Some years stand out for the bangers they produced, for the adrenaline-shot belters that shook festivals and club floors night after night, and never felt overplayed. While 2019 had no shortage of those, this year will be more easily remembered for its albums.
From experimental masterpieces to punchy dancefloor efforts, 2019 was a year that saw deeply personal and boldly political work come to the fore in the long-player format. As we noted in our albums of the decade round up, turbulent times have found many artists making increasingly vigorous socio-political work, while others have found new ways of making introspective works with electronic instruments, and even Artificial Intelligence. 2019 found these themes coalescing masterfully on more than one occasion, and pointed to an electronic and dance music landscape that is more emotionally open, and politically engaged, than it has been in a long time.
It also marked a landmark year for UK rap and grime, with artists like slowthai, Dave, Kano and Little Simz releasing albums that further solidified the genres’ status as the most vital in the world right now. Dave’s album ‘Psychodrama’ won the Mercury Prize in September, against competition from indie giants, whilst Kano played a sold-out show at London’s Royal Albert Hall in October. Of the younger artists coming through, slowthai was nominated for the Mercury Prize for his acerbic debut full-length proper, ‘Nothing Great About Britain’, yet another testament to the engaged and unwavering energy that defined electronic music across the board in 2019.
As we look into 2020 and beyond, with no end to the turbulence in sight, the value of that energy cannot be understated. Below, you’ll find DJ Mag’s Top 50 albums of the year. These LPs not only defined the past year in electronic and dance music, but will continue to inspire and invigorate as a new decade begins.