, or given ample attention to. I suspect this list is riddled with cases of 'why this and not this' but I just haven't heard so much essential music so I feel I'll be forever playing catch up. That's not really to disparage the list, as I do stand by it, I just acknowledge that it might be a bit weird, and more so than ever before, I could very readily believe that my true favourite song of 2019 is a song I just haven't heard.
The most peculiar thing about Spotify's increased prominence in my music discovery is the way it groups Australia and New Zealand together. While triple j will proudly wave a flag for Australia, it has no reason to prop up the other big nearby island nation. Subsequently, I'm fairly certain I hear far more New Zealand based music than ever before and as such, this list is filled with so many Kiwis. One such is So Below, who made a bold impression with this dark, lumbering tune that straddles between pop & dance. The drop arrives with a massive thud that somehow manages to intensify it further.
This if nothing else illustrates just how much less new music I heard in 2019 compared to 2018. In short, I'm fairly certain I prefer "Body" to this, but where that song was pushed out by the entire discographies of Camp Cope & Mitski, this makes it through to the top 100 to give the face value impression that I only like Julia's uptempo songs. While a lot of her songs draw from a personal place, this one is especially relatable because who hasn't felt that societal urge to fit in with everyone else?
I'm certain I've said this before but even as a kid who didn't think much of pop music or the people making it, I respected Alicia Keys as a talented artist in that vein. I can't say for sure if it was for valid reasons or that she was just deliberately marketed to get that easy impression, but it worked. Growing up has made me realise that there was more truth to that than just 'she can play an instrument and sing well', as I've gotten to respecting her musical craft a lot more since then. Ever since she stopped getting chart hits, her music has gotten even more creative. It would be easy to compare the stark composition of "Raise A Man" to say, "You Don't Know My Name"'s wistfulness, but really this song feels composed in the same way as a D'Angelo song or something. The highlight for me is the bridge, with a sudden shift in tone and extremely captivating multi-tracked vocal melodies, I wish that bit went on for longer.
Assumably, MGMT just like to troll End Of Year list makers by releasing new singles in December. I wasn't even rushing out to hear this. When it came out, I was lazily just passively listening to new music and not looking at it. I heard something that felt like it was so heavily aping The Cure, but it didn't cross my mind at the time that it was MGMT. Given some time to warm to it, it's a pretty welcome follow up to "Little Dark Age", with some of the tightest melodic focus they've ever had. My only beef with the song is that 92 seconds into it, there's a little boop that sounds like the Discord notification sound and it drives me batty every time I hear it.
My opinion of this wavered a bit, something that's not really represented much on my chart because it's not really how I put it together. It's not that I started disliking it, but I've just had very differing moods about the song's overall potential, while also having it get a bit swamped out by a later single (not helped by the hook of this song being a lyric that could easily belong to a song of either title). It's more Grimes in industrial lane, with a hint of scorn elevating the big chorus hook.
I have a very atypical entry point into "MAGDELENE" because I didn't initially catch on with "cellophane", and instead the track that got me interested in the album was this, the most polarising track on the album. The reception of the album seems to be healing it (like with Kendrick's "i") but for fans of twigs' ephereal lane, I can see why this Future collaboration wouldn't tick those boxes. For me though, this has some of the most hypnotic production on the album, with Future often used as a backdrop to great effect.
This song feels like it's won the Robyn sweepstakes of universally beloved pop song that's a million miles away from any national charts. Although this did get a lot of airplay in the UK so maybe sales could have carried it somewhere but obviously streaming is gonna be a big barrier to entry. Like many songs before it, it rides on idiosyncrasies that deeply fascinate me. While it's fun to try and put yourself in the mindset that causes media to be created, sometimes you have things like the chorus of this song and you just can't work out how it's a thing, but then you're so compelled that maybe that's the point. I don't have any material GIFs for you, but this is a song with staying power.
I made the observation recently that despite getting considerably more popular over the years, the demographics of Spotify mean that on those charts, she has never charted higher than she did back in 2013, when she was just a triple j Unearthed High upstart with a few songs on the radio. Every time since then I've been impressed when she polls in the Hottest 100 at all but I'm pretty sure it's a given now. "Not Angry Anymore" was a curious title for me, just because with how much she's drawn in as a peripheral to controversy, I'm surprised more Facebook dolts haven't riffed on it. Either way, it's another very delicately produced uptempo tune that I found myself really gravitating to.
92. Young Franco (feat Reva DeVito & Golden Vessel) - Otherside
I'm a little surprised at just how much I ended up liking this song because it could on the surface be something that just passes through me. There are so many collaborations like this in Australian dance music after all. This song just has that little something extra I think. Reva's vocals are sultry and playful, and musically there's a lot of bounce to it as well. On some level it feels a bit 'let's see how much different stuff we can pack into this', but like the occasional Ultimate Chicken Horse game, that foundation can make it feel all the better when it works.
Once upon a time, Jasmine Thompson was the most recently born artist to score an ARIA top 10 hit. With this song I'm reminded of how Sasha Sloan first made a name for herself collaborating with Kaskade, ODESZA & Kygo, but now makes downtempo sounds about anxiety. This bears absolutely no resemblance to Jasmine's Robin Schulz upbringing is what I'm trying to say. Heavy on multi-tracked vocals, this song is like coming to a bed that's already warm like in the morning (can you tell I'm writing this at 4am?), but it's not just relying on gimmicks because she shines through with a stellar performance. I've tried to no avail to work out the origin of the song's outro, which I want to believe is a pre-fame Jasmine (she sounds a lot younger there) with a recording to show how far she's come in terms of production values. It's really cute nonetheless.
Tame Impala's popularity is a peculiar thing. Not just in the way that "The Less I Know The Better" has become a belated behemoth in streaming figures, but every time they release a new single, it always makes a brief splash as well, despite it being a psychedelic rock project that's been in the spotlight for well over a decade now. This is one of the more unusual UK chart entries of 2019 and it's made more unusual by the fact that it's their only one, arriving at the peak of their popularity intrigue. Mind you, the psychedelic rock aspect might be a bit incorrect at this stage, as it's transformed quite heavily into synth pop, but still without much semblance of pop song structure. Almost like it's the kind of song to require patience so the cavalcade of hooks sink in. It's no "Let It Happen" but it's quite a nice moment.
I know what you're all thinking. It was nice of me to write a review of this song, but did I have to make it so short? Legitimately there's a lot I could still say about this song. Some stuff that I was already well aware of, other stuff that only became clear after the fact.
The main thing for me I've learnt is that over time I've started to really relate to this song. Months and months ago I was pondering if despite this song's extra success, it might still be surpassed in the Hottest 100 by her previous single, just because it's harder to imagine as many people connecting to this song on a personal level, as anything more than a catchy tune. It's what it was for me, instantly catchy to the point of wanting to hear it more and more, but nothing more. Of course, this isn't just random words set to a tune, because there's certainly a very real frustration being explored here, the frustration of a busker whose only purpose is to submit to the whims of anyone who will help bankroll you in a small way, who possibly just wants you to be an outlet to get a quick high.
Social interactions are difficult. I am someone who spends much of my day doing things that cannot purposely serve as anecdotes, no one wants to hear about the time I spend typing out the NZ Hot Tracks chart into a spreadsheet, and even if they did, I have nothing of note to say about it because it so often just glides through me after it's done. I'm also just bad at social interactions because I have trouble knowing what information to retain, and because I'm so often pre-occupied with my own bubble, it means I don't retain very much. So I can't really start up a conversation with genuine intent because I know it's all just going to go in one ear and out the other. I seriously respect those who can remember the occupations, schedules and relations of everyone around them because I cannot remotely do the same.
So I have trouble talking to people because I have nothing in my life to possibly be enriched by a greater level of audience input or observation, nor anything really worthy of monthly update. I do have one thing going for me though, because for the past 2 and a half years I've been a world record holder in a video game. When I first got it, it was about 11pm and I was so excited I called up my brother to tell him about it. It's spiraled out to the point that basically everyone in my life knows about it, but in some ways it's the only thing they know about me. Every family outing I go to, I'll certainly have at least one person ask me about how my record breaking is going.
I swear I'm not being resentful about this, but you get a peculiar situation where some undue tension arises through no ill will or action. I want to appreciate that someone is going out of their way to know enough about me to want to invite an otherwise withdrawn person into conversation, on some level I do, and I'd feel like a right asshole if I didn't. On the other hand, I find myself feeling the same frustration as Tones And I. It really clicked with me last month, when I was out for gatherings because of my birthday and Christmas. The usual thing happened, but furthermore, there was something else that I started to notice. I think it was always there, but perhaps in the wake of this song it became more apparent. Several times I've been told that I need to buckle down and keep pushing my record even further down. Obviously it's just harmless encouragement, but I find it hard to fully avoid the perspective that I'm seen less as a person, and more a personality free robot whose sole purpose is to provide a more succinct answer to 'how quickly can Furi be beaten?'. It's a frustration that you can only understand from my perspective, where attempting a record means taking serious time out of my day and dealing with demoralising failure after demoralising failure as I wait for the stars to align more so than they ever before. It's made more extreme by the allegory of the song's closing lyric 'When you're done I'll make you do it all again'. Because with speedrunning, there is rarely a perfect, attainable goal. Every new record is a run that could have been faster if not for so and so, thus you're never really complete. So all of this came about shortly after I made my biggest world record improvement ever, pushing the time under 28 minutes when nobody else even has an official time under 29 minutes. I was ecstatic when I pulled it off, but if I ever beat it, it'll just have been another stepping stone in the greater picture, and its replacement will still not be good enough either. Again, it's not something I can remotely consider worthy of resentment, it's just this complicated issue where I wish it weren't expressed like that but ultimately no one is really in the wrong.
Dehumanisation is dangerous though. It can lead to serious heated conflict because the part of one's brain that provides them empathy cannot tackle their inhibitions to be at their cruelest. If I find the extremely exaggerated disapproval that this song and Tones And I get, I wonder if it could possibly be attributed to an outsider status. Anyone can say that the charts have become stale because it's the same popular artists running around all the time (though I'm strongly hesitate to say it's not been like that for decades and decades), but how many people will admit that it's what they want. An artist likes Tones And I can be an outlet for this rage because she's an outsider. You can't relate to her as a person because you likely know nothing about her the same way you do The Weeknd or Post Malone, which comes from years of hearing their music. Furthermore, it's going to be a lot harder to find anyone to stand up for her because it's hard to become zealously supportive of an artist who has no interest in portraying a star ready image, and only has a small handful of music out anyway. If there were more, you'd sooner find people thinking 'well I guess if my friend likes them, there must be something there'. I want to hear more from her because I feel like in a weird way I relate to her more than any other chart star. Y'know, an awkward Australian millennial who can't really fit in properly and has to make do anyway. I wish her ARIA Awards speech was longer (I remember seeing a further elaboration about it on instagram but I can't find it now. It was detailing her own struggles with anxiety and I imagine stems in no small part from this surprise monster success being met with endless bile in her notifications, which could wear down anyone) because it really spoke to me. She seems genuinely down to earth, not in the 'I like surfing and just hanging out' kind of way but in the 'societal pressures fill me with cripping anxiety and I can't pretend there's a surefire solution' kind of way. This song has been such a crucial fixture of my 2019 that it wouldn't feel right if it wasn't in this list.
This is the part where I awkwardly praise Usher for the star quality he's always had while just casually ignoring the complete absence of a table at the bottom of this post. Truth be told though, there are plenty of artists I like who've never cracked these lists, it's not easy to do so. Markedly, Black Coffee has been closer to these lists than Usher ever has with his stellar Drake (notably from the north, he's from the Canada) collaboration on "Get It Together". Together they fit like a glove, with Black Coffee's production remaining consistently dynamic, and Usher bringing the intensity that only he can bring.
File under bands I never got around to listening to very much. File under bands I possibly should have gotten to listening to sooner. This is pure raucous energy, carrying the flag for so many in Australian rock who paved the way originally. The instrumental breaks sound straight out of "Nonagon Infinity" which is a compliment of the highest order. Goes in and out quickly enough to not wear out its welcome with repetition.
It really is a fascinating song. It's kind of curious to see a big hit single from arguably the biggest artist of the year that doesn't really have much in the way of overstated melodies. They're there of course, but never really break the tension brought out by the moody backdrop. Somehow manages to sound both playful and horrifying, like the dichotomy of a scary clown.
85. Party Favor (feat A$AP Ferg & Juicy J) - Wait A Minute
Juicy J and A$AP Ferg's forte at times can be mindless bangers, you might not have realised that combined with its remix, "Plain Jane" has more streams on Spotify than any A$AP Rocky song. That song just feels understated next to this song that sadly doesn't even have 1% as many streams, as it sets its thesis statement very early and never lets up on the energy. But perhaps the relative obscurity means I can claim this as MY mindless banger, because for so much of 2019 this was just my song that I could always put on to amp myself up.
There is perhaps too much that can be said about the paradigm shift slowly occurring with popular music. Certainly in the US where the inclusion of radio (and the conservatism of it) into the Billboard Charts has always contributed to a feeling where the history books paint a relatively watered down interpretation of events. It's something that's been pegged at streaming services, but really I think radio is the biggest culprit of 'you have to play along with our demands to get our vital contribution'. Billie Eilish doesn't really seem to play along with these rules at all. Even on this, her most blatantly pop ready hit to date, it feels several focus groups away from perfunctory product. It's just that she's gotten so popular that everyone else has to adapt to her and FINNEAS's vision of what music can sound like. Her success makes me so happy because it's the kick in the gut that pop music needs to stay relevant (and hey, maybe it might also teach people that internal rhyming is a legitimate technique). As for me, I heard this song basically on the moment it dropped and instantly thought she was onto another winner.
This song has a very misleading intro as the first 20 seconds always tricks me into thinking I've put on a track from David Bowie's "Blackstar", and that's not even the part of the song that's supposed to be a sample I think. Otherwise this song is just the perfect amount of chill without feeling lethargic. Yuna has an incredible knack for weaving delight through her smooth vocals. Tyler's verse is...not his best for 2019 but aside from the pants lyric, it's not too much of a distraction from this coastal breeze of a song.
It's a sign of a good album when you find yourself wanting to pick back through it not just for the singles, but for so many of the deep cuts that make their own unique impression. While the opening trio of "MAGDALENE" is ephereal, the mask is truly off by "holy terrain" only to go to its most manic of moments shortly after. This song feels twisted, only brought to reality by twigs' often very distinctly British accent, though it's not enough to stop her from sounding particularly menacing at the song's most off-the-rails moments.
In 2018, ARIA answered to Australia's hip hop community and its frequent frustration with their Award for 'Best Urban Album', which aside from feeling like a token nod to a genre that supposedly doesn't have enough credibility to win the main awards, uses the word 'Urban' which is deeply rooted in racial division, basically lumping all the predominantly black art forms together. Solving this problem, they renamed it 'Best Urban Release'. In all seriousness though, they did finally split it up into Hip Hop and Soul/R&B awards in 2019, and there was much rejoicing (though Matt Corby & Tash Sultana seem like weird fits for the latter). There was even more rejoicing when the inaugural winner for the former was this single by Sampa The Great, not that ARIA had time to show it on the broadcast because I dunno, a live snake is more important for viewers tuning into the Australian music awards. In any case, it was a huge accomplishment and show of vitality in a genre whose popular representatives (with no individual disrespect) don't really encompass the diversity of the scene. This is the sound of an artist still full of vitality years after making her debut. Much like a noted intergalactic tyrant, this isn't even her final form.
I've seen a frequent reaction to Weyes Blood reaction where the hype very much precedes the album, but also almost everyone immediately realises just how justified it is. Like if your first thought is 'oh, another chamber pop singer, how quaint', perhaps, but also I should always think execution is the most important factor, where as a whole, she just seems to get everything right. While it may suffer from not having an obvious title, and thus I have trouble recalling it from blank, it also has one of her most beautiful choruses, perhaps leading this to being the most streamed song on the album.
I remember seeing someone on reddit posting about triple j Breakfast line ups on one of the 100 threads about that, that Alex Dyson & Woodes were in a relationship, but since Alex doesn't have the radio gig anymore, that she's probably the one paying the bills, which struck me as a fascinating look into the fact that everyone seems to think that musicians make more money than they actually do (I remember a FasterLouder article about this, where Bluejuice note that even with hit songs, they barely scraped together a living annual wage). That has nothing to do with this song but I think about it every now and then. At the very least here, after years of catching my attention with assorted singles, Woodes has cracked the big list with this track. "Silent Disco" is already an engaging title, while it also has a pretty stellar melodic foundation to match. I would describe the drop as tasteful, with enough punch to really elevate the experience.
For a different aspect of her recent music, "Time Machine" is a thumper from the get go. This song is all about that bass while having a distant, mystical vibe to it as well (partly because of the haunting soundscape). For an added bonus, there's a bridge that feels ripped right out of "Runaway", which goes in and out pretty seamlessly. Issa jam basically.
This song is built on a baffling premise that somebody is leaving Cape Canaveral, which implies anyone has ever gotten to Cape Canaveral in the first place. No, it is impossible for me to listen to this song without thinking about The Simpsons. I was a little surprised putting this together and realising this is the highest she's ever appeared on my lists, perhaps it's the optimal distillation of her sound at present, or at least that's what I'm implying obviously.
Jessie Ware continues her transformation into house diva and I'm all for it. But this isn't my song, it was so big on the ACI that it might as well be your song. When she's not in the forefront of the song, I find that she functions more like a soundbite, echoing through commands. If not for the urgency in the lyrics, it'd be a remarkably non-human sounding song.
I saved up writing this one until I saw them live which nearly became a dumb moment when I wasn't sure they were even gonna play it. There was a sort of encore but not really, I'm not sure what prompted a chant of 'one more song', and it turned out to be this song...but like "SWEET", "SAN MARCOS", "JUNKY", so many others were all just right there waiting to be played as well. I wasn't immediately drawn by this track but as it was (initially!) proving to be the biggest hit on the album, I kept with it and it ended up being my favourite track on "GINGER". I wish it still was the big song from the album because it feels just a little weird that they're currently blowing up with a song that Joba & Merlyn aren't even on (though Joba did Ryan Beatty's part of "SUGAR" when they played that). It's a nice bit of thematic growth from all the endless party bangers to have this self-reflective track with everyone looking over their imperfections.
My first exposure to this song was at The Game Awards, just because it was one of those rare weeks where I didn't listen to new releases on Thursday night. I knew Grimes was performing but I didn't know which song, and when she performed, I still didn't know what song it was, but it was probably the wrong setting for me to listen to it in because I didn't really latch onto it at all. It did provide perhaps the most awkward moment of the ceremony due to Elon Musk not knowing if he should stand or not at the end, perhaps the most relatable a billionaire could ever be. Otherwise this song is basically Grimes in her two usual states of ethereal pixie and monster banger. The background chanting proves a strangely effective hook, as do the occasionally abrupt beat switches.
I would like to say I can reciprocate this feeling but in reality last year my brother got my other brother to dab in front of about 100,000 people. It is easy to look at this as just the song that calls out the soon to be prime minister, presumably for being someone who wastes your time and with no bad words, fun too. But outside of that it's still one of the most fun singles that Stormzy has put out, thanks in part to having one of the best music videos of the year, thanks to its slick editing.
It is a good endorsement for music as a whole if the song that seems to sound like every other song ever made (especially "Wild World", "Lonely No More" & "Lucky") turns out to be a pretty good tune itself. I might go so far as to give music an even higher score than 6.8. Since putting out this song, bülow has also collaborated with The Chainsmokers and makes me wonder if she's one big playlisting away from chart success. A lot of her music is probably a bit too off kilter for that, but this seems like her most straightforward yet, and probably could've been a hit with the right push.
71. Free Nationals (feat Mac Miller & Kali Uchis) - Time
I am frequently cynical about posthumous releases and I am frequently hypocritical as soon as it happens with an artist I do genuinely care about. At the very least it's not on par with certain other posthumous decisions, this is a collaboration that feels pretty organic, what with Free Nationals being Anderson .Paak's backing band, who was of course a close friend to Mac. My understanding of this song is that it was effectively finished while Mac was still alive. At least you'd have to think so otherwise Kali's lyrics feel especially strange. Certainly though it's tastefully breezy.
This feels like it should be the closing track to "Metal Galaxy", not just because it sounds a lot like "THE ONE". It's not just full ballad mode though, as it still proves an energetic affair. The main thing that can be prefaced with any BABYMETAL write up is that Su-Metal is such a great singer, like she can handle everything that's thrown at her.
I never grew up with pocket money so I like to pretend she's saying 'Pokémon into credit cards' as something that's more accurate. I love this song 'cause it's f**ked. Like, if there's gonna be a song about being a bas...if there's gonna be another song about being a basket case, it should sound as off the rails as possible. This song also challenges "Be Faithful" in the stakes of getting the most amount of people to put their hands up. It might not have been the most marketable choice for a lead single, but I've had a lot of fun with it.
This is a song that really crept up on me. Maybe it should have been obvious since basically every song with this title turns out to be good. The verses of this song produce a peculiar feeling of nostalgia. To use a cliche, the stripped back vibe has a 'back when life was simple' feeling about it. Outside of that it's just a stellar production.
"Circles" has been a popular title lately. We can only thank Moreton for paving the way for one of the biggest hits of the year. This song to me feels like a throwback to the early 2010s, or specifically when I would fall in love with brooding indie rock tracks on occasion, like "In Retrospect" by Battleships, but I would say this most reminds me of "Belgian Blues" by Big Scary. It even has a similar big vocal release towards the end, but that all plays second fiddle to what is just a really engrossing assortment of clearly pronounced, down tuned guitars.
Plenty of artists have gotten a big break right around when they appeared on a Kanye West album. Obviously Kanye made Desiigner & Post Malone famous, there is no questioning this logic. In 2018 it felt like it was 070 Shake's chance to shine when she absolutely stole the show on "Ghost Town". Her unique vocal style and the fact that she got such a high profile role made it seem like she was poised for big things. I'd occasionally come across her new singles but they never really inspired me much unfortunately. I did hear this song when it was released though and was immediately impressed by its atmosphere. Like some of Kanye West's material around "Graduation", there's a huge shimmer to it of grandeur. Her husky tone still works well though, oddly reminding me of Swae Lee at times.
It was incredibly nice of bülow to spell this song with an 'ü', such that we don't have to disambiguate it from Aston Merrygold's opus. As opposed to her previous entries in my lists, this is not actually a particularly moody affair, and instead just a fun upbeat affair. I get a lot of amusement out of the fact that she goes out of her way to explain her interpretation of BYOB that just ends up meaning the exact same thing. But perhaps the most interesting thing about this is that I bought it on iTunes with an explicit tag, except that it's still censored, so you won't get to find out about the f**king island, but perhaps we'll find another one later.
My entire history with Cymbals Eat Guitars is that Ian Cohen is a big fan and has enough influence over Pitchfork to always review their stuff, which led me to discovering "Warning" when I was hunting for new music to fill out my chart. It's very much felt like I've broken the simulation in hearing it though considering that their album wasn't even available in Australia until very recently, like I wasn't supposed to be hearing it. It's been a fun ride that ended very abruptly with a casual announcement of the dissolution of the project. Fortuantely, it's been abruptly replaced by another project which might as well be the same band because D'Agostino's voice remains as distinct as ever.
As you may know, I have that friend from New Zealand named Ben who plays guitar and who I regularly play Golf With Your Friends with. No not that one, the other one. Anyway, he streams a lot because he's ridiculously good at Celeste, and I watch a lot because it is my duty to be a nuisance to everyone on twitch by exchanging japes. We're also both very competitive in multiplayer games, it's a fun time. Anyway he listens to Norwegian prog metal band Leprous a lot, and often plays them on stream. "I Lose Hope" is a song that I caught just once, as I'd logged on to hear it already playing, and I didn't even recognise it as them, but I was instantly in love with the groovy bass. The vocals are also really impressive, just for how many different styles he goes for in just this song.
I literally only heard this song by accident. It was when I was overseas and didn't have much time to scope out new music so I was just briefly skimming a few artists. If I remember correctly, this was sitting just after Spoon's new song on New Music Friday and I didn't get around to picking a track after it and ended up hearing this...and taking to it quite a bit! It do be a cool rock tune.
It's a pretty bold move to take the title from one of Madonna's best singles, I have no idea if this sort of thing ever crosses artists' minds. It's quite succinctly managed to prove the key track from Tame Impala's upcoming album (which "Patience" isn't even on anyway). It has such a pleasant persistent rhythm which is a good fit for Kevin's singing. Another one of those songs that doesn't sound remotely overwhelming even with a lot of things happening in it, it's a shame they had to kill a Beatles tune to make it come to be.
I always feel a bit weird writing about blatantly queer love songs because it's obviously not my area of expertise so there's the potential of me not being tactful, and even if I'm not, there's an element where I feel like I'm gawking at it by making a big deal out of something that should obviously just be normalised. Anyway, Clairo's debut album is not especially upbeat a lot of the time, but this track is a noted exception as a radical step away from her lo fi beginnings. Overall it's fairly playful, both with the electric guitar and the increasingly frenetic vocal chopping. While the main riff sounds a little familiar, the song on its own is very distinct.
It took a while to get a follow up single in 2019, but we actually got two, and she's managed back to back appearances in this list, ahead of being in the running for Australia's Eurovision entrant! This has proven to be a pretty popular radio hit, or at least on the basis that I kept seeing it on the Shazam chart when I was hounding that daily for reasons, and it's not hard to see why as it's energetic riff city.
Both this and "In The Garden" had the same peak on my chart so I'm not about to make a statement as to which I prefer. "In The Garden" definitely has the stronger hook, but this feels like an elevation on the Snakadaktal formula to great effect with its gentle lullaby feeling. One of Phoebe's best vocal performances perhaps? She's a delight at the song's climax.
Oh you thought I was done? If you don't recall from last year, "Celeste" was an excellent video game released in 2018 which in addition to expertly refined gameplay, has an absolutely banging electronic/synth wave soundtrack all done by Lena Raine, who I can trust taste-wise because she called "AI: The Somnium Files" her favourite game of 2019. "Celeste" was originally released with 8 chapters but in 2019, a 9th chapter, incidentally titled "Farewell" was released, which ends up being nearly as long as the first 7 chapters put together. As such, it has enough space to fit an entirely new soundtrack. In some ways it's more of the same though there's definitely more classical instrumentation merged into it. Not quite as much on this track in particular though, which really just serves as a wonderful swan song to one of my favourite video games ever made.
I'm not sure I took to this on my first listen, further on the "holy terrain" deep end. When I did eventually listen to the album, this quickly became a standout. In some ways it might be her most accessible song on the album, built so heavily around its beautiful hook, though there's an element of glitchiness as well.
It's going to feel like I stole the observation from The Singles Jukebox but I genuinely did think so already. What I'm talking about is that while this song is notedly a creative 'f**k off' anthem that skates around it with its harmless title, there's also an element of indecision in it. She notes it being an island that only she knows about, so as to not totally cut off the potential for a reunion, the sort of adorable turn that makes the song even more bouncy.
54. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Self-Immolate
I did not get enough time to listen to either 2019 King Gizzard album. It is extremely on brand for them that in the time between me starting typing these up and reaching this song, the band have of course announced 2 live albums to be released this year. I've heard a handful of singles here and there, and "Self-Immolate" is my clear favourite. Marking an especially distinct turn from "Fishing For Fishies" is this frantic thrash metal tune. And what an absolute belter it is, a song that just never lets up.
For something else, I can only speculate if by the time I finish writing this, Cherry Glazerr will even still have the same line up, as much like the John Butler Trio, it seems to be a project for Clem and a very much rotating set of musicians. After just narrowly missing out on a 2nd entry in 2016, they've finally backed up their breakout in these top 100 lists. It's another song that hits pretty hard too! I'm already once again learning I'm bad at writing about rock songs.
There's just something about the simplicity of this tune. I feel like it fits the title as every time I hear the chorus, I feel like it's spiraling back on itself and always leaves me feeling good. It's the sort of sort of here, sort of distant folksy indie pop rock that I occasionally just really connect with. I never get tired of listening to this and I wish it were longer.
Q-Tip is basically everywhere all the time. "Dirty Laundry" is one of 3 songs on Danny Brown's latest album that he produced, although it's not particularly something I would say has his blueprint to it. He does bring a certain bounce to it to accompany this zany slice of cheese. For rappers who became famous in the 2010s, Danny Brown is basically an elder statesman, which surely justifies the dad joke tier puns littered throughout this song, which itself is just a lengthy set up to a punchline about a stripper and spare change that only ever had one destiny. I'm always eternally amused because when he was recording the album, he was often taking breaks to stream Persona 5 on twitch. Aside from dropping gems of advice about using a Mac so you can watch porn without having to worry about getting a virus, he also mentioned wanting to make an advance on Kawakami, who once you advance her social link enough...will do your laundry for you.
In the mid 2010s, Lupa J had an unprecedented achievement of being a finalist in triple j Unearthed High 2 years in a row. I took a liking to some of her songs then, but she's really come a lot further in the last year, seemingly never too far away from my chart. One such of those is one of the most surprising ACI #1 hits of the year in "Pull Me Under", which is just a remarkable progression of her sound. Never has her music sounded so filled out with sound. It's pure night time electronica with a fairly varied palette of sounds, not to mention Lupa herself who sounds ever so compelling as a vocalist here.
Did you know that this was a #1 hit on the ARIA Club Chart, and finished top 10 in the End Of Year list for that as well? It's kind of peculiar just because it feels like her most low key release of 2019, but I guess that says more about the ARIA Club Chart than anything else. I'm most surprised it's a thing just because I remember seeing in an interview recently that Brooke mentioned having done a lot of topline writing & selling in the off time between releases, at least one of which I'm certain I've heard, but also I wonder if there are any more I've not realised that I know (but then it's also possible for instance with "Fracture" by Slumberjack, it was the only time it was noteworthy enough for her to actually acknowledge it so maybe anything else is super obscure like this is). This is obviously for eclectic fans of rock who want to see Stars and Explosions In The Sky.
This song is just so pretty. A lot of it might feel like window dressing on the way to the song's chorus, but the stuttery synth progression does a good job of keeping it enticing anyway. But about that chorus, that's just one of those life affirming moments where repetition goes so far that it ends up breathing in new life. Perhaps it's like a wistful "Nobody" for 2019.
I remember seeing Katy Perry fans get mad at her because she seemed to spend more effort promoting CYN's music than her own, at a time when it seemed she had a potential big hit relatively floundering. I didn't take to CYN's new singles quite as much as the year before, but I'm still pretty satisfied with this one. A song with instrumentation more true to rock music than a lot of the Billboard Rock Songs chart, but also sounding too off the wall to really count it as pop rock. I have no idea if she's ever going to have a real break out beyond barely scraping into the filler section of US Pop, but I'm interested in her eclectic style.
A thing I only recently learnt is that this song was co-written with Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, and it's also about a real life experience with a date at a MUNA concert. Perhaps that could come across as disrespectful to them for how many times it's insisted that they're done with music, but I suppose you could rather liken it to an expression of affection so extreme that it supercedes everything else. That and she's clearly not their number one fan. Melodically, this song is never especially complicated but has a extensive range of ways to make this sound especially playful.
I slept on this album for a long time after first listening to it, even though I knew I liked it. However, every time I did go back to it, I was quickly rewarded with this opening track. It's just so stunningly beautiful. Like it's one of those songs that are so obviously great that I'm lost at words to explain it which aren't just QED. Like, the singing, the strings, the glorious swells of emotion, it all just goops on ya grinch.
Something we're seeing more and more in the charts is organic swell that bubbles under to varying degrees. Sometimes it feels like a silent majority situation, the kind where everyone thinks they're the only one listening to something. I am not remotely about to say that Tyler, The Creator was some obscure up and comer in 2017, but it was interesting to see what happened when all those fans of "Flowerboy" leapt onto "IGOR" at the same time on release. It resulted in one of my favourite albums to take over the singles chart, and of course, this song becoming a top 10 hit. Though as far as top 10 hits go, it certainly feels like it occupies a different space to most, as it was never going to find its way onto Australian popular radio in 2019. Seeing it play and turn into a big sing along when I was out to see BROCKHAMPTON though affirmed it in my mind for its popularity. And how can you not? The opening synth stabs already feel iconic, and it makes for a great declaration of love by way of a weird pun that doesn't really make sense. One of the best chorus escalations of 2019 too, where the production just gets wilder and wilder (the music video compliments this well), and let's not ignore Carti's iconic verse with not a single discernable word.
I want to say it goes without saying that Tkay has been on a never ending hot streak for years, and I'm always keen to hear more. This is such a fascinating song with how silly it comes across at times. Between the title, the jokey ad libs, the absolute intensity brought to the phrase 'I LEFT YOUR MESSAGE ON READ'. It sounds like she's having a lot of fun though. The thing that caught my ear most is the initial hook though, because as a more specific version of "Sweet Little Lies", I swear I've heard the flow before...specifically in a BROCKHAMPTON song. I've never confidently tracked it down, but my best bet at the moment is Merlyn's verse in "SWEET", and ever since I thought of that, I've had a lot of fun adding in a few words to fit the syllable count, singing along with 'DON'T CALL ME STUPID BECAUSE THAT AIN'T THE WAY MY NAME PRONOUNCED'. It's just like, idk, a lot of fun.
What I like a lot about "The Opener" is that it manages to cut through so succinctly and directly about its message. I can't help but wonder how many people discovered it after the album was released and possibly didn't even connect the dots on the title until it was sarcastically taunted in their face. Wait where did that all come from? "Uma" sets the tone immediately with its bass line which sets a nice rocky foundation. After that it's all the vocal modulation that I go to this track for, with so many weird turns of phrase and inflection.
Something that has made me uneasy with that whole Tones And I situation is that it opens up another can of worms for how much else of the stuff I like doesn't fall just in the unnoticed basket, but instead being aggressively ignored for how unlikeable it is. Like could you imagine this discourse if Montaigne hit the big time outside of that one Hilltop Hoods collaboration, just imagine what would come out of the waterwork. I mean I adore her histrionics, but it's clearly not for everyone. "READY" is of course another vital contribution to the 'I'm back, bitch' canon of singles, it's hard to imagine anything else being a lead single over it. The whole thing is so vibrant though with how the melody bounces all over the place. Most importantly though, 'catch my wings' is obviously a flip on the turn of phrase 'catch these hands', that could only come from an artist who has proven their wingedness beforehand.
Though I'm not certain I'll ever get confident at spelling her name correctly, what little I've heard of her output in the past year has seriously impressed me. In a way, this is not too dissimilar from her previous single just with the slight addition of a four to the floor beat which gives it a nice jolt. The song is also kind of adorable in its message of uncontrollable lust. It's the point where someone gives you so many zoos worth of butterflies that you find yourself going out purely for the off chance of bumping into them. Maybe Jay Gatsby could've tried that.
This is one of those songs that I got so attached to due to its extremely gradual growing on me more than I ever would have expected that I never really wanted it to leave my chart. Like many of the songs I heard around this time, I associate it really strongly with my overseas trip and can picture myself back in the hotel room when it starts playing, because of course I was all about the sight seeing. It just feels like such a singular entity with how it sounds. Like, the intro makes it sound dark, only to reveal a lovely message of affection when you reach the chorus. However by including this, I'm being extremely disrespectful to the one hit wonder narrative just because she only has 2 songs on Spotify and her previous single outstrips this one on streams by a factor of about 70. I hope I remember to keep an eye out when she releases another one.
This song is most fascinating for me just in respect to Sofia's discography. For the most part, she's known for recording stripped back covers of popular hit songs, with seemingly no filter on what that can be. So you know, that whole, just striking whatever iron is hot just because slipstreaming is a powerful thing. Her last 8 releases before this one were all cover versions, which is relatively lucrative. But she also releases originals and they have so little in common with those covers that I'm not sure if the brand recognition pays off very much. This is one of the most fascinating foundations for a pop song I've heard in the past year, with the wobbly synth that gets even more scattered in the chorus, frequent mentions of "Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind" which I still haven't seen, and a stuttery chorus that serves as its hook not because it's coherent, but because it sticks out so much. How does this song exist?
Oddly enough this song feels kind of quaint nowadays. I was very eager to hear a follow up to "Soaked" of course, and after a couple listens I was definitely into it. Maybe I guess it just sticks out a bit in her discography now next to several songs with much more lush instrumentation. This is one of her most obvious instances of 'yeah, guys from LEISURE work on all of her songs and you can tell'. But I dunno I just find the whole thing playfully innocent, like it's depicting a simple world, preoccupied with simple quarrels.
Some serious iTunes gang privilege here. I assume when the album was released, all the singles were deleted, in the classic Spotify clean up procedure, except that the singles as they were, weren't on the album anyway. "Distortion" has some extra stuff going on, and "Elevator Girl" is replaced with an English version. It's not especially drastic for them because this is one of their more English focused tracks to begin with, but it's certainly jarring. Made worse though because the rapid fire chorus is the clear highlight here. This song exemplifies the way that BABYMETAL can fuse so many genres into their template, with this song even briefly dabbling in drum & bass. Not classic lyricism mind you, but it gets the people going.
This song is Montaigne thinking of how next she wants to torture an ARIA Award. It certainly serves well as a particularly playful track to match the vibrant lyrical touchstones. The way the big hook at the end of the chorus is accompanied by a lot of the music dropping out makes for a cool effect with her powerhouse voice sounding bigger than ever. Or maybe like she's in a volcano. This song also put Montaigne in very elite company as one of the small handful of artists with multiple ACI #1's, and one of the small handful to drop out of the ACI on 14 weeks this year.
I would love to provide my hot take on JPEGMAFIA but I haven't listened to near enough of his music to form an opinion. He's fun here, although at the same time his verse doesn't commit to the theme of the song, so I wouldn't mind if this were a solo track either. It's an extremely relatable track on the topic of sleep and the lack thereof. This of course provides the best ad lib of 2019 with the random exclamation of 'Adderall!'. Aside from being a banger though, it also provides helpful tips to help get some sleep, and extremely calls me out for how often I keep looking at the clock when I can't manage.
It's always a bit weird when the songs are in reverse chronological order, especially for a new artist because I want to avoid mentioning the first song when talking about the second, but it's hard not to when it's obviously integral to hearing it. Because I didn't have "Lust" thrust upon me, I just randomly thought one day that she might have a new single out and indeed she did a few weeks ago. As for this, I've never felt so nostalgic through a genre (ie shoegaze) that I've not been familiar for nearly long enough to feel any nostalgia with. There's probably something else I'm thinking of. But honestly shoegaze isn't the perfect fit for this because I can actually understand the words she's singing, and there's a lot of tune that cuts through the haze.
This seems to be the universally agreed pick from Little Simz's latest album. I may or may not have other opinions, but for sure this is a very agreeable track. I've seen this album be called pop rap, which is kind of weird considering some of the content, but I do think this track could fit in pretty safely without offending many. A lot of sung/rap collaborations can leave you frustrated with at least one of the two components, but I think here we have a really lovely hook sung alongside one of the most vibrant MCs in the game.
I feel like I don't hear Owl Eyes' new singles properly without any expectations very often, just because I am far too privy to her social media and I often hear bits and pieces early. "On Me" was the exception recently because it was announced with no warning, but every other single since then, I've at least partially heard before the release (as well as a couple other songs that haven't been released yet). So this song I heard when she randomly did a VR concert which was streamed live, and later reduced to just a single song because the whole video was blocked for copyright. As with all of these recent releases, it's a distinct new slice in her discography, she's definitely experimenting more than ever before while still staying true to her strengths. I remember reading interviews many years ago about how she was open to more hip hop collaborations (in the wake of "It Can Wait") though it never surfaced until now. TAPZ's verse was just played pre-recorded during her show with no allusion or mention to it, all she said was that it was her next single, but I had no idea whose guest verse it was and briefly pondered if she somehow got a Kid Cudi co-sign. TAPZ makes a pretty seamless imitation though as a demonic heart killer. Overall though the song just sounds so distinct that I can't help but love it. I wish it was reciprocated by more than just public apathy, but I love that she's not just lazily peddling safe filler.
This is a considerable pivot from what I'm used to from Angel Olsen but for me it goes down a treat. It's not particularly heavy on words but still manages to paint a gut-wretching image with what it has. It tackles the depressing reality of aging, with the aspect of anger and acceptance. As the source of realisation, the mirrors themselves are anthropomorphosized as an entity responsible for it. Also it's just a great and compelling vocal performance.
It's hard to describe this as more than just Samsaruh in her lane doing her thing. I almost wonder if it comes from the same line of thinking as "Golden To Thrive" because the way the title comes through, it could easily be [s]'starlight'[/s] 'starry eyed' all the same. Just like the singles before and after it, it's written with Oscar Dawson from Holy Holy, who I assume is responsible for thick layer of sounds.
It's possibly because I grew up on "The Con", but I can never especially gravitate to Tegan & Sara's 2010s material as much as I know other people do. That might be because it differs from what I'm wanting from them, and my only further evidence towards this is that I instantly adored this song which to me sounds just like 2010s Tegan & Sara, but from a different source. Just like "About Work The Dancefloor", it's built on a clunky turn of phrase that can only make sense if you think she's referring to the song itself.
This is one of the most blatant turns of difference between Broods circa 2014 & 2019. Mind you, it's lyrically as much of a downer as they've ever been, but they also so gradually turned into full out pop that I didn't even notice. It has such a fun hook that for all its many words, still manages to roll off the tongue. What's even more fun is during the bridge where it seems like it's being chopped up, but it's just being delayed, still managing to fit the tune of the song seamlessly.
Maybe on the surface it's a little surprising how much I took to this song, but I really think it's just a masterwork of mood & tension control. There are so many great moments to it. Like after the first chorus when nearly everything drops away to just a little throbbing synth, which slowly gets introduced back into prominence again. It's like watching something being built in fast forward right in front of you. When I first heard the song, I was immediately struck by the singing, in particular the line just before the last chorus, which manages to cut in front of the music and might singlehandedly be why you're hearing it right now.
To get one thing out of the way, this song sounds a little bit like Kim Wilde's "Kids In America", which shouldn't be super nostalgic to me except that it's a song that has been covered, been in soundtracks, been on the radio for as long as I can remember. So while Ali Barter's music frequently invokes nostalgia, it's rarely quite as much as this does. The song itself does not seem to hold back on any fronts and could have wound up incredibly embarrassing if the landing wasn't stuck. Because this song is basically a recounting of how she ended up with her husband (who just happens to be that same guy I mentioned 4 songs ago because he's been all over my chart this year) in all the dorky glory that fangirling entails. I hope more than anything in the world that the voice mail that plays over the bridge is real because it means so much of this song is built around something so...not made to be used like this. The fact that Tool released their first new song in 13 years just a month after this came out is just icing on the cake.
On the topic of bands who have spent a lot of time not releasing new music, it's the long awaited by a certain subset of Australian music fans return for The Butterfly Effect. I remember when their 3rd album was released, it made for an ominous sign that it really was the "Final Conversation Of Kings" (which at the time I just dismissed because I never interpret any meaning out of album titles, The Presets were riding high on an album whose name they just thought sounded cool), and for a long time it really was. But as it is seemingly a rule that one extremely 2000s Australian rock band must unexpectedly dominate my chart every year with a big comeback, I guess 2019 was The Butterfly Effect's turn. It has to be said that this really does not feel a decade removed from their last material. I always admired Clint's power & delicacy with his vocals back then, and it made me so happy to so clearly recognise the same voice here. Another thing The Butterfly Effect were good at was taking their prog sound but making it extremely accessible to someone like me who probably wasn't ready for the more out there stuff. This turns out to be one of their most hook-laden singles to date. Now where's that Trial Kennedy reunion, or that new Karnivool album?
23. Denzel Curry - Bulls on Parade - triple j Like A Version
It has to be said, Hottest 100 discourse is always bad, but 2019 is gonna be a baaaaaaad year, duh. Mainly I'm just wincing at the grand sweeping hot takes dictated on results that I've heard are running especially close this year and thus are more arbitrary than the finality of a list will show. This cover itself will likely not be immune to this because there's so many angles you can push for. 'It's not even an original song', ''90s nostalgia is getting out of hand', 'Timely Rage Against The Machine nostalgia', 'Why not vote for Denzel's actual songs he released this year?', 'Why not vote for a female artist, or an Australian artist?', 'Why should this rank so highly when the original version only managed #46 in its time?'. As someone who voted for this, I'm bracing to be lumped in on so many hot takes that don't really apply to me because how can you lump together so many people? The reality of it is that this cover is so popular is because it exceeds the bar of expectations set on this cover almost immediately. The only downside is that the guitar doesn't quite match the intensity of the original version, but Denzel more than picks up the slack, to the point that he had to very quickly retire the cover from live performances because of how taxing it was. This ends up being the big selling point though because all the screams give me chills. Consider this a preview for when I get to making a 1996 list because I do not think I can say in good conscience that this is better than the original version, but it does distinguish itself enough that it's very much a worthwhile listen.
"Selfish" but New Zealand. I'd been casually interested in JessB's music beforehand, but this turned out to be a surprise package. The gentle guitar is so relaxing that I'm surprised there's no mention about public disapproval of this love declaration. I am surprised at just how many lovey-dovey songs have ended up on my list, but that's probably the only way you could get away with 'like some art, baby, ooh I'm feeling drawn to you'. Fellow Kiwi Paige (no relation to Sarah Aarons) compliments the vibe further on her hook.
Makthaverskan are a band I discovered somewhat by fluke, and I was instantly drawn in by their post-punk intensity and banshee wailing. "Demands" tones things down a little (or rather I can understand the words this time) but still manages to hit soaring highs. The music drops out for what I think is a bridge near the end and makes for the best vocal moment on the track. The relatively light backing there also makes me want to call this surf rock and be amused at how ridiculous that descriptor sounds.
A late entrant but a very worthy one. As one of the people who consider "ilomilo" a big highlight on Billie's debut album, it's extremely pleasing to see her further pursue this mellow, but not stark vibe. I love the way the production bubbles up at times, and the comforting vocal layering on the chorus. Billie's real life persona is so detached from her music that it's hard to get a good sense of what she's really like, but certainly this is a particularly vivid description of the trappings of fame beyond just 'I'm sad'. If one were to accuse a lot of her music for being gawkish, then this is a serious step of maturity.
Another triumph in simplicity, though just a little more dense musically. Hatchie is another artist who so thoroughly apes unspecified '90s nostalgia in me (especially on "Kiss The Stars", that jangle is just so inviting). "Stay With Me" makes its thesis statement in its simple command and then supplies it with an invigorating instrumental to boot. After the 3 minute mark it basically becomes a different song with the louder drums & flickering synths. Just a glorious brick wall of sound.
I will now attempt to explain everything (minus spoilers).
Just like the second verse of Suicidal Tendencies' world conquering opus, it all starts with a Pepsi. Specifically, in the mid '90s, Pepsi in Japan created a mascot called Pepsiman for their advertisements. A few years later a video game was made and released solely in Japan. It is basically like Temple Run or those hog levels on Crash Bandicoot except that you collect Pepsi cans and save the world from various Pepsi deficient terrors. I, and many other people became aware of it through GamesDoneQuick which has featured the game a couple times in all its ridiculous glory. The reason I mention it is because working as a 3D modeller on this game was Kotaro Uchikoshi, which makes for an amusing start to his list of works on Wikipedia. He's much more famous now as a writer of visual novels, notably the Zero Escape series which was my introduction. The first two games in that series are all time favourites of mine, with the way they weave a complicated plot across multiple timelines, and make very apparent Uchikoshi's idiosyncratic writing style, where someone can go from explaining a complicated scientific principle one minute, to making a corny pun the next minute.
His latest game to be released is AI: The Somnium Files. In it, you're put in the shoes of a detective tasked to solve a peculiar murder case, where an acquaintance of yours is found tied up in an abandoned amusement park, stabbed several times with one of their eyes missing, while her daughter (who you are the legal guardian of), is hiding at the scene, holding the apparent murder weapon. You yourself are missing one of your eyes but instead have an AI eye implanted that serves as your partner.
To promote this game, a YouTube channel (as well as several Twitter accounts) were created to make an ARG (Alternate Reality Game), positioning the characters as part of the real world (the game is set in 2019 in fact). The YouTube channel is for fictitious internet idol A-set (or Tesa, or her real name Iris) who in the game just like real life, is only moderately well known but adored by her die-hard fans, including a trigger happy but harmless yakuza boss, and an unemployed degenerate who spents his time waiting at her studio, making sockpuppet Twitter accounts that diss her, only for him to leap in defence with his proper account and convert them into fans. Because it's 2019, she is mainly known for doing podcasts and of course livestreaming, where she sings, dances and plays video games, notably ShovelForge which is exactly what you think it is. She's also very interested in the occult, and frequently ends her videos noting to stay tuned for future videos unless she gets abducted or something.
Her initial connection to the story is through the fact that her idol network is run by the ex-husband of the murder victim, who himself becomes curiously hard to get in contact with after the fact, but in reality she has connections to several other key players. Not quite as much in the game as on her social media, but she is frequently promoting her debut single "Invincible Rainbow Arrow", where in-game, the music is made by her boss and the lyrics she wrote herself (when you're waiting at her office, the background music is a light instrumental to the tune of it). It is not clear if it canonically becomes a big hit or anything, but it does pop up a few times in the game.
There are many versions of this song. When it's performed in game, it's usually shortened a bit. There's also a particularly unique version of the song that plays over the end credits of the game that is a glorious moment but is filled with extreme spoilers. The music video on her YouTube channel is also shortened further. I don't think this full version which appears on the soundtrack appears in the game at all. To top all of this off is the elephant in the room that everything I've said up to this point exists in both Japanese & English, with everything, including all of the YouTube videos translated to English for simultaneous release. So there are twice as many versions of "Invincible Rainbow Arrow", half with the Japanese voice actress (Nao Shiraki) and half with the English voice actress (Jackie Lastra) who I considered crediting for this but instead stuck with the composer on the game's soundtrack who put together an exceedingly diverse portfolio of tracks on this...with this sticking out at the end of the soundtrack (oh, there's also an instrumental version on the soundtrack, another version!). I have primarily been listening to the English version because I can sing along to it. I don't think it's a direct translation. There's a lot of liberty that needs to be taken in general with the translation in this game because so much of it is super cringy Japanese puns that need super cringy English equivalents. I have no idea what the Japanese lyrics are but I'm fairly certain it never says 'ShovelForge our world!' which is just a spectacularly absurd moment. The real immersion breaker in the English version is that she refers to herself in the song as Iris, her real name, which I imagine is not common for J-Pop idols.
I really love this game, I love the setting, I love the style, I love the dumb humour, and I love the characters, but the real reason I'm talking about it all is because I love this ridiculous song. It's so absurdly catchy and goes above and beyond the standards you should expect for getting a voice actress who is not a singer to play the part. Not that the singing is stellar, but I can overlook it for just how much it's sold. I often wonder if it's preferred for choruses of songs to sound identical or with slight difference, or if they even are recorded separately sometimes. This song is so blatantly not this because of the way random words are exemplified at certain times. Or maybe they're not random, with the big 'RESIST!' near the end, perhaps Denzel Curry doesn't have the highest anti-Trump message in this list.
I've been enjoying Amber Mark's music a bit over the years but this song still really took me by surprise. A sort of timeless production that works in a way to counter Jason Derulo's opus from the start of the decade. Instead of wondering what if you're the one, it's going for the much more existential quandary about how so many things in our lives lead us to the people we know, and thus our lives could be totally different as a result of never meeting these people. What if nobody ever thought to link australian-charts.com at the bottom of the ARIA Charts Wikipedia article? We'd all be doing very different things right now.
When BENEE released her first EP last year, I took to this track fairly quickly as an immediate favourite. In an interview, BENEE once mentioned that she has dyslexia and found songwriting to be an outlet where she didn't have to conform to grammatical standards. I've always found that interesting in the wake of this song whose title is perhaps the shortest garden path sentence I've ever seen. Still the song feels like a big step up for her in maturity. This is weird to say for a song that is remarkably passive aggressive, but there's a lot of emotional heft in her delivery, especially on the bridge where things get especially self-destructive. This song is literally "Stan" by Eminem.
On first listen I was a bit skeptical of BABYMETAL's latest album, it felt like all the best songs were already released as singles, and even those were modified in ways I wasn't fond of for the Australian release. That skepticism was washed away when I realised the best songs to come were sitting on the very back end. "Shine" feels like an album closer but instead we have this absolute belter, which feels like a throwback to "METAL RESISTANCE". Like, if you could distill BABYMETAL as a whole into one song...I wouldn't pick this song because it's not weird enough, but for BABYMETAL when they're not being especially weird, this feels like the logical conclusion. A very welcome thud of explosive sound.
I've said it before but KUČKA really deserves more credit as a stellar producer as well as her unique vocal presence. She's like a hyper real musician with how much of her own efforts go into her output. The soundscape for this song is never at all overwhelming, but it manages to impress largely through the mood that collects up in it. There's a wall of haze that you might not even notice pops in about a minute in, but it doesn't at all distract from the simpler tones riding above it. If I were to compare it to "Flux 98", the song of hers I first discovered, it's amazing just how much more accomplished this sounds. The vocals are also less muddied into the mix, to allow the few lyrics to really connect.
This is of course noteworthy for two reasons, firstly that it was my most scrobbled song in 2019 (because I don't scrobble Tetris 99 games), and secondly because I accidentally didn't vote for it in the Hottest 100, and based on WAAX's popularity, it being #101 is not outside of the realm of possibility I feel. Things to grimace over another day though. Though not their #1 hit on my chart, it's made a big stand to be probably my favourite song they've released to date. It's also another song that carries a lot of emotional weight even in spite of being titled "FU". Marie has always been an engaging vocalist, but here her fragile delivery on the verses really cuts through. If BENEE was spouting anger through the veil of sadness, then here we have sadness through the veil of anger, as it feels like the pretense frequently breaks up mid-sentence.
Dave was somewhat surprising to me as a Mercury Prize winner. I went back to listen to his album today and on one level I see where it's coming from. On the other hand, I feel like he might rely a bit too heavily on punchline raps, which unlike say on Drake's "Views" did at least catch me off guard in a clever way sometimes, but I worry he uses it too much as a crutch. It's interesting that on "Psycho", he laments the fact that if he'd stayed steadfast on just being a top lyricist, nobody would have heard of him anyway. After all, at the end of 2018 he had a #1 hit single in "Freaky Friday" that didn't even turn up on this album. It's a fun track for sure but also definitely wouldn't fit in. What does fit a bit better is "Black", which fortunately doesn't fall into the earlier trapping I mentioned. There's no time to have fun as Dave dispenses more facts than Charlie Heat, which is quite imperative as he notes the collective ignorance that's perpetuated on both sides as a result of the unending tensions of race relations. The song seriously impresses me for the levity that it's handled with, the succinct way he puts his arguments across, where even the most oft-noted issues can still sound compelling with how he delivers it, the fact he mentions stuff I hadn't even thought of, particularly on the 3rd verse, and on top of all of this, he wrote it when he was about 20 years old. I love that he went so far as to put this out as a single.
As it turns out, the highest entry from a video game in this list is from a game I have not, and probably will never play (I did watch a full playthrough of it though). If you don't follow games media as much as me, it's possible this soundtrack is the only reason you've even heard of Death Stranding, but it is no hyperbole to say that it's probably the most hyped video game release of 2019. This is because it is a Hideo Kojima game, and he is very famous for the Metal Gear series, which he made under Konami for close to 3 decades. I don't know the details of the split, but during development of Metal Gear Solid V earlier in the 2010s, his production company parted ways, and Konami made no shortage of asses of themselves, going so far as to ban Kojima from attending The Game Awards to collect his own award. So he has a lot of public goodwill on his side and this is the first game he's made independently, with a brand new IP at that. Of course, cynicism is very available as the game was slowly revealing itself as a vanity project, filled with a celebrity-studded cast, which is possibly paid for by the egregious product placement in this post-apocalyptic world where you refuel yourself with Monster Energy. But still it's at least fascinating on the level of seeing a noted galaxy brain director making a game without having to answer to higher ups. What you get is a game unlike anything else, where the main gameplay loop is making deliveries going from place to place, with the occasional threat of Lovecraftian horrors attacking you, and the much more frequent threat of losing your balance, falling, dropping and breaking your cargo. This is a game where your character is named after his place of work and his job, and you correspond to a person called Die-Hardman. I don't suspect it's something I'd enjoy playing but I'm remarkably fascinated that it exists. I'm also always interested when something so functionally bizarre manages to capture mass public attention for any period of time.
The game has a soundtrack but it's probably not really the songs you'll hear when you play it. You don't start hearing Khalid singing the first time you pick up a gun or anything, because most of the music in the game is curated instead. There's a lot of early 2010s Life Is Strange-core indie folk for instance. Apparently it's via a jukebox feature that you can get your Bring Me The Horizon fix. However, this CHVRCHES song does play properly in the game because it plays over the credits. Kojima has spoken highly of the song's potency on Twitter but I can personally note that nothing in the lyrics of this song could be seen as touch points on components of the game, though there may be thematic links that I don't watch enough Rick & Morty to detect.
For me, this song is a sigh of relief. Between the previous year's relatively underwhelming release, and making a song with Marshmello, I was starting to question myself if CHVRCHES were ever really that good. Suffice to say, this song severely alleviated my worries. It's a little different for CHVRCHES too, who usually rely on a lot of flashy over the top synth riffs. Here it's more of a backdrop to empassioned balladry. I feel like I'm comparing everything to it lately, but the background synth after the first chorus sounds so much like Todd Terje's "Johnny and Mary". I'm totally down for more of this on the next album.
There was a lot more baggage to this than I initially thought. When this song was released, Clairo was to me, just the singer on that SG Lewis song I liked a bit and no more which is leading to a very obvious punchline that I'm just going to ignore and throw away...oh shit. Something that was completely lost on me in the years preceding is that Clairo had amassed some viral popularity stemming from her song "Pretty Girl", for which I cannot help but speculate how much she may have been helped by the fact that there was another song of the same title by another female singer that hardly anyone had heard of which might help the discovery algorithm even if the two songs are going for very different styles. In fact a lot of Clairo's popularity came from her lo-fi bedroom pop style.
The problem with this is the elephant in the room that Clairo has a very wealthy business executive whose affluence and connections helped a lot with getting her a foot in the door. I have my frustrations with nepotism myself but I would be able to get behind this sentiment more if not for it being propelled by so many people who would unwittingly rate "Is This It" as one of the best albums of the 21st century. It's hard not to be an industry plant in some way given how impossible it is to gain any traction without having major platforms on your side. I feel like in general, this is something that's only really pertinent if you can wholeheartedly determine that there is no way something could gain genuine traction on its own merit.
"Bags" to me passes that test with flying colours. The opening guitar riff and the accompanying percussion immediately strike a chord of classic indie rock. You could of course point to Rostam on this regard but it's not like Clairo is just a perfunctory product on top of it. Her languid performance fits like a glove to match the uncertain tension of the song. I of course really resonate with the uncertainty in the song. Who knows what I've missed out in my life due to my potentially irrational fear of how I'll be perceived. It's apt that this tension is never removed by the end of the song.
I suspect that of all the songs she's released in the past year or so, this is the oldest track. I have the very clear evidence because on the APRA/AMCOS site, she has registered a decent handful of songs she wrote with Aeroplane, not a single one of these titles has been released (though I'm led to believe her upcoming EP is titled "Invisible Woman", which I have heard although apparently the studio & live versions are very different), but I am fairly certain that this song was originally titled "You Feel Me". I can only speculate where the title change came from. It could be because it would make for extremely easy Donna Summer comparisons which the song has already drawn no shortage of, but I'm fairly sure I've seen her share/like/something a comparison in that regard, and I feel like if this was really a concern to the point of title change, then that would induce an acute reaction I think. It might also be something like the fact that "On Me" had a chorus built on the title being repeated, and having two songs in a row whose choruses are just the title would be very noticable.
It also strikes me as the song she has the most investment in, given how often she posts videos with the song playing over the current single that one would expect to be promoted. It's also got the only proper music video she's released in over 6 years. And of course, this song to me feels like it's not at all compromising to algorithmic standards. It's extremely indulgent in its slice of disco chic. Every performance I see, I clearly get the feeling that it's the song she enjoys playing the most live. Suffice to say I do feel her, it's a baaaaaaaaaaanger, dance.
One of the most weirdly exciting moments for me was after seeing Olympia not make it through to the ARIA top 50 on the midweeks, ending up buying her album and getting treated to a surprise that it was at #100 on the album chart. If there was a less than 1 sale margin between #100 & #101 then it might be the biggest impact I have ever made on our national charts but alas I could only solidify a ''relatively safe'' margin. Olympia's first album is a big favourite of mine, and her next lead single was fantastic so I was really looking forward to this. "Shoot To Forget" didn't quite meet my expectations but "Hounds" more than made up for that immediately after. It's clearly given Olympia a solid formula of spreading out singles across multiple years allowing her to appear in my top 10 for 4 of the last 5 years, as well as apparently needing to slightly one-up Owl Eyes lately.
"Hounds" bridged the gap between her two sets of releases when it came out (or rather my comment just applies to the singles and not the album as a whole), as it returns to a more psychedelic rock sound whereas "Star City" and "Shoot To Forget" were much more pronounced with their riff-oriented sound. While it might not be the most iconic song for riffing on in this top 10, I've found a lot of fun in the song's first four words being 'Last night was lit', as well as that other lyric which doesn't need to go here because you know it's coming.
I had not listened to Ainslie's album until yesterday, which is probably something I should have done sooner considering that it's one of only 2 albums in the last 5 years to score multiple #1 hits on my chart (the other one is "DAMN."). That's also now my cue to make for some very effective FOMO because yeah it is rather good. Admittedly "Running Second" ending up on the tracklisting is kind of surprising, but it is the 2nd most streamed song on the album and we do live in a society after all.
Much like Ellie Goulding on various national charts, every time Ainslie comes up with another massive smash for me, it feels like a fluke that won't be replicated, except that it keeps happening. She also keeps getting higher and higher on my lists so maybe it shouldn't be considered that at all. "Mountains" is not a particularly showy song, but its stark arrangement struck a chord with me immediately. It does peak towards the end of course which makes for a great release. I love the way the backing vocals relay from the lead, while also proving the only thing close to closure in this insomniac state of terror.
Methyl Ethel's 2nd album has a lot of songs that don't have the title in them, I mean like all of the singles last I checked. I don't know if it was intentional, but on their 3rd album, there are so many cases of near miss titles, where you could be tricked into thinking that the title is in the song, but they muddle it up a little. "Scream Whole", "All The Elements" and "No Fighting" are quite sneaky about this, and of course so is "Trip The Mains". Perhaps one day we'll learn that they were actually saying 'ruin her'. While this song doesn't quite strike in the same way of absurd hook gold like "Ubu", it makes up for it in its glorious musical composition. The hook of the chorus turns out not to be the actual lyrics, but the pulsating rhythm that intensifies just for this moment, as well as the blocky synth that punctuates every line. The song feels like Methyl Ethel's sound most accurately distilled in 4 minutes.
You sometimes see the claim that rap is just talking, it has no melodic foundation to vibe with like singing. For me, "Wounds" is one of the most melodically tight songs I heard last year. Simz takes what feels like the ghost of "Forgot About Dre" and rides the wave momentously like a young Eminem. There's so much intricacy to the frequent switch ups of internal rhyme schemes that I found myself seriously compelled by it before I even began to piece together what the song was even about. She'll construct a verse around a repeated word but flip it on a dime.
The message is very potent too. Sometimes the one in front of the gun doesn't live forever, as the tragedy will inevitably dehumanise all involved to make another headline (and realistically, no shortage of discourse where the loss of a life is just fuel to stoke the flames of one's argument). There's the lapse of judgement shown by the fact that someone can get so easily caught up in something dangerous without questioning it. The entire second verse is spent re-iterating the fact that a girl has gotten involved with 'the gun man', because for the outsiders looking in, that's what he is, but no amount of incessant reminders is going to sway her away from her inevitable fate, and it's only doomed to be sensationalised rather than serve as another spark to look into the societal woes that lead to this twisted underbelly.
The hardest hitting moment is saved for the end, which is the one part of the song that is certainly based on a real event, where a childhood friend of Simz was stabbed to death by another friend over a dispute about a girl. She paints a particularly poignant image with her last full line of the song. After all, I'm fairly certain most cases of murder are between people of close relations (family etc), and also rarely overly pre-meditated. So it means that if your destiny is to die at the hands of another person, it's highly likely that you've been seeing this killer-to-be eye to eye for a very long time. But while this is a tragedy for all those close to the situation, it just makes for another opportunity for onlookers to gawk, and probably at least one person thinking that it'd make for a great true crime documentary.
I think it's a fair observation for me to make that my lack of attention paid to music in 2019 compared to other years has resulted in a list with lower stakes. Case in point is that when I got to ranking my top 5 for this year, I felt more so than ever before, that I had left with me not a #1, #2, #3, #4 & #5, but 5 #5's. It meant the possibility of Samsaruh taking the top spot again was very much a possibility, but one that would especially highlight this fact because I'm not about to pretend this is precisely on par with "Golden To Thrive".
Still, it has been interesting to see where Samsaruh has been going with her music. Apart from a slight electronic tint, it's hard to get a grasp of what her general sound would be from her first couple of singles. This has become more evident as that hasn't really lined up at all. I don't want to just pin it down to her working a lot more with that guy who likes Tool because "Speaking Fire" came out before then, but certainly she's taken big strides into rock star territory here. "Powerlines" to me feels like taking the best parts of her 2018 singles, "Speaking Fire" and "The Beginning" and refining it into a triumphant moment. Relatively speaking, those songs just cannot match the absolute power of this song's hook. "Speaking Fire" might come close, but it's missing the perfect lead in, which is what first gravitated me to this song. With just 2 chords and some vocal call & response, the pre-chorus section manages to sell the ascension.
A lot of the time, it's not particularly easy to separate art and artist. I'm not sure how many people have even heard a Ted Nugent song or even been compelled to want to hear one for instance. I am not putting Grimes on that level, but certainly she has spent a lot of time recently being ridiculous in a 'yeah okay sure' way. But maybe that's being generous because it's not hard for me to also think that billionaires, and by extension anyone who associates with them, are trash. But I just cannot ever manage to cut her off because she keeps releasing songs that I wouldn't want to do without.
I mean "Violence" is just electro pop perfection. i_o provides production that percolates with life, sounding familiar in one sense but also 'how has nobody made this before' in another. Grimes just manages to be the versatile weapon to keep it especially inticing. She frequently switches between ethereal & playful. I've been making Hot Chelle Rae jokes for months but the 'I like it like that' interjection proves a weirdly effective tension release.
2019 was a huge year for Billie Eilish with the release of her debut album and my favourite songs she put out this year aren't even on it. I'm not remotely bitter about it because you'd be mad to put this on there. Maybe I can be a little bitter that this has proven to be pretty much her least receptive song she's ever released, to the point that despite being released near the height of her fame, never came close to chart traction, but at the end of the day, this clearly isn't a song primed for that much attention.
"WHEN I WAS OLDER" as you may know, was released for the soundtrack to "Roma", a movie I have unsurprisingly not seen. It was the first new song she put out in 2019, a couple weeks before "bury a friend". In some ways it feels like a logical progression from "when the party's over" which was relatively fresh at the time, given the reliance on vocoder to create most of the soundscape.
The way this vocoder is used is what captivates me the most about this song. As it goes further along, it starts to be further incorporated into the direction that the song is taking. The hook becomes split up into staccato fashion, and later on the music itself leans into this to make for a really enticing shimmering effect. And I haven't even spoken about how good the music is on this song. The light piano has a kooky circus vibe to them, while the bass gives off a subtle heartbeat sound akin to "Teardrop". It's all just remarkably put together and can only make me continue to adore what Billie and FINNEAS are bringing to the table.
Billie was unlucky to miss the list completely last year but has more than made up for it with more entries than anyone else https://imgur.com/RzQE6Ih
I feel like I say something like this every year, but I frequently feel ill equipped to herald what comes with the declaration of a #1. In part because of what I said a moment ago about the strength of the field, but also because I'm in two minds about the status it represents. On one hand, the idea of a #1 fascinates me deeply, the fact that something comes out on top, ahead of all other contenders. It implies a lack of shortcomings, but should it really? Ignoring the unattainable status of true perfection, you're inevitably going to end up with an amount of entrants where you can't justifiably find a fault, and that amount is almost certainly going to be either 0, or a number much greater than 1. To pretend that it's exactly 1, and it's always exactly 1 is extremely disingenuous. The other problem I have is that it often leads to implications, where you either force a flimsy catch all statement that's summed up by the standing of the #1, or if you won't, everyone else will, and box together further assumptions just based on what the decision represents you as a person. Think of how many times there's been a Hottest 100 thinkpiece that is really just disguising a tirade against the #1 song and how it represents triple j and its audience in the year CURRENT YEAR, even if it's possible that a handful of votes one way or another would be only a modicum of audience variation that needs an an entirely different assessment. And even then, it's extremely unlikely that you don't end up in a situation where the optimal #1 choices aren't distributed evenly. Ignoring the year by year paradigm shift, can we really say for sure that "Hoops" could have beaten "Lonely Boy" which had seeding extremely set against it by being a 2011 single. Would The Black Keys instead have faired better if they released the song a couple months later, and squared off against Macklemore with much more time to amass fanfare to boot? As much as people like to cry of short memory, would Flume or Ocean Alley really stand a chance if they just released their singles a couple months earlier? If so, would we all be looking down contemplating what the FISHER win means for music as a whole (or idk, "Knees" would sweep up those votes instead).
This song is by all means a statement of its own. It is a statement that is nigh on impossible for me to really voice empathy on because I cannot possibly know what it's like to try and make a name for yourself in the world as a Muslim woman. I could shoe horn in an allegory about how 'pink youth' are now very frequent fixtures in these lists, to the point that only the most androgynous of male singers keeps it from being an all female affair in this top 10, but that feels disrespectful to the point.
Still, it's very easy to get behind the sentiment of this song. From the opening lines it's already thoroughly rejecting the patriarchal expectations placed on women, expected to look and think certain ways not for their own benefit, but for the men around them. I'm reminded of how shortly after Owl Eyes released her latest music video, the top comment (which has since been deleted) was not about the music of course, but expressing concern over the size of her lips. It was under the guise of 'oh you shouldn't need to do things like that to be attractive' but it reads as just a desire to conform to a different standard of beauty, where at the end of the day, a woman's own choice of presentation and appearance is being mansplained.
But now that I've said all of this it really does feel like I'm trying to make it as a statement at #1 but I'm genuinely not. There's no shortage of similar messages in songs that I've attributed to lower ranks than this before. This ranking, just like last year, comes on a largely visceral line of response. This. Beat. Is. Freakin'. Sick. The triumphant stand of the chorus is only elevated by the way the music really starts to poke out for it. Time and time again I'll mention it but one of my favourite things in music is the scattershot descending percussion melody of "Unfinished Sympathy". It's like icing on the cake of what's already a classic and it just fills me with childlike delight. I get a similar vibe out of this chorus. Even if I was late to giving their material the full appreciation it deserved, Yuna and Little Simz snapped in 2019, and I'm happy to put them at the top of the podium.