The 10 best songs of 2019
What makes a song of the year?
It's different to deciding upon an album of the year. Albums need to have consistency and make sense all the way through, but all you need for a good song is a catchy beat, a good vocal, a great lyric and perhaps - if you're lucky - all of the above rolled into one.
With that in mind, we cast our net wide to figure out the tunes that have been stuck in our heads most during 2019. The ones that have endured throughout the year and will continue to give us pleasure in 2020.
Without further ado, here are entertainment.ie's Top 10 Songs of 2019.
10 DERMOT KENNEDY - 'Outnumbered'
2019 saw the emergence of Dermot Kennedy as a force to be reckoned with amongst Irish audiences; 2020 will make him a global star. With songs like 'Power Over Me' setting the pace last year, the one-time Grafton Street busker released this emotive ballad-with-a-beat over the summer, the perfect lead-in to his debut album 'Without Fear' in October. His love of hip-hop is audible here, but you can't imagine any rapper spitting rhymes like 'I'll come for you if you just stay where you are / And I'll always hold your hand in the car'. Alongside a surging chorus that might sound sickly-sweet in someone else's hands, it somehow works terrifically.
9 WEYES BLOOD - 'Everyday'
There's a timelessness to Weyes Blood's music that's impossible for us to resist: you could easily imagine songs like 'Everyday' on the radio in the 1970s. That wouldn't necessarily be a good thing in most scenarios, but the winsome, easygoing plod of this track is just irresistible. And what a video, too...
8 SHARON VAN ETTEN - 'Seventeen'
Sharon Van Etten's album 'Remind Me Tomorrow' will feature on a lot of end-of-year 'best of' lists, but we reckon it's this track that's the stone-cold stunner in that set. It sees the New Jersey native reflect on the passing of time in haze of nostalgia, poignancy and emotion as the synthy throb grows in intensity and she wonders “I used to feel free... or was it just a dream?”
7 SODA BLONDE - 'Swimming Through the Night'
Like many music fans, we were gutted when Little Green Cars split earlier this year. Thankfully, the blow was somewhat softened by the emergence of Soda Blonde. Essentially, they are LGC without co-frontman and co-songwriter Stevie Appleby – but the four-piece's style has taken a turn towards the poppier end of the spectrum, less hemmed-in by the folk music and four-part harmonies that dominated their previous guise. Their debut single was an introduction to be reckoned with, and what a song it was: Faye O'Rourke's songbird voice leading the charge on a breezy, effortlessly melodious slice of pop-rock.
6 VAMPIRE WEEKEND - 'Harmony Hall'
Vampire Weekend returned this summer after a lengthy absence with a double album in tow. Although the New Yorkers still clearly excel at writing indie-pop bangers, their focus was arguably stretched too thinly across 58 minutes. However, there were some fantastic singles among those 18 songs – most notably this track, which starts with the pretty flutter of acoustic guitar before the celebratory, arms-aloft joyfulness of the chorus (despite the somewhat dour lyrics). An earworm, if ever there was one.
5 LIZZO - 'Juice'
There were a couple of contenders for inclusion on this list from Lizzo; her album 'Cuz I Love You', as we've already told you, is packed with attitude and catchy songs. We cannot resist the pull of this self-empowering gem, though – it makes us want to chair-dance every time we hear those '70s funk-style guitars on the intro. And as opening lines go, how about 'Mirror, mirror on the wall, don't say it 'cos I know I'm cute'? for sheer sassiness?
4 BILLIE EILISH - 'Bad Guy'
2019 was the year that Billie Eilish killed it – mostly thanks to this song piquing peoples' interest. As it happens, her whole album was pretty much fabulous, but what a song 'Bad Guy' is. A weird, eerie, thumping, clubby beaut of a pop tune brimming with the teenager's unique style.
3 FONTAINES DC - 'Big'
The opening track on Fontaines DC's debut album 'Dogrel' certainly set the tone: a pummelling, punk-laced rock tune with frontman Grian Chatten's thick Dublin drawl brashly declaring that 'Dublin in the rain is mine'. It's a simple song in many ways, but is both seriously memorable and undeniably rousing.
2 ALDOUS HARDING - 'Fixture Picture'
If you've already seen our top 10 albums of the year, you'll be aware that Aldous Harding's record features very strongly on it. This track is arguably (we still can't decide) the best song on it – and it's undoubtedly one of our favourites of the year. The strangeness of Harding's phrasing, the gentle folkiness and the key changes, her voice, those harmonies; we could (and have) listened to this song on repeat throughout the year.
1 SOULÉ - 'Love Tonight'
How was this song not an international hit this summer? Written by Dublin's own electro-pop Soulé, it's surely a good sign of things to come from the Balbriggan native. It's unbelievably catchy, delightfully upbeat, with superb vocals and a serious helping of self-confident panache - not to mention a rap verse from London MC C-Cane. If Rihanna had sung 'Love Tonight' it would have been a smash hit. We'll settle for it being the best kept secret of 2019. What. a. song.