100 best synthpop songs of 2019: 100 to 76
75 Kite – “Tranås/Stenslanda”
Swedish synthpop gods Kite returned in 2019 from a brief hiatus with a new song awash in hazy atmospheres. The title refers to the two villages in Sweden that Kite members Nicklas and Christian grew up in. I’m extremely happy to have these guys back and looking forward to more new music in 2020.
74 Uncreated – “Not Your Soldier”
Uncreated is Patrick Hansson of Vanguard (who will also appear on this list). He sings unbelievably catchy choruses that often remind me of Mark Hockings from Mesh.
73 ionnalee – “Open Sea”
Swedish musician Jonna Lee has gone by many monikers, including iamamiwhoami, but her current incarnation is ionnalee. The project’s second album, Remember the Future, contained this spacey single that morphs several times throughout.
72 Harmjoy – “We Could Go On”
There are several great tracks on Harmjoy’s latest album, Iron Curtain, Velvet Glove. But first single “We Could Go On” contains breathy emotions stacked on top of twinkling synths that give it an emotionally epic quality.
71 SYZYGYX – “In Pieces”
SYZYGYX is one of a handful of bands who released 2 albums in 2019, so it was hard picking a favorite track. “In Pieces” was the highlight of January release, Is That All There Is (for the record, “Ultra Doll” is the highlight of their latest, Fading Bodies). Like Boy Harsher, they combine elements of body music with drawling, female vocals, but SYZYGYX ramps up the energy with high-tempo beats and pulsating electronics.
70 The Weeknd – “Blinding Lights”
I’m familiar with The Weeknd’s work with Daft Punk, but his style of alternative R&B just isn’t my thing. So I was shocked to hear him release an ’80s-inspired synthpop jam that sparkles as bright as this one does.
69 In Good Faith – “Not What I Wanted”
German electronic band In Good Faith give us this catchy, fast-paced dance track, but pay close attention to the lyrics. They’re incredibly painful: “This is not my life anymore.” There’s also a Frozen Plasma remix of this song that is fantastic futurepop.
68 A Spell Inside – “Break”
A Spell Inside have been making synthpop for more than 2 decades, but they never sound dated. On the uptempo dancefloor track, “Break,” they find a nice place between synthpop and contemporary futurepop, with vocals that feel aggressive but not overbearing.
67 Logic & Olivia – “The Diamonds and the Slaves”
There’s a lot of this and that going on here. Logic and Olivia. Diamonds and slaves. Classic and modern. The German synthpop band make great work combining disparate sources like the swirling synth noises and the classic-sounding piano line in this dreamy, atmospheric song.
66 Hante. – “Tomorrow Is a New Day”
There’s a moment in “Tomorrow Is a New Day” around the 2:45 mark where Hante absolutely wails the chorus. It’s hypnotic. And an exquisite example of the unique sounds and unbelievable talent she brings to dark synth music.
65 Kanga – “Burn”
Kanga’s debut album is an outstanding collection of electro-industrial tunes, but one of its chief criticisms was that it sounded a bit too much like NIN. Follow-up EP Eternal Daughter steered her in a more synthpop direction without losing any bite. On standout song “Burn,” she seems to be saying just that: “We burn it down and start again.”
64 Loewenhertz – “Truth In Me”
German synthpop duo Loewenhertz released their third album in October, “Traumfaenger” (which translates to dreamcatcher). “Truth in Me” is the album’s highlight, a classic-sounding synthpop tune with gorgeous, breathy vocals.
63 Unitcode:Machine – “This Truth”
On Facebook, Unitcode:Machine describes his music as industrial-ish. That couldn’t be more apt. Like many of the artists on this list, he’s picking apart multiple genres that arose from industrial and blending them into vibrant new sounds. “This Truth” felt like instant classic the first time I heard it and has a chrous that does not hold anything back: “They’ll drag you out, line you up, and gun you down.”
62 Kontravoid – “Too Deep”
Masked artist Kontravoid is the master of modern body music. On his second album, Too Deep, he piles on layers of percussion and pulsing electro noises. “Turn Away” is a throbbing floor stomper for the clubs, but I am drawn to his softer moments, like the title track that features a pure synthpop melody.
61 Accessory – “No Man Covers”
I am not sure what this song is about. Maybe Accessory just don’t like seeing Brad Pitt or Chris Hemsworth on the covers of magazines? In any case, the single-word verses (“Lovers. Prayers. Sinners. Strangers. Haters. Rockers.”) are catchy as hell and it has a bomb beat to dance to.
60 Faderhead – “Watching the Watchers”
Faderhead has come a long way. He’s fairly introspective on his latest album, Asteria, and on standout track “Watching the Watchers” he’s even a bit political. The opening sample about the surveillance state is from former President Obama, and it fits in nicely with the album’s theme about how people perceive him.
59 My Love Kills – “Love Is Suffering”
My Love Kills is a new band made up of members of Ad Inferna and Erotic Elk, and you can hear their various styles come together in their first song, “Love Is Suffering.” Thumping electro beats meet industrial percussion meet synthpop melodies meet darkwave vocals.
58 Scheuber – “Smoker”
“Smoker” starts off with strums from an acoustic guitar and quickly evolves into a synthpop gem that offers a number of compelling changes across its run time. It may not have the hookiest chorus, but Scheuber’s lyrics feature some clever wordplay: “I’m sick and tired of ranting and raving, I’m tired and sick of wanting and craving.”
57 Sea of Sin – “Unspoken Words”
This is the other Sea of Sin on my list. They hail from Germany, and this year they released a collection of pure synthpop called Unbroken. I quite like “Contamination,” but “Unspoken Words” is a mid-tempo track that captures the melancholy tone I find really beautiful in synthpop tunes.
56 Lizette Lizette – “Non”
Sweden may be the best represented country on my list, so it can be hard to keep up with all the great music originating there. Lizette Lizette stands out for their honesty and their commitment to queerbody music. The shimmering, electro beauty “Non” has become an anthem for people who identify beyond the gender binary.
55 Dark-o-matic – “Make Me Blue”
“Make Me Blue” was the second single from brand new synthpop band Dark-o-matic, and it features a beautiful, playful melody. But that sexy voice is Dark-o-matic’s secret weapon.
54 HA[A]RP – “Hold Me”
What an absolutely stunning song. HA[A]RP formed just last year in Germany, and they already have my attention. The synths feel like they belong is a big, open room, while the lyrics just seep into your emotions.
53 JanRevolution – “Chasing Through the Night”
Something feels very top secret about this electro song from Germany’s JanRevolution, like it belongs in a spy movie. It makes me want to drive my car very fast in the dark and sing along as loud as I can.
52 POS.:2 – “Electropop”
This ode to our music is quite possibly the biggest earworm on the list. Just one listen and you won’t be able to get these words out of your head: “And we can never stop dancing to electropop.” Story of my life.
51 Rotersand – “You Know Nothing”
My immediate reaction to hearing “You Know Nothing” was WTF? It sounds like Rotersand recorded horns from a Renaissance Festival and then rap-sang some strange lyrics about social media. And it gets even weirder with the “OFF-ON OFF-ON” refrain. Unexpectedly, it all grew on me, and yes, it jams in a club. Big props to the Roter guys for trying something completely different.