The year is almost over, so this week is dedicated to best of 2019 lists. But the internet was also filled with coverage of Trump’s impeachment, and some really lovely writing. So if this week weren’t dedicated to 2019 lists coalescing, I would have highlighted Peter Schjeldahl’s “The Art of Dying,“ “On Insomnia” by Elizabeth Gumport in This Recording, “Can monoculture survive the algorithm?” by Kyle Chayka for Vox, and Jia Tolentino’s “The Age of Instagram Face” in the New Yorker—amongst others.
Highlights from 2019: Best albums and songs, the No. 1 stories and arts and culture longreads, the New Yorker’s 25 top stories, best TV of 2019, the year in Black visual culture, best memes, and some of the weirdest websites of 2019.
1. NPR: Best Albums Of 2019
Pick of the list: Solange, When I Get Home. This album, and the video that accompany it are so fucking good. I cannot stress that enough. Plus Solange had an incredible year with performances in museums across the country.
What’s missing: James Blake’s Assume Form. James Blake is one of the few artists I can ALWAYS listen to, and I spent a lot of the year listening to his most recent album, Assume Form. It is not my favorite album of his, but I’m always happy with new music from Blake.
2. Pitchfork: The 100 Best Songs of 2019
Pick of the list: Unsurprisingly, my pick is Solange’s “Binz.” Not only is it a great song, but it is also probably the song on the list that I listened to the most this year.
What’s missing: Zsela’s “Noise,” and the video for it DEFINED my year since I first heard the song this spring. I cannot wait for her first EP or album to come out, whenever that happens. Now, I know why Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You“ isn’t on this list, BUT the song did reach No.1 on the Billboard hot 100 this week… 25 years after it was first released. The song is Carey’s 19th No. 1, the most of any solo artist.
3. Longreads: Best of 2019: All of Our No. 1 Story Picks
Pick of the list: I read “The Unthinkable Has Happened,” an excerpt from Jayson Greene’s Once More We Saw the Stars, and it still haunts. In this excerpt, Greene “recounts the tragic day his 2-year-old daughter, Greta, was struck unconscious by a brick that fell from a windowsill and rushed to the hospital.”
What’s missing: Something by Jia Tolentino. The New Yorker staff writer had an amazing year, with her debut book, Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion, almost universally praised, and published multiple great stories—which is an expectation for her.
4. Longreads: Best of 2019: Arts and Culture
Pick of the List: Longreads has some of the best year-end lists and it was hard to just include two lists here. This list has a lot of pieces I like on it, but Ashon Crawley’s “Forgotten: The Things We Lost in Kanye’s Gospel Year” is a very fascinating read about fame, religion, and responsibility.
What’s missing: One of the best pieces of writing I read all year was Ann Powers’ review of Lana Del Rey’s Norman Fucking Rockwell! Powers’ review is complex, nuanced, timely, and contextualizes NFR and Del Rey’s career within music history and larger cultural moments.
5. Longform: Best of 2019
Pick of the list: Without a doubt, my pick of this list is CJ Hauser’s “The Crane Wife,” published in The Paris Review. The essay is so good, so captivating, that I search the internet for something to read that makes me feel the way I felt when I first read it. “The Crane Wife” quickly joined a group of essays that I return almost monthly.
What’s missing: Longform has many categories of lists that represent 2019, and this list is their top stories, so I’m not sure of the metrics used for its creation. What is missing from this list are personal essays (and I couldn’t find a list of personal essays that I liked). Some of my favorite personal essays of this year, and some of the most melodic writing I read in 2019 are Susanna Kaysen’s “Bright Leaf” from n + 1, Take Me Away published in the New Inquiry and written by Elleza Kelley, and “Whiteness on the Couch” by clinical psychologist Natasha Stovall published on Longreads.
6. The New Yorker: The Top Twenty-Five New Yorker Stories of 2019
Pick of the list: I still remember reading “The Day the Dinosaurs Died.” I don’t know what it was about the story that has still stuck with me, but I remember being captivated by the story, and excited to share it with my friend who is OBSESSED with dinosaurs.
What’s missing: Now, I am again surprised that nothing by Jia Tolentino made this list, but I’m more surprised that Jiayang Fan’s profile of Constance Wu didn’t appear, seeing as it was one of the best profiles of the year.
7. The Guardian: The 50 best TV shows of 2019: The Full List
Pick of the list: Chernobyl is indubitably the best show I saw all year. I’ve watched the entire series three times. I’ll probably watch it again.
What’s missing: I LOVED the last season of Orange is the New Black. Now, as a whole TV show, I can understand why it didn’t make this list. But this last season?!?! Damn it was good.
8. Afropunk: The Year in Black Visual Culture
Pick of the list: Now I know I’m not Beyoncé’s biggest fan, but she is an AMAZING performer and Homecoming shows her talent for entertaining in spades. That shit is IMPRESSIVE.
What’s missing: I mean, honestly, a lot. For me, most notably anything from Solange, Kimberly Drew, or Rihanna, especially The Rihanna Book.
9. Pop Buzz: The best memes of 2019
Pick of the list: I’m not sure if I can pick just one favorite meme of the year. I really enjoyed “And I Ope” and the “Kombucha Girl” meme because of their sheer versatility. I see those videos popping up everywhere, and in relation to different memes all the time. I also think Lil Nas X’s Old Town Road memes and his Twitter account generally are funny as fuck.
What’s missing: I’m not sure that I would call this a meme per se, but nothing about Popeye’s Chicken Sandwich made this list. And if Twitter hyped anything this year it was that damn chicken sandwich, which I have yet to try. The other thing that is also missing from this list is the whole Art Basel banana controversy, which produced hella memes.
10. Make a Website Hub: 39 Of The Weirdest Websites On The Internet 2019
Pick of the list: I have not been to all of these websites, but I love the idea of making a list of weird websites on the internet. Of the ones I have been to, corndog.io is so mesmerizing, I get lost in it.
What’s missing: One of my favorite websites of the year is Default Filename TV, a website that plays videos uploaded to YouTube using their default filename. You can find some weird shit on the website.
*All images taken from reference articles*
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