Top 40 for 2019

One playlist for an inspiring year in music

Billie Eilish, duh

Billie Eilish, duh

Women owned 2019. Time Magazine’s year-end awards issue is dominated by females: Person of the Year Greta Thunberg, Entertainer of the Year Lizzo, and the U.S. women’s soccer team as Athlete(s) of the Year. U.S. soccer’s Megan Rapinoe is also Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year, and Lizzo and Billie Eilish ruled the Grammy nominations (eight and six, respectively). Of course, the year also featured the inspiring Squad—Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib—kicking ass in Washington as part of the record 126 female members in the 116th U.S. Congress.

During a year in which I could barely keep my head above water due to a flood of incredible musical offerings, the bulk of the songs that floated to the top were by female artists. Five of the Grammy Album of the Year candidates are by women, three of which are maybe even my favorite releases in 2019: Lizzo’s fierce and bangin’ Cuz I Love You; the menacing electro-pop of Eilish’s When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?; and Lana Del Rey’s dense and wonderful exploration of the twisted American dream, Norman Fucking Rockwell! Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker wrote two albums worth of excellent rock with perfect lyrics (U.F.O.F. and Two Hands). French/Chilean musician Ana Tijoux put out the lively “#Cacerolazo” in support of Chileans protesting economic inequality, complete with pan-banging rhythms as an homage to the racket in the streets. And Olympia, Wash., singer/songwriter Eleanor Murray’s “My Rebellion,” an under-the-radar call to self-determination, might be my song of the year: “I close my eyes and sing/This act is my rebellion/To keep my soul alive/In the wavering of times.”

The following list is just one mix of memorable tunes selected from my 2019 experiences, most (22 of the 40) sung by women. Stream the playlist on YouTube at

“Bad Guy” & “Bury a Friend” – Billie Eilish

“Cattails” & “Not” – Big Thief

“Cuz I Love You” & “Juice” – Lizzo

“Stay High” – Brittany Howard

“Alcohol” – FIDLAR

“Pub Feed” – The Chats

“Across an Open Field” – Donald Beaman

“Confessions” – Sudan Archives

“Going Norway” & “Shoulderblades” – Girl Band

“BmBmBm” & “953” – Black Midi

“Air Conditioning” – Lightning Bolt

“All My Happiness is Gone” – Purple Mountains

“Thanks for the Dance” – Leonard Cohen

“This Life” & “Harmony Hall” – Vampire Weekend

“Nice Things” – Tank and the Bangas

“Aaron” – Palehound

“#Cacerolazo” – Ana Tijoux

“Hold Me” – Wished Bone

“Run” – WASI

“My Rebellion” – Eleanor Murray

“Dylan Thomas” – Better Oblivion Community Center

“OMG” – Sampa the Great

“Who’s My Eugene?” – Tropical Fuck Storm

“Fastest Horse in Town” – Sturgill Simpson

“Gloria” – The Shivas

“Pressure to Party” – Julia Jacklin

“Drunk II” – Mannequin Pussy

“Daddy Issues” – Pip Blom

“Don’t Look Down” – … And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead

“(I Blame) Society” – Titus Andronicus

“Norman Fucking Rockwell” – Lana Del Ray

“Earfquake” - Tyler, the Creator

“Father Of All …” - Green Day

“Refugee” – John-Michael Sun