From ‘Old Town Road’ to ‘Sweet but Psycho’: The 25 Most-Consumed Songs of 2019

It’s almost time to say goodbye to 2019 and the horse it rode in on — or the horse that dominated the conversation for the better part of the year, at least: Lil Nas X’s. If, 12 months ago, anyone had told us the coming year would be defined by a gay black man peddling country tropes, an all-shapes-and-sizes glorifying soul shouter and a critically acclaimed waif who felt like Kate Bush reincarnated into a rock ’n’ roll high school… we’d have wondered whether all those new pot shops were lacing their product with something stronger than the law allows. But here’s something we did all see coming: the continuing trend of increasing consumption numbers that music executives only dreamed about just a decade ago, and a healthy ecosystem that breeds fresh superstar anomalies as well as bread-and-butter pop smashes. 

As our Hitmaker of the Year and six-time Grammy nominee Billie Eilish tells it, the sound of 2019 is “pretty genre-less. This year has been about accepting and/or just being open to new stuff that doesn’t necessarily have a specific sound.” Adds her producer-brother Finneas: “There aren’t a lot of sound-alikes this year. Even the top five that we were in for a minute, where it was ‘Bad Guy,’ ‘Old Town Road,’ ‘Señorita’ and ‘Truth Hurts’  — those are pretty different songs, right?” 

Yes, and with pretty different teams behind them, too, but just about all sharing a talent for turning the slightly peculiar into the monumentally popular. The sonic diversity of 2019 owes a lot to the executives working in A&R, publishing, management, promotion, marketing and commerce, each a vital part of a pop ecosystem that feels healthier and more exciting than it has in maybe decades. Here’s to the creatives and execs who fed us hits so memorable that the world will still be grooving to some of them when Lil Nas has bought his farm and Billie Eilish is deep into her dotage.

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