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Top 25 Songs of 2019 (So Far)

on June 28, 2019, 12:55pm
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As our Mid-Year Report continues, today we reveal The Top 25 Songs of 2019 (So Far).

I fall into the same habit year after year. Right around the time we start rounding up contenders for our mid-year reports, I catch myself trying to figure out whether a given year has thus far been an “albums” or a “songs” year. I have no idea if that’s a distinction anyone else makes. The other determination I try to make is whether or not this year’s “anthem” has dropped yet. You know, this year’s “Royals” or “Alright” or “Freedom”, the song that’ll transcend barriers, break through demographics, and be on everyone’s lips and stuck in everyone’s heads until 2019 fades … and maybe longer. Then again, if you have to ask, it hasn’t happened yet, right?

(Read: The Top 25 Albums of 2019 (So Far))

Where am I at so far in 2019? More or less stuck. The albums I love most so far are packed with the songs I love most. That doesn’t always happen. Usually, more diamonds fall from rougher places. This year, they seem mostly clumped together. Does that make it an “albums year?” Maybe, but I’m not sure. For instance, I can’t necessarily tell you if Sharon Van Etten’s “Seventeen” is a better song than her Remind Me Tomorrow is an album. Again, maybe we’re not supposed to think this way.

But putting my idiosyncrasies aside, I do know that there isn’t a song on this list that doesn’t do something for me. Whether it’s a twerking session with Lizzo, a history lesson with Jamila Woods, or a heartbroken late-night drive with Tyler, the Creator, I never find myself pressing <skip>. And that tells me all I really need to know. Now, press <play>.

–Matt Melis
Editorial Director

Head to Consequence of Sound Radio on TuneIn to listen to all our favorite music released this year!

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25. The National – “Light Years”

I Am Easy to Find

Sounds Like: Love echoing in the insurmountable distance between two people

Key Lyric: “Everyone was lighting up in the shadows alone/ You could’ve been right there next to me, and I’d have never known”

Why It Matters: The National can break a heart like nobody’s business. As soon as Aaron Dessner’s fingers tumble over the keys on this closing track to I Am Easy to Find, the cracks start to form. Then in comes Matt Berninger, his voice an even more restrained hush than usual, and it’s like the organ just falls apart in your chest. There’s something so simple about the phrase “I will always be light years away from you” that almost feels like it’s not cerebral enough for a National cut, but it’s composed with such grace that it will make you cry like the best of their repertoire. –Ben Kaye

Song in a GIF:

Calvin and Hobbes

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24. Denzel Curry – “Ricky”

ZUU

Sounds Like: A Saturday morning cartoon set in South Florida and starring Uncle Phil

Key Lyric: “Ricky used to take me to my first shows ever/ Would only drop jewels way before they dropped cheddar”

Why It Matters: With a playful beat that slaps almost obnoxiously hard and with earnest sincerity in the lyrics, “Ricky” is the type of dichotomous rap track that would confuse the bow tie off a Fox News host. It feels grimy, the kind of dirty, noisy production that would make Laura Ingraham’s brows furrow in disgust. Though Denzel Curry practically bites through the lyrics, their homage to the advice and support of his parents make them actually rather sweet. Sure, the idea of your mom telling you to “use a rubber” is a bit shuddery, but the sentiment is profound. –Ben Kaye

Song in a GIF:

uncle phil

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23. James Blake – “Mile High”

Assume Form

Sounds Like: Looking out the window as your plane floats through a massive and hazy marshmallow cloud

Key Lyric: “Watch the fan as it spins/ In my arms, wrapped in/ Don’t know where you stop/ And where I begin”

Why It Matters: I don’t know what it’s like being a part of the “Mile High Club,” but James Blake, Travis Scott, and producer Metro Boomin sell the membership exceptionally well. The Assume Form single can be listened to with feet firmly planted on the ground, or thousands of feet above sea level, but the result is the same. You’re instantly transported to a place where slow-burning trap never sounded so sweet and yet so sad, where Blake channels Scott’s swagger and Scott manages to borrow a page from Blake’s sensitive choirboy handbook. –Lake Schatz

Song in a GIF:

James Blake - Spongebob

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22. Bruce Springsteen – “Hello Sunshine”

Western Stars

Sounds Like: The song playing in your head as you dramatically peer out of a car window in your 10-gallon hat, pretending to be in a movie or music video

Key Lyric: “Had enough of heartbreak and pain/ I had a little sweet spot for the rain/ For the rain and skies of gray/ Hello sunshine, won’t you stay?”

Why It Matters: There’s a comfort in being sad, but Bruce Springsteen is ready to break free. “Hello Sunshine” introduces us to The Boss as we’ve rarely seen him: reaching out to embrace contentedness in life and in music. A warm, pedal steel-drenched exercise in country folk’s supreme mellow, the nostalgic lead single off Springsteen’s first album in five years is a watershed moment driven by his richest song in over a decade. There are sunny days ahead for all of us if we choose to move out from underneath the rain cloud. –Irene Monokandilos

Song in a GIF:

Owen Wilson GIF

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21. Sego – “Neon Me Out”

Sego Sucks

Sounds Like: Literally getting pulled into an Instagram hole

Key Lyric: “Took my life for granted till I saw myself in pixels/ All alone and lost for words, so take a thousand pictures”

Why It Matters: Jagged bass and an absurdly beguiling explosion into the hook make “Neon Me Out” as addicting as the technological dependency it’s about. That’s the neat trick of the whole thing, as Sego make it feel somewhat ‘Gramable while simultaneously wrestling with the very concept. Even when it gets a little on-the-nose on the bridge, the criticism that is the song’s conceit feels well considered, cogent, and catchy as hell. It’s all the sort of puckish charm that’s made Sego a band to watch this year, ignoring modish rock norms while taking faddism to task. –Ben Kaye

Song in a GIF:

Sego's Gif

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20. Anderson .Paak – “Make It Better” (feat. Smokey Robinson)

Ventura

Sounds Like: A hot summer night, a bottle, a fire escape, and “The Tracks of My Tears” wafting through the alley

Key Lyric: “And it’s easier to walk away/ Than to look for what would make you stay.”

Why It Matters: It’s not like something was really broken when Anderson .Paak dropped Oxnard last year. The album just seemed slight — despite some banging singles — when caught in the long shadow cast by Malibu two years prior. Fast-forward a few months, and Ventura has made most fans forget about that temporary disappointment. Incidentally, the album that mended .Paak’s streak of excellent records features a standout all about fixing a broken relationship. With his signature drums leading the way, .Paak turns to the old-school and guest vocals of legend Smokey Robinson to help rekindle a relationship that’s all but burned out. The track is such soulful gold that it makes you wonder why Robinson and other veterans don’t get more phone calls to guest and bring the old school back. –Matt Melis

Song in a GIF:

holding hand

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19. Stella Donnelly – “Old Man”

Beware of the Dogs

Sounds Like: A pink p*ssy hat giving the middle finger to a piece-of-shit MAGA hat

Key Lyric: “Your personality traits don’t count/ If you put your dick in someone’s face”

Why It Matters: In a time when our president — a man with more sexual misconduct accusers than can be counted on three hands — proclaims the #MeToo era to be a very dangerous time for men of privilege, Stella Donnelly couldn’t bring herself to mince words. “Oh, are you scared of me old man,” she taunts on “Old Man”, adopting a sweet, angelic voice, “or are you scared of what I’ll do?” The song’s an unflinching middle finger to both perpetrators of sex crimes and those around them who rationalize away such despicable behavior. As long as moral cowardice rules the day, we need artists like Donnelly to remind these sick fucks that their days are numbered. –Matt Melis

Song in a GIF:

Stella Donnelly Gif

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18. BLACKPINK – “Kill This Love”

KILL THIS LOVE

Sounds Like: A marching band where the sousaphone is just the sound of your heart exploding

Key Lyric: “Got me all messed up, his love is my favorite/ But you plus me sadly can be dangerous”

Why It Matters: K-pop is meant to be big and bombastic at its best, and good Lord is “Kill This Love” big. Dropping right before BLACKPINK’s much publicized Coachella appearance, the track was like a siren call daring attendees to miss their performance. However, underneath all that maximalist pop is some truly masterful songwriting. The fact that it doesn’t simply crumble under the weight of all those horns is impressive enough, but listen to how the quartet dexterously hops between languages. Writing lyrics that fit together in one language is enough of a challenge, yet here English slips into Korean and back again like it’s all Esperanto. If the glory of pop music is found in how sounds weave together to create an earworm, there’s not much more glorious than “Kill This Love”. –Ben Kaye

Song in a GIF:

exploding rose

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17. Julia Jacklin – “Pressure to Party”

Crushing

Sounds Like: The song heard on repeat through your roommate’s wall during a party to which they were not invited

Key Lyric: “I know I’ve locked myself in my room/ But I’ll open up the door and try to love again soon”

Why It Matters: Sometimes, the worst kind of friends are the well-intentioned ones. That’s what Australia’s Julia Jacklin is dealing with on “Pressure to Party”, which pits her mates’ obsession with post-break-up self-care with Jacklin’s own desire to wallow just a little longer. The most vigorous track on Jacklin’s sophomore record, Crushing, also draws power from reclaiming the autonomy and agency of singledom after a period of being paired up. Though the song, like the rest of the record, feels intensely personal, it also serves as another reminder of something we could all do well to internalize: it’s okay to not be okay. –Tyler Clark

Song in a GIF:

Bored Party - Julia Jacklin

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16. Faye Webster – “Kingston”

Atlanta Millionaires Club 

Sounds Like: A sigh while floating down a lazy river with your daydreams being projected on the clouds

Key Lyric: “The day that I met you I started dreaming”

Why It Matters: Like Billie Eilish (who you also might find on this list), Faye Webster has an uncanny knack for taking a narrow musical swath and demonstrating just how much can be done in that seemingly limited space. On “Kingston”, she leans in over soft horns, beats, and pedal steel to dreamily reflect on the one she’s fallen for (or perhaps once fell for). It’s a deceptively simple song and easy to dismiss until you realize she’s gotten you to hit <repeat> again and again and you start to lose yourself in your own daydreams. –Matt Melis

Song in a GIF:

carrie brownstein

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15. Tame Impala – “Patience”

Single

Sounds Like: Going to the beach while unemployed

Key Lyric: “We’re growin’ up in stages/ And I’m runnin’ out of pages”

Why It Matters: Idleness, or the perception thereof, suits Kevin Parker; as Tame Impala, he’s produced some of the most easy-going (and easily obsessed-over) psych rock of his generation. Still. You can only float for so long before you have to come down and see what kind of distance you’ve actually covered. Parker uses his time on “Patience” to take stock and, in the process, delivers the spiritual sequel to “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards”, only one that trades hazy guitars for a beachy, house-ready piano bent on single-handedly kicking off a new Balearic revival. When the music sounds this good, why worry at all? –Tyler Clark

Song in a GIF:

Tame Impala - Patience

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14. Flying Lotus and Anderson .Paak – “More”

Flamagra

Sounds Like: A revelation after relishing three jazz club cocktails

Key Lyric: “Kinda like a dream the way it all happened/ When all the laws of attraction/ Break all the walls I was trapped in”

Why It Matters: On this Flamagra track, Flying Lotus and Anderson .Paak seek to achieve “More” out of life. FlyLo, also known as Steven Ellison, already does this on the regular, though, through his music. He’s so much more than just a wizard producer behind the boards; he’s an expert bandleader, too, curating talented guests that not only complement his music, but also help transform it into a whole different beast. Consider how .Paak’s suave signature vocals melt right into FlyLo’s zigzagging, jazzy tapestry. You almost forget the two components, on their own, are total contrasts, and yet here they are working in near harmony. Striving for “More” doesn’t always necessarily have to be about changing the world per se; count every bit of betterment — even within a song — as a win. –Lake Schatz

Song in a GIF:

Anderson Paak - GIF

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13. Solange – “Almeda”

When I Get Home

Sounds Like: A tour guide who goes off-script to give you the real experience

Key Lyric: “Black faith still can’t be washed away/ Not even in that Florida water”

Why It Matters: It’s good to have a Knowles repping your hometown, and Solange is no exception. And, of course, she does it as only a native Houstonian can. On “Almeda”, not only does Solange catalog black experience in the southwest Houston community, but she uses the language of her hometown (the chopped and screwed sounds of Houston rap) in doing so. It’s a love letter to the people and places that helped make her the person she is today, and by acknowledging Houston’s legacy, she helps secure her own. –Matt Melis

Song in a GIF:

Solange Top 25 Songs of 2019 (So Far)

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12. Little Simz – “Selfish”

GREY Area

Sounds Like: Cashing a check you know your ass earned

Key Lyric: “No validation, no applause/ You don’t have to prove you got it when you know it’s yours”

Why It Matters: Hip-hop has always gone hand-in-hand with the idea of escaping harsh circumstances. Those who overcome adversity and make it to the top of the game, in theory, earn respect. However, female British rapper Little Simz finds herself facing a double-standard on her hit track “Selfish”. After pulling herself up from a humble upbringing, she catches flack rather than praise for the new lifestyle she’s earned. Coupled with a gorgeous pop chorus by Cleo Sol, Simz reminds herself that haters are going to hate and that nobody has the right to question what she’s earned through her own sweat and creativity. If that’s being “selfish,” fuck ’em. –Matt Melis

Song in a GIF:

Little Simz

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11. Better Oblivion Community Center – “Big Black Heart”

Better Oblivion Community Center

Sounds Like: Staring into a TV’s snowy “no signal” screen with the static noise cranked up to eleven

Key Lyric: “Alright, alright for now/ I’ll wrap my head around it/ Make room for something else”

Why It Matters: There’s a sonic monster hiding in plain sight on Better Oblivion Community Center’s self-titled debut, and it’s here to make listeners swallow the toughest of pills: Love is a neurochemical con job. “Big Black Heart” is a searing melodrama about the incessant struggle between logic and emotion. In romance, everything (and everyone) is not as it seems. The track exemplifies what Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst do best: Practice sobering honesty with ourselves even when it’s soul crushing to do so. Oh, and let’s not forget the blistering and brilliant guitar work. –Irene Monokandilos

Song in a GIF:

Game of Thrones

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10. Strand of Oaks – “Weird Ways”

Eraserland

Sounds Like: A diary entry written on a Almost Famous DVD case

Key Lyric: “You said before/ It’s not as bad as it seems/ A grownup kid/ Gets to live out on his dream”

Why It Matters: Eraserland almost didn’t happen; as Timothy Showalter explained earlier this year in a letter to fans, his sixth album as Strand of Oaks came at the end of a lengthy crisis of confidence that found him mulling retirement from music altogether. Showalter works out some of his still-conflicting feelings on the matter with “Weird Ways”, the record’s lead single, which builds from a lonesome meditation on meaning and ambition into a lush rock anthem about the power of working through the numbness. –Tyler Clark

Song in a GIF:

Strand of Oaks - Sad Dog

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09. Noname – “Song 31”

Single

Sounds Like: A healthy dose of truth told without any bullshit trappings

Key Lyric: “I sell pain for profit not propaganda”

Why It Matters: Noname should already be a household name. In an era where too much popular hip-hop blurs together and artists try to push Costco-size units to boost sales, the Chicago rapper born Fatimah Warner smoothly spits pointed observational lyrics over nuanced jazz arrangements that still poke and prod the conscience after the track cuts. On “Song 31”, her first song following last year’s breakthrough full-length, Room 25, Noname deals with a number of social issues but, even more compellingly, contemplates the strange nature of the rap game where she continues to put herself out there and gains popularity as a result. Coupled with Phoelix’s crooned choruses of “truth be told/ I wear my heart on my sleeve,” rarely has socially conscious hip-hop sounded this banging. –Matt Melis

Song in a GIF:

Noname - GIF

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08. Beyoncé – “Before I Let Go”

Homecoming: The Live Album

Sounds Like: A marching band summoning the spirit of Beyoncé to compel you to dance

Key Lyric: “I pull up to Coachella/ In boots with the goose feathers/ I brought the squad with me/ Black on black bandannas”

Why It Matters: At its most basic, the idea of covering a song used to cap off a live album to cap off your own live album 38 years later is pretty savvy. And, of course, the track completely bops, but it’s Beyoncé’s choices and production that take it to genius level. The original comes from Maze’s Live in New Orleans album; Bey’s interpolates a sample from DJ Jubilee, a pioneer of New Orleans bounce music. The original soundtracked cookout dance parties for decades; Bey’s became a viral dance challenge with modern moves. Not only did she update a classic track, but she also updated its culture. Beychella was all about celebrating Black Excellence, and Beyoncé encapsulated that concept in this single track. –Ben Kaye

Song in a GIF:

Beyonce Dancing

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07. Vampire Weekend – “Harmony Hall”

Father of the Bride

Sounds Like: The peace we’re craving resonating in the reality we’re living

Key Lyric: “Anger wants a voice/ Voices wanna sing/ Singers harmonize/ ‘Til they can’t hear anything”

Why It Matters: Many are still surprised not only by Vampire Weekend’s relevance in 2019, but by their dominance. “Harmony Hall” is all the proof one needs to stop questioning their staying power and embrace it. The track is this warm, open thing that feels like it’s shaking the starch off the collars, not changing the aesthetic so much as shifting the way it’s worn. It’s also one of Ezra Koenig’s most poignant and accessible lyrical exercises; it still has all that nimble eruditeness he’s known for, only now it’s matured to understand that simplicity can be just as effective. That sort of wisdom permeates the song, making it one of the most impactful releases of the year. –Ben Kaye

Song in a GIF:

Vampire Weekend - Sun

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06. Tyler, The Creator – “EARFQUAKE”

IGOR

Sounds Like: The moment you realize she’s out the door, it’s all your fault, and nothing else matters

Key Lyric: “I just need to know what’s happening ’cause I’m for real.”

Why It Matters: A breaking heart can feel as devastating as a natural disaster in the moment. And leave it to this next-level Tyler, the Creator to coin the line “you make my earth quake” as yet one more way to say I can’t go on without you. But more so than the brilliant mix of blushing keys and distorted drums, we’re moved by the sincerity invested by Tyler and guest Charlie Wilson in that simple plea of a refrain to stay (“Don’t leave/ It’s my fault”). It’s coming from as real a place as a song can, the fear of loss as palpable as it can be. –Matt Melis

Song in a GIF:

Tyler the Creator - High Fidelity

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05. Jamila Woods – “ZORA”

LEGACY! LEGACY!

Sounds Like: Strutting out your front door in your best outfit, knowing you’re unequivocally the shit

Key Lyric: “I’m all out of fucks to give, yeah/ Fear ain’t no way to live, yeah”

Why It Matters: Support from family, friends, and partners can do wonders for one’s mental health, but if you’re not rooting for yourself to win, wading through this hellish world is always going to feel like something of an uphill battle. Chicago’s R&B queen Jamila Woods knows this all too well. She isn’t in the business of working to please or convince anyone of her self-worth or authenticity; instead, with songs such as “ZORA”, she preaches that we must first find and amplify the truth from within. Once we learn to harness our own energy, everything else will fall into place. –Lake Schatz

Song in a GIF:

Jamila - Rupaul

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04. Ariana Grande – “7 Rings”

thank you, next

Sounds Like: Rolling around in a sumptuous pile of $100 bills in slow-mo

Key Lyric: “You like my hair? Gee, thanks, just bought it/ I see it, I like, I want it, I got it”

Why It Matters: Ariana Grande walked into a Tiffany’s tipsy one night, and strutted out with one of the biggest and best songs in her already extensive catalog of hits. Being rich in cash and friendship definitely helps with creative inspiration — the single’s title is named after the seven rings she bought for herself and BFFs — but there’s a certain magic that’s born when things feel pretty OK, even for just a moment. Given the world we live in now, the idea of any sort of alignment seems like a trick, but sometimes it isn’t. Choose wisely and you can ride a tiny rush until it swells to become a full-on wave. And before you know it, you’re doing self-care like second nature, rewarding yourself with pretty things, and turning simple lines like, “You like my hair? Gee, thanks, just bought it,” into iconic, sacred pop texts. –Lake Schatz

Song in a GIF:

A Cat Rolling In Cash Top 25 Songs of 2019 (So Far)

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03. Billie Eilish – “bury a friend”

WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?

Sounds Like: A grimdark reboot of Monsters Inc.

Key Lyric: “Why aren’t you scared of me?/ Why do you care for me?/ When we all fall asleep, where do we go?”

Why It Matters: There’s a haunting going down in “bury a friend,” but Billie Eilish is no damsel in distress; she’s the monster under the goddamned bed. Built over a skittering, barely-there beat that sounds like it was programmed by an actual spider, the thesis statement of Eilish’s chart-topping debut record, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, injects a much-needed dose of spookiness into the world of pop music. It also expertly captures feelings familiar to anybody who’s ever felt like a misfit; chiefly, the oscillation between the urge to self-destruct and the fascination with/distrust of anyone who might want to get closer to the explosion. –Tyler Clark

Song in a GIF:

Addams Family

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02. Lizzo – “Juice”

Cuz I Luv You

Sounds Like: The Voice of God. Seriously

Key Lyric: “It ain’t my fault that I’m out here makin’ news/ I’m the pudding in the proof/ Gotta blame it on my juice”

Why It Matters: In this cruel, cruel world, sometimes the best bet we have at keeping our sanity intact is to cast our DMs aside, take a deep breath, and declare: “Yeah, I’m goals.” A little Lizzo coming from the speakers helps, too. Just four days into 2019, “Juice” arrived fresh-pressed, and we’ve been dancing to its decadence ever since. Cementing herself as both the Ambassador of Self-Love and the Queen of Contemporary Pop, Lizzo hit us (nicely) with an infectious, funk-filled bop we still spin regularly. She even perfected the art of making nostalgia feel original with a music video that dripped in all things ‘80s (Jane Fonda workouts! Soul Glo commercails!). What more do you want people? –Irene Monokandilos

Song in a GIF:

Lizzo - Tina

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01. Sharon Van Etten – “Seventeen”

Remind Me Tomorrow

Sounds Like: A Cameron Crowe-directed Daria sequel

Key Lyric: “Sure of what I’ve lived and have known/ I see you so uncomfortably alone/ I wish I could show you how much you’ve grown”

Why Song Matters: There’s a very certain “New York” feeling: extreme aliveness and tender loneliness. Completely electric and free, yet with hearts tethered to an ever-changing and merciless concrete jungle. The city refuses to slow down for us, years pass, and we do our very best to grow with it. Sharon Van Etten flawlessly captures this dizzying vignette of life on “Seventeen”, a thunderous ode to the living indie legend’s past life that reaches out to all of us across timelines, saying, “Hey, you’re gonna be okay.” An early contender for Song of the Year, this one shows no signs of freeing us from its New Wave clutches. –Irene Monokandilos

Song in a GIF:

Sharon Van Etten - Seventeen

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