The top 19 best albums of 2019.


Mason Montano, Press release photos

DISCLAIMER: This article contains the opinions of someone with good taste in music.

Mason Montano, Music Editor

2019 was a very interesting year in music that served us a diverse and unique catalog of projects from a diverse and unique cast of artists, however, the following list includes what I consider to be the best that this year had to offer:

The cover of MARINA’s fourth studio album, ‘Love + Fear’.

19) MARINA – Love + Fear: Coming out of a two-year hiatus, Welsh singer-songwriter MARINA, formerly known as Marina and the Diamonds, returned to the music scene in late April with her highly anticipated fourth studio album, Love + Fear.

The double album is an exploration of the relationship between “love” and “fear” based on the theory of Swiss-American psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, who proposed that humans are only capable of experiencing the titular emotions, and it’s a beautifully constructed body of work that provides an in-depth look into MARINA’s personal life, showing fans a side of herself that we hadn’t seen in her previous work.

The cover of Tove Lo’s fourth studio album, ‘Sunshine Kitty’.

18) Tove Lo – Sunshine Kitty: Swedish singer-songwriter Tove Lo released her wonderfully cohesive fourth studio album, Sunshine Kitty, in mid-September. The record is a reclamation of one’s power following the end of a relationship with a hopeful outlook on the future and a warm, happy sound that juxtaposes it’s somewhat sad and melancholic lyrics.

The cover of LIZ Y2K’s debut studio album, ‘Planet Y2K’.

17) LIZ – Planet Y2K: American singer-songwriter and actress LIZ created the ultimate throwback to the Y2K era when she released her debut studio album, Planet Y2K, in mid-November. With its cute bubblegum beats and spacey Eurodance elements, Planet Y2K is a celebration of everything that made pop music in the late 90s and early 2000s great!

The cover of Dorian Electra’s debut studio album, ‘Flamboyant’.

16) Dorian Electra – Flamboyant: American singer-songwriter and visual artist Dorian Electra released their debut studio album, Flamboyant, in mid-July. It’s a smart and campy commentary on the impact that toxic masculinity and gender roles have on society as well as a celebration of one’s Queer identity that follows the hyper pop trend of the underground pop music scene in order to present these somewhat heavy topics in a way that is both thought-provoking and entertaining.

The cover of Doja Cat’s second studio album, ‘Hot Pink’.

15) Doja Cat – Hot Pink: American rapper and singer-songwriter Doja Cat proved herself as the new Queen of Versatility when she released her second studio album, Hot Pink, in early November, as the record not only showcases her unique interpretation of what it means to be a female rapper, but also features a broad array of genres from hip-hop to disco, showcasing her vocal abilities along the way.

The cover of Tinashe’s fourth studio album, ‘Songs for You’.

14) Tinashe – Songs for You: American singer-songwriter and actress Tinashe released her fourth studio album, Songs for You, in mid-November as her first project since becoming an independent artist, bouncing back from a rough spot in her career and proving once and for all that she’s not to be underestimated.

The cover of Slayyyter’s debut mixtape, ‘Slayyyter’, which appears censored for this publication.

13) Slayyyter – Slayyyter: Continuing her takeover of the underground pop music scene, American singer-songwriter Slayyyter took the community by storm when she released her long-awaited, self-titled debut mixtape in mid-September. It’s a fun and sexy throwback to the MySpace era of the mid-2000s and the electro pop movement of the late 2000s and early 2010s, paying homage to artists such as American pop princess Britney Spears and reinventing classic pop sounds with a modern twist.

The cover of Shura’s masterfully Queer second studio album, ‘forevher’.

12) Shura – forevher: After a three-year hiatus, English singer-songwriter and producer Shura released her second studio album, forevher, in mid-August as an ode to Queer love, singing about her girlfriend over groovy, 70s-inspired beats in addition to commenting on her phobias and her relationship with religion.

The cover of Carly Rae Jepsen’s fourth studio album, ‘Dedicated’.

11) Carly Rae Jepsen – Dedicated: Riding the coattails of her iconic third album, E•MO•TION, Canadian singer-songwriter and actress Carly Rae Jepsen continued its 80s/90s-inspired sound with her fourth studio album, Dedicated, in mid-May. The record sports themes of love and self-empowerment and incorporates elements of disco into its expertly crafted pop sound.

The cover of Beyoncé’s debut soundtrack album, ‘The Lion King: The Gift’.

10) Beyoncé, Various Artists – The Lion King: The Gift: Curated and executive produced by the one and only Beyoncé, The Lion King: The Gift was inspired by Disney’s photorealistic, “live-action” remake of their 1994 film The Lion King and acts as a prideful dedication to the continent of Africa and Black culture, featuring a star-studded guest list of Black collaborators, that is intended to push the genre of Afrobeat to the mainstream music scene.

The cover of Kim Petras’ debut studio album, ‘Clarity’.

9) Kim Petras – Clarity: Having garnered a large cult following ever since her debut in August 2017, German singer-songwriter Kim Petras released her debut studio album, Clarity, in late June to a great deal of excitement. The perfect combination of everything anyone could ever want in a pop record, Clarity is a fantastic debut project that showcases Petras’ vocal and songwriting abilities.

The cover of Harry Styles’ second studio album, ‘Fine Line’.

8) Harry Styles – Fine Line: English singer-songwriter and actor Harry Styles conquered the charts when he released his second studio album, Fine Line, in early December. This incredible psychedelic rock journey explores the start and breakdown of a relationship while Styles further discovers himself and his identity through his music.

The cover of Caroline Polachek’s third studio album, ‘Pang’.

7) Caroline Polachek – Pang: American singer-songwriter and musician Caroline Polachek reinvented herself with her third studio album, Pang, in mid-October. It’s an innovative, introspective body of work and a progressive take on alternative pop with abstract lyrics and complex instrumentation.

The cover of AURORA’s second studio album, ‘A Different Kind of Human (Step II)’.

6) AURORA – A Different Kind of Human (Step II): Norweigan singer-songwriter AURORA followed-up her Infections of a Different Kind (Step I) EP with her second studio album, Infections of a Different Kind (Step II), in early June. The record explores the condition of humanity through a socio-political lens, commenting on issues such as gender and climate change in order to attempt to understand what makes us human.

5) Ariana Grande – thank u, next / Billie Eilish – WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?: American singer-songwriter and actress Ariana Grande and American singer-songwriter and teen sensation Billie Eilish have dominated the mainstream music scene this year. Grande broke records with her fifth studio album, thank u, next, following its release in early February, and Eilish’s impressive debut studio album, WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?, blew everyone’s mind when it dropped in late March. 

On thank u, next, we see Grande at her most vulnerable as she reflects on her past relationships and trauma with powerful feminist undertones, and Eilish addresses important topics facing the world’s youth today, such as mental illness and climate change, on WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? in a mature way that surprised the mainstream due to her age.

These fantastic records embody the excellence of these artists and their ability to appeal to a wide audience of listeners.

The cover of Tyler, The Creator’s fifth studio album, ‘IGOR’.

4) Tyler, the Creator – IGOR: American rapper and producer Tyler, the Creator’s skills as a writer and producer shined bright on his mid-May-released fifth studio album, IGOR. A story of love, heartbreak, and forgiveness is told over the light, smooth production and serene tracks, showing a softer side of Tyler that we saw with his previous album, Flower Boy, coming full circle from his intense early work.

The censored cover of CharlI XCX’s third studio album, ‘Charli’.

3) Charli XCX – Charli: After trying to put out her third studio album for over three years, English singer-songwriter Charli XCX finally managed to do so in the form of Charli in early September. The record is a progressive and futuristic declaration of self-empowerment and creative freedom, with otherworldly production and catchy hooks that all combine into the pop Bible of the future.

The cover of FKA twigs’ masterful second studio album, ‘MAGDALENE’.

2) FKA twigs – MAGDALENE: Following a difficult break-up and a health scare, English singer-songwriter and dancer FKA twigs returned with her outstanding second studio album, MAGDALENE, in early November. Simply put, MAGDALENE is a work of art and features extremely complex and captivating lyrics and production, creating a heavenly mosaic of sound. I would even go as far as to say that this record is one of the greatest of all time, but y’all aren’t ready for that conversation.

The censored cover of Lana Del Rey’s sixth studio album, ‘Norman F***ing Rockwell!’.

1) Lana Del Rey – Norman F***ing Rockwell!: And finally, we’ve made it to the #1 album of 2019: American singer-songwriter and poet Lana Del Rey’s immaculate, late August-released fifth major-label studio album, Norman F***ing Rockwell!. As the next best American record, NFR! is a commentary on American pop culture in a 1960s surf rock style that showcases Del Rey’s evolution as an artist. It’s deep, beautifully arranged, and even campy where necessary; and Del Rey has crafted yet another breathtaking body of work, reminding us all, once again, why she’s the head witch in charge.

DISCLAIMER: This article contains the opinions of someone with good taste in music.

As 2019 comes to a close, I look forward to all of the promising releases that we have scheduled for 2020. Happy new year!

Check out my The top 19 best albums of 2019. playlist on Spotify, which features some of my favorite tracks from the albums discussed in this article: 

This article was originally published in December 2019 and later revised in May 2020.