While the coming months will have people debating what takes the prize for the Song Of The Summer, 2019 has been steadily offering up tracks that could easily take that honor. Sure, Lil Nas X’s genre-defying smash “Old Town Road” might seem like the most impactful song of the year, but that doesn’t take away from the artistic statement that Lizzo has crafted with “Juice” or the magic that came from Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber teaming up on “I Don’t Care” or the pop bliss of Shawn Mendes’ “If I Can’t Have You.” From hip-hop anthems from the likes of 21 Savage, J. Cole, and A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie to indie standouts from Strand Of Oaks, Charly Bliss, and Jenny Lewis, the year has delivered a wealth of amazing songs, and it’s only June. Here are the Uproxx Music picks for the 50 best songs of 2019 so far.
50. Alex Lahey, “Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself”
This Australian pop-rocker delivers one catchy number after another on her second album, The Best Of Luck Club. The grabbiest song is “Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself,” a driving synth-accented rocker about the damage that being away from home can have on relationships. While Lahey writes it as a pep talk, what’s less clear is whether she’s giving it to herself.–Steven Hyden
49. Halsey, “Nightmare”
On “Nightmare,” Halsey wields her femininity like a knife. Over harsh guitars and drums, Halsey turns her pop princess crown to steel as she sings about the brutality of being a woman. The song unfolds in seething anger, driven by Halsey’s impassioned voice and backed by some pounding bass. In a political climate hell-bent on knocking down the already disempowered, Halsey puts a voice to a shared anguish. She says it best herself: “I’m tired and angry, but somebody should be.”–Chloe Gilke
48. A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, “Look Back At It”
It takes quite a bit of gall to borrow a section of a Michael Jackson song for your album’s lead single. Clinically speaking, you’re certifiably insane if you borrow two sections from a Michael Jackson song for your album’s lead single. And yet, that’s exactly what A Boogie did on “Look Back At It.” Miraculously, not only did the Bronx’s melody king emerge unscathed but also with a solid hit in hand. The three-minute bop is endlessly catchy and puts The King Of Pop’s iconic riff to effective use.–Jordan Coley
47. YBN Cordae, “Have Mercy”
YBN Cordae demonstrates why he’s one of the more intriguing young artists in the game on “Have Mercy,” a track that shows off not just his lyrical gifts, but his ability to fuse substance and debauchery into the same package. He rhymes “I don’t know where I’m goin’ / but I hope I’m on the right path” on the chorus, then steps on the correct trek by slinking through a pair of verses over some hypnotizing flute play.–Andre Gee
46. BTS, “Boy With Luv” Feat. Halsey
Korean pop sensation BTS doesn’t need to collaborate with American artists to find domestic success, they are already stadium-level headliners capturing attention at a global level. But “Boy With Luv” finds the group going for the jugular, teaming with pop powerhouse Halsey on a track that effortlessly fuses their own language with English. If you need an explainer as to why BTS is an undeniable force, start here.–Philip Cosores
45. Girlpool, “Hire”
The Los Angeles duo made a name for themselves with their 2017 sophomore album Powerplant, and their new album, What Chaos Is Imaginary, proved it was more than a fluke. Their greatness is exemplified in songs like “Hire,” a songwriting success that doesn’t have a chorus but still manages to be catchy. It’s an angsty rocker that’s both grungy and calming, proving that this band is capable of some real nuance and substance.–Derrick Rossignol
44. Jamila Woods, “Zora”
Jamila Woods’ Legacy! Legacy! brings the souls of inspirational figures to life as an enamored ode and it’s “Zora” that imbues Their Eyes Were Watching God author Zora Neal Hurston with notable elegance. Jamila exercises her poetic voice tenderly to channel Hurston’s spirit in song as a way to embrace a masterful being undeterred by foreign assumptions about life.–Cherise Johnson
43. Anderson .Paak, “Make It Better”
After spending so much of his recent career channeling Blaxploitation legends like Dolemite, Goldie, and Youngblood Priest, it’s almost a shock to the system to hear Anderson trade in his feathered fedora for pillowy production and a velvet-smooth Smokey Robinson feature, but it’s a shock that gives way to silky satisfaction.–Aaron Williams
42. Cass McCombs, “Estrella”
On his ninth album Tip Of The Sphere, the veteran indie singer-songwriter Cass McCombs steps away from the obscurantism of his previous work for the amiable approachability of classic-rock guitar jams. The most beguiling track is “Estrella,” a supernatural love story anchored by McCombs’ Jerry Garcia-esque guitar licks.–S.H.
41. Marshmello, “Here With Me” Feat. Chvrches
Chvrches have always toed the line between indie and pop, but this year, they made their first earnest attempt at full-on pop by collaborating with electronic music giant Marshmello (which led to some controversy). Sure enough, it’s their most-streamed song on Spotify, and Lauren Mayberry shows that her voice belongs in the pop sphere. The tenderness of Chvrches’ solo material lies in the verses, and the EDM-style chorus was destined for the radio.–D.R.
40. Offset, “Clout” Feat. Cardi B
Southside’s ominous horns set the stage for Offset and Cardi B to address the last several months of rumors and speculation about their whirlwind romance, but at the heart of this Father Of 4 standout is the concern that maybe the constant chase for internet fame has gone a little too far. It seems that every day, something happens to make that feel truer than ever.–A.W.
39. Blackpink, “Kill This Love”
Korean pop group Blackpink is one of the biggest bands to take the pop world by storm in 2019. After making history as the first Korean girl group to play Coachella, they embarked on a massive (and massively sold out) US arena tour. “Kill This Love” sees the band embracing their pop idol status. It’s brazen, confident, and endlessly catchy. Blackpink are in your area, and they’re not leaving anytime soon.–C.G.
38. Helado Negro, “Running”
It really doesn’t matter if you speak English, Spanish, or neither of Helado Negro’s languages: Like all great music, there’s a universal appeal that a language barrier can’t hold back. This Is How You Smile highlight “Running,” for example, is largely about the rhythm of his repetition of the song title. Combined with the lulling piano-led instrumental, it’s a transcendent experience that can deliver anybody to the most relaxing headspace.–D.R.
37. Tyler The Creator, “Earfquake”
Tyler The Creator’s latest record Igor is perhaps his most complete to date. It’s the music he’s always talked about wanting to make and nowhere on the album is that vision more fully realized than “Earfquake.” It’s equipped with all the Tyler staples — snappy drums, a syrupy chord progression, Charlie Wilson — but it’s also furnished with some new elements. Namely, a verse from Playboi Carti, the artist whose agile melodic jukes Tyler once likened to a go-cart. The overall product feels tighter than Tyler ever has, a damn-near perfect representation of an artist branching out and succeeding.–J.C.
36. Mannequin Pussy, “Drunk II”
After hearing “Drunk II,” Mannequin Pussy’s Patience — their debut effort for Epitaph — very quickly jumped up the list to become one of our most highly anticipated albums of 2019. Paired with a video that seems somewhat iconic, “Drunk II” tells the story of, well, a drunken night trying to recover from the blow of a breakup. “I still love you, you stupid f*ck,” Marisa Dabice croons before breaking into the Philadelphia band’s most infectious chorus to date.–Zac Gelfand
35. Ed Sheeran, “I Don’t Care” Feat. Justin Bieber
“I Don’t Care” was a perfectly timed team-up for Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber: Both are global megastars who haven’t been that visible in the public eye over the past few years, and they both needed a comeback. Sheeran and Bieber are the best of the best when it comes to catchy pop hooks, and this song’s got ’em in spades. Pair that with their bonkers video for the song, and there’s a reason it took something as big as the historic hit “Old Town Road” to keep it from the No. 1 spot on the charts.–D.R.
34. Better Oblivion Community Center, “Didn’t Know What I Was In For”
The first lines from the indie super-duo of Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst tells a story of trying to take a picture of something naturally beautiful, but finding instead the result of an uneven distribution of wealth. “Too much plastic money to be made,” Oberst and Bridgers sing together. The depressing nature of the lyrics here are offset by the gorgeous vocal melodies that show the best ways that the pair are able to complement each other’s vocal stylings.–Z.G.
33. Mustard, “Pure Water” Feat. Migos
DJ Mustard has to be one of the most reliable producers on the West Coast — or anywhere, really. Come summertime, you can bet you’ll hear his signature hand claps and sparse beats booming out of car stereos and in arenas and parks everywhere you go. That “Pure Water” revitalizes the indubitable chemistry between Mustard and Migos is just icing on the cake.–A.W.
32. Charly Bliss, “Capacity”
From the first beat of the drum machine, ”Capacity” makes it clear that Charly Bliss’ sophomore effort Young Enough is going to be something special. But it’s Eva Hendricks’ vocals here that make the track as strong as it is. What used to be described as “bubbly” in the days of Guppy has a more serious tone here, never faltering and making “Capacity” (and the rest of Young Enough) feel like something truly important.–Z.G.
31. Khalid, “Saturday Nights” (Remix) Feat. Kane Brown
Khalid‘s album Free Spirit sees the young singer-songwriter embracing a variety of sounds and genre influences. But the best song on Free Spirit isn’t even technically on Free Spirit. “Saturday Nights,” featuring rising country star Kane Brown, is full of small-town imagery and invocations of young love. Khalid sounds just as at home over gentle acoustic strumming as he does over synths and slinky R&B beats. He’s a chameleon with a voice that can fit any song he dreams up.–C.G.
30. Tame Impala, “Borderline”
Kevin Parker established himself as one of the world’s biggest rock stars with his 2015 album Currents, and like Currents, his new material continues to show that the Tame Impala leader can adapt to the times. “Borderline” is still psychedelic rock, but there’s a tremendous groove and rhythm here that lines up with the increasingly R&B-and-hip-hop embracing mainstream. Context aside, though, it’s tough to argue against the melodic warmth of this one.–D.R.
29. Maggie Rogers, “Burning”
Maggie Rogers got a lot of early attention for singles like “Alaska” and “Light On,” which traded on deeply-felt emotions and itchy, insatiable beats to bring her irresistible voice into the lives of many, many people. But “Burning” is a later, slower-burning track, not a hit at all, really, but a reflection of the supernova of attention that Rogers grappled with after her sudden rise to fame. “If you’re giving up, would you tell me? / I’m gonna keep this love if you let me,” she sings, proof that under all the hype, she’s still there, greedy and needy, and loving and burning. To be human, and not pop star, that’s a light that never stops giving off heat.—Caitlin White
28. Blueface, “Thotiana” (Remix) Feat. Cardi B
Say what you want about Blueface’s shall we say, “unconventional” flow. “Thotiana” was the early contender for breakout single of the year — at least until Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” was scratched from Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. With its own dance, a beat that made every one of his peers jump on, and numerous official remixes, including this one from Cardi B, that banged just as hard as the original, “Thotiana” was and remains a certified hit.–A.W.
27. Field Medic, “Henna Tattoo”
Remember sitting in your bedroom or dorm room sharing quiet, touching, obscure music with your friends? Apparently, so does Field Medic. On “Henna Tattoo,” the Los Angeles songwriter throws it back to the gentle indie of yore on this evocative tune that takes pride in its own humility. It’s a song that immediately familiar, like an old friend you didn’t realize you missed until they come walking through the door. And once it’s over, you can’t wait to hear it again.–P.C.
26. Jonas Brothers, “Sucker”
“Sucker,” the Jonas Brothers‘ first new single in six years, sees the band embracing a refined, grown-up new sound. After time spent pursuing solo projects and new bands (in Joe’s case), they sound even smoother and more confident as a unit. Joe and Nick’s falsettos get a great workout in “Sucker,” and the bass-driven melody is catchy as hell. Their Hawaiian-shirts-and-shorts aesthetic is fresh and fun, and honestly prophetic. The JoBros knew what they were doing dressing for the Song Of The Summer.–C.G.
25. Hatchie, “Without A Blush”
Hatchie announced her debut album, Keepsake, back in February, and she picked the right song to herald the new release: “Without A Blush.” Stylistically, it’s a tough one to pin down: It’s upbeat indie pop/rock, but there’s also a cloud of gloom that hovers over the whole thing, like something between new wave and shoegaze. Whatever it is, it’s a fine example that the Australian newcomer deserves our attention.–D.R.
24. Lil Uzi Vert, “Sanguine Paradise”
Why is the world clamoring for Lil Uzi Vert to be free to release music when he wants? Because when he’s into his craft he offers moments like “Sanguine Paradise,” a fun, melodic track that shows how much of a rap unicorn he really is. The technical lyricism and assonance are there — he’s just harmonizing it with a cadence so catchy you don’t realize he’s rapping his ass off over the ruckus hi-hats and twirling horns.–A.G.
23. Tiera Whack, “Only Child”
“Only Child” by Tierra Whack is a listen of tremendous proportions disguised as an angelic serenade. Tierra is known for her unique music-making and ” Only Child” is an exemplary illustration of her ability to transform common emotions into a totally relatable bop about getting over a selfish lover. —C.J.
22. Jenny Lewis, “Heads Gonna Roll”
Over a titanic backbeat supplied by none other than Ringo Starr, Jenny Lewis delivers this wistful travelogue that’s equal parts surreal and slice of life. While Lewis’ creamy vocal immediately draws you in, the enigmatic lyrics (who’s the “narcoleptic poet from Duluth”?) make it a song that keeps on giving with each listen.–S.H.
21. Cardi B and Bruno Mars, “Please Me”
Cards B and Bruno Mars can do no wrong. In 2018, they blessed us with the gift that is “Finesse” and, as if that wasn’t generous enough, the pair returned this year with the sultry jam, “Please Me.” It finds the two artists at their best: Bruno supplying silky smooth vocal runs and Cardi lathering on some raunchy bars. They’re a match made in pop heaven.–J.C.
20. FKA Twigs, “Cellophane”
FKA Twigs’ ” Cellophane” is a brilliant interpretation of vocalized pain in such a way that her bellowing cries, filled with paralyzed screams of defeat, sound beautiful. Twigs emotions perilously advance as the song progresses and the thoughts of a lonely, self-reflective conversation soberly yearn to understand a love that is seemingly slipping away. —C.J.
19. Shawn Mendes, “If I Can’t Have You”
Shawn Mendes is the reigning prince of love songs. The Canadian singer-songwriter has made a career of tender, sweet-voiced pining, and “If I Can’t Have You” is one of his best yet. Over a punchy power-pop beat, Mendes displays his longing in a cathartic burst. His passion is matched by a driving guitar riff that explodes into synths and claps for the chorus. “If I Can’t Have You” is Mendes’ first new single of 2019, but hopefully not his last.–C.G.
18. Big Thief, “Cattails”
After a critically-acclaimed pair of breakouts, Masterpiece and Capacity, put Big Thief on the map as a big-time new indie band, the group returned in another two years with U.F.O.F. to confirm that they weren’t going anywhere. Adrianne Lenker’s voice is a winding road, and on each and every warm, rousing Big Thief melody, it gets a little bit closer.—C.W.
17. Strand Of Oaks, “Weird Ways”
There might not be a more poignant opening to an album this year. “Weird Ways” begins as almost a confessional, with Strand Of Oaks leader Timothy Showalter delivering lines like “I don’t feel it anymore” and “The scene isn’t my scene anymore” over spare acoustic strums. He sounds heartbroken and defeated, until a pounding snare and crunchy guitar ushers in the next chapter of Strand Of Oaks. It’s as much of a journey as it is a song, with Showalter taking listeners with him through sonic catharsis, including a coda that feels like that first breath of air after spending too long underwater.–P.C.
16. Nipsey Hussle, “Racks In The Middle” Feat. Roddy Ricch & Hit-Boy
There’s some poetry to Nipsey Hussle’s last official single, on which he passes the torch to up-and-coming Compton rapper Roddy Ricch, setting him up for Billboard success he’d normally have waited a while for. Neither could have known that “Racks In The Middle” would be Nipsey’s final track, but like most things the late, great Crenshaw captain did in his life, “Racks” laid the groundwork for the next generation to rise and fulfill his long-shadow legacy.–A.W.
15. Weyes Blood, “Everyday”
Even when you’ve got an album full of absolutely prehistoric, out-of-time songs, every record needs a banger. Though Weyes Blood’s latest, Titanic Rising, needs not bow to the tradition of the single, Natalie Mering couldn’t help but write a catchy, sardonic take on love in the time of dating apps. “I need love every day” is not an affirmation of desire, but a slow unraveling of her peer’s thirst. Or is it? Check back in, every day, to see which meaning appears. That’s true love.—C.W.
14. Megan Thee Stallion, “Simon Says” Feat. Juicy J
It was only right for Megan Thee Stallion to collab with Juicy J on the surging “Simon Says.” Despite what rap purists would think, the two are masters of ceremonies (MCs) in the truest sense of the word. They’re two of the best at getting people ready to dance and/or tear the club up, and they were both on 100 here. The two take turns getting raunchy over thumping drums that will be vibrating walls at venues and house parties all summer.–A.G.
13. Nilufer Yanya, “In Your Head”
As the first true track off Nilufer Yanya’s full-length debut, Miss Universe, “In Your Head” immediately establishes the heir apparent to London rock as much more Arctic Monkeys than Adele. And thank f*ck for that. No shots toward the queen of the soul-pop revival, but I’ll take Yanya’s grunge guitar and yelping over the dramatic shadow of a ballad for the next hundred years, and beyond.—C.W.
12. 21 Savage, “A Lot” Feat. J. Cole
Before “A Lot,” 21 Savage and J. Cole wouldn’t have seemed like a no brainer collaboration — but both artists have spent the past year demonstrating that there’s no putting them in a box. They meet in the middle on the glorious, pensive “A Lot,” which shows the two getting reflective and sentimental over 808-dominated production. The wailing East Of Underground “I Love You” sample is the kind of loop that speaks to the soul, and we can be thankful Cole and 21 felt the vibes and dug deep.–A.G.
11. The National, “Rylan”
The National’s Matt Berninger has always known his way around a memorable turn of phrase. But “Rylan,” a longtime fan-favorite that’s finally getting a proper recorded version, is an embarrassment of riches on that front. “Is it easy to live inside yourself? / All the little kids are high and hazy / Everybody got nowhere to go / Everybody wants to be amazing” is vintage National, bursting with both insight and reflection while the song’s mid-tempo force provides a trampoline for Berninger’s lyrics to leap from. For those that have been waiting nearly a decade to hear this song on an album, the final product manages to surpass all expectations.–P.C.
10. Juice Wrld, “Robbery”
As schmaltzy as Juice WRLD’s juvenile heartbreak warbling can sometimes come across, there’s just no denying that the chronically embarrassed eighth grader inside all of us loves this song. Juice’s effective use of his vocal so perfectly tugs on the listener’s heartstrings, it’s impossible not to get caught up in an impromptu karaoke session.–A.W.
9. Carly Rae Jepsen, “Want You In My Room”
Jack Antonoff has his fingerprints all over some of the best pop songs of the last decade, and Carly Rae Jepsen’s cinematic, teen-tilted “Want You In My Room” is no different. The Antonoff-produced bop paints the picture of a pining teen in the brightest colors, and Jepsen’s adolescent desires are perfectly realized in the punchline question — “I want you in my room / Baby, do you want me too?” How could the answer be anything other than yes?—C.W.
8. J. Cole, “Middle Child”
There are people who feel like J. Cole’s KOD album was meant to be a thumbs down on trap music. But tracks like “Middle Child” poke holes in that theory. Cole rides a triumphant horn melody with finesse, waxing poetic on being cool with Drake, not beefing with him or others for “clout,” and noting, “I don’t do no pills, but do you as you wish,” again clarifying his intent with KOD as an observation, not a judgment.–A.G.
7. Billie Eilish, “Bad Guy”
Billie Eilish‘s “Bad Guy” is a nightmare dressed like a daydream. The song, one of the standouts off Eilish’s debut album, juxtaposes Eilish’s delicate voice with a pounding trap-pop beat, gnashing sugar and spice into something delightfully not-nice. In casting herself as the “bad guy,” Eilish gives an effective artistic statement. She’s not just a 17-year-old songwriting prodigy or your niece’s favorite pop star. She knows her power, and if that makes her the “bad guy,” so be it.–C.G.
6. Boogie, “Silent Ride”
Boogie has always been a relatable rapper, but “Silent Ride” is perhaps his most relatable moment yet. That awkward ride home after a blowout fight is something most of us have experienced (or will, sorry kids), but fortunately, the Westsider has made the perfect song to ease the tension — or at the very least, commiserate.–A.W.
5. Vampire Weekend, “This Life”
Vampire Weekend have never been a band to remain stagnant. And on their latest, quite good album, Father Of The Bride, much of the massive record is spent expanding the very definition of the band, incorporating moments of jam-band adventurousness, contemporary song sketches, and even open-hearted folky duets. But “This Life” is the closest thing to VW staying in its lane that the album possesses, with songwriter Ezra Koenig showcasing just how masterful he is when evoking the Paul Simon influence that’s always been a part of his band’s DNA. The song is a slice of sunshine served up with a frosty drink on the side, summertime embodied, a song so bright that when its conclusion goes through fader overload, it can’t diminish the sturdy construction.–P.C.
4. Ariana Grande, “Nasa”
“Baby, I can’t really miss you if I’m with you” sings Ariana Grande, taking one small step for womankind, and hopefully using an earworm hook to work her way into the brains and hearts of every codependent friend in our lives. Never has there been a pop song so hellbent on establishing independence, all while insisting the relationships is still good. We already know the ending for Ariana, but for the rest of us, let’s keep pretending the starlight is romantic, not the beginning of the end.—C.W.
3. Lil Nas X, “Old Town Road” Feat. Billy Ray Cyrus
On its own merit, Lil Nas X’ “Old Town Road” is a fun song that reclaimed cowboy culture and fused it with trap elements. But the track has become one of the most impactful in recent years because it’s rankled the country music community and exposed the reductive, racially-bias standards for Billboard charting. This song, more than any other on the list, proves that it’s always “that serious” when it comes to exploring the politics of anything. Only in 2019 can a viral joke by a meme maker become a sparking point for social commentary.–A.G.
2. Sharon Van Etten, “Seventeen”
For her latest and possibly best album, Remind Me Tomorrow, Sharon Van Etten stepped beyond the familiar singer-songwriter trappings of her previous work and embraced her inner rocker. The LP’s best track, “Seventeen,” is also its most anthemic, with Van Etten reminiscing about her teen years with great warmth and more than a little melancholy. But whereas the Van Etten of the past might have turned “Seventeen” into a pensive ballad, the Van Etten of Remind Me Tomorrow delivers “Seventeen” as a stirring, Springsteen-esque statement of purpose.–S.H.
1. Lizzo, “Juice”
2019 is Lizzo‘s year to shine. The Minneapolis singer-songwriter-rapper-flutist is a multi-hyphenate icon who can shapeshift to express a million kinds of joy. “Juice,” in just three minutes, nails them all.
It’s impossible to separate the boundless euphoria of Lizzo’s music from its political implications. “Juice” hits different coming from someone who doesn’t fit the whitewashed, narrow-minded norm of many other pop stars. She’s a revelatory hype woman, an angel sent to remind us we all look f*cking fabulous, and we’re all worth celebrating. “It’s a banger, obviously, but it’s also a state of mind,” Lizzo has said about the song. “At the end of the day, I want my music to make people feel good, I want it to help people love themselves.”
“Juice” came out in January and has been inescapable ever since, but the song still hasn’t lost its magic glow. Something tells me it never will.–C.G.
Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.