Why 2019 Could Be The Best-Ever Year In Music
2019 has already brought us some groundbreaking records - and there are so many more to come.
Last month, British music bible NME published an article titled ‘The best albums of 2019 (so far!)‘.
Predictably, the piece drew its fair share of ridicule: given that we were only halfway through February, it seemed pretty premature to begin pulling together Best Of lists. At least wait until June.
But a month on — having now seen releases from Little Simz, Foals, Sigrid, Solange, Pond, Gesaffelstein, Stella Donnelly, and more — it feels like NME was right in beginning to compile their list (they’ve since republished the piece, adding the records from March.)
The beginning of 2019 has already offered up a number of groundbreaking albums, and considering the artists that we know are gearing up to release records in the very near future, it feels like this year is shaping up to be one of the biggest in recent music history.
Let’s Take A Look A January
We’d barely scrubbed off our sunscreen when one of the most anticipated albums of the year landed. Maggie Rogers, who shot to fame in 2017 with ‘Alaska’, dropped her debut Heard It In A Past Life on January 18. Helped along by a stunning Saturday Night Live performance back in November last year, the album shot to #2 on the Billboard charts in the US and #8 in Australia.
James Blake also returned on January 18 with another first class collection of tracks under the name Assume Form, while Sharon van Etten roared back in the spotlight with her synth-heavy Remind Me Tomorrow. Atlanta’s Future also came through with his seventh studio record, The Wizrd, which debuted at #1 — making it his sixth number one album. Closer to home, Cub Sport’s self-titled release was yet another example of Australia’s continuing dominance and innovation within the pop scene.
All of this happened on one day.
The following Friday was beloved heavy act Bring Me The Horizon’s turn to get in on the action, with the release of their sixth — and arguably most critically acclaimed — album, amo.
Then there was the singles: Lizzo’s ‘Juice’ came through, as did Stella Donnelly’s ‘Old Man’, Jenny Lewis’ ‘Red Bull & Hennessy’, and Billie Eilish’s ‘Bury A Friend’. To top it off, New York favourite’s Vampire Weekend also released their first new music in six years with the singles ‘Harmony Hall’ and ‘2021’. Baker Boy also followed up his ‘Marryuna’ success with the infectious ‘Cool As Hell’.
All in all, not a bad playlist.
Imma Let You Finish January, But Feb And March Have Had Some Shit-Hot Music Too
February kicked off with a bang thanks to Mallrat and Basenji teaming up on the thumping ‘Nobody’s Home’. A couple of days later they were followed by Perth duo Slumberjack, who dropped their excellent new EP Sarawak. A few days after that, Newcastle producer Ninajirachi slipped into high rotation with her debut EP Lapland.
Continuing on the local front, Julia Jacklin released her already beloved second album Crushing, Pond released Tasmania, Mansionair dropped Shadowboxer, and Hilltop Hoods unleashed The Great Expanse. And we finally got to wrap our ears around Stella Donnelly’s Beware of the Dogs, and Dan Sultan’s Aviary Takes.
Internationally, Ariana Grande continued her world domination with thank u, next — and Solange came out of nowhere to drop her short, but definitely sweet, When I Get Home. A week later, Norwegian pop juggernaut Sigrid finally unveiled her debut album, Sucker Punch. It was a big month for British rap too, with AJ Tracey and Little Simz both releasing highly praised records that will no doubt be among the year’s best.
Foals also returned with Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Part 1, we got Juice WRLD’s Death Race For Love, Karen O and Danger Mouse’s Lux Prima, and Gesaffelstein’s Hyperion.
We also got singles from the likes of Tierra Whack, Jessie Ware, WAAX, Ruby Fields, Angie McMahon (who just took home SXSW’s top prize), Body Type, Genesis Owusu, Anderson .Paak, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, LSD, and so many more.
And There’s So Much More To Come
In the next couple of months we’ll see albums from Billie Eilish, Khalid, King Gizzard, Lizzo, Vampire Weekend, The Chemical Brothers, Catfish and the Bottlemen. The rest of the year is looking similarly packed, with Lana Del Rey, Kanye West, Run The Jewels, Sleater-Kinney, Carly Rae Jepsen, Tame Impala, Thelma Plum, Charli XCX, The National, and Mark Ronson all scheduled to be putting out albums in 2019.
Hell, even Rihanna is back in the studio. And there’s been more than a few whispers of Taylor Swift’s Reputation follow-up album appearing before the year is out.
It’s going to be a big year for tours as well. Vivid Sydney has just revealed their 2019 line-up, featuring a stack of artists including FKA Twigs, Teyana Taylor, the Middle East, Maggie Rogers, the Cure, Herbie Hancock, A Guy Called Gerald, Kelsey Lu, and more.
And while we won’t know for sure who’s heading our way for Splendour in the Grass for another month or so, we have a fairly good idea of the artists that might turn up.
The list of artists releasing music this year is truly eye-watering. The last time a year felt this crammed was 2016, which saw releases from Beyoncé, Radiohead, Rihanna, and Kanye all within a few months of each other. It was widely considered the best year in music for decades — so will 2019 top it?
Jules LeFevre is the Music Editor of Junkee. She is patiently awaiting the arrival of Carly Rae Jepsen’s new album. She is on Twitter.