Staff Picks: Favorite Albums of 2019


Akron Beacon Journal/TNS

Hozier released his second studio album “Wasteland, Baby!” in 2019.

By The Pitt News Staff

Some of the biggest artists in the world released new albums in 2019. From pop sensation Ariana Grande to hip-hop supergroup BROCKHAMPTON, 2019 was a huge year for great music. Read our staff’s picks for the best albums of the year. 

“Fine Line” by Harry Styles // Delilah Bourque, Culture Editor 

Harry Styles was just another member of a boy band that I didn’t care for — until 2017. Styles’ 2017 eponymous album completely changed the British artist for me and catapulted him into even more ludicrous fame. “Fine Line” is a phenomenal sophomore follow-up to “Harry Styles” that explores more experimentation musically and exhibits more growth lyrically.

Of the three singles, “Adore You” stands out as an emotional, lovesick ballad. “Oh honey// I’d walk through fire for you// Just let me adore you// Like it’s the only thing I’ll ever do” Styles croons over melodic electronic music. This sets the tone for an album that captures perfectly what it feels like to be young — from the triumphs, to the mistakes, to the heartbreaks. 

Certainly, Styles has grown in the two years between albums, coming to grips with a bad breakup and spending time writing in places as close as Malibu and as exotic as Japan. “You said you cared// and you missed me too// and I’m well aware I write too many songs about you,” he sings on “Falling,” one of the album’s slower, sadder ballads. Styles writes with panache and experience, making “Fine Line” a difficult album to miss. 

“Wasteland, Baby!” by Hozier // Diana Velasquez, Staff Writer

It had been a long four years for Hozier fans. Many people only know the Irish musician from his famous song “Take Me To Church,” which went viral on Reddit in 2014, but Hozier has much more to offer. After seemingly disappearing off into the woods for a long slumber, Hozier released his second studio album “Wasteland, Baby!” in 2019. 

The album is full to bursting with Hozier’s signature enchanting lyricism, alternative rock feel and political themes a fan would come to expect. Hozier tackles climate change and the end of the world in the album’s namesake “Wasteland, Baby!” then shifts to a celebration of protest with “Nina Cried Power” featuring Mavis Staples, which earned itself a mention on Barack Obama’s Favorite Songs of 2018 list.

With “Sunlight,” Hozier sings a doomed love ballad masqueraded with a metaphor for the greek myth of Icarus. “Dinner and Diatribes” with it’s fast-paced beat and exaggerated guitar riffs provides something to dance to. Hozier’s return heralded the return of his poetic songwriting skills and, though the meaning of his songs may not be so easily concluded, what matters most is that “Wasteland, Baby!” holds just as much power and magic as any of his previous music.

“When I Get Home” by Solange // Maggie Young, Contributing Editor

This past year looked good on Solange, after she released her fourth album “When I Get Home” in March. As the title suggests, Solange gives a dreamy and devastating performance focused on her and her sister Beyonce’s hometown of Houston.

Notable tracks on the album include “Dreams,” which feels almost like a conversation with the younger version of herself living in Houston. In addition to the portraits she frames of her birthplace, Solange speaks poignantly to blackness, especially in “Almeda,” one of the longest songs on the album. With an appearance from Playboi Carti, the track moves faster than others, but serves as a haunting reminder of the importance of black culture.

The album comes in just shy of 40 minutes, which may come as a surprise after looking at the volume of tracks. With 19 gorgeous tracks of mysticism and strength, Solange solidifies her place as a black female artist who elegantly and powerfully embraces both identities.

“The Center Won’t Hold” by Sleater-Kinney // Charlie Taylor, Senior Staff Writer

The iconic riot grrrl group Sleater-Kinney released its ninth studio album “The Center Won’t Hold” this year, rekindling the feminist angst they brought to the music scene in the late ’90s and early 2000s in an unprecedentedly polished manner.

The album starts with industrial sounds and edgy lyrics in the titular track “The Center Won’t Hold,” and while political rage is present in much of the album, the band’s sound is less messy than their earlier work. Haunting vocals mix with melancholy beats in songs like “Ruins” while minimalist, uncompromising lyrics — “Eat the weak and devour the sane// From our bones are new monsters made”— keep some facet of Sleater-Kinney’s old sound alive. 

Punk, with its visceral outward expression of anti-establishment rage, is associated with youth and masculinity, and there’s something inherently radical in a band comprised of middle-aged women singing about their confusion and anger, even if they’ve mellowed out a little over the years. The album closes with the ballad-like “Broken,” which recalls the #MeToo movement and proves that Sleater-Kinney’s old anger and new existentialist tendencies found a perfect place in the social landscape of 2019.

“Cuz I Love You” by Lizzo // Elizabeth Donnelly, Senior Staff Writer

I’ve been a fan of Lizzo ever since my friend showed me her song “Good as Hell” in fall 2018. Over the course of the past year, Lizzo has become a token household name, and there is a very good explanation why. She released her first studio album, “Cuz I Love You,” in April, where it was met with incredible success. “Cuz I Love You” combines slow love ballads with energetic hip hop songs, throwing a sprinkle of funk and rock into the mix. This album is the perfect choice for anyone who appreciates variation within their music experience.

Her hit single “Juice” is about female empowerment and knowing your worth. With lyrics like “If I’m shinin’, everybody gonna shine // I was born like this, don’t even gotta try,” it’s hard not to dance along with or sing your heart out to this confident bop.

Even other celebrities have become Lizzo fans, like Harry Styles, who covered “Juice” during his time in the Live Lounge for BBC Radio. It’s no secret that Lizzo is a force to be reckoned with. With a timeless style and powerful messages, “Cuz I Love You” is the album that keeps on giving.