Top Love Songs of 2019

The tunes that brought us closer in a year full of division

2019 has been an out of control, raging bin fire of a year, both politically and environmentally. As it staggers to a close, it seems like the first time many of us are actively worried about what the next year holds. But in the wake of all this wanton and catastrophic destruction of our democracies, our planet and our belief that Tarantino still makes good films, comes a glimmer of hope.

Shura - ’religion (u can lay your hands on me)’

Manchester-born, Brooklyn-based new queer icon, Shura, found love in a hopeless place this year — 10,000 ft above sea level. Although chronically fearful of flying, Shura overcame this to initiate a long distance relationship that provided the intellectual basis for her excellent record, forevher.

Lizzo — ’Cuz I Love You’

Anyone who has been at any show Lizzo has played in 2019 will tell you that it’s arguably been a fabulous year for her. After years of bubbling just below mainstream level, Lizzo’s Aretha Franklin pipes and devil-may-self-care attitude coalesced for a potent mix that took the pop world by storm.

Tyler, The Creator — ’I THINK’

It’s been pointless trying to predict what Tyler Okonoma does next for almost a decade, so it’s good to know in 2019 he still had the power to subvert expectations. IGOR, his long-overdue first #1 record saw the Odd Future’s former Parents’ Worst Nightmare pen pretty much an entire album of R&B ballads, buoyed by Neptunes-esque production. Tyler’s latest alter-ego came with the ultimate millennial twist, with an artist previously banned from the UK and NZ for homophobia essentially gliding out of the closet.

Jessie Ware — ’Adore You’

London’s Jessie Ware is no stranger to love songs; she’s written critically acclaimed albums full of them. But Ware is a club girl at heart and after years of belting torch ballads, a slew of singles in 2019 saw her returning to her first love. ‘Adore You’, which seems to flutter in atop butterfly wings, is magnificent.

Earthgang ft. Tiana Major9 — ’Collide’

Film soundtracks have provided brilliant outlets for new talent this year, even those for remakes of Disney movies that nobody actually saw. To wit, Queen and Slim, the racially-charged update of Thelma & Louise that yielded ‘Collide.’ A classic duet that recalls Motown greats like Marvin and Tammi, it’s a stunning song that has (deservedly) broken free of the soundtrack and had its own success.

Fortunes — ’Donuts’

Melbourne-via-New Zealand duo, Fortunes, have been putting out incredible white boy soul for years while their super-hyped label waits patiently for the world to pay attention. Take a shortcut with ‘Donuts’, a gorgeous ode that’s equal parts JMSN and Prince and uses the idea of burning out tyres as motivation to call over a late night lover.

Billie Eilish— ’i love you’

Not strictly a love song but more of a love lost song, this underrated deep cut from 2019 enfant terrible deserves inclusion if only because it showcases her phenomenal understanding of harmony and form at such a young age. Flanked by nothing more than her brother’s guitar (in stark opposition to the rest of her smash hit album), Billie uses her close-mic approach to build an intricate, heart-punching ballad that shows just how elastic a phrase ‘i love you’ can be.

Mahalia — ’Consistency’

Leicester’s teenage superstar took years of development to release her first album, but it was well worth the wait. Known for her sass and UK R&B jams that slam wastemen, slack exes and other nefarious lovers, this gem nestled into the back half of Mahalia’s debut is a rare number that celebrates going steady.

James Blake — ’I’ll Come Too’

The first time I heard this was at a friend’s wedding. It seemed a strange song to choose for a first dance; James Blake is someone typically associated with late-night solo session (though he’s the first to tell you he loathes that association.) But this song, from his latest record, is different. A dedication to his partner, whom he followed from England to America when she moved for a killer acting job, it’s a lovely paean to commitment in the face of fear, of ensuring long-distance relationships become that much shorter.

Wilco — ’Love Is Everywhere (Beware)’

For a while there, it seemed Wilco were incapable of writing a bad song. Certainly, they’ve survived three of four eras of music and come out sounding just as vital as ever. This period must particularly fruitful for them as individuals, for ‘Love Is Everywhere’ manages the trick of being a great love song and a relatively unassuming political statement at once.

Janelle Monae — ‘That’s Enough’

Beyonce created an entire additional Lion King soundtrack this year and didn’t manage a single song that came near to the staying power of the original. Her expensive bluster should have served as a warning for what not to do when rehashing much-loved animated flicks — keep the songs the same, stupid. Evidently, nobody told Janelle Monae, which is great for all of us because she just happens to have casually thrown a firecracker into the Disney Canon.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store