Here is a selection of four of the most notable songs and albums of 2019.
Billie Eilish’s “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?”
The 17-year-old sensation took the music industry by surprise with her chart-topping debut album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, which arrived with great pomp this March.
The full-length, led by hits such as “Bad Guy” and “When The Party’s Over”, was praised unanimously by critics, granting Eilish a slew of awards as well as six nominations for the 2020 Grammys.
When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? finds Eilish and her privileged collaborator Finneas blending elements of electronic pop, hip-hop and various musical genres to chronicle the hopes and fears of contemporary youth.
“Honestly, I thought that I would be dead by now/Calling security, keepin’ my head held down/Bury the hatchet or bury a friend right now,” she notes in the haunted “Bury a Friend.”
The ultra-sensitive When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? also marked the triumph of vulnerability in the charts, with personal albums such as Tyler, the Creator’s IGOR and Lana Del Rey’s Norman F***king Rockwell receiving widespread acclaim.
Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road”
As streaming platforms unveiled their personalised year-end insights, it is very likely the binge-worthy Old Town Road will appear among users’ favorite music from the past 12 months.
The joyful rap-country number, which chronicles the tribulations of a cowboy in today’s America, became the most-consumed song of the year and propelled Lil Nas X to fame.
“Yeah, I’m gonna take my horse to the old town road/ I’m gonna ride ‘til I can’t no more/I’m gonna take my horse to the old town road,” Nas X sings in his smash single, which spent a record-breaking 19 weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100.
Although “Old Town Road” became an instant hit on TikTok, the genre-blending single was momentarily removed from Billboard’s Hot Country chart for not embracing “enough elements of today’s country music”.
Rather than engaging in a Twitter war with the publication, Nas X enlisted Billy Ray Cyrus for a bona fide country remix of “Old Town Road”, assuring the song’s legitimacy in the genre’s history.
Kanye West’s “Jesus Is King”
Although less critically acclaimed than When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, Jesus Is King was without a doubt one of the most talked-about albums of the year.
Despite multiple deadline delays and skepticism about West’s recommitment to Christianity, the work of gospel-rap dominated the Billboard 200 chart, amassing the equivalent of 264,000 sales in the US in its opening week.
The full-length, led by hits such as “Closed on Sunday” and “Follow God”, also topped Billboard’s Christian albums and gospel albums charts, confirming the rapper’s turn to religious music.
Last September, West reportedly announced that he will no longer be making secular music, stating that he will focus on making “only gospel from here on out”.
While he is already working on the follow-up to Jesus Is King with Dr. Dre, the self-proclaimed genius further embraced sacred music with his first-ever opera, “Nebuchadnezzar.”
The performance, presented in November at Los Angeles’s Hollywood Bowl, was followed shortly after by the new opera “Mary”, which debuted on the final day of Art Basel Miami Beach.
Jonas Brothers’ “Happiness Begins”
After nearly six years apart, the Jonas Brothers announced their long-awaited reunion with their fifth studio album and first project in a decade, Happiness Begins.
The full-length, led by singles such as “Sucker” and “Only Human”, claimed the top spot on Billboard’s album chart with 414,000 “equivalent album units” in the US.
This successful comeback was however under scrutiny as the publication reported that the trio’s opening-week sales position for Happiness Begins was powered by the sales of their reunion tour.
While the Jonas Brothers made the most of their reunion with a new Amazon documentary and memoir, the brothers were one of the numerous bands who announced their comeback this year.
All four members of British goth-rock band Bauhaus took the stage together for the first time in a decade last November at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles.
My Chemical Romance also revealed the end of their six-year hiatus from music earlier this year, announcing several reunion concerts in the US, Australia, Japan and New Zealand.