I’m counting down my favorite songs of 2019. This is a mostly subjective exercise based on my personal tastes, though I have taken into account things like Spotify playcounts, and songs I heard in clubs and on podcasts.
Note that I’m only including each artist once in order to share the love. There are several artists on here who could have easily been listed twice, and they will likely appear on my best albums list.
100 Ironic Sweden – “Dansmusik”
It really doesn’t get more fun than this. That swirling synthline that accompanies the propulsive beat would draw anyone to the dancefloor. The lyrics are in Swedish, so I have no idea what he’s singing. Probably something about dancing.
99 Frozen Plasma – “Foolish Dreams (SITD Pakt)”
Frozen Plasma’s “Foolish Dreams” is nearly 5 years old, so normally I wouldn’t include it. But it’s been completely remade here by SITD (who will appear later on my list) with vocals by keyboardist Tom Lesczenski, who has one of the most beautiful voices on the planet.
98 Yestergrey – “Eight or Nine”
If you’re one of those synthpop fans who thinks Depeche Mode hasn’t been the same since Alan Wilder left, Yestergrey will fill your dark electronic heart. There’s a reason why his debut album is called 1991 – it has the dark, playful tones of peak-era DM.
97 Projekt Ich – “New Dreams for Old”
Projekt Ich released a whole bunch of singles this year with different vocalists. “New Dreams for Old” is my favorite of the lot, and unknown singer Marcus Mokuso has a lovely voice that sounds a lot like Pet Shop Boys’ Neil Tennant.
96 Pet Shop Boys – “An Open Mind”
Speaking of Pet Shop Boys, Neil and Chris released an absolutely dreadful collection of songs called Agenda that is the worst thing they’ve ever recorded. They also started teasing their 14th album with 2 decent singles, but it’s B-side “An Open Mind” that captures the Boys’ synthpop magic.
95 Seaofsin – “Next Generation”
Italian synthpop band seaofsin released this very dark, very moody meditation about what’s in store for the future. The lyrics are surprisingly optimistic, which strikes a compelling contrast with the music.
94 Midnight Resistance – “Dare”
Germany’s Midnight Resistance is channeling ’80s melodies on this beautiful, emotional song called “Dare.”
93 Blaqk Audio – “The Viles”
AFI side-project Blaqk Audio goes all in on the ’80s industrial/synthpop sound. The opening drums on this catchy pop single sound like something from an early New Order or Front 242 song.
92 Cyto – “Dressed to Creep”
This guy’s voice goes down like good whiskey. Cyto is a fairly new band from Berlin, and with lyrics like “I’m dressed to creep,” this is the perfect track for getting ready to go out.
91 Iioioioii – “Crescent Blue”
Chroma, the 4th album from North Carolina’s Iioioioii, was inspired by color. Second track “Crescent Blue” captures that best with a captivating chorus and atmospheric elements, like that beautiful piano, that make it endlessly listenable.
90 Torul – “Ausverkauft”
Slovenian synthpop band Torul has been through a lot of changes, including a couple of different vocalists. On their 5th album, latest singer Maj is channeling Dave Gahan pretty hard with long, drawn out vocals (“Stay asiiiiiiiiiiiide”) that make the track feel moody.
89 The Purge – “Rain”
I had the chance to see The Purge live this year since he’s based in Virginia not far from me, and “Rain” was the standout track for me. It conjures up images of being left alone at night in the pouring rain.
88 Kiss of the Whip – “Set Yourself Aside”
Philadelphia’s Kiss of the Whip makes dark and beat-driven post-punk, but it’s this single, “Set Yourself Aside,” that goes full-on synthpop. I find the pulsating synths and dreamy vocals on this track mesmerizing.
87 Mondtraume – “All You Cannot See”
“All You Cannot See” is the opening track from Mondtraume’s latest album, Lovers, Sinners & Liars, and it does a perfect job of setting the mood to come. His vocals sound absolutely cavernous from the very first note.
86 Veil of Light – “Fact2019”
Switzerland’s Veil of Light continues to trounce all over the post-punk landscape. “Fact2019,” from this 3rd album, adds synthpop melody to his EBM-inspired beats.
85 Apoptygma Berzerk – “A Battle for the Crown”
Apop’s output is frustrating because they keep reinventing their sound. I’m not sure what you’d call their latest reinvention – it’s a welcome return to pure electronic music, but it feels very analogue with hints of synthwave. “A Battle for the Crown” is the best of the 2-track release.
84 Korine – “Uncrossed”
Philadelphia’s Korine feel like they’re on the edge of making it big. Single “Uncrossed” really exemplifies their sound – there are tinges of darkness, especially that slicing synth noise that punctuates the verses, but it’s accessible enough that it would feel right at home on a Netflix soundtrack.
83 Ruined Conflict – “Providence”
I’ve struggled to get into Ruined Conflict because of how much they sound like VNV Nation. “Providence” is a solid futurepop tune that won’t change that perception (he’s singing here about judgement day and “paths that I have taken,” well-worn VNV tropes), but at least they do the facsimile very well.
82 Aesthetic Perfection – “Saint Peter”
I have mixed feelings about the latest Aesthetic Perfection album. Some things, like the chugging guitars, just aren’t my taste, yet there’s a running theme across the album about mortality that I really dig. “Saint Peter,” literally about standing before judgement, captures that theme best and is my favorite track from the album.
81 Strvngers – “Crucifixxx”
The progressive house beat on this track is an absolute monster that would have slayed in turn-of-the-century underground dance clubs. Strvngers give it a contemporary spin with their dueling vocals and sinister electronics. It’s the best song from their 2019 album, Death Is the Only Way Out.
80 Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark – “Don’t Go”
No, I did not expect to like a new song by OMD in 2019. They’re a legacy band by now, touring on decades of hits. But they released a massive collection of all their singles from the last 40 years, and it contained 1 new track called “Don’t Go” that is a legit good song with that classic OMD vibe.
79 Solveig Matthildur – “Constantly in Love”
Solveig Matthildur creates a foreboding sense of atmosphere on “Constantly in Love,” the title track from her 2019 album. The clack-clack-clack noises ratchet up the tension, while she croons the lyrics with the style and grace of a ’20s lounge singer.
78 Covenant – “False Gods”
Covenant might be bored with their own sound. Most years, they’d be at the top of this list, but this year they experimented with field recordings, and the results are, well, experimental. Each member of the band contributed a track to what was initially a concert-only EP. The Daniel Myer-produced “False Gods” is a hard, hammering song featuring vocals from rising industrial artist Grabyourface.
77 Soft Kill (featuring Choir Boy) – “Saint”
The piercing notes that open “Saint” belie a truly beautiful synth bopper cooked up by Portland’s Soft Kill and featuring Choir Boy on vocals.
76 Alienare – “#Neon”
This song is incredibly corny and incredibly catchy. On first listen, it’s completely ridiculous that there’s a song about a social media hashtag, and yet it’s actually surprising there aren’t more.