It has become the done thing for blogs and entertainment commentators to make a list of what they believe to be the standout songs of the year. Many of these outlets will try to take in cultural impact to influence and explain their decisions, but here at Covert Music Club we just go for the songs that we feel are a mix of the best musical offerings and also the ones that had the biggest personal impact.
As usual, it was a difficult task to undertake. It was also not helped that this was a year when I feel I consumed much less music that I normally would and chose to stick to the songs or artist that I know, rather than branch out into newer and more diverse sounds. Eventually though, it managed to be whittled down to the following five songs.
First of all, here’s some of the honourable mentions.
5. Dan Elliott – Only Ever Been You
This had been a long time coming for the Cork singer/songwriter, after many false dawns the talented performer released his debut single in March of the year and followed it up with two more singles and a string of live headline dates around Dublin. There’s so much to love about this song, from excellent lyrical concepts to the overall sentiment, but ultimately it will just always remind me of her, which is the whole objective of the song in the first place.
4. Billie Eilish – Bad Guy
It’s rare enough that you can remember exactly where you were when you first heard a song, but that’s the case with this one (walking past Supermacs on O’Connell Street in Dublin, and then that bass line came in). Billie Eilish has been floating around the outskirts of music for a few years now with a string of outstanding singles and featured slots, but Bad Guy is the song that heralded her arrival as a global superstar and brought her fantastic debut album to the masses. Awesome.
3. Graham Mitchell – Fantasy Breakup
Another song that had to feature, for the past few years Dublin singer/songwriter Graham Mitchell has become synonymous with well constructed and emotionally loaded music. Fantasy Breakup, released back in May, is the standout single from the Raheny native so far and is a song that is sure to get stuck in your head from the very first listen. Wonderful songwriting.
A song that from the moment I first heard it I knew would be featuring on this list. For a long time now, Irish electronic producer Daithí has been considered one of the leading lights on the music scene for his consistently outstanding releases. His most recent album, L.O.S.S., is further testament to his undeniable talents, and the stream of singles to build up to it left people in no doubt that it would be a wonderful record. Submarines was the best of them, and aided by Ailbhe Reddy’s hauntingly simplistic vocals it proved a standout track from the year.
1. Dermot Kennedy – For Island Fires and Family
Much like the last couple of years, I knew exactly what song would be taking this honour from the moment I first heard it this year. As with most of his songs, Kennedy has had this song tucked away for a few years and it is clear that he has taken care to make it sound this good. Stunning lyrically and beautifully simplistic in terms of instrumentation, it is the song that has left me reeling every time I’ve heard it.
You can find a full Spotify playlist of all the songs that were in consideration for the list below.
Happy New Year, everyone. All the best for 2020.