This year felt like I scratched my ass two times and it was over. Donald Trump got impeached, the Nationals won the world series (wtf), South Park became good again, Terminator 6 came out, Avengers: Endgame became the highest grossing movie worldwide of all time, I finally got house slippers, Kanye West decided he would never tour his old music again and only do gospel music from now on, Popeyes released a premium quality chicken sandwich in the greatest marketing campaign of all time and then retracted it and re-released it with worse ingredients but we couldn’t complain because it was only $4, Burger King and Del Taco started selling vegetarian meat-substitute options, Tiger Woods won his first major since 2008, the Amazon burned down while Amazon became stronger than ever especially this Christmas when only the Amazon gifts arrived on time, and most importantly Indie Pong was officially launched.
It was a truly amazing year for music, and making this list is nearly impossible. You’ll of course see my affinity for female vocalists, and for upbeat music. If you absolutely hate my choices and they make you sad, you might enjoy UndercoverSadGirl’s best tracks list for a good cathartic cry. Here’s a link to the playlist if you want to follow along as you read:
Anyways without further ado:
50. ‘Old Town Road – Remix’ – Lil Nas X, Billy Ray Cyrus
The story I heard about this song is that the haters at the billboard charts told Lil Nas X he couldn’t have the top country song on the charts because he wasn’t a country artist, so Billy Ray Cyrus stepped up and threw his name on the song. Billboard still didn’t include it as a country song, but Lil Nas and Billy Ray prevailed by becoming number one on the all genres Billboard Charts for NINETEEN STRAIGHT WEEKS, an all time record. The song samples Nine Inch Nails’ 34 and according to this dog, is the only song worth singing to:
49. ‘Sunday’ – Jessica Mauboy
Rising Australian pop star and former Australia Idol contestant Jessica Mauboy is poised to take over the pop scene internationally after releasing one of the most interesting and fun pop albums of 2019. Just listen for yourself.
48. ‘Flash’ – La Neve
La Neve came in hot with one of our favorite albums of the year, her ‘The Vital Cord’ which sounds like it could have been from the 80s if it wasn’t too cool and contemporary to be from the 80s. Songs like this are a pleasure to cover and include because I truly feel like they move the medium forward, and help us move towards a more vibrant and interesting future of DIY lo-fi arthouse music.
47. ‘Devil In Her Eye’ – Mad Gatsby
Mad Gatsby was one of my more pleasant surprises of the year, the duo out of LA came out of nowhere and released a beautifully written and expertly produced EP that has us looking forward to more of this rabbit hole inspired dreamy alternative sound that successfully blends traditional songwriting with adventurous modern production.
46. ‘Blinded’ – Mint Julep
Great track. This song is the auditory equivalent of eating a creme brulee, some crisp on the outside but that smooth creamy texture on the inside.
45. ‘YFPHNT’ – Giant Swan
If you like Techno music than this explanation isn’t for you. But if Techno isn’t your thing, let me explain why this is basically the best techno track of the year. When I look at a genre I look for innovation within the genre, and this track is just an absolute original. Find me one other track that sounds like this from this year- exactly. We here at Indie Pong applaud innovation even if it ruins your road trip for 5 minutes, and hope you take a look at this one with an open mind and get into the zone with us.
44. ‘My Heart Beats Out Of Time’ – Black Dresses
Yeah so anyone who knows me on a music nerd level knows that I have been all about Black Dresses this year, I literally bought a shirt lol. I find this inspirational for all of us artists out there, Black Dresses released two full albums and an EP this year. These girls are producing content that is getting increasingly better with EACH RELEASE. This album, Love and Affection for Stupid Little Bitches was easily one of my favorite albums of the year, and found a departure from the more scream-heavy lo-fi angst electro pop to a more poised and refined composition that to me is the best exhibition of their work yet. Another one of my favorite things about BD is how vocal-forward their music is, and it always has been. This one’s my only one that isn’t on Spotify FYI.
43. ‘Backyard’ – Kota The Friend
Yeah, not much to say about this one. One of the most promising young rappers in the game, supremely talented and not one dimensional, can’t be categorized into any one sub-sect of rap, real talented dude with the world in front of him.
42. ‘Morbid Stuff’ – PUP
This one had 11 year old me flipping over trays in the cafeteria, standing on a table, and rallying the troops to go TP Ms. Johnson’s house while I was working on my math boxes, but in 2019. I had to choose between this, Bare Hands, Closure, and Scorpion Hill because this was (bare) hands down one of my favorite albums of the year.
41. ’84 Palms’ – Ackerman
A light-hearted, airy look back at adolescence that’s innate nostalgia brought us back to high school no matter when you may have been born.
40. ‘Your Light’ – The Big Moon
This song is amazing. What… do I have to have a hot take or personal memory for every single song? I can’t just like one out of the FiFtY songs that I’m highlighting here? I’m not being defensive, you’re being defensive. But yeah this is just a straight forward amazing song.
39. ‘Power To The People’ – Octo Octa
This album exudes just straight POWER. From this to Can You See Me?, this album is chock full of emotion between get you out of your seat grooves. I’m a big fan, and the album did not disappoint.
38. ‘Strong God’ – Kirk Franklin
Ooooof. I absolutely love this Gospel instant classic from Gospel legend Kirk Franklin. If you don’t know, Kirk is sort of the modern standard of Gospel music and is even featured on Kanye’s Ultralight Beam. And as big of a Kanye fan as I am, Mr. West did not have the Gospel album of the year, because that honor in fact belonged to Kirk Franklin who released a monolith of a Gospel album with the reach of a modern Hip Hop or R&B album but without sacrificing the altruistic message of his content that he’s maintained throughout his career.
37. ‘Delivery’ – Chela
That old school feeling you hope never dies. An amazing pop song from Australia Pong’s Chela. If you haven’t tuned in to the original Australia Pong article, we seem to LOVE Australian Pop Music from 2019, and we just can’t help it, it’s running laps around pop music from the rest of the world. Chela’s Delivery is no exception, an instant classic bound to be picked up for an empowering scene in a show sometime soon.
36. ‘Leave If You Wanna’ – Overcoats
Overcoats were a truck speeding downhill of an original voice in 2019, and we’re here for it. The New York band by way of Wesleyan University is about five songs away from absolutely owning the radio and we can’t wait. Also, would definitely recommend their NPR Tiny Desk, very special.
35. ‘Honeybird’ – Andras
Straight up, this is just a song you can vibe to. I’m not gonna get too into it, you’ll pretty much know in the first ten seconds if this one is for you or not. All I know is since the day this song came out I have consistently been vibing and I just really want more.
34. ‘Strangest Places’ – Approachable Members Of Your Local Community
This is a nice one, also great band name which we highlighted in more detail here. I for one appreciate a great brand like these fine gentlemen and gentlewomen from Australia. They genuinely look very approachable in the above thumbnail in their athletic clothes/overalls, and I for one appreciate it and can’t wait to ask them for eggs one time and then start gradually and increasingly lean on them for groceries.
33. ‘Moral of the Story’ – Ashe
It was my birthday party, and my friend Almog pulled me out of a conversation with a single tear drop rolling down his cheek and asked me like he had just heard music for the first time after a lifetime of being deaf- “what is this…” It’s that kind of song. It builds as well if not better than the best of the best.
32. ‘Identity’ – Moe Shop, Seij
Pretty sure this is like Weebo MBDTF (or maybe Graduation), seriously one of my favorite songs of the year.
31. ‘Use This Gospel’ – Kanye West, Clipse, Kenny G
The haters are gonna hate. But Kayne debuted a Gospel album to #1 on the Billboard charts, and that’s cool. If you ask me what it would mean if the biggest and most interesting artist in the world both artistically and commercially made a Gospel album and decided not to play any of his older and more salacious songs anymore, I would tell you it’s an extreme positive. Whether or not it lasts forever is anyone’s guess, but all I know is that if there’s a song like this on every Kanye Gospel album then sign me the front door up.
30. ‘Ruins’ – Gabriella Cilmi
It’s easy to forget that beneath the bells and whistles of every great song is a skeleton, lyrics that can be sung over a single instrument that before embellishing must stand out. Singer/Songwriter Gabriella Cilmi achieves that here in this simple but satisfying assembly of organic sounds that take us back to the simple times of writing songs on your guitar in your formative years.
29. ‘Bloom’ – Great Grandpa
This jam from Seattle Grunge-Pop band Great Grandpa’s got me back in the 90s wearing a puffy ass jacket and sprinting home from 7-11 to make it back by my curfew because I was pretty sure I had enough time to make the stop but now I’m cutting it close. This falsetto gets me going.
28. ‘Dead Battery’ – L’Orange, Jeremiah Jae
Hell yeah, I’m so happy I found this album. Channel your inner Doom/1999 by Joey Bada$$ and get on this instant classic hip hop behemoth that is the war themed concept album Violence by these dudes. This one actually holds a special place in my heart, because it the album review was my first post on Indie Pong.
27. ‘A Mí Me Juzgan Por Ser Mujer’ – Pelada
Pelada’s politically charged album Movimiento Para Cambio was one of the coolest thing to happen this year. I feel like we’re lucky to even have this on Spotify, because Pelada has very little online presence, including not having any social media accounts. This track, translated to “I Am Judged Because I’m A Woman” addresses gender bias with a raw tenacity that I don’t know if I’ve ever seen before, the kind you can instantly feel in your core. If you’re ever in Montreal (where they’re based) check out a show, I hear they’re nuts.
Here are some translated lyrics so you can get an idea of the tone here:
I see the eye of the devil/ bad men/ the street/ I’m still like that, I don’t care because I was born berraquita/ the force runs in my blood/ the blood of my ancestors/ it’s the wrestling women who have struggled to survive
26. ‘Down By The Tree’ – Pearl City
This March release has stuck with us all year as one of the year’s best. Next level production and mixing here from Manchester’s Pearl City.
25. ‘If The World Was Ending’ – JP Saxe, Julia Michaels
Ahhh this song is so absolutely gorgeous. A beautiful narrative that is refreshingly digestible because of how vocal-forward the production is.
24. ‘DNA’ – K. Flay
If you know me you know I love Indie Pop, so I was already in on this song for the production value, but damn is this a beautifully written song about unintentionally starting to become the people your parents were.
23. ‘East’ – Wednesday Campanella
This song blew me away from the very first time I heard it, what a just absolutely original piece of art. Wednesday Campanella is a successful pop star from Japan who this year has begun her journey into the US with some collaboration tracks, namely one with Ryan Hemsworth that was pretty cool.
My favorite story surrounding this song is an Uber driver basically insisted I play my own music so I threw this on, and he immediately decided that I would love the Cirque Du Solei music he listens to and turned my song off to show me his playlist. I didn’t mind of course, I spend a lot of my free time sharing music with people so who am I to judge, right?
Playlist was trash tho, but appreciate effort on his part, one love.
22. ‘Raise Up’ – Kindness
If you couldn’t tell by the two gospel songs in my top 50 tracks of the year, I am partial to these soulful choir choruses. Love this track and the whole Kindness album.
21. ‘Stayaway’ – MUNA
MUNA’s I Know A Place was my biggest snub of 2016, and everyone was all up in arms about it. I’m talking angry mobs outside of my house, my car rigged with explosives and I had to jump out of it just in time when I heard the click, anthrax in the mail, etc. Thank goodness they released this HEATER this year and I finally got the chance to redeem myself.
20. ‘Centuries’ – Queen of Jeans
This stunning sentimental effervescence of an album gave us an outlet to cleanse whatever we were going through emotionally this year and most importantly, just feel. This was our favorite track on on one of our favorite albums of the year.
19. ‘Milionària’ – Rosalia
I was blind. Like a bat flying through the night, with my sonar radar just taking me from one banger to the next. Blind to Rosalia. And then this song came out and it was like a miracle and all of the sudden I realized Rosalia is awesome and I immediately woke up from the three year music coma I had been in and went back and enjoyed as much Rosalia as I could. As Myra said in the Princess Diaries, miracles DO happen. This is the kind of song that can turn the biggest hater into a believer.
18. ‘Geology’ – Barrie
My favorite memory this year with this one is throwing it on at an outdoor birthday party at Echo Park Lake and just straight chilling. It’s that kind of song, great to throw on and just sit and be.
17. ‘Up’ – Earthgang
Shit man, this sounds like some modern day Outkast, they’re from Atlanta too. Now, as a blogger you try to be as articulate as you can and eliminate some less thoughtful words from your vocabulary, but in this case THIS SONG F*CKING SLAPS.
16. ‘Burning Accident’ – Kate Davis
This is how you crescendo a singer-songwriter song. You want it to feel like you’re rollerblading down a huge hill for the first two thirds of the song and then right when you reach the bottom you go off a big ass ramp and fly into the sky, a climax. Sorry, for the structural notes, I’m a screenwriter at heart :). This is a perfectly structured and beautifully written song on another of my favorite albums of the year. Also Kate started in classical music and made the departure to this which I think is pretty cool.
15. ‘My Love’ – Anna of the North
An amazing year for Anna of the North. This dreamy pop groove speaks for itself, can’t wait for the upcoming US tour.
14. ‘Flat Tummy Tea’ – Freddie Gibbs, Madlib
This is everything I love about Hip Hop in a song. Cultural commentary with attitude, swag, flow, truth, it’s got it all. One of my favorite stories that I heard this year was that Madlib (who is one of the most prolific producers in Rap) made the beat for No More Parties in LA and gave it to Freddie who turned it into Cocaine Parties in LA, and then right before they were about to release it Kanye released Pablo with No More Parties in LA on it. Madlib had sent the beat to Kanye and never heard back and assumed it was available, but what you gonna do.
Anyway Freddie’s got top 5 flow in the game.
13. ‘Wish You Well’ – Jessica Mauboy
Our girl Jessica again, just continuing being poised to completely take over pop music with this pure hitter.
12. ‘I Wish I Was Stephen Malkmus’ – Beabadoobee
Ah man, I love this song so much. I already gave a quick gush about this song in my 13 Can’t Miss Artists at SXSW article but basically in summary this year I spent two hours every day between (breakfast and lunch) straight crying to this song. And I wish I could say it was because of the accessible pop culture references to Stephen Malkmus and Pavement, or the killer arrangement, or how zeitgeist this video is, but the truth is it’s just a pure emotional song and is the kind of art that is relatable at a core level, which is why I am happy to put this as my #11 song of the year.
11. ‘My Angel Goes Before Me’ – Lonelyspeck
This song is full of feeling and has some of the coolest production of the year. The Australian Lonelyspeck is destined for great things and I can’t wait for his many great achievements to come.
10. ‘Summon The Fire’ – The Comet Is Coming
This song sounds like the beginning of a Brett Easton-Ellis rat pack night on the town where some Wall Street bros hit the slopes and drink Hendricks Gin and Tonics and tighten their suspenders and bowties in montage fashion on their way out to the hottest club in Manhattan. Or if you’re me this is the song you play to get amped up when you clean your kitchen. Regardless of what you use it for this is a one of a kind special turn up song that I can’t get enough of.
9. ‘Death/Bad Girl’ – Black Dresses
Toronto’s Black Dresses, who also had the #44 song of the year above and are one of our favorite bands of the year, put their definitive stamp on the year with this Electro/Chaos/Rock headbanger that is easily one of my top ten of the year and also the most fire shirt I bought this year in case you were wondering.
8. ‘Turning Teeth’ – Jesus and the Brides of Dracula
Alright buckle up, this is an interesting one. This song was written for the film Under The Silver Lake by David Robert Mitchell and in the movie is performed by the fictional band Jesus and the Brides of Dracula:
Which to reiterate is not a real band. The actual mind behind this song is the artist Disasterpeace AKA Rich Vreeland. In a very Under The Silver Lake fashion, there are several aliases to uncover here. Anyways this song sort of drives the movie, but the movie aside, it’s hands down one of the best songs of the year.
Now, this movie hit the festival circuit in 2018, so techincally the song was in the ether then. It had a long festival run and I believe was even re-edited prior to its initial release on April 19th of 2019, the soundtrack was subsequently released. So to all of the HaTeRs out there I don’t have time for the shade. #8 song of 2019.
7. ‘Square 1’ – Mahalia
It’s a tough thumbnail, just got to give you some Mahalia really quick:
That’s better. Now, Mahalia. I don’t like to play favorites because I love all of my children the same but Mahalia… Mahalia is my favorite artist of the year. Her album was an instant classic, perfectly blending R&B, Pop, and Soul in a masterclass of songwriting. I also had Regular People and Good Company in my top 75, but it was a tough year. Also it’s worth noting that I’ve got Wish I Missed My Ex in my top 100 of the decade (coming soon!).
Storytime. It was so hard to get tickets to the Mahalia show in LA. It was so hard (tickets went from face to $75+ almost immediately) that I resorted the the Facebook page and contacted some dude named Jack Spencer from New York. Very normal looking white dude. Lots of friends, lots of comments on the photos I could see. I was concerned that he lived in New York so I struck up a conversation to ensure that he was a real person. He had bad English but judging by the photo he was kind of a jock so I let it slide. He even went as far as to laugh along with me about the idea of him being a scammer, talking about how ridiculous it was. Anyways, a few minutes later after I sent the money to his email I got hit with this:
So of course I was like ‘Jack, I didn’t know you spoke Chinese dude, that’s tight… No response. Tried sending again and got hit with the ‘This account no longer exists’. Damn.
So anyways this show is walking distance from my house so I am 100% trying to go. I go on Songkick and check or resale tickets and I come across a small miracle. There are two tickets being sold for face value ($25 or something) so I obviously buy them immediately. I get the tickets (!) and check back and the tickets are now back at $75. Somehow the universe provided me with a golden opportunity, and I must say I’m very grateful. Anyways show was unbelievable:
6. ‘Confessions’ – Sudan Archives
These strings are fierce.
5. ‘Charlie’ – Mallrat
What a beauty of a song. I would like to point out at this point that I would be more than happy to put any of my past fifteen songs as my number one song of the year, especially this one. It’s been an unbelievable year. Anyways I’ve always been a huge Mallrat fan and this song shows an epic growth as a songwriter from last year’s tunes (Better was my favorite). Charlie is an epic dog-friendly love song that hits on all literary levels and positions Mallrat for great success in the future.
4. ‘Juice’ – Lizzo
Yeah I mean Lizzo has her own post so obviously I’m a fan. I heard this song and instantly knew it was a top 5 of the year, no matter what was to come out. When I was doing this order which by the way was hard, I asked myself, WWLD?
3. ‘cellophane’ – FKA Twigs
Just wow. One of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. Also an unbelievable range, both vocal and emotional. This is literally a perfect song. I’m going to have the haters coming for my head for not putting this number one but at least than can be at ease that it will be included on the BEST OF THE DECADE list which is coming soon. But seriously just to re-emphasize, this is a perfect song.
2. ‘Hit the Back’ – King Princess
I feel like this song was made directly for me. If you follow Indie Pong you know that this is basically a song for me made in a simulator based on my taste, absolutely perfect.
1. ‘People’s Faces’ – Kate Tempest
This one isn’t even close. It was one of the best years of the decade in my opinion, and it wasn’t close. Kate Tempest is a revelation. The Book Of Traps And Lessons was hands down my favorite album of the year. The other song off of it that I really connected with this year was Hold Your Own. So this song comes as the conclusion to a surreally poignant Spoken Word-esque album where Kate reminds us that our material possessions are ultimately worthless and that despite all of the problems our government neglects to address (the British government, but it still rings frighteningly true to Americans) we must ‘Hold Our Own’ and be better than these restraints that pidgeonhole us into having preset notions of what happiness is to us. Through Kate’s delicately spoken but militantly delivered words we come to understand that although things may look bleak, we can feel things changing. And although times may seem tough, there is so much peace to be found, in people’s faces.