Following Stormzy's run up the charts, 2019 proved to be a banner year for British hip-hop with a trio of masterpieces. America's myriad hip-hop scenes delivered the goods, and African rap gave us many stellar releases.
As the dominance of guitar rock has faded among indie-leaning audiences, there has also been a spreading into the mainstream of sounds that would have been easily described as indie-pop a decade ago. Indie-pop styles show up in TV commercials, Hollywood movie soundtracks, and within mainstream pop and country hits.
Electronic music is a huge tent with so many diverse approaches, and it's more international than ever with producers around the globe pushing music forward. The year's best albums featured returns from established talents, as well as ground-breaking newcomers, and a host of women changing the old boy's club of electronic music.
From bubbly, perky synthpop to the deepest of darkwave, electropop in 2019 reflected the general malaise by forging the brightest of pop to forget the bad times on the one hand, and embracing downtempo textures and moods on the other.
In an age when the personal is political feels as necessary as ever, we identify most with experimenters who transcend the throwing-shit-at-a-wall, banging-on-pots-and-cans approach. These artists occupy the earthly just as much as they occupy the mechanical and the celestial.
The year in R&B and soul brought brilliant returns from music legends alongside artists pushing the boundaries of R&B past any limits. It's a genre where retro and futurism nestle cozily side by side. Here are the 15 best.
Our Best 20 Americana albums of 2019 are a multicultural, polysexual, cross-genre lineup of cool Americana music that, as with the best parts of the American promise, pays tribute to the musical wells from which they spring but also takes the artform wherever their rugged individualism and talent-rich hearts lead them.
Folk in 2019 is an image of inclusivity and unity in the face of international political upheaval. It's most captivating in its moments of sheer, heart-bearing authenticity and ensnares with new musical bearings introduced by some of its foremost innovators and newcomers to the scene.