Top US-UK Songs in 2019
According to a list shared recently by the Official Charts Company, Lewis Capaldi’s “Someone You Loved” has wrapped 2019 as the biggest hit of the year, which is only a bit surprising, given the several tracks that appear just below it. The song worked its way up to the top spot, giving the singer-songwriter his only leader in the country (so far). It also kept the No. 5 cuts, Calvin Harris and Rag’N’Bone Man’s “Giant,” from reaching No. 1, as it held on in second place for over a month.
In second place is Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road,” which was truly the biggest surprise anywhere in the world last year. The cut ruled charts in over a dozen territories, even resetting the record for the longest leader in U.S. history.
1. "Someone You Loved", Lewis Capaldi
Listening to “Someone You Loved” will induce feelings of heartbreak, remind you of your worst breakup and possibly leave you in tears. Nominated for song of the year at the upcoming 2020 Grammys, the 23-year-old Scottish singer-songwriter effortlessly wrenches our guts on the piano ballad from the brutal first line: “I'm going under and this time I fear there's no one to save me.” The track spent three weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100, while the video shined a light on the importance of organ donation and the charity Live Life Give Life -- ensuring that our bleeding heart is beating once again and stronger than before, according to the Billboard.
2. “Old Town Road,” Lil Nas X
“Old Town Road” contains many opposing truths. It’s both underdog and behemoth; eye-rollingly trivial and slyly progressive; radio-ready hit and oddball meme. This summer, it was both a distraction and the thing you couldn’t escape.
And it was this shapeshifting ability that made “Old Town Road” the ideal cultural artifact for 2019, in its endlessly iterative and argumentative nature. Whether people went online to criticize it, dance to it, or remix it, everyone interacted with it some way, continuously pouring fuel as it set record after record.
And as Lil Nas X added to the fire by releasing a stream of remixes, the song became less a single record and more a fluid canvas for transgression. Each new version ruptured a new boundary or norm—whether it was Billy Ray Cyrus singing about his Maserati or BTS member RM delivering bilingual wordplay. Once scorned as an outsider—both to Nashville and the music industry at large—Lil Nas himself became the gatekeeper, and then opened the door as wide as possible for everyone else, Time reported.
3. "Bad Guy", Billie Eilish
Pop tends to stand up straight, but Bad Guy crouched. It was a delightfully malevolent presence in the charts this year, a shadow between the sprightly boasts of pop-rap and the howled emotion of pop ballads. The melody is the kind of thing Tim Burton would use to announce the arrival of an evil Victorian workhouse owner. Eilish, casting herself as a “might-seduce-your-dad type”, teases you right in your ear, so close you can hear every tiny creak and breath – and then, with that none-so-teenage “duh!”, she laughs at how much she’s freaked you out. The result is the most original pop song of the year, The Guardian wrote.
4. "Rapture", Koffee ft. Govana
In the opening line of “Rapture,” the Jamaican-born star raps, “Koffee come in like a rapture,” likening the artist's swift, unexpected dominance in the music industry to the religious event of the same name. According to Koffee's YouTube channel, the 19-year-old has been slinging buoyant reggae-inspired tunes for only a few years, but after “Toast” blew up this year, it was clear Koffee is here to stay. —Nerisha Penrose
5. "Don't Start Now", Dua Lipa
What makes Dua Lipa’s music so irresistible is that she can throw her smooth, smoky warble on just about any record—and shine. Dua steps into a new sound with the disco-driven “Don’t Start Now,” which shows she actually followed the advice she gave herself in “New Rules.” Dua’s headstrong this time around, after realizing she’s “better on the other side.” Elle cited.
6. "The Greatest", Lana Del Rey
On her new album, Norman Fucking Rockwell, Lana Del Rey fully realizes the style and sound she's been cultivating for her entire career. "The Greatest" is a haunting, beautiful ballad, like a hangover from a bygone era. It has hope, and loss, and lush, layered production that allows Rey's yearning, breathy vocals to inhabit that lost and privileged persona that remains weirdly fascinating, Esquire noted.
7. "Sucker", Jonas Brothers
Dotted with yummy falsettos and that brilliant staccato pre-chorus, “Sucker” is a dangerously catchy ode from the Brothers to their beloved leading ladies. Once the single landed, it didn’t take long for the JoBros to stumble out of bars and onto the Hot 100 for their first-ever No. 1 smash -- while simultaneously becoming the first boy band to secure that position since B2K in 2003, albeit now in a much more adult mode. “They’ve had celebrity,” Monte Lipman, founder/CEO of Republic Records, previously told Billboard. “But what’s happening in this chapter of their career is the credibility in the music space.”
8."Harmony Hall", Vampire Weekend
On a January day in 2019, the coolest uncool rock band in indie made their comeback with a pair of songs -- including “Harmony Hall,” an undeniably summery lead single. That’s because Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig can see the future, and his prophecy probably involved us all cranking down the windows and yelling the bittersweet lyrics to “Harmony Hall” on a hot June evening. Now that we’re here at the outset of the warm-weather months, go on -- give it a spin. Listen to that delicate guitar melody, followed by Koenig’s arcane-yet-universal lyrics, elevated by a heavenly house piano line. Here comes a feeling you thought you’d forgotten.
9. “Welcome to the Party,” Pop Smoke
While mainstream rap is still dominated by a trap—the crawling subgenre from Atlanta—artists have also been looking north and taking elements from the drill, Chicago’s much faster and frenetic style. “Welcome to the Party,” which was inescapable in Brooklyn this summer and fall, manically races forward, with the 20-year-old rapper’s syllables spilling out in terrifying, clipped bursts. Pop Smoke growls both his threats and boasts in unruly, unpredictable clusters—but even more jarring is producer 808Melo’s bassline, which seems to bubble out of the deepest recesses of the American psyche.
* Read more: Top 10 Best Songs of 2020
10. "About Work the Dancefloor", Georgia
One of the year’s warmest success stories: when Georgia released Started Out, the first single from her second album for indie Domino, at the end of 2018, it became a surprise Radio 1 hit. So did its follow-up, About Work the Dancefloor, prompting the label to push her album to 2020 to give the singles time to breathe. AWtD is a fine teaser for a record that is worth the wait, showing off Georgia’s newfound focus on songcraft and the depth of her references as a producer (the satisfyingly meaningless title is her tribute to the robotic proclamations of Detroit techno forefathers Cybotron). Lacing the juddering pulse of adrenaline with her vulnerable vocal delivery, AWtD puts Georgia in the big, Robyn-shaped pop leagues.
11. "Summer Girl", HAIM
With a doot-doo melody, a jazzy lean, and feather-light production, the sweetest song of the summer has arrived. Danielle Haim penned the song for her partner, Ariel Rechtshaid, who co-produced the cut with Vampire Weekend-alum Rostam, following his diagnosis of testicular cancer several years ago. (He is now in good health.) “We were touring on and off at this time and every time we were on the phone with each other or when I would come home in between shows, I wanted to be this light that shined on him when he was feeling very dark,” Danielle wrote on Twitter after the song released. “I wanted to be his hope when he was feeling hopeless.” For him, and now millions of fans, mission accomplished.
12. "Con Altura", Rosalía feat. J Balvin & El Guincho
In late March, Spanish singer Rosalía dropped the impossibly catchy “Con Altura” in collaboration with J Balvin and El Guincho. The fresh single, released after her breakthrough 2018 set El Mal Querer, pays tribute to old-school reggaetón, fusing modern flamenco and Middle Eastern sounds. Adding her own contemporary twist and fierce flamenco-pop dance moves, Rosalía demonstrates her admiration and respect for the Latin urban genre. “Con Altura” peaked at No. 12 on the Hot Latin Songs chart in June, and its fabulous-party-in-a private-jet music video, filmed by Director X, entered YouTube’s Billion View Club in October -- putting the spotlight on the global appeal of "Con Altura" in 2019.
13."7 Rings", Ariana Grande
From J. Lo’s Latin-flavored “Dinero” to Cardi B’s pounding “Money,” last year saw its fair share of female stars flexing on their wealth. But who would have thought that Ariana Grande’s cash-flow anthem, arriving late to that party in January, would go the hardest? Released as the second single from the ponytailed pop queen’s then-just-announced thank u, next, “7 Rings” finds Grande bragging about “lashes and diamonds, ATM machines” over a polished, tip-toeing beat with all the swagger of a seasoned rapper, and gifting listeners the instantly iconic one-liner: “You like my hair? Gee thanks, just bought it.” The song ruled the Hot 100 for eight weeks (Grande’s personal best) and has since become the stuff of legend -- though ironically for a song about celebrating wealth, a striking 90 percent of the songwriting royalties are controlled by the writers of Sound of Music favorite "My Favorite Things,” which “7 Rings” borrows its melody from. Thankfully for Grande, the gamble was worth it: “7 Rings” all but cemented her status as pop royalty.
13. “Crowded Table,” The Highwomen
The fact that The Highwomen even exists is impressive. The new supergroup brings together four of country music’s most prolific women: Maren Morris, a country-pop star with powerful vocals and mainstream hits like “The Middle”; Brandi Carlile, the Grammy-recognized folk artist whose work is marked by wry brilliance; Amanda Shires, a notable fiddler and country mainstay; and Natalie Hemby, the heavy-hitting songwriter who’s been the secret weapon for artists like Kacey Musgraves, Miranda Lambert and Lady Gaga on A Star Is Born. That all four found the time to make an album together speaks to their commitment to claiming space for women’s voices in a historically patriarchal industry. And that their music—as exemplified by the beautiful ballad “Crowded Table”—weaves in political statements only adds a layer of richness. “I want a house with a crowded table,” they insist, “and a place by the fire for everyone / Let us take on the world while we’re young and able, and bring us back together when the day is done.” The line works as a mission statement for these four distinct artists: make great music and complicate our definitions of womanhood, motherhood and femininity in the process. They make that statement over an unabashedly pretty melody, going in and out of duets and harmonies with seamless, generous sweetness.
14. "Puppets" (Succession Remix), Pusha T
It's the crossover of the Succession theme song with Pusha T that no one expected or knew they needed. Who would have thought that affluent orchestral opening to the genius HBO show would make for a perfect hip-hop remix? And, who better to do this than Pusha T, a rapper who has long written about the gritty means of fighting your way to the top. Sure, lyrically it's not his most subtle work—listing off themes from the series like, Family, fortune, envy, jealousy—but the overall package is just too perfect of a match for both Pusha T and Succession fans to covet. It's the type of song that Kendall Roy wishes someone like Pusha would make for his family, but never would within the fiction of the show. But, in our real world, where Succession is the best show on TV, this is the most ideal intersection of an HBO Shakespearean drama about a Murdoch-type family and one half of Clipse.
15. "Cruel Summer", Taylor Swift
Did Taylor Swift have Kanye West in mind when she decided to call the song that documents the messiness that was her 2016 summer after his 2012 GOOD Music compilation album?! Unclear -- but what's clear is that Swift had more than that going on at that time anyway, specifically a blossoming romance with her now-boyfriend, Joe Alwyn, the suspected “bad, bad boy” of the song. Swift wrote this Lover highlight with producer Jack Antonoff and Annie Clark (a.k.a. St. Vincent), and that brain trust managed to elevate the synth-pop of 1989 into something quirkier and with more depth, with a variety of synthesizers that squiggle and sparkle and wash the whole thing in a dreamy warmth. The words unspool an ecstatic, desperate celebration of a bad decision that might end up being a good one, and the drama is expectedly high: “And I scream, ‘For whatever it’s worth/ I love you, ain’t that the worst thing you ever heard?’” If you say you’re not excited to scream, “He looks up, grinning like a devil,” along with Swift when she sings this life, check your pulse.
16. "Nightmare", Halsey
Looking back over the last five years of her career, it almost seems like everything Halsey's done has been leading up to "Nightmare." This powerful, pissed-off anthem is undoubtedly one of the singer's best songs to date, as Halsey leans into her pop-punk upbringing to let the men surrounding her know that she has had more than enough of their mistreatment. Calling "Nightmare" a "timely" song feels reductive -- Halsey taps into our current state of chaos to harness a collective rage felt by women the world over, while also reclaiming her own identity from a patriarchal society that devalues it. If the star's upcoming album is anything like her latest single, then it should easily be her best yet, The Billboard reported.
17. “Waiting For You”, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
To listen to Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds’ 2019 album Ghosteen is to hear a heartbreak. Written following the unexpected death of his 15-year-old son, Arthur, four years ago, the two act-collection—the first batch of songs are “the children,” he has said, the second “the parents”—is a remarkably frank, stunning account of a father’s grief. For decades, the artist has wrapped his thoughts in intricate, perfectly formed metaphors and allegories. Not anymore. And nowhere is he more direct than on this sparse, heart-swollen piano ballad. “Just want to stay in the business of making you happy,” he laments as Warren Ellis’s violin kicks in. Later, voice breaking, he adds that he’s, “Waiting for you, waiting for you/Waiting for you, to return.” Esquire wrote.
18. "Señorita", Camila Cabello & Shawn Mendes
Arguably the year’s steamiest song, the second collaboration by the young pop star duo is a fantasy romp that conjures up a sweaty and memorable encounter in South Beach. The mid-tempo Latin track is lightweight but a grown-up evolution for both Mendes, a former Vine star, and Cabello, the former Fifth Harmony belter. With eight writers sharing credit, it would seem like it should be a few too many cooks, but they still conjure a spicy dish: Who can forget lines like Cabello’s, “You say we’re just friends, but friends don’t know the way you taste”?
19. "Lose You to Love Me", Selena Gomez
When life gives you lemons, turn them into a No. 1 song. That’s what Selena Gomez did when she and her dream team of co-writers, including Julia Michaels and Justin Tranter, chronicled what even casual spectators deduced was a reflection on the demise of her years-long, on-off relationship with Justin Bieber, in the heart-rending ballad “Lose You To Love Me.” Simple and sparse, the song starts with Gomez delicately singing, “You promised the world and I fell for it/ I put you first and you adored it,” over bare piano chords. The song swells -- with strings and layered vocals -- but never goes for the cheap pop explosion, and then it closes as quietly as it began, making it a bold first taste of Gomez’s upcoming album, SG2.
20. "Sweet But Psycho", Ava Max
The deliciously sticky chorus on Ava Max’s breakout hit took a bit longer to tempt the sweet tooth of stateside listeners -- the August 2018 release notched a No. 1 slot in well over a dozen countries before really catching in the U.S. -- but once it did, American was hooked, sending the pop confection to the Hot 100's top 10. With its pulsing electro-pop beat, glitzy synths and stretchy ma-ma-ma’s, it’s hard for Max to dodge early Lady Gaga comparisons, but given the obvious reverence on display -- and the fact that the latter scored two No. 1 hit with that general formula a decade earlier -- the former likely isn’t too upset about the reference point.
| 15 Best and Greatest Songs of All Time |
Music has come a long time, and there have been so many creative artists with amazing songs, but the greatest and most classic songs will ...
| Top 14 Best Love Songs of All Time You Don't Want to Miss |
When it comes to romantic, there have been countless of songs and artists that dig deep into the lover's hearts and discover what love is. ...
| Top 10 Best Songs of 2020 |
2020 has been the year when young artists rise with the biggest hits and being adored by millions of people, despite the difficulty of the ...