December 30, 2019
Grime came of age, a different kind of female pop performer cracked the charts and Chinese video-sharing app TikTok revolutionised the way fans engaged with the stars
Kitty Empire’s best pop and rock of 2019
Sometimes pop moves glacially slowly. In the early 00s, a new kind of punk emerged in London: fast, angry, uncouth – but made by black Britons, so gatekeepers didn’t recognise it as an asset. Twenty years later, in 2019, grime has come gloriously of age: Stormzy is a national treasure, with a landmark Glastonbury headline slot and great second album, just out. At least half a dozen more outstanding grime LPs were released this year, with a deserved Mercury prize win for Dave, and Kano in particular providing a novelistic, emotional, mature spin on a genre that refused to die.
Sometimes, though, pop moves fast. When Billie Eilish – just 15 at the time – released her debut EP in 2017, few could have predicted that the Los Angeles teenager would end the decade slouching proprietorially over a seriously disrupted pop landscape. In a year when the sainted Ariana Grande and a resurgent, LGBTQ+-positive Taylor Swift both released strong albums – Thank U, Next and Lover, respectively – this entirely different kind of solo female singer scooped the honours.
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