2019 was a fun year in music with tons of surprises. Here is my annual recap of the music scene (from an Event DJ’s perspective). By the way, I recently put a 2 hour mix together of songs that were popular in 2019. You can click here if you’d like to hear it while you enjoy this blog.
Lizzo Is The Artist of the Year. Though she’s been making music for almost a decade now, 2019 was definitely her breakout year. And what a breakout it was. Her songs “Truth Hurts,” “Juice” and “Good as Hell” all became dance floor fillers as well as female anthems. I suspect I’ll be playing “Truth Hurts” for many years now and I’m excited to see what this artist from Minneapolis produces next (I happen to love artists from Minneapolis, in case you hadn’t heard) and if I were handing out an Artist of the Year award, it would go to her.
Rap Meets Country. This was the year that hip hop artists decided to add a little country to their sound and in a few noteworthy cases, it went over extremely well. “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X (Once Billy Ray Cyrus was added to the track) had the longest run of any song ever at #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart and Blanco Brown’s “The Git Up” also made some noise on the charts (propelled by a line dance that I’m still trying to master.) Are these outliers or is “Country Rap” here to stay? I guess we’ll all find out in 2020.
Ed Sheeran Can Do No Wrong. Sheeran has given us some incredible songs in the last few years and 2019 saw him release an album called No.6 Collaboration Project which featured collaborations (hence the title) with artists as diverse as Justin Bieber, Cardi B and Bruno Mars. Though nothing off the album has had a huge impact on my dance floor, I have enjoyed dropping a few of these songs in during cocktail hour or dinner at some of my events.
Introducing Billie Eilish. I spent a day this summer with my friend Marcello and his 10 year old daughter Isabella and she sang “Bad Guy” the entire day (“duh”) The impact that Billie Eilish has had on pop music and pop culture cannot be understated. She’s the first of her generation to become a breakout star and it’s only the beginning for her and for other artists her age (and even younger.)
Dan + Shay have emerged as the best country artists for DJs. I first heard of them 3 years ago when their song “From the Ground Up” started becoming a popular first dance. This year, “Speechless” joined that list. And “Tequila” and “10,000 Hours” have also become fun sing along songs to add to my playlist.
Bradley Cooper Can Sing?!?!? I loved the newest version of A Star is Born but to me the biggest surprise was that Bradley Cooper can actually sing. And though his duet with Lady Gaga, “Shallow” is a bit too mellow for parties, I did get my hands on a few remixes that made it actually danceable.
“Senorita” Wins the Award for Sexiest Song of the Year. Not that that’s a category that The Grammys honors (although it should be) but if it were, the Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello duet would win in a landslide. “Senorita” downright sizzles and it makes for a great song to kick off a dance set.
Even In an Off Year, Drake Is Still Relevant. 2018 saw Drake dominate the charts so it was only natural we’d hear a little less from his this year. But the Chris Brown song “No Guidance” (which features Drake) still reached the Top 10 and “Gold Roses” (Rick Ross, featuring Drake) broke the Top 40. Not bad for an off year for one of the most successful artists in the world.
Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande Exert Their Female Power. 2019 saw both of these artists continue to rule the charts with songs that profess their power and independence. There aren’t many artists who have hits with every single release, but Swift and Grande are two of them. And whether it was Grande telling us about her “favorite things” or Swift reminding us that we’ll never find another like her, they both seemed determined to prove their power and dominance. Mission accomplished!
Newsflash: New Millennium Music is Now Retro. As a decade comes to a close it’s important to remember that the turn of the millennium (remember when Y2K was supposed to end civilization as we knew it?) is now 20 years ago and as such, the music from that era is now “retro.” As a DJ, that simply means it’s back in vogue. I played more songs by The Killers, Jimmy Eat World and Fall Out Boy then I did even back when they were popular. “What goes around comes around” isn’t just a tired old cliche. It’s a fact of life for event DJs. And what’s coming back around is post millennium “Pop/Punk” music and I’m loving it!
Post Malone May Have Produced the Most Danceable Pop Song of 2019. I happen to think “Circles” by Post Malone (who prior to 2019 was known more for his trap and hip hop sound) is as catchy a pop/dance song as anything released in 2019. I don’t know if it’ll have any staying power but right now it’s one of my most played newer songs and at 120 beats per minute, it fits in with a ton of other great dance music.
I’ve Come Around to the Jonas Brothers. Prior to 2019 I just chalked them up to another inane pop band. But this year we saw their maturation with songs like “Sucker” and “Only Human” and now I’m excited to see what these fellow Jerseyites produce next.
Maroon 5’s “Memories” Will Be a Tribute Song For Years to Come. I happen to love the hook on this song and the message as well. And I can see it being used in many, many tribute videos. It’s all about remembering the people who have passed before us. But instead of being sad, trying to enjoy those memories. That’s a pretty cool message not just for loved ones but also when a year is ending and a decade is wrapping up. “So as the one says: Everything gonna be alright. Go and raise a glass and say, aye” Happy New Year!