Hey hey! (Please read that in a Babu Frik voice.) It’s time for the last of my 2019 favorites lists. And I’ve decided to end on one of my greatest loves— music. There’s been a lot of great music this year, so I’ve found a lot of albums to love.
Unlike in past years, I’m not restricting this list to 2019 releases. Most of the list will be, but I needed to make two very important exceptions. To make this list, I simply needed to listen to the album for the first time in 2019 (and, of course, I had to consider it a favorite). From pop to alternative and beyond, these are the albums I fell in love with in 2019 (in alphabetical order).
The Black Parade by My Chemical Romance (Non-2019 Release)
When my friend found out I’d never listened to My Chemical Romance, she responded by showing me the “Welcome to the Black Parade” video. I fell in love. I then spent the next week with this album on repeat.
My Chemical Romance have gone down in history as one of the most iconic emo bands, but this album proves they’re so much more than that. They’re geniuses who created a masterpiece. Also, I deserve a musical/rock opera based on this album.
CHAMPION by Bishop Briggs
This is a beautiful, tight, emotionally vulnerable collection of songs. I listened to it on repeat for a week straight. Briggs builds on what she started with 2018’s Church of Scars, keeping that same alternative pop sound but adding some edge. It’s especially raw, knowing it comes directly after a heartbreak.
Vocally, this album is off the charts. Every song on this album is fantastic. The choice to stylize the song titles in all caps is a visual showing of how up front Briggs is being with her emotions. 10/10 record.
Cheap Queen by King Princess
This is a great record and an impressive debut. King Princess’ voice is soothing and sweet, while her lyrics are generally more assertive and frank. It’s a delightful juxtaposition. There’s not a single bad song on this album. If Hayley Kiyoko is Lesbian Jesus, then King Princess is Lesbian Holy Spirit.
DNA by Backstreet Boys
What can I say? I’m a sucker for a quality pop album. And this is a pop record that absolutely shines. From the production to the lyrics to the vocals, everything about this body of work is top-notch.
Many genres of music influenced this album, from ‘90s R&B/pop to doo-wop and Motown to dance and EDM to acoustic. The Boys find a healthy balance between upbeat tracks and ballads. It’s is somehow both eclectic and sonically cohesive. DNA is more than a comeback— it’s a triumph.
FANDOM by Waterparks
FANDOM is a biting critique of fandom and stan culture. It dissects parasocial relationships in a way no other band or artist has dared even dream. This is emo/scene music for the modern era. It mixes pop punk with wacky effects and underutilized instruments— including a recorder!
Frozen II Soundtrack by Cast of Frozen II
Seeing as the film is one of my favorite movies of the year, it should come as no surprise to find the soundtrack here. I played it on repeat for a straight week. The music in this movie has such a Broadway vibe. I’m especially attached to Elsa’s big solo number, “Show Yourself.” It blows “Let It Go” out of the water. Best soundtrack of the year.
Happiness Begins by Jonas Brothers
Happiness Begins retains the passion and charm of their older music, while also feeling more mature. There’s something in the way the Jonas Brothers carry themselves on this record that feels like a progression. Everything about this record, from the announcement to the content, was such a pleasant surprise. Happiness Begins is a welcome introduction to a new era of Jonas Brothers content.
Inspired by True Events by Tori Kelly
Many artists fall victim to what is known as the “sophomore slump.” Tori Kelly is not one of those artists. This album— vocally, lyrically, and musically— is fantastic. Kelly goes back to her roots, the vibe more similar to her old music than her debut album. Weirdly, it reminds me of Christina Aguilera’s Stripped.
Jade Bird by Jade Bird
Jade Bird is indie/Americana heaven. It’s no wonder Bird’s music is loved by indie, alternative, and country fans alike. Bird’s raspy voice is like yelling across a ravine, free and unself-conscious. She is accompanied by real instruments, primarily acoustic guitar and piano. Jade Bird is a direct trip back to the Summer of Love.
The beauty of this album and Jade Bird’s music as a whole is that it can’t be defined as one genre. It’s indie, it’s folk, it’s country, and it’s Americana. And that’s exactly how Jade Bird likes it. And you know what? Me too.
LOVE + FEAR by MARINA
LOVE + FEAR is a double album focused on the two emotions that drive MARINA most. The album is split into two “sides,” so to speak. Side A is LOVE and Side B is FEAR. Both sides are excellent, but I definitely prefer FEAR. MARINA has such a unique voice. I’ve never heard anyone else sound even remotely close to her. And that’s on display on LOVE + FEAR.
Lover by Taylor Swift
Lover takes the best aspects of Red, 1989, and Reputation and creates something new with them. There are hints of every Taylor Swift that ever was in the sound of this record. And yet, the only Swift that is speaking now is the Swift of today. This album is both lovestruck and heartbroken. In many ways, it’s Swift’s most mature album.
OK, I’M SICK by badflower
This debut album is a bacchanal mosh pit of emo and alternative. This album is aggressive and introspective. Hell, it’s aggressively introspective. A powerful debut, badflower has clearly established themselves as the modern kings of emo and alternative.
Six (Original Cast Recording) by Cast of Six
I never knew I needed a pop musical about Henry VIII’s wives until I listened to the cast recording. Essentially, the wives have formed a girl group and each member performs a song about her time with VII. It’s incredible.
Skinny Dipping by Stand Atlantic (Non-2019 Release)
I spent months regretting the fact I didn’t discover this band in 2018 because this album would’ve made last year’s best list. With this year’s rule change, now it can. Yay! The album’s sound is anthemic and the themes introspective and biting. I consider them Paramore 2.0 in a good way.
thank u, next by Ariana Grande
thank u, next is a masterpiece of pop/R&B/trap. It’s a celebration of sexuality, a story of introspection, and a step towards a new phase in life. This album is a journey. Grande sounds fantastic on every song, whether borderline rapping or hitting whistle tones. The production is also great. Grande and her producers found a great balance between real and midi instruments as well as synths and beats. It is, emphatically, Ariana Grande’s best album to date.
WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? by Billie Eilish
The appeal of Eilish is ineffable, but undeniable. Eilish’s voice is delicate and dainty, but the musical tone is dark and ominous. It’s a perfect contradiction, much like Eilish herself. With music this high quality, it’s hard to believe she’s only a teenager. This is an impressive body of work with songs I’ll be listening to for a long time.
What were your favorite albums of 2019? Let me know in the comments!