Year-End Top 100: 2019 – 90 to 81

90 – Graveyard by Halsey

This opinion will be unpopular. And I hope I don’t get bashed for what I’m about to say. Halsey creates pop hits that are not distinct from what the next superstar can offer. And her persona isn’t particularly interesting. But all of what I just mentioned doesn’t take away the connection her songs create with the broader audience. Who hasn’t engaged in destructive behavior, especially one taken for an object of affection? I sure have.

89 – Slide Away by Miley Cyrus

The last time Miley Cyrus separated from Liam Hemsworth, we got the unforgettable classic “Wrecking Ball”. For this round, I was expecting a lot of angst to come through, or wild and rowdy behavior to be front and center. Instead, a mature and soothing tune greets us in “Slide Away”. While pain is evident, she’s now equipped with perspective. She lets the relationship go and sounds at peace with their different trajectories.

88 – Mother by Charlie Puth

There are many things I wish my mother didn’t know about the life I live. Before, I used to be ashamed of the decisions I’ve taken. Now, the reservation is only to protect her from what information about her son she’s capable of handling. “Mother” is another take on how we let the perception of others, family included, impact our genuine pursuit of happiness and pleasure.

87 – Lights Up by Harry Styles

The fandom, especially his gay followers, interprets the song as him coming to terms with his sexuality. He even released the single on National Coming Out Day. But let’s take a dose of reality. Regardless of his gender, we will not benefit from this disclosure. What makes me happy is his own journey of self-discovery and taking comfort in his own skin. This was the direction his first record took. And I’m happy there’s more to unearth.

86 – I Found You by Benny Blanco, Calvin Harris, and Miguel

Just looking at the names of Calvin Harris and Benny Blanco on the artist credits, I can hear heavy bass playing and a club anthem ready to be launched. But when I heard “I Found You”, the work the two play has to be there most understated. Where does the song rely heavily on? Miguel’s voice and some piano instrumentation. The choice makes sense considering how rich and soulful Miguel’s voice is.

85 – Feelings by Lauv

I wish I had the creativity, personality, and advocacies of the 1975’s Matty Healy. But if I had written songs, both the subject matter and the way the emotions are expressed, I would be closer to Lauv’s style and thoughts (not talent). The two of us are similar in experiencing unreciprocated affection. But I draw the line in actively pursuing the object of my desire. Singing “Feelings” is sufficient for my own (dis)satisfaction.

84 – wish you were gay by Billie Eilish

I’ve witnessed plenty of gay men/women falling for our straight brothers and sisters (and vice versa). Now reflecting, I’m surprised the only song discussing this subject matter to have broken out is Billie Eilish’s. The sting and pain won’t go away. But knowing gender played a role may alleviate the pain. In 2019, I feel more diverse points of view and stories were heard. Billie Eilish definitively contributed to this change.

83 – 10,000 Hours by Dan + Shay and Justin Bieber

I dislike Justin Bieber’s public persona. But some of his music is brilliant. And when he finds artists to collaborate with, he creates enough space for the other parties to shine. I’ve never listened to Dan + Shay before this. And I’m grateful to Justin Bieber for giving them a boost in the pop scene. The feature is a pity considering the duo’s sound doesn’t necessitate a feature. But that’s what it took to get attention and we should take it.

82 – Vossi Bop by Stormzy

I discovered Stormzy when news broke out that he was headlining Glastonbury. That’s impressive considering his discography is relatively young. What makes him stand out in hip-hop is his consistent ability to make sharp verses while maintaining an addictive hook or beat. “Vossi Bop” is no exception. His sound reminds me of Kanye’s early works – taking out the arrogance and lack of self-awareness.

81 – Fuck It I Love You by Lana del Rey

While Lana del Rey’s tone can be construed as distant, uninterested and apathetic, she’s not above romance. She blurts out five powerful words that describe how powerless we can get – “Fuck It I Love You”. The phrase is crass but appropriate. There is a nice contrast to her tone, which can be regarded as lazy or surrender, and the emotion and passion she conveys in the song.


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