The Soundtrack of 2019

It has been nearly a year since my first blog post, so what better way to celebrate it than by redoing it with songs released this year. Last year I was generally more focused on songs I had on a rotation by the end of 2018; but these songs weren’t necessarily the best songs to come out in 2018, they were just the ones that my ears couldn’t get enough of. In my experiences this year I’ve come to greatly value artists who are trying to convey a narrative through their music. I’m also interested in how their experiences, whether they be painful or joyous, can be applied to my own life. With that being said, here are the five songs (in no particular order) that soundtracked my 2019…

Situationship — Snoh Aalegra

Situationship Cover Art

Love is complicated. That is something I’ve come to understand this year in ways I never thought I would. Situationship perfectly captures what happens when you end up in one of these less than ideal situations with someone you have feelings for. You both are feeling the same thing, but neither party wants to take the next step. Snoh’s voice is ear-candy over the surprisingly vibrant, yet glamorous, instrumentals found on the track. It was hard picking a favorite song from this album because each song has a life of its own. Situationship stands out because it feels like a mature turn for Snoh. Situationship features a more refined Aalegra that knows exactly where the relationship in question is going as she croons:

“Oh, baby I just think we got a (Guess we got a situationship)
I think we got a little situation.”

Aalegra is, now more than ever before, concerned with letting whatever happens happen, instead of forcing what’s not meant to be.

I Been — Ari Lennox

Shea Butter Baby Cover Art

Ari Lennox’s debut album went very much under the radar and I simply cannot fathom why she’s not dominating the charts. Ari Lennox can sing (like really sing), she can write, and more importantly she can tell stories through her music. I Been is the sound of the frustration you can only attain from a breakup. That kind of frustration you get when you realize you were foolish to think this person was different from everyone else.

“But I’m havin’ the worst luck on Tinder, ooh
Why’d you have to be a big pretender.”

I don’t know what Lennox was trying to do with this track, but it’s like this song was made to be sung along to at full volume in the shower. All jokes aside, I Been truly helps to solidify Ari Lennox as the future of neo-soul through its fervent lyrics and Lennox’s animated singing.

Stretch You Out (feat A Boogie wit da Hoodie)— Summer Walker

Over It Cover Art

“Niggas be insecure
Claiming that you ain’t doing enough
Claiming that they need more
What you on your last breath, your last sweat, your last dime?”

Summer Walker has made it clear this year that she is over just about everything. She’s over men, she’s over touring, she’s over people — she’s just over it. Stretch You Out is probably (in my humble opinion) the best song to grace the music scene this year. The glistening production — provided by none other than London on da Track — and her amorous singing both serve to highlight just how over it Walker is. The pair do not miss a beat on this track, which is generally the case throughout Walker’s entire album. Stretch You Out is telling the story of someone who's fed up with an insecure ex, and Walker conveys this faultlessly in her garrulous first verse that, in its lack of subtly, can resonate with just about anyone who has gone through a similar experience.

Hawaiian Mazes — Banks

III Cover Art

There is no artist that can capture a feeling and put it into words better than Jillian Banks. Hawaiian Mazes is exactly what healing from a failed relationship should sound like. The song is so gentle in its examination of what went wrong with Banks and her ex-lover. Hawaiian Mazes is bare-sounding in its subtle production , and doesn’t really pick up in tempo until the end of the song. In its lyrics, the song does indeed sound like a maze, with Banks opening the track saying she wants to meet with this lover, but by the chorus she’s repeating over and over that it's time to let this person go. Hawaiian Mazes sounds like something straight out of a journal in how back and forth Banks is in her discussion of this relationship.

“But, babe, it was something ‘bout the way you loved me
Yeah, now I don’t know, now I don’t know me anymore
I’m letting go and you don’t have to tell me twice.”

There is something about the song’s bridge that makes me want to cry. The frustration in Banks’ voice — coupled with the pain in her lyrics— can make any listener sympathetic to the singer’s experience.

in my head — Ariana Grande

in my head is Ariana Grande’s best song to date. Never has Grande so successfully, and maturely, been as vulnerable as she is on this thank u, next deep cut. Grande is critical not only of an ex-lover, but of herself. By no means is she coming down on herself, but instead she’s more focused on identifying all the things she did wrong in an attempt to grow from them and find closure. Aside from its lyrical content, in my head contains quite the infectious melody backed by a moody instrumental. in my head is an indicator of Grande’s potential as an artist who not only has the range to create great pop music, but can still maintain a sense of self in doing so. She reminds us on this track that she has never needed anything but her euphoric voice to move listeners.

“Wanted you to grow, but, boy, you wasn’t budding
Everything you are made you everything you aren’t
I saw your potential without seeing credentials
Maybe that’s the issue”

And with that ladies and gentlemen: the soundtrack of 2019.

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