Best Songs of 2019

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CREDIT: Tove Lo/YouTube Screenshot

The following are the singles that had enough of an impact on me in 2019 to make me go, “I’ll have to mark that one down for posterity.” A few of them were originally released before 2019, but they didn’t reach their full cultural impact until 2019. And for the first time in the decade or so since I’ve been doing this, I’ve got a repeat winner, as I also coronated Tove Lo in 2017.

1. Tove Lo – “Glad He’s Gone”: Such friendship, such storytelling. We are all so blessed to have Tove Lo in our lives.
2. Lana Del Rey – “Mariners Apartment Complex”: Four minutes of musical madness that feels like hours of bliss.
3. The Chemical Brothers – “Eve of Destruction”: If you think the world’s gone to hell, have a dance party!
4. Vampire Weekend – “Sunflower”: There have been multiple (good) songs named “Sunflower” the past few years; this is the one that’s most likely to make you feel like a sunflower waking up in the morning.
5. Lizzo -“Truth Hurts”: 100% that mix of references that clearly hold deep emotional resonance for Lizzo.
6. Gary Clark Jr. – “This Land”: Can tasty guitar solos solve racism? Can’t hurt.
7. Hozier – “Dinner and Diatribes”: A galloping piece of soulfulness.
8. Dua Lipa – “Swan Song”: An original track from Alita: Battle Angel, and clearly the sound of future sci-fi feminism.
9. Sara Bareilles – “Armor”: Listen to Sara Bareilles getting down with her jazzy bad self and the rest of us getting down with her!
10. Kimbra – “Lightyear”: Space wonder Kimbra has a message to beam down to us earthbound folks.
11. Shaed – “Thunder”: One of those indie rock “This is who we are!” statements of declaration.
12. Billie Eilish – “Bad Guy”: Billie sings about the joys of being devious, but by all accounts, her personal life is quite wholesome. I think that’s a great way to live.
13. Meg Myers – “Running Up That Hill”: I’m just glad that Kate Bush covers are on the radio in 2019.
14. Lana Del Rey – “Doin’ Time”: Is Lana the current Queen of Remix? She just knows how to summon the past into her modern legacy.
15. Tones and I – “Dance Monkey”: We can always use some monosyllabic shouts amidst the more word-like lyrics to convince us to get up there and bust a move.
16. Camila Cabello – “Cry for Me”: Sometimes you need to make an insistent demand for emotional connection to get the message across.
17. Lil Nas X – “Old Town Road”: The epitome of Gen Z’s total lack of recognition of genre constraints.
18. Absofacto – “Dissolve”: A little skitter-skatter of chillax rock.
19. Benny Blanco, Tainy, Selena Gomez, and J Balvin – “I Can’t Get Enough”: A pleasure moan produced into nugget-size song form.
20. Starcrawler – “Pet Sematary”: It really is the perfect unassailable opening guitar riff to kick off some opening credits, no matter which version.

2/15/20 UPDATE: In the spirit of comprehension, I may have overlooked a few songs that I loved enough to be top 20-worthy from a band that had already made the cut. So, to correct the record, some more-than-honorable mentions go to “MAH” and “Got to Keep On” by the Chemical Brothers.

Watch And/Or Listen to This: Hozier’s “Dinner & Diatribes”

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CREDIT: Hozier/YouTube

Here’s another great song/music video I discovered while walking around the Sony Building. Hozier vs. Anya Taylor-Joy is the Great Psychological Battle of 2019: who’d a thunk it? (I’m in love with the lone “ah” that Hozier lets out at 3:26.)

SNL Recap October 11, 2014: Bill Hader/Hozier

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SNL: Hozier, Bill Hader, Cecily Strong (CREDIT: YouTube Screenshot)

This review was originally posted on Starpulse in October 2014.

Recent alumni returning to host “SNL” has lately served as an excuse to fill the episode with cameos, with last season’s finale hosted by Andy Samberg serving as a particularly egregious example.  That tendency is not a good fit for a show with a large repertory cast including several rookies and sophomores fighting to make themselves known.  Luckily, this episode only featured two cameos, only one of whom was a former cast member, and neither of whom overwhelmed the show.  Hader did resurrect a few of his most memorable characters, but he did not get in the way of what the current cast is doing.  The bottom line is, it is pretty much impossible to have a bad episode hosted by Bill Hader.  He was in a lot of sketches while a cast member, because he could take on the lead and the utility roles just as easily.  Thus, putting him in the entire episode, as is the norm with the hosts, served to guarantee at least one good performance per sketch.  Let’s take a closer look at each segment of the show:

Kim Jong-Un – The running time of this sketch was about 3 minutes, a speed that is practically unheard of for “SNL” cold openings in 2014.  It harked back to a time when the first sketch could get in there with a familiar routine, make it point, and get right to the “Live from New York!”  But the weird thing about this sketch was that Bobby Moynihan’s Kim Jong-Un impression is not particularly popular, nor has North Korea really been dominating headlines.  This sketch did not really focus on being timely anyway, instead making bizarre observational points about the Korean leader, such as how he fancies himself the world’s greatest athlete and that his haircut resembles Brad Pitt in his current movie.  Ultimately, this was admirable for being stranger than most openings, but disappointing for being too slight to do something with that strangeness. B-

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