The A List is back for 2019. Every week you’ll find here the 10 records I’m enjoying the most right now, in a – very unofficial – chart. 2019 has started strongly; the top three tracks here are all incredibly impressive and it was very hard to pick a favourite from them.
1. Billie Eilish – WHEN I WAS OLDER
Thursday’s Track of the Day and our first number one of 2019, WHEN I WAS OLDER is full of eery distorted vocals and minimalistic electronic production that combine to create a haunting tone that is really hard to shake off.
2. Goldie, James Davidson, Subjective – Rift Valley
Tuesday’s Track of the Day, Rift Valley is a track that is best played in the dark. It’s like you’re dreaming after smoking pot. Everything feels captivating yet entirely elusive.
3. Lana Del Rey – hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have – but I have it
I have an ongoing suspicion that all of Lana Del Rey’s melodies are variations of Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game. That being said, anticipation is high for her forthcoming album Norman Fucking Rockwell and I liked both 2018 singles, Venice Bitch and Mariners Apartment Complex. However hope is a (etc – wayyyy too long to write out again) feels like one of her most accomplished songs. Lyrically this is a profoundly moving five minutes; from self-doubt to abuse to isolation, any song that has Sylvia Plath at its core will undoubtedly veer from weirdness to unimaginable suffering.
4. Sam Smith, Normani – Dancing With A Stranger
A devastatingly simple pop track full of regrets. Sam Smith does heartbreaks better than almost anyone, and the simple production on Dancing with a Stranger leaves the listener to drown in the guilt and misplaced anger of a rebound one night stand.
5. Chaka Khan – Hello Happiness
The first Track of the Day of 2019, Hello Happiness is a burst of energy, with a bass line straight from the 70s, electro vibes that belong in the 80s and a vocal performance that is positively timeless.
6. Lizzo – Juice
Lizzo has some swag, and having made last year’s Astral Penguins Top 50 with the massive Boys, Juice is yet another banger from the Minneapolis songstress. Super sweet production with shimmering guitars brings to mind Duran Duran era pop, and the chorus is totally infectious.
7. D’Angelo – Unshaken
With his first release since 2014, D’Angelo returns with the brooding and hypnotic Unshaken. Written for the Red Dead Redemption 2 soundtrack, Unshaken certainly conjures up the feelings of a western with its sparse production and solitary feel, and D’Angelo’s vocals sound superb in this lower range.
8. Lauren Jauregui – More Than That
The second former Fifth Harmony member to appear in this week’s A List, More Than That is a short slice of a slick r’n’b full of assertive lyrics and lilting melodies.
9. Catfish and the Bottlemen – Longshot
I’ve been a fan of CatB since they came onto the scene in c. 2014. I wasn’t a massive fan of 2016’s The Ride but Longshot sounds like a good return to form. Produced by Jacknife Lee (R.E.M., the Killers, U2), Longshot has a distinctly British optimism running through it, almost like they can’t believe something has succeeded.
10. PEZNT – Freedom
Croatian dance duo PEZNT describe themselves as “something like Village People but more village rather than people”, which is pretty baffling. What isn’t baffling is their new single Freedom, which is a straight up, uncomplicated, hands-in-the-air dance track.