Before we get into the nitty gritty of this Top 50 Albums list, let’s first talk about the honorable mentions. This is the space reserved for 2019 albums I also loved, just not quite enough to include as part of the main list. If this had been a worse year for music, they probably would have made the cut. It runs the gamut from two of the biggest pop stars in the world all the way down to some tiny names you’ve probably never heard before. These 10 albums are ordered alphabetically by artist.
Ariana Grande – thank u, next
Bedouine – Bird Songs of a Killjoy
Billie Eilish – When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
Black Belt Eagle Scout – At the Party With My Brown Friends
Caroline Polachek – Pang
Floating Points – Crush
Fontaines D.C. – Dogrel
Peaer – A Healthy Earth
Sturgill Simpson – Sound & Fury
Wilco – Ode to Joy
As I was reflecting on the year in music and putting together draft after draft of this Top 50 Albums list, one of the main things I came to realize was that 2019 was a bit of a down year for hip hop. Familiar names like Drake, Jay-Z, and Kendrick Lamar took the year off for the most part, only dropping in with an occasional guest verse. Some of the established names that did put out records, such as Kanye West and Chance the Rapper, didn’t quite live up to their creative peaks. To a degree, that left room for others to step up and fill the voids left by these superstars. We were lucky enough to get some great introductions to names like DaBaby and Megan Thee Stallion in 2019, and it was refreshing to add their voices to the mix (though only one of those two is represented below). Other rappers managed to show significant growth and put out some of their best material to date. Shout out to Polo G, Rapsody, and Little Simz. Overall though, there are less rap albums in this year’s Top 50 than in previous years, and that’s a bit of a shame. I guess they can’t all be great, and given how much the hip hop scene has grown overall in the past decade we’re lucky to have reached this point. I’m excited to hear what the next 10 years will bring!
Beyond the scope of hip hop, there’s been plenty of music to love in 2019. It goes well beyond just songs too, because even though we continue to live in the era of the single, it takes a true talent to stretch beyond one or two great tracks and instead turn in an entire album’s worth. The 50 highlighted below each brought me considerable joy and comfort throughout the year, and they’re the ones I turned to over and over again to soundtrack everything from driving around running errands to cleaning my apartment on a rainy day to throwing a summer party to laying in bed feeling depressed after a long day. There’s a little something to satisfy just about any mood or particular taste. Chances are you haven’t heard all of these records, and I encourage you to check them all out! Even if they’re not to your liking, I applaud you for at least attempting to discover something new outside of your comfort zone. One last thing before we jump right into it: I haven’t included any direct links to places where you can find these albums, but Spotify, Apple Music, and Bandcamp are all your friends. Use their search functions and you’ll be fine. That said, here are my Top 50 Albums of 2019. Enjoy!