Rounding off the end of the decade, 2019 blessed music lovers with so many incredible albums that it seems everyone’s “Album of the Year” lists are entirely different. Since RadioUTD is made up of music tastes from all across the board, our Superlative list continues this year with a large variety of albums that truly represent what 2019 was all about:

Best Albums to Give Yourself Bangs Post-Breakup at 3AM:

FKA Twigs – MAGDALENE

FKA twigs expresses heartbreak and the pains of womanhood in a hauntingly intimate way on her newest record. MAGDALENE is twigs’ first full-length record since 2014, and was released just in time to make our superlatives list for 2019. The release comes after the singer’s highly scrutinized relationship and breakup as well as medical challenges, events that she says has helped her shape this album into what it is. The tracks on this album range from crooning ballads to furious outbursts of emotion, the perfect soundtrack to take in the emotions of your latest heartbreak and maybe reach for those hair-cutting scissors. – Athena Shen

Biggest Surprise:

Lana Del Rey – Norman Fucking Rockwell!

This unbelievable 180-degree turn will be remembered for years to come. After a career essentially built on disappointment, with major-label-backed pop tripe and the tiredest of lovesick narratives, Elizabeth Grant emerged this year as one of the mainstream’s most compelling songwriters, seemingly out of nowhere. It’s not just that Lana finally made a decent record; she went from making awful records to making an amazing one. Joining forces with Jack Antonoff, she finally found a niche sliver of American music history that fits her voice and lyrical spirit: the gentle yet righteous sounds of AOR, soft rock, and piano ballads. Her narratives have flipped as well; now, instead of hopelessly falling to her knees for some cigarette-infused leather-clad hunk, she’s commanding the spotlight, ditching flavorless men (“Norman Fucking Rockwell!”, “How to disappear”) and pondering the world as it meets its demise (“The greatest”, “hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have – but i have it”). Perhaps some saw this potential in Lana all along, but either way, I’m relieved pop music is exiting the decade on the highest possible note. – Matthew Devil

Most Extremely Online Album:

100 gecs – 1000 gecs

Plenty of artists have been labeled as “post-internet” musicians, from Grimes to James Ferraro, but a record like 100 Gecs’ 1000 Gecs is the truest example of music that couldn’t exist without the World Wide Web. Tracks like “800db Cloud” slam anime nightcore and mallcore screamo together, like a 12 year old’s Myspace page puked on the Sophie records that kid bought a decade later. Lyrical taunts like “you talk a lotta big game for someone with such a small truck” read like Twitter shitposts with musical accompaniment. If you wanted to be less charitable about song titles like “xXXi_wud_nvrstøp_ÜXXx”, you could see them as “SO RANDOM XD” 2000s internet humor reheated and served with a side of ironic distance for the Gen Zers too young to truly remember that era. Regardless, the Gecs exploded in popularity this year, and their opening slot for Brockhampton surely brought them new fans. You don’t need to have wasted your youth in nerdy forums and Tumblr scenes to appreciate 100 Gecs’ debut album, but it certainly helps. – Daniel Valdez

Best Album to (Pretend to) Study to

Men I Trust – Oncle Jazz

On Oncle Jazz, Men I Trust took dream pop and made it funky. It’s an instantly likable sound; I remember first hearing it while doing some work with a partner and I immediately fell into a groove, both metaphorically and physically. The record is passive enough to set a pleasant backdrop, but active and catchy enough for the listener to latch on. Despite its whisper-quiet ethos, the hooks really pop, the guitar solos flash, the bass lines dazzle, and Emma Proulx’s vocals shine. It’s like if you took a future funk album and dialed down the intensity but maintained the gravitas. And at a runtime of over an hour, Oncle Jazz is the perfect dosage of energy, keeping you relaxed without putting you to sleep. When it comes to work productivity, these are the Men I Trust. Ask your doctor if Oncle Jazz is right for you. Try it today! – Matthew Devil

Best New Album from an Old School Act:

Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds – Ghosteen

I dare you to listen to The Bad Seeds’ first album from 1984, From Her To Eternity, and then listen to Ghosteen. The stark contrast might give you whiplash. Nick Cave built his name in the 80s and 90s on post-punk and gothic rock that lumbered and snarled with the tension of a predator tiptoeing behind its prey. His growling baritone coupled with his band’s primal grooves were some of the most caustic of an era in rock music that was already known to act pretty violently. Now, nearly 40 years later, Ghosteen, his first album fully written after the sudden passing of Cave’s son Arthur, showcases an unthinkable metamorphosis. With little to no percussion, sparse guitar, and an ensemble of choirs, strings, and analog synthesizers, Nick Cave pontificates grief, mortality, and faith on this endlessly poetic, tragically divine double album. It’s an unexpectedly transcendental aural experience that rivals the majestic post-rock of Sigur Rós and This Will Destroy You, coming from one of rock music’s most unlikely voices. – Matthew Devil

Best Album Cover:

Weyes Blood – Titanic Rising

“Titanic Rising” is a grand cinematic experience of a record, with Oscar-worthy vocal performances and IMAX-sized orchestral and electronic soundscapes, so it makes sense that its album art looks like a frame from the latest A24 critical darling. The cover finds songwriter Natalie Mering submerged underwater in a childhood bedroom, surrounded by the accoutrements of adolescence. Posters of rock artists like Lou Reed and her father’s 70s new wave group adorn the walls, a school trophy and a 90s-era CD player share space atop a disheveled dresser. All the while, Natalie looks to the viewer with an inscrutable expression. This juxtaposition of the messiness of individual experience with the overpowering forces of global unrest perfectly parallels Mering’s big-picture musings on tracks like “A Lot’s Gonna Change”. In an interview with Stereogum, Natalie Mering described the “weird, illusory kind of youth” the cover aimed to capture – it’s safe to say she succeeded in that goal. – Daniel Valdez

Best Produced Album:

Tyler, the Creator – IGOR

After wowing fans and critics with the lush arrangements of 2017’s Flower Boy, where would Tyler the Creator go next? Would he double down on the strings and jazzy keys? Or would he take a complete 180 and return to the lo-fi noise massacres of “Cherry Bomb”? As it turned out, IGOR would be somewhere in the middle of those two options. Tyler brought back some of his prior lo-fi techniques, like mixing his vocals down low and including fuzzy, distorted basslines. However, he didn’t sacrifice his attention to composition: tracks like “A Boy Is A Gun” and “Puppet” have several layers of gorgeous neo-soul chords and vocal harmonies. IGOR continued Tyler’s development as both a producer and overall musical auteur.  – Daniel Valdez

Best Album by a Trans/NB Artist:

Dorian Electra – Flamboyant

From the album art to the exaggerated persona to the actual music, everything about Dorian Electra’s Flamboyant is exactly that: flamboyant. While the Houston native has been making music throughout the decade, this is their debut album, and it definitely packs a punch. Not only do the tracks have great pop instrumentals and dramatic androgynous vocals, they also tackle LGBTQ issues like toxic masculinity (Man to Man), religion (Adam and Steve), and gender (the whole album). The entire album is only thirty minutes long, so there’s no excuse to not give it a listen before 2019 closes out.  – Athena Shen

Best Debut Album:

Lil Nas X – 7

Lil Nas X blew up this year with his hit “Old Town Road” only getting bigger as time went on and Billy Ray Cyrus, Young Thug, RM, and others were featured in several remixes since the release of the single. In addition to having many remixes with famous musicians, “OId Town Road” was the #1 single on Billboard for a record-breaking seventeen weeks. Beyond this single, Lil Nas X went on to explore trap, pop, rock, and rap with songs like “Rodeo” and “Panini.” Overall, Lil Nas X created one of the most popular songs of all time and became one of the biggest artists of the year with a few singles and remixes and will probably continue to dominate the charts with his upcoming projects. – John Lawler

Best new Album to Go Bald To:

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Infest the Rats’ Nest

Have you begun to feel the effects of aging yet? No, I’m not talking about wrinkles or back pain. I am of course talking about balding! If you or a loved one is going bald, I’ve got the perfect album to help you through it! Infest The Rats’ Nest by King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard will help you reminisce your glory days as a heavy rock-loving teenager with luscious hair. With songs to listen to on loop for days on end like Mars For The Rich and Self-Immolate, you’ll be aging with style and bliss! – Daniel Arnouk

Best Non-English Album:

Y La Bamba – Entre Los Dos

Voted as best Foreign Album, Y la Bamba’s Entre Los Dos or “Between the Two”, which was released back in September of this year. What makes the EP stand out compared to their LP Mujeres back in February, is that the meaning behind Los Dos compared to Mujeres. While Mujeres addresses the lead singer Luz Elena Mendoza’s upbringing with her family, Entre los Dos mirrors its own title which depicts how being between two different cultures affects people. The seven tracks in this album carry tremendous weight to them, with the track that sharing it name discussing love whether with someone or alone, Rios Sueltos with acceptance of their selves, in the lines “Cuando se siente mal, ya estoy agradecida de los ojos y de mi voz y de mi vida,” which translates to “When I feel bad I am already grateful for the eyes and my voz and my life,” and Octavio which is the only song on this album in english. The transition from Octavio to Soñadora, is what helps establish it as my favorite track on the album. With the title being called Dreamy, this entire song sounds rather serene, but has what may be the most heartfelt lyric out of the entire album with, “ Pasará el tiempo, el tiempo nos empuja a buscar / Lo más maravilloso / En un mundo bien triste y bien peligroso,” which translates to “Time will pass, time pushes us to look for the most wonderful / in a very sad and very dangerous world,” which holds so much truth to itself. – Daniel Gavin

Best album about Being the Cowboy:

Orville Peck – Pony

With Lil Nas X shaking us all with “Old Town Road,” Mitski unleashing Be the Cowboy in 2018, and the frequency of “y’all” being used in everyday vernacular across the country, the essence of the Cowboy has reawakened in the modern west. Commercial culture, most notably the Marlboro man, set cowboys to be symbols of masculinity and adventure.  These derive from the experiences and stories which came with western expansion –exploring new terrain and discoveries for every type of desperado. This sentiment is displayed in Orville Peck’s debut, Pony.  The notion to venture out into the unknown is an extended hand to each listener and reflects a loner whose heart and soul are far from lonely. Orville Peck is both intimate with each listener, and yet maintains an air of isolation and mystery. With this reinvigoration of western music, new life is breathed into the country music scene. Within Orville Peck’s music lies hints of southern gothic, outlaw sentiments, potential Elvis-reincarnation-hijinks, shoegaze and psychedelia, all within a classic spectator western essence. Modern country music- which seems to be one of the most polarizing genres as of date – abandoned the use of the original cowboys and their significance- replacing is with bops reflecting present rural and suburban lifestyles, keeping the southern twang and cultural references to maintain identityThe tone of Pony is contemplative and raw, not just in production, but emotion. Burdens are being shared, darkness is acknowledged and accepted, and this listening experience becomes a time of reflection with the clear, sublime sky in the dead of night. There is far more about our world and ourselves that we’ve left to discover. The creation of Pony is further reminder that the cowboy spirit is not one to abandon. – Amanda Maceda

Most Underrated Album of the Year:

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Fishing for Fishies

King Gizzard released their long awaited new album, a year and a half is a long time to wait for a King Gizzard project, but blew away expectations with the nine song album. It goes without saying that the band had experimented with a variety of sounds they were unfamiliar to in their discography while also creating a truly King Gizzard experience. The themes of conservatism and veganism change the western aesthetic to a much more modern and relevant sound in this day and age, making it all the more listenable and worthy of this title. While the album is worth listening to all the way through, the tracks “Fishing for Fishies” and “Reals not Real” are my personal favorite tracks.   – John Lawler