The Top Ten Best Hit Songs of 2019

The Top Ten Best Hit Songs of 2019 - Part One.jpg

The Top Ten Best Hit Songs of 2019 - Part Two.jpg

Date Aired
January 16, 2020
Running Time
17:21 (Part 1)
18:26 (Part 2)
Previous review
Next review

Introduction[edit | edit source]

Todd plays Khalid - "Talk"[1] on piano


A year-end review

Todd: Aw, man. Remember the 2010s?

Montage clips of events from 2010s

Todd (VO): What an absolutely insane decade. And many bad things happened in it. But...uh, this decade is also not off to a great start. I kinda miss the 2010s already.

Todd: But honestly, 2019 didn't feel like the end of the decade; it felt like the beginning of something else.

Montage clips of Lizzo - "Truth Hurts"[2]; Billie Eilish - "Bury a Friend"[3]; Lil Nas X - "Panini"[4]

Todd (VO): It might be because the big names of the year were all new artists, but it was one of the freshest and most exciting years I can remember in pop music. It-it felt like one of...pop music's big inflection points, like 1992 or 1977 where everything changes.

Todd: And not only was this one of the most exciting years I've covered in music, it was also one of the best!

Montage clips of Taylor Swift - "You Need to Calm Down"[5]; Ariana Grande - "7 Rings"[6]; Lil Nas X ft. Billy Cyrus - "Old Town Road"[7]; Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello - "Señorita"[8]; Jonas Brothers - "Sucker"[9]; Post Malone - "Circles"[10]

Todd (VO): Like, I've had years where the pop charts just do not interest me at all. Some years it's hard to fill out the best list. This year it was hard to make cuts. I really love this list, and it was all really tight. #8 could have been #2; any of them would have placed pretty high in weaker years.

Todd: And the year isn't really over until I release this list, right? So let's put a button on it. We're counting down...

Clip from DylanGLC's "Happy", which serves as the interlude throughout the countdown

Todd (VO): The Top Ten Best Hit Songs of 2019!

#10[edit | edit source]

Todd (VO): #10.

Clip of Taylor Swift ft. Brendon Urie - "ME!"[11]

Taylor Swift: Me-e-e

Brendon Urie: Hey kids!

Taylor: Spelling is fun!

Todd: Huh. Okay. So, um...

Todd (VO): ...around the time this fucking thing broke, I predicted that Brendon Urie would become the new [image of...] Adam Levine.

Todd: I've had time to swish that thought around in my brain, and, uh...I've come up with a better comparison.

Video for Panic! at the Disco - "High Hopes"[12]

Todd (VO): Panic! at the Disco is the new [image of Rivers Cuomo] Weezer, [clip of live performance of Weezer - "Africa"] in that their stuff clearly became a lot sillier at some point, and we idiot music nerds are doomed to have endless debates about whether they're still good or not.

Todd: As with Weezer, I adopted [arrow pointed at Todd with text: "Centrist Scum"] obnoxious middle ground.

Todd (VO): "High Hopes", I still think that song's terrible. Lyrics are boring, and the sound never really comes together. [clip of...wait for it...] But, uh... I liked that other single.

Todd: [shrugs] I guess I was ready for the sequel.

#10. Panic! at the Disco - "Hey Look Ma, I Made It"[13]

Brendon: Hey look ma, I made it

Hey look ma, I made it

Todd: Unlike "High Hopes", I liked this one right away.

Todd (VO): But, it was listening to the whole album that brought me around on Panic! at the Disco as they entered their new...

Todd: ...complete and total selling-out phase of their careers.

Clip of live performance of "Hey Look Ma, I Made It"

Todd (VO): Much like Weezer, Urie threw himself into it like, "You know what, fuck it. If this is what we're gonna do, let's go whole hog."

Brendon: Then they celebrate my medals

Or they wanna take my trophies

What the fuck is this?!

Todd: Like, imagine explaining [image of two...] to any eye-linered Hot Topic kid in 2006...

Todd (VO): ...that their favorite emo band would end up a cheesy lounge act.

Todd: But Panic! was always kinda self...

Video for Panic! at the Disco - "I Write Sins Not Tragedies"

Todd (VO): ...consciously artificial, so it's not as weird a transition as you might think.

Clip of "Hey Look Ma, I Made It"

Brendon: Are you ready for the sequel?

There's a lot of Cobra Starship energy to new Panic! All the glittery glitz and glamour, but at a weird angle. Like, it knows how silly this all is, and it leans into it.

Todd: And "Hey Look Ma, I Made It" is the most explicit song on the album because it's literally about selling out.

Brendon: 'Cause I'm a hooker sellin' songs

And my pimp's a record label

Todd (VO): As proud as he is of his success, he also sounds ambivalent that he made it in such a worthless bullshit arena as popular music.

Todd: And as someone who's making it in an even [shot of YouTube logo] more bullshit arena, I'm all into it.

Todd (VO): And it's that kind of energy and honesty that makes me feel like no matter how far Panic! at the Disco gets from its roots and how pop it goes, maybe Urie will retain enough self-awareness and personality to...

Todd: ...not be Adam Levine. We can only hope.

Brendon: ...look ma, I made it


#9[edit | edit source]

Todd (VO): #9.

Todd: Back at the start of this decade, I was still working part-time as [image of...] a substitute teacher...I guess you can call in the inner city.

Video for Coolio ft. LV - "Gangsta's Paradise"

Todd (VO): I was like Michelle Pfeiffer molding vulnerable, innocent...

Todd: Yeah, no. I handed out worksheets and I tried not to look [image of sleeping teacher] too hung over. But I had one very distinct musical memory from this time. These... [image of...] these three little 4th-grade girls singing a song. This one particular song.

Clip from Hannah Montana: The Movie

Miley Stewart (Miley Cyrus): If you guys don't mind...I'm gonna add a little hip-hop to this hoedown.

Pop it, lock it, polka-dot it

Countrify then hip-hop it

Todd (VO): Yup. Hannah Montana's "Hoedown Throwdown".

Todd: My point is, the Cyruses have been seeding the ground for this moment for a long time.

#9. Lil Nas X ft. Billy Ray Cyrus - "Old Town Road"

Lil Nas X: I got the horses in the back

Horse tack is attached

Todd (VO): Okay, maybe it's a stretch to credit Miley Cyrus for "Old Town Road", but...

Todd: ...look at it.

Clip of "Hoedown Throwdown"

Todd (VO): Hannah Montana is out there teaching a whole generation of kids to mix rap and country. [clip of "Old Town Road"] Nine years later, the now grown kid behind the biggest country rap song of all time, [image of Billy Ray Cyrus on the set of Hannah Montana with Miley] handpicks Hannah Montana's father to put it over the top. [clip of SNL performance of "Sucker" by...] Combine that with the Jonas Brothers comeback...

Todd: ...the shock waves from 2000s Disney are gonna keep reverberating. Who knows what the effects are gonna be.

Clip of "Old Town Road"

Lil Nas X: I'm gonna take my horse to the old town road

Todd (VO): So, what do we do now? Now that "Old Town Road" is officially the [shot of article: "Old Town Road Breaks Record For Most Weeks At #1"] biggest song in pop history?

Todd: Where do we go from here?

Video for...

Todd (VO): Will it turn out to be like Cee-Lo's "Fuck You", a novelty song we all thought was gonna be more important than it was, and later we'll all be like...

Todd: ..."Wait. [side-by-side images of Cardi B and Solange Knowles...] Why are we all wearing chaps in 2019"? Or is this in fact the game-changer everyone thinks it is?

Video for "Old Town Road"

Todd (VO): Maybe it is the next "Royals" or "Despacito". I don't know.

Todd: This is relatively low on the list because it took me a long time to get on the horse-drawn bandwagon.

Todd (VO): I'm still a little suspicious of it, and kind of sympathetic to anyone who never took to it, like...

Todd: ...what an obnoxious year this must've been for them.

Todd (VO): And the "Old Town Road" outrage and discourse was just...miserable to be involved with.

Todd: For what it's worth, the whole idea that there was gonna be some kind of racist backlash against it...I think it was really overstated.

Todd (VO): I-I'm sure there's at least a little, but in my experience, white people like it when black people like the things they like. And the country fandom, old, young, whatever, they seem to be pretty okay with it. It's just a hard song for anyone to not enjoy.

Todd: And yeah, there's a part of me that still doesn't quite believe the hype, but...

Todd (VO): ...fuck it. I just decided to let the masses sweep me away on this one. I love that pop music is just this amazingly insane and unpredictable...

Todd: ...where a silly song like this can be imbued with so much importance.

Todd (VO): Plus it has one of the most killer choruses ever written. And when that beat drops for Billy Ray's verse, and then it comes back in...

Billy Ray Cyrus: ...Maserati sports car

Got no stress...


Todd: Greatest two seconds of the year.

Billy Ray: I'm like a Marlboro Man so I kick on back

Todd (VO): There's just something magical about this whole phenomenon. Some accidental genius we'll never see again.

Todd: Nashville is now trying to reverse-engineer Lil Nas X's success.

Clip of Blanco Brown - "The Git Up"

Blanco Brown: Do the two-step, then cowboy boogie

Grab your sweetheart and spin out with 'em

Todd: [shaking his head] Mmm, no. It's not the same thing.

Video for "Old Town Road"

Todd (VO): Will we see Lil Nas X in 2020?

Todd: We'll see. But 2019 will always be his before it's anyone else's.

Video ends


#8[edit | edit source]

Todd (VO): #8.

Clip of Saweetie - "My Type"[14]

Saweetie: Bust down wrist, not a bust down bitch

Todd (VO): One of the big stories of music 2019 was [screenshot of Revolt article: "2019 was a Golden Year for Women in Rap"] the explosion of female rappers. [clips of Nicki Minaj - "Anaconda"...] For years, the only woman in the game was Nicki, and [...and Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX - "Fancy"] for a brief period, Iggy, which I think we all regret.

Todd: Other than that, it was a total sausage-fest.

Video for Cardi B - "Bodak Yellow"

Todd (VO): Once Cardi arrived it was, you know, thank God, a challenger for the title. But unfortunately, [clip of Migos, Nicki Minaj, Cardi B - "MotorSport"] Nicki fell right out of everyone's good graces so that one had a clear winner.

Todd: But, all of a sudden, it seemed like we realized we don't have to have just [clip of City Girls - "Act Up"[15]] one woman. Hip-hop isn't [image of...] The Smurfs. [collage of various female rappers] So it's nice that the race to be queen of hip-hop stayed competitive.

Todd: Not that it's actually a competition. But you know, if it was...

Video for Cardi B - "Money"[16]

Todd (VO): ...then it quickly became clear that the main event would be Cardi vs. [clip of "Good As Hell"[17] by...] Lizzo. And it was gonna be hard to pick the winner. I have thoughts about who I'd pick, but...

Todd: part of the fairness doctrine, I am required to ask..."Have you considered voting third party?"

#8. Megan Thee Stallion ft. Nicki Minaj & Ty Dolla Sign - "Hot Girl Summer"[18]

JT: Real ass bitch

Ty Dolla Sign: Know she got it lit

Hot Girl Summer so you know she got it lit

Todd (VO): "Old Town Road" will always have the weirdest path to success that year, but the story of Megan Thee Stallion's biggest hit, "Hot Girl Summer, was...

Todd: ...also kind of odd, [image of girls in a pool with screenshot of tweet: "just know my hot girl summer is in full effect"] starting out as a meme long before it was a single. And I acknowledge that it is hard to turn a catchphrase into a song.

Clip from The Simpsons

Bart Simpson: [to "U Can't Touch This" instrumental] I didn't do it!

Todd (VO): Perhaps it would have been best to leave it as a slogan rather than cash in on it. [screen capture of "Hot Girl Summer" video on YouTube with release date circled in red] By the time "Hot Girl Summer" came out, the summer was almost over. So it was more like a tribute to the hot girl summer that was. In the past. But...

Todd: ...who am I to complain about anyone [calendar for January 2020 with "FINISH BEST OF 2019 VIDEO" on the first week] putting out their work late. And besides, most great summer songs are about summer as a memory.

Montage clips of...

Todd (VO): "Summer of '69", "Boys of Summer", "Summer Girls". Forever a classic. [clip of...] Honestly, I loved "Hot Girl Summer" immediately. I saw plenty of critics who were disappointed. And the big complaint was that the "hot girl summer" was supposed to be about being hot for yourself, not for any dudes.

Todd: So there shouldn't be a dude on the song.

Ty Dolla Sign: Big ol' freak, it's a must that I hit

Todd (VO): Frankly, I didn't mind at all. The hook is great, but at the same time it was...kind of not that important. Ty Dolla Sign, who is doing a decent Drake impression here, I think he understands that he's here to be the hype-man for Megan, and...

Todd: ...otherwise, he is to get the fuck out of the way.

Megan Thee Stallion: Handle me? (Huh) Who gon' handle me? (Who?)

Thinkin' he's a player, he's a member on the team

Todd (VO): I admit the meme floating around as an all-purpose empowerment slogan probably helped sell the song to me because Megan mostly raps about herself, and not, you know...

Todd: ...the other hot girls of that summer.

Megan:  Ayy, I got one or two baes (Woah, woah)

If you seen it last night, don't say shit the next day

Todd (VO): And yet it felt like she didn't need to. The song just...

Todd: ...feels good.

Todd (VO): Even Nicki Minaj, whose career is clinging to life at the moment, is an entirely welcome presence here.

Nicki Minaj: When we say it's Hot Girl Summer, we ain't talkin' 'bout degrees

For once, she seems to be getting along with other women. She even bothered to show up for [clip of David Guetta ft. Nicki Minaj, Bebe Rexha & Afrojack - "Hey Mama"] the video instead of having to be digitally inserted like usual.

Megan: I'm a hot girl, so you know ain't shit stoppin'

Todd (VO): "Hot Girl Summer" felt like that last really great pool party of the year before school starts. So let's let 2019 live on in our memory as the year of the hot girl summer. We will tell our grandkids one glorious year the summer had nothing but hot girls.

Todd: And after that...nothing but miserable asshole winter [sighs].

Nicki: Know we got it lit, yeah (Ah)


#7[edit | edit source]

Todd (VO): #7.

Todd: When people in the future ask me what 2019 was like...I'm gonna tell them that it was....uh....[beat] it was a lot.

#7. 21 Savage ft. J. Cole - "A Lot"[19]

21 Savage: How much money you got? (A lot)

How many problems you got? (A lot)

How many people done doubted you? (A lot)

Todd (VO): I can't really say I've been big on 21 Savage. Don't really like mumble rap. [shot of article: "Don't Call 21 Savage a 'Mumble Rapper': 'You Can Hear Every Goddamn Word I Say'"] He says he's not mumble rap. Most mumble rappers say that.

Todd: He doesn't mumble; I can understand him fine. But it's mumble rap adjacent at least.

Video for 21 Savage & Metro Boomin - "No Heart"

Todd (VO): His deal seems to be that he raps really violent lyrics in the deadest, ice-cold monotone. [clip of Post Malone ft. 21 Savage - "Rockstar"] For me, I always think of his most famous verse on Post Malone's "Rockstar"...

21 Savage: I've been in the Hills fuckin' superstars

Feelin' like a popstar

...where he was so emotionless, he made Xanaxed-out, sad boy Malone sound like [image of...] Billy Eichner.

Todd: Like,I-I see what he's doing. It-it just wasn't for me.

Clip of "A Lot"

21 Savage: How many times did you ride? (A lot)

How many done died? (A lot)

Todd (VO): But "A Lot", the first single off his second album, changed what I thought about him entirely. He's not trying to show coldness with his flat delivery; it's total emotional burnout.

21 Savage: My brother lost his life and it turned me to a beast

My brother got life and it turned me to the streets

Todd: For a guy who literally released a song called [brief clip of...] "No Heart", it seems like he's got a lot to say about his inner life and the things he's gone through.

21 Savage: How many lawyers you got? (A lot)

How many times you got shot? (A lot)

How many...

Todd (VO): Like, he's seen some shit. My problems are like, "Oh, this video's coming out a little late." And then I listen to this, and I think...

Todd: ..."Oh, yeah. Maybe...maybe I should shut up."

Todd (VO): And if you thought he had problems before, he immediately got in more right after he released this song, when he became only the most famous victim of [clip of ABC News broadcast: "21 Savage Speaks Out: Will the Grammy-Nominated Star Be Deported?"] fucking ICE, who is now trying to deport him from the country he's lived in since he was seven!

Clip of "A Lot"

21 Savage: Went through some things

But I couldn’t imagine my kids stuck at the border

Like, he earns the right to sound that dead inside. I wouldn't sound enthused by the world either.

J. Cole: I love seein' shit like that


Todd (VO): And I haven't really been into anything J. Cole has done for years, but I also really like his verse here, too. He comes on hard, calling out other rappers for Spotify fraud.

J. Cole: How many faking they streams? (A lot)

Getting they plays from machines? (A lot)

Who's listening to those songs? [image of...] A bot? I'm not a rapper...

Todd: ...but Cole does use the word "jot" as a rhyme.

J. Cole: On a new record he got

He call it "a lot," I open my book and I jot

Todd (VO): I don't know why that amuses me. I-I just never heard of it before.

J. Cole: I'm on a tangent, not how I planned it

He also does kind of go all over the place. Giving shout-outs to [images of...] draft busts, Markelle Fultz and Dennis Smith Jr. of all people.

Todd: Please pray for the rest of the Knicks while you're at it.

Todd (VO): And most controversially, Tekashi 6ix9ine. [shot of article: "Tekashi 6ix9ine: Rapper sentenced to two years in prison"] A guy who got tired of waiting to be cancelled, so he cancelled himself.

J. Cole: Pray for Tekashi, they want him to rot

I picture him inside a cell on a cot

Shot of another article: "Tekashi 6ix9ine to be re-sentenced for posting sex tape of 13-year-old girl"

Todd (VO): [beat] No, I'm not gonna...

Todd: ...pray for that guy, Cole.

Todd (VO): But even with that one, if you zoom out from...Tekashi being a terrible person, I do see the [shot of Genius article: "6ix9ine Testifies In Court About How His Music Career Got Him Involved In Gang Life"] broad outlines of his life being this grand tragedy, so I think I'll let that one slide. And you know what?

Todd: Even if I don't relate to these specific problems...

Todd (VO): I said, everything just felt like a lot this year. I'm glad we had this song to express the overwhelming stress of...

Todd: ...of just, you know, just fucking everything all the fucking time!

Todd (VO): I'm exhausted, I'm dead inside. Thank you, 21 Savage for expressing...

Todd: we're all feeling.

Video ends


#6[edit | edit source]

Todd (VO): #6.

Clip of Post Malone ft. Young Thug - "Goodbyes"[20]

Post Malone: And don't tell me to shut up

Todd (VO): You know, I still wouldn't really call myself a Post Malone fan. Still don't really like anything from his biggest album, [album cover for...] Beerbongs & Bentleys. Maybe I'm...

Todd: ...just biased against it 'cause it was called, Beerbongs & Bentleys.

Video for Post Malone & Swae Lee - "Sunflower"[21]

Todd (VO): But I completely understand what he's about, and I'm interested in what he does next. You know, that's a lot. Like, that's the main thing you should be asking of any pop star. It's a high bar to clear. The Post Malone hater squad is still going strong, but...

Todd: ...I think a lot of people turned around on him in 2019. And...goddamn, if he didn't have one of the sweetest jams of the year.

#6. Post Malone - "Circles"

Post Malone: Let it go

Seasons change and our love went cold

Feed the flame 'cause we can't let...

Todd: Okay, first off: Post Malone, who still looks like [image of Post Malone] a garbage man...

Todd (VO): ...dressed as a gallant knight in gleaming armor, face tattoos and all, is just a hysterical image.

Todd: But the inside of that armor reeks.

Post Malone: Run away, but we're running in circles

Todd (VO): But the song, "Circles", this is just good driving music.

Todd: Like, one of my happiest music memories from 2019 was, I was like...

Aerial footage of Coast Highway

Todd (VO): ...cruising down the coast on this beautiful, breezy summer day, and this song came on. And I was just listening to it, looking at the beach in the distance, and it was just absolutely perfect.

Todd: And to be clear, this memory completely and totally did not happen.

Video for "Circles"

Todd (VO): In the summer, this song hadn't even been released yet. [clip of metro train in...] And I live in New York City; I don't drive anywhere. Certainly not down to any beautiful coastal highways.

Todd: But I cherish this completely, made-up false memory regardless.

Todd (VO): Being on the road with Amanda, [still of girl from Getty Images] my imaginary girlfriend without a care in the world.

Todd: It was amazing.

Post Malone: We couldn't turn around...

Todd (VO): Posty has always mixed different genres, but "Circles" feels like the only 100% non-hip-hop song he's ever made. [footage from Post Malone concert] Like, even his most poppy songs, he kept, like, a toe in rap. They'd have the drowsy hip-hop beats behind it.

Video for "Circles"

I'm starting to get an appreciation for him as a rapper, but...if he only made stuff like "Circles" for the rest of his life, I don't think I'd complain. [clip of Post Malone - "Wow"[22]] In fact, part of people's distrust of Post Malone is that he came to hip-hop relatively late. He originally wanted to be a rock singer...and the fact that he's actually...kinda good at it might not actually help his case.

Todd: Get out of hip-hop, poser! You're...

Video for "Circles"

Todd (VO): ...really good at making folky indie-pop. We don't want you to miss your true calling.

Todd: And what gets me is that...

Video for Ed Sheeran ft. Camila Cabello & Cardi B - "South of the Border"

Todd (VO): ...Ed Sheeran is also a guy who keeps trying to do everything. He keeps chasing those pop hits...

Todd: ...and this is what he could be making instead.

Todd (VO): But he keeps trying to inch as close as he can to being a rapper...

Todd: ...and an actual rapper is making the acoustic pop songs that he should be!

Clip of "Circles"

Post Malone: I dare you to do something

Todd (VO): For what it's worth, I also like Post Malone's weird singing voice, and his bizarre vibrato.

Todd: I don't know how he does that. It's he part goat?

Todd (VO): But for a guy who's mostly known for being mopey and downbeat, he can put a lot of emotion into it. Post Malone is a guy who's easy to hate, but I absolutely do not hate him. This perfect, early '70s Laurel Canyon guitar pop, and I like it way too much.

Todd: Still #1 in the country as I'm recording this. [text appears: (but now down to #3 because this video took so long lol)] Completely deserved.

Post Malone: Run away, run away, run away

Todd: These year-ends are really exhausting by the way. We're gonna have to take another break. [pause] Oh God, I just remembered what I put at #5! [sighs] Check out the next video everyone.

Screen fades to black


Todd: Okay, we're back. [takes a sip of presumably beer] I can do this. Okay, part two.


#5[edit | edit source]

Todd (VO): #5.

Todd: [sighs] I never wanted to be in this position. I really didn't. I genuinely hoped that it would never...ever come to this.

Clip of...

Todd: [sighs again] Okay. Here we go.

#5. BTS ft. Halsey - "Boy with Luv"[23]

BTS: Boy with luv

Halsey: Oh my my my, oh my my my

BTS: You got me high so fast

Todd: Okay, look, before this year, I didn't really feel any of the K-Pop I've ever heard. [clip of Psy - "Gangnam Style"] Like, I tried back when "Gangnam Style" hit, and [clip of 2NE1 - "I Am the Best"] maybe it was just the language barrier but it mostly just sounded like the annoying Black Eyed Peas stuff I was already tired of in English, so I just moved on.

Clip of Ellen DeGeneres Show performance

Todd (VO): And then when BTS started building a presence in America, I wasn't into it. Like... like, I did a couple token listens, but it just felt like a topic I should avoid 'cause...

Todd: ...I felt out of my depth, plus the fandom was so [screenshot of tweet: "i only fear bts stans no one else", with reply "Honestly? Me too"] terrifyingly intense that eventually, I was like "Why don't I just not do my job?"

Video for BTS - "Fake Love"

Todd (VO): Why don't I just completely fail to do my job, and maybe if I learn as little about them as possible...

Todd: ...I'll never ever have to talk about them.

Clip of BTS performing "Boy with Luv" on SNL

Todd (VO): And then I saw them perform this, like...once, like on SNL or something.

Halsey: Oh my my my, oh my my my

Todd: Fuuuuuck.

Video for "Boy with Luv"

Todd (VO): 'Cause I knew after one listen that it was gonna be on the best list.

Todd: Now I gotta talk about them.

Todd (VO): God, just mentioning them's gonna get me written into a bunch of weird fanfic or something.

Todd: And that is entirely valid if you wanna do that and not something I am criticizing in any way. Heh-heh. Heh. All I can say is thank God I didn't have to put this on the worst list.

Todd (VO): So, speaking as someone who's still fairly new to the BTS phenomenon, yeah, I really like this song.

Todd: I've never bothered to look up what the lyrics mean. Honestly, I don't care. [single cover for "Boy with Luv"] I've got the title, so I'm pretty sure I get the gist. The little I did find about it said that it was, like...

Video for BTS - "Boy in Luv"

Todd (VO): ...sort of a follow up to their previous single [single cover for...] "Boy in Luv".

Video for "Boy with Luv"

Todd (VO): So, uh, you know, this is the moment of triumph, they got the girl. And you can call it kind of meta because...this is their biggest hit ever in America. It's a double triumph.

Todd: Clearly Halsey is what put them over the top.

Clip of "Boy with Luv"

Halsey: Oh my my my, oh my my my

Todd (VO): No, she feels pretty unnecessary to the BTS phenomenon.

Todd: So is this the big sea change for K-Pop? Is it about to go mainstream?

Todd (VO): Uh, I still have doubts it'll ever have its own "Despacito". "Boy with Luv" only charted for a couple weeks, we don't really have as many Korean speakers in this country like we do Spanish.

Todd: I think the language barrier might be too high.

Clip of Bong Joon Ho and Sharon Choi speech at Golden Globes

Sharon: Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.

[text appears: And music!]

Todd: Hm. On the other hand...

Clip from Voltron

Todd (VO): Who would have guessed watching Voltron in the '80s that the next few generations would grow up [image of Sailor Moon cosplayers] obsessed with Japanese cartoons, so...

Video for "Boy with Luv"

...maybe the K-Pop moment really is coming 'cause, when I just imagine pop music in my head, just, like, the ideal of it, "Boy with Luv" is what it sounds like to me.

Todd: So maybe K-Pop really is gonna take over. Unless any pretty-boy pop stars in the West wanna put down the challengers.

Clip of Justin Bieber - "Yummy"

Justin Bieber: Yeah, you got that yummy-yum

That yummy-yum, that yummy-yummy

Todd: I, for one, welcome our new Korean overlords! [thumbs up]

Clip of "Boy with Luv"

BTS: Boy with luv!


#4[edit | edit source]

Todd (VO): #4.

Todd: When the decade ended, [screenshot of Pitchfork list: The 200 Best Songs of the 2010s] every music site published their best songs of the decade list and the consensus great pop song of the decade, [montage clips of...] better than "Royals", better than "Call Me Maybe", better than "Rude" by MAGIC!, which will someday be recognized as the greatest song ever written, better than all of those: Robyn's "Dancing On My Own".

Clip of Robyn - "Dancing On My Own"

Robyn: I'm in the corner

Todd (VO): And understandably, it's a brilliant track that proves you can have a high-tempo dance song that's still one of the...

Todd: ...saddest, loneliest songs ever written.

Robyn: I keep dancing on my own

Todd (VO): When they make movies about the early 2010s, that's the one song all the characters will be dancing to.

Todd: Even though in real life, we were all [clip of "Good Life" by...] listening to OneRepublic.

Video for "Dancing On My Own"

Todd (VO): But, yeah, it's obviously a towering achievement...

Todd: ...and its influence lives on. I've...

Clip of...wait for it...

Todd (VO): ...seen many, many people attempt to recreate it over the years. No one's ever really done it.

Todd: But I respect the attempt.

#4. Sam Smith & Normani - "Dancing with a Stranger"[24]

Sam Smith: Look what you made me do

I'm with somebody new

Todd: Is Sam Smith actually becoming good?

Todd (VO): Like, early on, the impression I got was that [single cover for Disclosure ft. Sam Smith - "Latch"] featuring Sam Smith on songs were good, but [clip of Sam Smith - "Stay With Me"] actual "by Sam Smith" songs you can skip 'em.

Sam: Stay with me


Todd (VO): Considering the dynamite freshman class of 2019, Smith seems like absolutely the type of artist you should be able to dismiss as yesterday's news.

Video for "Dancing with a Stranger"

But honestly, I think I'm starting to develop some appreciation for them.

(NOTE: Sam Smith now uses they/them pronouns after coming out as non-binary, which is why Todd refers to Smith as such starting here.)

Todd: Especially this, their best song yet, "Dancing with a Stranger".

Sam: Ooh, baby, baby, I'm dancing with a stranger

Todd (VO): And yes, it is entirely an attempt to remake "Dancing On My Own", right down to the similar titles.

Todd: But ripoffs can be great, too.

Todd (VO): And I think the very thing I don't like about Sam Smith...their eternally sexless tastefulness...

Todd: actually kinda works to the song's advantage.

Sam: I don't wanna be alone tonight

Todd (VO): Sam singing like, "You hurt me, so I'm dancing with a stranger." The implication being that they're gonna go have sex later, 'cause...otherwise, I don't think anyone would care.

Todd: Like, "Oh, you did the [image of people on the dance floor doing...] electric slide with someone else."

Todd (VO): But just the way Sam sings it, you can tell it's gonna be like the saddest, most unsatisfying revenge sex ever.

Todd: Robyn dancing on her own in the corner is somehow less lonely than what Sam Smith is doing here.

Normani: Look what you made me do, I'm with somebody new

Todd (VO): And then there's Normani, who...look, the vibe I've always gotten from all of Fifth Harmony solo and otherwise is that they were trying way too hard.

Todd: It does feel kind of wrong that on Normani's two big hits...

Video for Khalid & Normani - "Love Lies"

Todd (VO): ...she has to dance her ass off for dopey teenager Khalid, and [clip of "Dancing with a Stranger"] obviously non-hetero Sam Smith.

Normani: I don't wanna be alone tonight

But as a singer, she's actually very low-key and smokey, and...I think she really plays well off of them.

Todd: Which is good, 'cause otherwise this song doesn't really make any sense as a duet.

Todd (VO): Like, I-I'm still asking this question: Do they know each other? Are they the exes? Are they the strangers? Are they singing to each other, with each other, about each other? Are they completely separate?

Todd: I like the one answer I got, which is...they are both the same person.

Todd (VO): I can't think of two people more different, but it does make sense in a way, 'cause...really. Aren't we all constantly dancing with a stranger?

Todd: Ourselves? Makes you think. [pause] No it doesn't, but this song's really good.

Normani: Dancing with a stranger


#3[edit | edit source]

Todd (VO): #3.

Clip of SNL performance of Katy Perry ft. Migos - "Bon Appetit"

Takeoff: She want a Migo night

Now I ask her, "What's the price?"

Todd (VO): As Katy Perry's time as a hit-maker winds down, I admit I found her more compelling than when she was big and her music was better.

Clip of interview with Katy Perry

Everything she's said and done in the past couple years makes her seem like a woman racked with regrets. [clip of Katy Perry - "Hey Hey Hey"] She literally cast herself as a Marie Antoinette who dreams of being Joan of Arc.

Katy Perry: Hey hey hey

Todd (VO): God, the self-loathing of that. It's just...soul-scarringly depressing. And that's even before you get to the song and the album being terrible and failing miserably. [another clip of interview] Th-there's just something really tragic and heartbreaking about it. Especially 'cause sad Katy Perry is so off-brand from the music that made her famous. It's just...

Todd: ...not something anyone seems to want.

Clip of...

Katy: I'm losing my self...

Todd (VO): So she scraped onto the charts one last time in 2019. And yes, I do suspect it will be her last, 'cause it didn't stick around for very long.

Todd: And I don't think it would've charted at all if it weren't one of the best songs of her entire career.

#3. Katy Perry - "Never Really Over"[25]

Katy: Just because it's over doesn't mean it's really over

And if I think it over, maybe you'll be coming over again

And I'll have to get...

Todd (VO): I underestimated [promotional image of...] Zedd so much. Like, I can think of songs of his I didn't like, but not because of anything he did on it.

Todd: Although, the ticking clock; that's one of the sillier producer trademarks I've ever known.

Snippet of ticking clock in "Never Really Over"

Todd (VO): It's like [clip from Face/Off] John Woo with his goddamn doves. Like, I got it the first time. Not every shoot-out needs doves, [clip of "Never Really Over"] not every quiet moment needs a ticking clock.

Todd: Just shout, [dramatic zoom-in on Todd] "Z-Z-Z-Zedd!" at the beginning of your songs like other producers do.

Katy: I tell myself, tell myself, tell myself, "Draw the line"

Todd (VO): But this...this may be his best song yet. And if he had given it to someone a little more popular right now, it might've had more legs, but...I don't think it would've been as good.

Katy: Thought it was done, but I

Guess it's never really over

Naming a song, "Never Really Over", is a bold move from...

Todd: ...someone who has to be worried that she is really over.

Todd (VO): But that air of tragedy that Katy has now, it's someone who's seen happier days. It's what really sells that amazing hook to me.

Katy: Two years, and just like that

It's a song about being blindsided by feelings for a long-dead relationship, and the wishful thinking that the flame can be re-lit. And it's clear that the narrator is...

Todd: ...just [shrugs] delusional.

Katy: Just because it's over doesn't mean it's really over

And if I think it over, maybe...

Todd (VO): Like, she's not really over it. But the relationship is, in fact, really over. And she just spits out words like she's losing her mind.

Todd: This is the best chorus of the year, and it blows me away.

Katy: Over you all over again

Todd (VO): And if I'm right, which I'm usually not; but, if I am about Katy Perry being done...this will be a good note to go out on for her. So, even if it's over, the feelings are still there. And I have a lot of good memories of Katy Perry songs.

Todd: So I'm glad she gave us one truly great last song at the end of this decade.

Video ends


#2[edit | edit source]

Todd (VO): #2.

Clip of DaBaby - "Suge"[26]

DaBaby: Hah

Pack in the mail, it's gone (Uh)

Todd (VO): DaBaby is a guy made for a fish-eye lens. His ambitions are clearly to be the next Busta Rhymes or Ludacris. You know, guys who just wanna go as big and over the top as they can. [images of DaBaby...] Every picture of him, he's flashing this big-ass grin with...rows upon rows of, like, eight hundred teeth.

Video for DaBaby - "Bop"[27]

This is a guy people listen to, to just coast on his ridiculous charisma. And certainly not to talk about anything serious. I mean, who would want that? No one. Certainly not this early in his career.

Todd: I mean, it'll probably happen someday, but, you know, he's still a rookie. He's not gonna do that anytime soon.

#2. DaBaby - "Intro"[28]

DaBaby: Thinkin' 'bout my grandmama and shit

I got the number one record, they acknowledged the jit

They goin' crazy when they play it, head bobbin' and shit

And I'm just somewhere...

Todd (VO): Yeah, this is the-the second heartfelt rap song on the list from a guy who usually doesn't do that. I'm an easy mark, I guess. [clip of...] My favorite DMX song is "Slippin'".

DMX: Ayo I'm slippin', I'm fallin', I can't get up

Todd: That's a terrible opinion! JESUS CHRIST!

Todd (VO): Who picks "Slippin'" over "Party Up" or "Ruff Ryders' Anthem"?!

Todd: My God!

Clip of "Intro"

DaBaby: If I love you, then I need ya (Let's go)

I fuck with you like Martin fuck with Gina (Uh)

Todd (VO): But regardless of whether or not I'm a soft heart, I'm just kinda awestruck by this song.

Todd: Like, it's hard to call this a swerve, 'cause DaBaby only debuted that year.

Video for DaBaby - "Taking It Out"

Todd (VO): But he made such a goddamn splash initially, and it felt like he established his image really quickly with that first album.

Todd: And when he dropped a second one just six months later, I think people expected more of the same.

Video for "Intro"

Todd (VO): And instead, it felt like he jumped light years forward. I don't think even he expected this song to turn out so well considering that he never even gave it a real name. It's just the goddamn intro to the album!

Todd: No one puts any effort into their intros! They just play some loud noises, and they shout something like, [single cover for Cash Money - "Baller Blockin" with air horn noises blasting in the background] "Tearin' it up in 2007!" And then they'll rap half a bar, and...then start the actual record.

Todd (VO): But at some point, DaBaby must've realized that his intro was not only a real song, it's a song good enough to be a lead single.

DaBaby: Same time I got the news, my shit went number one, that's fucked up

'Cause it's about, you know, his tangled emotions about his dad dying right before he started being successful. [clip of...] That's also what Lukas Graham's "7 Years" is about.

Todd: I like DaBaby's version better.

Clip of "Intro"

DaBaby: Like I won't give up all I got to see you happy

Todd (VO): This song only debuted a couple months ago, and I feel like I've listened to it a billion times. It just means a lot to me.

DaBaby: If I love you, then I need ya (Let's go)

Even in this song about death and tangled emotions, he's still mugging it up in the video. And I think that sums up the song's appeal. Like, nothing so bad that you can't come out the other side laughing about it.

Todd: That's what I needed this year. Thank you, DaBaby.

DaBaby: We ain't cut from the same cloth, we see-through (Ayy)

And I be too busy doin' me to see what he do

Todd: And that'll be the intro to our honorable mentions, so let's get that done.

Honorable Mentions[edit | edit source]

Benny Blanco, Halsey & Khalid - "Eastside"[29]

Khalid: She used to meet me on the Eastside

In the city where the sun don't set

Todd (VO): Tracy Chapman's "Fast Car" for Generation Z. And I could not mean that as higher praise.

Post Malone & Swae Lee - "Sunflower"

Swae Lee: Then you're left in the dust, unless I stuck by ya

Todd (VO): This one's just relaxing. Hey, maybe Post Malone will become the other half of Rae Sremmurd permanently.

Cardi B - "Money"

Cardi B: (Money)

All I really wanna see is the (Money)

Todd (VO): In any other year, this would've made the list. This was the last cut I made and it was painful.

Todd: Check out Hustlers by the way.

Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper - "Shallow"[30]

Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper: In the sha-ha, sha-hallow

Todd (VO): Only this version, though, the one at the Oscars.

Carly Rae Jepsen - "Too Much"

Carly Rae Jepsen: When I party, then I party too much

Todd (VO):And from the non-hit section of the honorable mentions...uh, Carly Rae's new album was exactly as good as Emotion. Don't at me.

Taylor Swift - "The Archer"[31]

Taylor Swift: I've been the archer

Todd (VO): Yeah, most of my enemies started out friends too, Taylor.

Machine Gun Kelly, YungBlud & Travis Barker - "I Think I'm Okay"

Machine Gun Kelly: Watch me take a good thing and fuck it all up in one night

Todd (VO): Here's probably my worst opinion. Like, I don't like either of these artists separately, but I absolutely support them joining forces and making Linkin Park ripoffs for the rest of their careers.

MGK & YungBlud: I think that something's fucking wrong with me

Lizzo - "Juice"[32]

Lizzo: It ain’t my fault that I'm out here gettin’ loose

Todd (VO): Look, "Truth Hurts" is fine. "Good As Hell" is fine. The Lizzo single of the year was "Juice".

Todd: But I restrict this list to the hits, and this was technically not a hit.

Todd (VO): I don't understand how that's possible seeing as everyone seems to know this goddamn song now. But I made my stupid rules, and I'm gonna follow them.

Todd: Can't believe it only charted at #82. Crazy. But, anyway, what was the best hit of the year? Let's find out.


#1[edit | edit source]

Todd (VO): [ominously] #1.

Todd: So, um...last spring, there was this...

Clip of trailer for...

Todd (VO): ...little movie called Brightburn. It was like, "What if Superman had landed on Earth, but he was an evil little kid?" [shot of logo for...] A LexCorp film. I mean, you don't really even need to know more about it than the premise. I did enjoy it, but I'm not gonna tell you it was great or even good. But it did have one really joyous moment. Because they do the epilogue, and the end credits start. And, you know, "Well, we need some background music, so...

Todd: ...what is the most obvious way we could end this bluntly obvious movie?" Like...

Todd (VO): ...what is the most comically, on-the-nose way a movie about an evil Superman could have ended in this, the spring of 2019?

Todd: [beat] Duh.

#1. Billie Eilish - "Bad Guy"[33]

Todd: I fucking love this song!

Billie Eilish: So you're a tough guy

Todd (VO): And I am holding on to this love for as long as I can, 'cause this song is absolutely going to be destroyed.

Todd: By movie trailers if nothing else, which is already happening.

Brief clip of Bombshell trailer

Billie: So you're a tough guy

Like it really rough guy

Todd: Or from fan vids...

Video for "Bad Guy"

Todd (VO): ...general overplay, any girl who wants to dress up as Harley Quinn for Halloween.

Todd: Like, I really hope this song still sounds as good by the end of 2020, but I'm worried it's just going to be memed to death.

Todd (VO): I hope not. I've been doing this job a while. And, you know, I do worry that I'm getting out of touch with the new stuff the kids are listening to.

Todd: Which is, you know, ridiculous. 'Cause I wasn't down with the youth of America [image of kid getting shoved in a locker by bullies] back when I was a youth of America. And maybe I just have to deal with the fact that, you know, maybe I'm just not gonna get [images of...] Twenty One Pilots or Lil Pump or whoever. But Billie Eilish, I got immediately.

Todd (VO): I was like, "Jesus Christ. This girl's a superstar. Buy 8,000 shares of Billie Eilish right now."

Todd: And then I rode that stock to the fucking moon!

Montage clips of Lorde - "Tennis Court"; Avril Lavigne - "Sk8er Boi"; Taylor Swift - "Teardrops on My Guitar"

Todd (VO): There have been teenagers who have felt authentic before, but the authenticity they capture is, like, the confidence of youth or the innocence. [clip of "Bad Guy"] Billie is the first one who really captures that teenagers are fucking terrifying.

Todd: You know how I mentioned I used to be a substitute teacher? Yeah, kids that age are sociopaths. And Billie Eilish scares the absolute shit outta me!

Todd (VO): And one of the great joys of "Bad Guy" is that I've been watching for years all the [clips of Taylor Swift - "Look What You Made Me Do"...] big-name pop divas try to be [...and Ava Max - "Sweet but Psycho"] dangerous and scary.

Clip of Miley Cyrus - "Mother's Daughter"

Miley Cyrus: I'm nasty, I'm evil

Todd: And then they all just all get completely blown away out of the water by this...

Video for "Bad Guy"

Todd (VO): ...barely audible teenager in shapeless clothes, who only has to say, "I fucked your dad." Or n-not even, "I fucked your dad. I might seduce your dad." Like, the less she does, the more everyone else looks like a complete and total poser.

Clip of BuzzFeed interview with Billie Eilish

And the funny thing is that, in interviews, she seems perfectly wholesome. [image of...] Meanwhile, Justin Bieber, who [clip of ABC News broadcast of Bieber's arrest in Miami] really was the bad boy of music for a long time, he jumped in on the remix, and that was what put it over the top, [shot of Stereogum article: "Billie Eilish's 'Bad Guy' Has Finally Dethroned Lil Nas X's 'Old Town Road' At #1"] and finally broke "Old Town Road's" iron grip on the #1 spot...

Todd: But...Bieber is fucking terrible on it!

Clip of "Bad Guy (Remix)"

Justin Bieber: That guy, don't act like you don't know

That guy...

Todd: He cannot pull off what Billie is doing at all.

Video for "Bad Guy"

Todd (VO): And it's not just Billie herself; the song is also just fuckin' great. Hooks for days. Like, I can't even pick one favorite moment. Is it that killer bass line? The finger snaps?

Billie: Likes to sing along...

Todd: Her perfect delivery of, "Duh"?

Billie: Duh

Todd (VO): That little lick when the beat comes back in?

Billie: I'll be your animal

Todd plays chords of said beat on piano

Todd (VO): Honestly, I think my favorite moment is the creepy laugh that starts the outro.

Snippet of laughing

Just an absolutely brilliant song all around, and absolutely deserved to be one of the biggest hits of the year. I heard it, and I felt like I saw the future of music.

Todd: I only hope things stay this good in 2020. Good night, everybody.

Gets up and leaves

Billie: I'm a bad...

Closing Tag Song: Blueface - "Thotiana"[34]


This video is owned by me

I had to rewrite this entire video five times.


Footnotes[edit | edit source]

  1. #8 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
  2. #13 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
  3. #73 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
  4. #40 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
  5. #39 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
  6. #7 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
  7. #1 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
  8. #15 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
  9. #10 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
  10. #62 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
  11. #43 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
  12. #11 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
  13. #61 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
  14. #76 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
  15. #68 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
  16. #38 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
  17. Not on Billboard Year-End Hot 100; peaked at #3 in 2019
  18. #93 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
  19. #42 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
  20. #30 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
  21. #2 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
  22. #5 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
  23. Not on Billboard Year-End Hot 100; peaked at #8 in 2019
  24. #14 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
  25. Not on Billboard Year-End Hot 100; peaked at #15 in 2019
  26. #24 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
  27. Not on Billboard Year-End Hot 100; peaked at #11 in 2019
  28. Not on Billboard Year-End Hot 100; peaked at #13 in 2019
  29. #17 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
  30. #19 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
  31. Not on Billboard Year-End Hot 100; peaked at #38 in 2019
  32. Not on Billboard Year-End Hot 100; peaked at #82 in 2019
  33. #4 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
  34. #47 on Billboard Year-End Hot 100
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.