I’m the first to admit my year-end lists are not conventional. Not because I think I’m some cool indie rock hipster. It’s actually the opposite. Those guys tend to close their minds to anything outside what they think is cool. But I kinda think all music is cool. That doesn’t mean I love it all, just that I try to be open to most of it, and that coolness is subjective.
Hell, my lists don’t even always stick to songs that were released during the year in question, and this one is definitely no different. Like last year, I’m not even going to bother ranking them because, really, how can you measure happiness? You can go anywhere for a list of what someone thinks are the best songs of 2019, but this is the only place you can find out which 16-year-old song made me happy this year because my kids learned it on guitar. Not that that matters to anybody outside my family and friends, but then again, maybe it does. There’s only one way to find out. And here we go…
“Alligator,” Of Monsters and Men
I’m ashamed to say I wasn’t really familiar with this Icelandic band before I heard this anthemic track this summer. The chorus is just so propulsive and inspiring, while the verses set the stage for it in a really dramatic way. I love that drum pattern that comes after the later choruses. And I have to say when I first heard the song I thought singer Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir’s voice reminded me a lot of Danielle McTaggart’s from Dear Rouge, so that didn’t hurt at all.
“Lo/Hi,” The Black Keys
I wasn’t super psyched about a lot of the new releases I heard from veteran rock acts like The Raconteurs and Silversun Pickups this year. And while I haven’t listened to the full album, this song from these veteran rock dudes really revved me up.
“UnAmerican,” Said the Whale
Here’s another band that’s been around for a while that I didn’t know much about until this song rammed into my earholes. It doesn’t hurt that it’s the best song to feature my name prominently since Soundgarden’s “Full On Kevin’s Mom” came out 30 years ago. There’s also a cool Dandy Warhols vibe going on. I enjoyed their song “Record Shop” this year, too. It’s all fun Canadian pop rock.
“White Iverson,” Post Malone
This song is four years old and I’d never heard it until my wife played it a thousand times this year during our hour-long trips to visit my parents. I enjoyed watching her get so passionate about a relatively new artist, and I gradually came to really enjoy this song after about the 270th play. Kind of like musical Stockholm Syndrome, I came to love it because I was trapped with it.
“Lost Ship,” Juliana Hatfield
The video for this song is gorgeous. Do yourself a favour and click play. It’s a rare instance where a video truly encapsulates the feeling of the song. It has this atmospheric sense of wide-open space and it’s beautiful and a little fantastical and trippy. Hatfield released two albums this year (Weird, which housed this song, and Juliana Hatfield Sings The Police), both of which were fantastic, but this is my favourite track from either.
“Snake Tongue,” The Beaches
With a bit more of a poppy sound, “Snake Tongue” from The Professional EP was a bit of a departure for The Beaches, but I was all in. I love how they combined the sweet, singalong melodies with the hard-hitting message about douchey dudes and their unwanted advances. It’s also one of three Beaches songs that has strong ties for me with our summer trips to Sauble Beach, simply because I listened to it a bunch on our drives. (The others? “Highway 6” because it’s the main highway on our drive and “Sweet Life” because of the Sauble Beach candy shop of the same name.)
“Bad Guy,” Billie Eilish
This song, and Billie Eilish herself, was so ubiquitous this year that I’m not even going to bother posting the video. Instead, here’s an awesome breakdown of the song from Rolling Stone with Billie and her brother/collaborator Finneas. I just love that this song is unusual and dark and yet EVERYBODY loved it. Well, except my boys, which is weird because they usually like the music I like.
Pronoun was one of my favourite discoveries of 2018. She finally released her first full length album in 2019 and it definitely lived up to my expectations, so much so that it was hard to choose just one song for this list. I also love that she was plucked by Jimmy Eat World to open for them during their U.S. tour this year. Well deserved.
“The End of the Game,” Weezer
Amidst all their poppy tendencies lately, every once in a while Weezer dips a toe back into the “big rock song” pool, and when they do, they rarely miss. This is probably their best big rock song since 2014’s “Back to the Shack.” And maybe it’s even better. What’s funny about their big rock songs lately, though, is how self-aware they tend to be, with “Back to the Shack”’s talk of “rocking out like it’s ‘94” and this song’s Van Halen-esque tapping.
“Seven Nation Army,” The White Stripes
The clickbait moment you’ve been waiting for… or not. This song from 2003 rocked our house over and over again in 2019. That’s because I’ve been slowly teaching my boys some guitar and they really caught on to this riff. I don’t know how much of fatherhood I’m getting right, but turning my boys into little rock dudes is definitely one of them.