30. Katy Perry – “Never Really Over”
I believe Katy Perry may be the only artist to appear on this list that also featured on my original one back in 2010, and in many ways this song marked a return to form after several misses in the last few years. It’s a more classic pop song, but one laced with heartbreak and modern synths, so while it does have the elements of classic Katy that were so good back in the day, it doesn’t sound too forced at the same time.
29. Nina Nesbitt – “The Best You Had”
While Lewis Capaldi might have been the Scottish musician that got the most attention this year, the one we really should have been listening to was Nina Nesbitt. Her new album shows she is perhaps the best vocal talent to have come from our shores in many years, and her songwriting is infinitely more diverse and exciting too. This one is a perfect take on the scorn of a jilted lover and the painful feeling of being hurt but still ready to go back into it if the moment came by. Try listening to this and comparing with other tunes and seeing just how incredible this performance is, and you’ll see what I mean.
28. Kygo – “Higher Love” (feat. Whitney Houston)
Having gone off the radar for a couple of year, Kygo resurfaced bringing a modern twist on this classic from the 80s. Using cover vocals from the late Whitney Houston and remastering it as a fun, upbeat dance song for the 2010s was a masterstroke – and it sounds just as fresh as anything that came out this year.
27. Jax Jones & Ella Henderson – “This Is Real”
Another excellent Jax Jones tune here, this time bringing in Ella Henderson who is a very much underrated vocal talent. There’s a fantastic contrast her between the slower and more low-key verses and the anthemic quality of the chorus, and it’s all tied together beautifully by Henderson’s vocals and Jax Jones’ talent in matching them with perfect melodies.
26. Marshmello – “Here With Me” (feat. CHVRCHES)
It’s incredibly bittersweet that this is CHVRCHES’ biggest hit so far, but on a song by a DJ whose connections to various unsavoury rappers was called out by the band and released a torrent of hate towards them. The song itself makes potent use of Lauren Mayberry’s beautiful voice, conveying the sort of angst that’s meant to be felt through the song while keeping a flavour of CHVRCHES music through a somewhat alien type of record for them.
25. Tiesto & Mabel – “God is a Dancer”
Tiesto pops up every now and again these days with very different tunes, almost unrecognisable on first listen, but he always manages to find talent and make a brilliant dance song with them. With Mabel riding the crest of her popularity, this is a nice and dark dance song that has such a good rhythm through it and is perfect for a night out.
24. Riton & Oliver Heldens – “Turn Me On” (feat. Vula)
Much like Kygo, Oliver Heldens is one of my favourite dance artists who had kind of disappeared for a few years before unleashing this on us. Teaming up with Riton, who has taken over the mantle of someone who can create amazing dance beats, they created this cracker – based on a 1980s sample but adding some power to it. I love the way the bass hits in the drop here, and the way the vocals build the tension in the lead-up to it, and can only hope this is the first of many collabs between these two.
23. John Gibbons – “A Spaceman Came Travelling” (feat. Nina Nesbitt) (2018)
This year’s sole Christmas entry comes as a cover of Chris de Burgh’s interplanetary effort from decades ago. Nina Nesbitt provides her fantastic vocals across the tune, bringing a soft lullaby quality to it, while the simple dance beat underneath brings the song to a new level. It was underrated last Christmas when it came out, but definitely one of the better “new” Xmas tunes to be released for a while.
22. Diplo – “Give Dem” (feat. Kah-Lo)
The ever-prolific Diplo released an EP earlier this year with some old-school tracks on it and this one was the pick of the bunch. Kah-Lo has been noted for her work with Riton in recent years, and here again she manages to grasp the feel of the melodies and delivers her party-starting mantra throughout the song. It may be 2019, but this song shows old-school house at its best.
21. Mark Ronson – “Find U Again” (feat. Camila Cabello)
I’m a big fan of Camila Cabello and her feature on this Mark Ronson track is so so good. The way her voice seems to quiver with the longing she’s meant to feel is so powerful, and she manages to staddle both the falsetto verses and the more melodic chorus perfectly. The song also features lots of quirky vocal changes that add further intrigue.