Dom O’Connor and Laneway Festival’s Ruby Miles wrap up the year so far featuring genre benders, pop innovators, Irish punk belters and, of course, the all-conquering Lizzo.

‘WUTD’

Genesis Owusu

It’s hard to think of a more promising young Australian musician than Genesis Owusu, and ‘WUTD’ is a perfect showcase of his growing confidence in his silky-smooth falsetto and further genre explorations. About as far away from his frenetic, ‘goon squad’ assisted live show as you could get, ‘WUTD’ is a hooky slice of future R&B from a musician whose cross-genre possibilities seem endless. – Dom O’Connor

‘The Barrel’

Aldous Harding

Harding delivers folk with an undeniably unique twist and ‘The Barrel’ sets you up for an album full of surprises. The classic “Harding twist” comes not from the male voice woven into the track but her high-pitched backing vocals which give off the impression of an inner-child trying to harmonise. – Ruby Miles

‘Mile High’ (ft. Travis Scott)

James Blake

For a while it seemed every big name in hip-hop had James Blake in the studio, but ‘Mile High’ from Assume Form – an early contender for album of the year – is the first time he’s returned the favour. On ‘Mile High’, Blake tones down a trappy beat and showcases Travis Scott’s softer side to shape a modern love ballad. – Ruby Miles

‘Sunflower’

Vampire Weekend

A wholesome story of a student becoming a teacher (or collaborator, in this case). The Internet’s Steve Lacy first reached out to Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig as a fan, telling him that their 2008 debut hit ‘A-Punk’ was the first song he ever learnt on guitar. A decade later and he was asked to lend his incredible guitar skills and vocals to a whimsical Vampire Weekend comeback. Who knew two voices, styles and guitars could make music so musically and passionately in sync. – Ruby Miles

‘Juice’

Lizzo

Lizzo has taken up all the space for pop divas in 2019. Everyone else can go home. ‘Juice’ has it all: a funky beat, a catchy pop chorus, and a soulful brass ensemble. The track unapologetically drips in self love and confidence; a theme that is woven heavily throughout her album Cuz I Love You. – Ruby Miles

‘Vossi Bop’

Stormzy

How many words rhyme with ‘Vossi Bop’? Quite a few, according to lyrical legend Stormzy. It’s actually the Croydon rapper’s vivid, creative lyricism and squeaky clean delivery that make this track such a huge hit. Combined with a less-is-more production style, this will have you moving your head along whether you know how to ‘Vossi Bop’ or not. To date, this has to be the coolest song about a dance trend. It’s 2019 okay? We don’t dab, we Vossi Bop. – Ruby Miles

‘Ordinary Pleasure’

Toro Y Moi

The funk train is back in 2019 and Toro Y Moi is driving it. Over bongos and a slinky bass line, Toro Y Moi explores themes of being overwhelmed and existential in a busy, inner-city, 21st century life. Although the lyrical content is concerning, his voice has a comforting and reassuring tone, perhaps to remind us that all will be alright as long as the music is groovy. – Ruby Miles

‘Ghost’

RAT!hammock

The indie rock anthem of the first half of the year comes from Melbourne four-piece RAT!hammock. Ghost provides the perfect dose of ‘90s grunge/indie nostalgia and chant-able emo lyrics. This will get the teenage hormones flowing and heads banging. Flannels not included. – Ruby Miles

‘Plains’

Deerhunter

‘Plains’ is another example of Bradford Cox and Deerhunter’s ageing into contentment; a beautifully simple, Afro-pop accented moment of clarity where Cox’s voice sounds both calm and considered as pristine synths wash over him in the chorus. Coming from a man (and band) that used to vomit blood on stage, it’s astonishing how comfortable these mid-tempo sounds come off, and how they’re managing to remain impossible to pin down more than 10 years into their career. – Dom O’Connor

‘Ghostride’

Crumb

It’s been a meteoric rise for New York cool-kids Crumb, and ‘Ghostride’ is a prime example of why. Lila Ramani’s vocals have the perfect edge of insouciant cool and a warm butteriness to them, as ‘Ghostride’s shaggy groove and jazzy chords saunter the song to conclusion. If not quite a shot out of the dark, ‘Ghostride’ is a proper we-are-here moment for Crumb. – Dom O’Connor

‘Earfquake’

Tyler The Creator

If 2017’s Flower Boy was hailed as a new beginning for Tyler Okonma, ‘Igor’ proves that was only the start for possibly the most interesting young creative mind in music today. ‘Earfquake’ simmers with a barely-contained heartache, matching Tyler’s pitched-up vocals (taken from the song’s original demo and re-purposed) with booming drums and dystopian synth blurbles. It’s a brave, startlingly original step for rap’s former enfant terrible into pop stardom. – Dom O’Connor

‘Boys In The Better Land’

Fontaines D.C.

‘Boys In The Better Land’ hurtles forward, the song’s momentum carried by stampeding guitars and frontman Grian Chatten’s distinctly-Oirish brogue. It’s a biting satire of xenophobia, delivered with both venom and authenticity, and a frisky introduction to a bright new voice in guitar music. ‘Boys In The Better Land’ dances around like a prize fighter until it lands its proper, stinging blow. – Dom O’Connor

‘Doorman’

Slowthai

A pulsating collaboration between Slowthai and Mura Masa, ‘Doorman’ spits with a virulent rage, Slowthai sounding like a man possessed over the throbbing, constantly surging beat. There’s no hook or B section to it, nor does their need to be- the magnetism of Slowthai’s delivery and the Aphex Twin-aping beat are more than enough to fill the song’s run-time. – Dom O’Connor

‘Butter’

Triple One

‘Butter’ is a noticeable outlier in Tripleone’s discography- the song’s mournful hook contrasting beautifully with the verses, energetic without being overly so and with a polish that proves Tripleone are truly operating at the peak of their powers. ‘Butter’ sticks out next to the fury of a typical Tripleone song, and its light and shade and attention to detail are what make it truly special. – Dom O’Connor

‘Bad Guy’

Billie Eilish

The most meme-able pop song of the year (not an insult), ‘Bad Guy’ is a perfect actualisation of Eilish’s specific teen horror aesthetic and the moment where she went from a teen idol into a full-blown pop star. The addictive bass-line (that tick!) and deliciously soft vocal delivery from Eilish are examples of her (and brother Finneas) becoming masters of making anomalistic, insanely catchy songs that feel specific to her. – Dom O’Connor

‘Cellophane’

FKA Twigs

A triumphant return from this genre-bending goddess, ‘Cellophane’ is a raw showcase of Twigs’ stunning vocal range. After years of silence, she finally speaks up about her personal life, creating a moment that’s chaotic, powerful and vulnerable. – Ruby Miles

‘Jailbreak The Tesla’ (ft. Anime)

Injury Reserve

On ‘Jailbreak The Tesla’, Arizonan hip-hop trio Injury Reserve turn a childish fantasy into a 2019 pop culture anthem. Dripping in millennial nostalgia, the track nods to the iconic Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift theme song in the production to the concept of ‘Jailbreaking’ (the late 00’s trend of hacking into your phone for ultimate customisation). – Ruby Miles

‘In Your Head’

Nilüfer Yanya

Nilufer Yanya gives us the three Ps: punk, pop and paranoia in her musical existential crisis. ‘In Your Head’ is the musical equivalent of her barging into a room, screaming. The song feels like a stream of consciousness of inner anxieties from a lack of validation of her feelings, leaving you no room for your own thoughts. – Ruby Miles

‘Tricks’

Stella Donnelly

‘Tricks’ is yet another powerful feminist anthem, sugar coated and rich in Stella Donnelly’s unique tone. It’s as playful and cheeky as the rest of her debut record, using sweet vocals and tongue-in cheek references to Aussie pop culture to call out men falling behind with the times. – Ruby Miles

‘Borderline’

Tame Impala

Tame Impala trade in the psychedelic guitars that made them for a strutting disco-pop song that is somehow still unmistakably theirs. We all knew Kevin Parker was going to dip his toes into a poppier realm when he moved to LA and started producing for the likes of Lady Gaga. And on ‘Borderline’ he places a silky smooth baseline under a real earworm of a hook. – Ruby Miles

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