The 9 best and 9 worst songs of the year – Business Insider

Posted: December 18, 2019 at 2:47 am


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caption Major artists released both excellent and lackluster singles in 2019. source Aidan Cullen / Maroon 5/YouTube

2019 was an incredible year for music especially for women, as it was peppered by career highlights from artists like Ariana Grande, Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey, Halsey, and Dua Lipa (honorable mentions include Selena Gomezs comeback ballad Lose You to Love Me, Rosalas eclectic stream of singles, and excellent albums from Charli XCX and FKA Twigs).

Other songs, however, marred the years reputation. Respected artists like Miley Cyrus, Kanye West, and Maroon 5 had some major missteps.

Keep reading for Insiders roundup of the highs and lows from the past year in chronological order, starting with the very best.

Needy is one of the most arresting and moving songs in Ariana Grandes catalogue. The sparkling, synth-laden ballad is the tender heart of Thank U, Next, Grandes best and most personal album to date.

The intimate song evokes the impending doom of a failing relationship: apologies sent via text, going to bed without saying goodnight, the lonely echo of an empty apartment. It clocks in at under three minutes, and yet manages to synthesize a veritable feast of emotions: longing, guilt, resentment, desire, quiet dread. Put simply, Needy is mesmerizing, acting as both confession and catharsis.

Sucker was the perfect comeback song for this centurys most beloved trio. After an agonizing six-year breakup, the Jonas Brothers couldve released any kind of catchy radio hit or Burnin Up knockoff and it wouldve been embraced by fans. Instead, they returned with a delightfully weird, tropical pop-rock banger and triumphantly asserted their dominant role in 2019 as more than a nostalgic fluke.

This is one of the rare times that an artists song one that wasnt even released as a lead single for her album, one that she actually thought people would hate has eclipsed the one that made her famous.

Bad Guy has become Billie Eilishs defining anthem, illustrating the unconventional spooky pop that has made her so beloved.

Released just before we head into the next decade, Bad Guy already feels like something well remember as the inspiration behind many copycats, as a song that paved the way for a new kind of radio hit and perhaps as more than Eilishs defining anthem, but a generations. Insider previously ranked it as the 41st best song of the 2010s decade.

Earfquake is best heard within the context of Igor, Tyler, the Creators best and most cohesive album to date. As with many albums that, in the words of Pitchforks Matthew Strauss, succeed in communicating mood as their own sense of logic, the song elevates and is elevated by the songs that surround it.

However, as the albums lead single, Earfquake also stood on its own before it existed within the context of Igor and it clearly succeeded, having become Tylers best-selling and highest-charting song to date.

Earfquake introduced us to Tylers newest alter-ego and, after 2017s Flower Boy was hailed as his most mature album yet, proved that hes nowhere near done evolving.

Earfquake illustrates Tylers talent for innovation and artistic growth, especially as hes the sole producer and only one of two writers on the song. His pitched-up falsetto, gliding through the songs mutating, colorful chords, make listening to Earfquake feel like a surrealist experience (in Tylers own words, the harmonies sound like a cloud melting).

Lover already feels like an indispensable addition to Taylor Swifts discography. The dreamy, Mazzy Star-esque ballad, written entirely by Swift herself, has been nominated for song of the year at the 2020 Grammys and was ranked by Insider as one of the best songs of the 2010s decade.

After years of singing about love stories based in fantasy and embellishing the details of failed courtships, Lover sees Swift grow into herself. She writes with striking maturity but maintains her characteristic flair for drama, beautifully capturing the atmosphere within a lasting love a place of security and frustration and comfort and understanding and persistent, abiding, Ill-run-away-with-you-if-you-ask passion.

Its extraordinarily difficult to pick a best song from Lana Del Reys enchanting album Norman Fing Rockwell! her most poetic, consistent, and critically acclaimed to date.

That being said: Godd manchild, you fed me so good that I almost said, I love you.' If that isnt an ingenious way to open an album, then I dont know what is. Most artists dont achieve momentary, transcendental brilliance like that ever, let alone within the first 45 seconds of track one.

Halsey is as much a writer, if not more so, than a singer or hitmaker. She often describes her onstage career as a way to ensure that people listen to her words and understand her emotions a drive thats never been more apparent than on Clementine, an intimate, glittering ode to self-awareness that started off as a poem about having a black eye.

The spare production allows Halseys theatrical charisma to take center stage: When my hair stands on end its saluting you is a standout line, as well as the songs central refrain: I dont need anyone, I just need everyone and then some. The latter is echoed by pouts and wails in the background (I dont need anyone! I dont need anyone!), giving the song a weird, slightly unhinged quality that makes it all the more brilliant.

Dua Lipas disco-infused single Dont Start Now maximizes everything the pop star does best.

Lipa reunited with the team behind her formidable, catchy breakthrough hit New Rules, but Dont Start Now takes her sound to a higher level, Rolling Stones Brittany Spanos wrote. Above one of the years strongest bass lines, Lipa vocally struts her way through a Studio 54 fantasy. With biting sass, she tells a lover who has left her scorned that she has happily moved on.

The song is the peak of pop catharsis: it unfolds into one of the years most glamorous new tunes. You wish you could see Bianca Jagger ride into the club on a white horse as this song plays in the distance.

When Insiders entertainment team ranked every solo song Harry Styles has released, rating each song on a scale from 1-10 and then averaging the scores, we near-unanimously decided that Cherry is his best song yet. Courteney Larocca gave it an immediate 10/10 after one listen, while Paige DiFiore and I both ignored the 1-10 rule to come up with a 100/10 and 11/10, respectively.

As Larocca wrote, Theres a tenderness in Styles vocals on Cherry that, along with the Camille Rowe voice note at the end, helps drive home the beautifully melancholic tone.

With lyrics like, I, I confessI can tell that you areat your best / Im selfish so Im hating it, and Does he take you walking round his parents gallery? Styles leans into his jealous side, crafting the most powerful moment on Fine Line,' she wrote. Cherry is an instant classic that elevated Styles artistry to new heights.

This soulless, phoned-in pop song tries so hard to be a female empowerment anthem, but mostly just feels like fodder for the Avril Lavigne was replaced with a body double conspiracy theory. I refuse to believe the emo queen of my childhood, the punk-rock genius who brought us Complicated and My Happy Ending, also brought us Dumb Blonde.

Not for nothing, it was also a weird choice for Nicki Minaj to cosign a song that prominently features the lyric I aint no dumb blonde / I aint no stupid Barbie doll when she has spent her entire career creatively reclaiming the Barbie image (her fans literally call themselves Barbz).

First of all, theres already a dance track from a DJ called Light It Up and its way better. Marshmellos is empty and colorless. Second of all, has Tygas voice always sounded so nasally and weird?

Thirdly and most importantly, as Ive noted before, nobody benefits from Chris Browns continued presence in the music industry. Considering his growing list of disturbing accusations over the years including but not limited to assault, abuse, and rape its a mystery and a disgrace that artists continue to insist on collaborating with him.

Earlier this year, Insiders own Courteney Larocca listed Me! among Taylor Swifts worst songs ever.

Longtime fans know Swifts lead singles tend to be red herrings, and Me! might be the best example of a leading track expertly masking the overall feel of the album its meant to promote, she wrote. But on what has been described as Swifts most indie-leaning record to date, Me! is a sugary, too-sweet outlier fit for the Frozen demographic and not much else.

Of the six songs on Miley Cyrus eclectic EP, as Idolators Mike Nied wrote, Cattitude is her most glaring stumble. But the song isnt just the worst of the small bunch its downright unlistenable. Put next to some of Cyrus most enticingly edgy music in years (Mothers Daugher, Unholy), its even more cringey.

Cattitude is proudly unserious, but its also kind of embarrassing. Turn up your gratitude, turn down your attitude / I love my pussy, that means I got cattitude packs the energy of a self-help slogan and a rejected Lizzo track, Pitchforks Anna Gaca wrote. Cattitude is entertaining, sure, but whos being entertained?

If theres a worst song on Iggy Azaleas terrible album In My Defense, Clap Back comes pretty close. It sees Azalea addressing hatin broke h whove accused her of cultural appropriation with super sophisticated insights like, Cause I talk like this and my a fat / They be saying Iggy tryna act black. Um, right!

As Dani Blum wrote for Pitchfork, the song offers only a garish caricature of rap music: They call me racist / Only thing I like is green and blue faces, she sneers, managing to corrode and embarrass herself in one line.

Hot Girl Bummer isnt just a transparent attempt to ride the coattails of Megan Thee Stallions motto-turned-anthem, Hot Girl Summer (giving something a name thats similar to an already-popular search phrase is an easy way to get extra eyeballs or, in this case, ears, on it). Its also just an inauthentic song with a gimmicky, uber-repetitive hook.

At least Girls Like You was catchy and featured a Cardi B verse. But Maroon 5s newest single Memories is desperately generic. Theres just nothing to it; no meat, no intrigue.

Although its very touching that Adam Levine dedicated the music video to Jordan Feldstein, the bands manager who died in 2017, the actual song doesnt contain any touching details or any specificity at all, preferring to parrot tiresome clichs.

Its hard to believe the man behind lyrical masterpieces like Black Skinhead and Runaway actually wrote and released a song thats all about comparing his iconic wife to Chick-fil-A.

Its nice that Kanye West feels like hes found his purpose, but did that mean he had to become such a mediocre songwriter? Some of Wests best songs (Jesus Walks, Ultralight Beam) are gospel-heavy records, directly inspired by his religious devotion, so Im not sure what his excuse is for such a weak and, honestly, offensively deficient metaphor. (Kim Kardashian West is an effective prison reform advocate and business mogul whos changed the fabric of fame as we know it. Chick-fil-A is a fast food joint thats best known worldwide for being owned by a homophobe. Spot the disparity?)

Even aside from the songs central references to fried chicken and lemonade, theres nothing here of interest.

Closed on Sunday, you my Chick-fil-A / Hold the selfies, put the gram away / Get your family, yall, hold hands and pray, West recites lazily, sounding like hes even boring himself. Thats your life-changing insight, Ye? Yikes.

Aside from being a baseline bad song, Both Ways the 10th track on Liam Paynes new solo album is a pretty gross depiction of women being attracted to other women.

Lovin the way that shes turning you on / Switching the lanes like a Bugatti Sport / Nothing but luck that she got me involved, yeah / Flipping that body, go head, I go tails, Payne sings in the songs refrain. He also brags that he wont judge and that his girls sexuality makes every day feel like his birthday.

The lyrics have drawn heavy criticism from the LGBTQ community. As explained by Cosmo UKs sex and relationships editor, Paisley Gilmour: Bisexual women and femme-presenting people are so often subjected to this kind of fetishization the idea that their sexuality exists to arouse straight, cis dudes. Its a misconception that contributes to bisexual erasure (when bisexual peoples sexuality is repeatedly ignored, denied existence or just plain questioned).

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The 9 best and 9 worst songs of the year - Business Insider

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December 18th, 2019 at 2:47 am

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