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Inside Music (Dec 26th, 2019)

What better way to take a look back at the year in music than to round up all the most prominent best albums of the year lists? These different lists serve as a reminder of the music that soundtracked this year, as well as a way to dig in and discover new music you may have completely missed at the time.

Lana Del Rey, Ariana Grande, Bon Iver, and Tyler The Creator all had a massive presence across these lists and found to be favorites with critics. Ultimately though, it seems like 2019 was the year of Billie Eilish. It’s not just 2019 though, you can expect to hear a lot more from her in 2020 as new projects from her begin to come to fruition soon.

In terms of music products released in 2019, there are a handful that stand out from the pack. Wi-Fi speaker company, Sonos released speakers in partnership with Ikea that finally gave it a $99 starting price. It also broke away from Wi-Fi with the Move speaker that includes Bluetooth to create a completely portable high-end speaker. Spotify released a radio-like app called Stations. Plus, Apple’s AirPods Pro delivered noise canceling in a consumer-favorite earbud design.

Also notable from the year, Apple Music came to the web-accessible from any browser, Jay Z’s songs returned to Spotify, and Marshmallow performed inside Fortnite.

– Tyler

1. To kick things off with music lists, here’s my top 10 albums of 2019. My musical tastes lean more toward indie rock, folk, pop, and everything in between those. Above all, I’m listening for an ear-worm melody which all these albums have in common. If you don’t recognize the artist, be sure to give them a listen.

As for my top pick, Leif Vollebekk put out two solid folk albums before “New Ways,” but this time he finally hit on a formula of raw emotion and passion in songs that mostly have tempos to suit any circumstance. Each song is unique and interesting, without being overly complex.

2. The listener-generated list from NPR found favor with the most notable names from 2019. Taylor Swift, Lizzo, Maggie Rogers, Carly Rae Jepsen, and others that didn’t appear as frequently on other sites' lists showed up here in force. — NPR LISTENER POLL

3. For its official end-of-year list, NPR included fewer pop albums and more genre diversity. Lead singer of Alabama Shakes, Brittany Howard's solo album made plenty of lists, but here it took the top spot. — NPR

4. At number one, Lana Del Rey's "Norman F****** Rockwell!" is not a surprise as it was a favorite among critics. Among the public though, it seemed a bit more polarizing and either really connected with people, or really didn't. — PITCHFORK

5. Stereogum also had Lana Del Rey's album at number one and included Big Thief's album, "U.F.O.F." in the top five.STEREOGUM

6. Billboard's staff picks landed on Ariana Grande's "Thank U, Next" as its top album. Taylor Swift's "Lover" and Billie Eilish's "When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?" rounded out the top three of the list. — BILLBOARD

7. Wilco, Solange, and Vampire Weekend, come in at 1, 2, and 3, respectively at the top of Vulture's list of best albums.VULTURE

8. NME has one of the more diverse year-end lists. It includes plenty of popular and lesser-known names as well as a mix of genres. There’s no surprise with the top pick, however.NME

9. Vice decided to list out 100 albums and, to give you a sense of the order, it put Vampire Weekend at 99 and 100 GECs 2019 album at number one. VICE

10. For those looking for a more rock-filled list, Revolver delivers. It also picks Tool's new album as its number one — an album that didn’t show up on many other lists despite making plenty of news on its release. REVOLVER

11. Paste has an eclectic list, as usual, so you should find yourself nodding along at least a little as you scroll through the 50 picks. Weyes Blood's "Titanic Rising" comes in at number one. PASTE

12. GQ doesn't number its 21 album picks for best of the year. But if you make it to the bottom of the list, you'll find Miranda Lambert's "Wildcard" in the top spot. GQ

13. Slate decided to list its 10 picks in alphabetical order for some reason and the list includes the usual suspects. A few notable picks include Sleater-Kinney and Purple Mountain. — SLATE

14. One of the few to include Jenny Lewis’ “On the Line,” The Ringer also highly ranked Megan Thee Stallion’s “Fever” at its No. 2 spot. THE RINGER

15. Ranking very high, Sharon Van Etten's "Remind Me Tomorrow" comes in at No. 2 on CoS's top 50 albums of 2019. The top spot won't be a surprise, however. — CONSEQUENCE OF SOUND

16. Another all-around favorite this year among critics was "Magdalene" from FKA twigs. The record took Time's top spot on its top 10 albums. — TIME

17. Variety had three top 10 lists from its writers. All the lists vary enough to stay interesting, including this call out for Sabrina Claudio's “Truth Is” coming in at a top-five spot. — VARIETY

18. A highlight of Esquire’s list includes The Highwomen’s self-titled release. If you don’t know the name, the country supergroup includes Maren Morris, Brandi Carlile, Amanda Shires, and Natalie Hemby. — ESQUIRE

19. Despite the site name, Popmatter’s top 70 albums aren’t all pop. Their selections include some deep cuts you might not see on other lists. — POPMATTERS

20. There’s no numbering on The Atlantic’s list, either. But it’s presumably top spot went to Bad Bunny’s “X 100pre” which technically came out on Dec. 24, 2018. — THE ATLANTIC

Tyler Hayes is a writer and early adopter in both music and technology. He's based in California and has contributed to Fast Company, BuzzFeed, and Billboard, among others. You can reach out at @TylerH.

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