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We Asked Our Writing Staff to Share Their Favorite Songs of 2019

These are our favorite songs of 2019. Not yours.
Favorite Songs, 2019

Here we are: The song of the year category. Our song of the year category. These are the songs that kept our spirits up, made us cry, got us dancing, and everything in between. 

Be advised, our favorite songs are not your favorite songs, and that’s perfectly fine. Music is vast, and it’s a real pleasure to have a favorite anything. Enjoy!

“KEYS TO THE KINGDOM,” by Tiwa Savage & Mr Eazi

As a complete body of work, The Lion King: The Gift speaks to me on a spiritual and cultural level, but “KEYS TO THE KINGDOM,” by Tiwa Savage and Mr Eazi, uplifts and reminds me to remember the gift within, even when I’m tripping off other things. The record has become somewhat of a personal anthem. I will play this song for my children someday. — Ronnia Cherry

“GONE GONE / THANK YOU,” by Tyler, The Creator

I’ll keep this one short because I genuinely change favorite songs every day, but right now? “GONE GONE / THANK YOU” is my song of the year. The record encompasses how I’ve felt over the past 12 months. Frankly, I’m glad we’re stepping into a new decade. I’m ready for this one to be over. — Simi Muhumuza

“home with you,” by FKA twigs 

Do you know those urban legends about people who take LSD and become blindingly mesmerized by the sun? Just as these people can’t stop staring at the light, even as it painfully burns their corneas, I can’t stop listening to “home with you.” The song, alternating between textures, both stifling and soaring, unsettling and gorgeous, is a heartbreaking examination of the interplay between loneliness and companionship that manifests in any relationship. When all these different textures come together on the song’s climax, the effect is so euphoric; I literally have to squint to listen to it. — Hershal Pandya

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“Maayaa,” by Juls featuring Tiggs Da Author & Santi

How much do I love Juls’ production? I have an entire Spotify playlist titled after his “juls, baby” tag. On “Maayaa,” the British-Ghanian producer rolls out the red carpet for Tiggs Da Author and Santi, who are right at home over the glimmering Afrobeat production. Come for the soaring hook that arrives courtesy of Tiggs, stay for the shining guitar licks that add lush layers to the instrumental. — Kenan Draughorne

“EARFQUAKE,” by Tyler, The Creator

How could it be anything else? IGOR is the most shocking album of 2019. It’s a bewitchingly raw and gorgeous soundscape of heartbreak and personal rediscovery. “EARFQUAKE” is IGOR’s fork in the road, its most important song, and the most enjoyable listen. The album centers on a breakup that begins with “EARFQUAKE”; Tyler’s earnest, shattering plea, “Don’t leave, it’s my fault” serving as the haunting impetus for the rest of IGOR’s journey. — Zachary Miller

“Self Love,” by MAVI

Between the bubbly first half, which finds MAVI deep in introspection, regret, and vulnerability, and the second half, which becomes one of the more captivating and profound minutes of rap this year, “Self Love” is an entire life’s worth of pent up expression consolidated into the album’s magnum opus. “Self Love” is the only song this year that feels like a text I needed to study, a diary I had the special privilege of peering into that explains the genesis of a person’s greatest pain and most honest confessions. Few songs could ever reach this level of purity, but when they do, they become endlessly gratifying when revisiting. I can’t wait to play it again. — Matt Wilhite

“Anybody,” by Burna Boy

Burna Boy knows we understand dance regardless of language. The undeniable rhythms of African Giant, his fourth studio album, have kept me shuffling at bus stations and in the shower for the last four months. With standout selection “Anybody,” I’ve done every conceivable kind of dance—the bussdown, the whoa, the two-step, the list goes on. Any song that can generate this much movement in three minutes is enough to embed itself in my brain for the rest of time. May the African Giant continue to prosper in this life and the next. — Dylan "CineMasai" Green

“Hit!” by Kenny Mason

One of the best feelings a human can experience in our capitalistic society is making money. Payday, especially when it’s unlawful, comes with a rush. Budding Atlanta rapper Kenny Mason captures that energetic spirit on his debut single “Hit!” As a song, “Hit!” is everything a hit should be: catchy, charismatic, and creative. Kenny doesn’t just rap well; he builds a world, one where there are more scammers than saints; a world where having is better than being a have-not. Cash rules everything around Kenny, so at the very least, “Hit!” says that capitalism can be fun. No better song defines my 2019. — Yoh

“That’s Life,” by 88-Keys featuring Mac Miller & Sia

Technically a hold-over from the GO:OD AM era, “That’s Life” is yet another entry in Mac’s pantheon of life music. His candor, his thoughtfulness—everything is on display. This song makes me cry from the first line. “They say dont make a promise you can’t keep.” Mac Miller will never die. And let’s leave it at that. Mac Miller will never die. — Donna-Claire Chesman


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