Yahoo Entertainment's staff picks for the best albums of 2019: From Billie to Bruce, Cave to Clark, Lana to Lizzo

It’s that most wonderful time of the year, which means we’re making our list and checking it twice — our year–end best album list, that is. And the fact that our top two spots are held by a veteran who’s creating his best music in his sixties and a teenager who’s just getting started represents just what a musically diverse and utterly uncategorizable year 2019 truly was.

Billie Eilish had an amazing 2019 — being named Billboard’s Woman of the Year and Variety’s Hitmaker of the Year, picking up six Grammy nods (she’s the youngest artist to ever be nominated in the “Big Four” categories in a single year), and smashing sales and streaming records, all before her 18th birthday. And now the debut album that redefined pop music at the end of this decade, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, is Yahoo Entertainment’s No. 1 album of the year.

But close behind Eilish in the votes is Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ equally impactful Ghosteen — their 17th studio album! — a harrowing song cycle inspired by the death of Cave’s teenage son. And the rest of the list ranges from another veteran artist, Bruce Springsteen, to the unstoppable Lizzo’s collection of fierce and feminist party bangers and Sturgill Simpson’s totally bonkers disco/country/grime opus.

Scroll down to check out wide–ranging individual top 10 lists from our writers, editors, and staffers (along with their thoughts about their No. 1 picks), plus listen to a playlist of Yahoo Entertainment’s carefully tallied overall top 10.

Yahoo Entertainment’s top 10 albums of 2019:

1. Billie Eilish – When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

2. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Ghosteen 

3. Lana Del Rey – Norman F***ing Rockwell

4. Lizzo – Cuz I Love You

5. Gary Clark Jr. – This Land

6. Sturgill Simpson – Sound & Fury

7. Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars 

8. The Raconteurs – Help Us Stranger 

9. Michael Kiwanuka – Kiwanuka

10. Brittany Howard – Jaime

Lyndsey Parker, Yahoo Entertainment music editor

1. The Drums – Brutalism

2. Lizzo – Cuz I Love You

3. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Ghosteen

4. Orville Peck – Pony

5. The Darkness – Easter Is Cancelled

6. Harry Styles – Fine Line

7. Sturgill Simpson – Sound & Fury

8. Billie Eilish – When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

9. Beck – Hyperspace

10. Mr. Hudson – When the Machine Stops

One of the greatest songsmiths and lyricists of his generation — a non–problematic Morrissey for the modern age, if you will — in 2019 the Drums’ Jonny Pierce, always wearing his tattooed heart on this thrift-store sleeve, brought us another swooning, soul-baring, and almost uncomfortably self-aware collection of post-divorce, post-punk anthems. True to its title, Brutalism is brutally honest as it explores themes of lost love, new love, missed connections, broken connections, heartbreak, healing, and all of the messiness in between. “626 Bedford Avenue” is the best single about a one-night stand since Duran Duran’s “Save a Prayer,” the best song of the year… and actually the best thing Pierce has ever written, which is truly saying something.

Ethan Alter, Yahoo Entertainment senior writer

1. Disasterpiece – Under the Silver Lake soundtrack

2. Keegan DeWitt – Her Smell soundtrack  

3. Various artists – Motherless Brooklyn soundtrack 

4. Bob Dylan – The Rolling Thunder Revue: The 1975 Live Recordings 

5. Bruce Springsteen – Blinded by the Light soundtrack 

6. Various artists – The Irishman soundtrack 

7. Michael Abels – Us soundtrack 

8. Taron Egerton – Rocketman soundtrack

9. Various artists – Queen & Slim soundtrack 

10. Matt Morton – Apollo 11 soundtrack 

As a movie, David Robert Mitchell’s 21st century version of sunny Hollywoodland noir pictures like The Long Goodbye and The Big Lebowski doesn’t really work. (See for yourself on Amazon Prime.) As a concept album, though, it totally finds the right groove. Electronica artist Richard Vreeland aka Disasterpiece — who also scored Mitchell’s terrific 2014 horror movie, It Follows — creates a rich, foreboding soundscape out of vintage noir notes and lush melodies. The music tells a complete story... unlike the film it accompanies. —EA

Shawn Amos, writer

1. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Ghosteen

2. Brittany Howard – Jaime

3. Billie Eilish – When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

4. Solange – When I Get Home

5. Lizzo – Cuz I Love You

6. Joe Henry – The Gospel According to Water

7. Pernice Brothers – Spread the Feeling

8. Gary Clark Jr. – This Land

9. Wilco – Ode to Joy

10. Yola – Walk Through Fire

Ghosteen requires three precious things is short supply in this silicon pop stone age: an open heart, patience, and introspection. Nick Cave once again looks into the belly of the beast but this time sees the beauty. The album’s fragility and unsparing heartache is exactly its healing power. Life and death reshape us in every moment. —SA

Steve Baltin, Forbes senior contributor/LiveXLive editorial director/veteran Yahoo freelancer

1. Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars 

2. The National – I Am Easy to Find

3. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Ghosteen

4. Gary Clark Jr. – This Land

5. Joy Williams – The Front Porch

6. Avett Brothers – Closer Than Together

7. MUNA – Saves the World 

8. Billie Eilish – When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

9. Jeff Lynne's ELO – From Out of Nowhere

10. Robbie Robertson – Sinematic

While much was made of the sonic departure Western Stars is for Springsteen, the brilliant storytelling, humanity, and much–needed optimism on songs like "Hello Sunshine" are vintage Bruce. And the beauty and depth of the album are only enhanced by the superb accompanying film and the live renditions of the songs with full orchestra. —SB

Robert Burke, writer

1. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Ghosteen

2. Lana Del Rey – Norman F***ing Rockwell

3. Iggy Pop Free

4. The National – I Am Easy to Find

5. Wilco – Ode to Joy

6. Angel Olsen – All Mirrors

7. FKA twigs – Magdalene

8. Tool – Fear Inoculum

9. Sturgill Simpson – Sound & Fury

10. Purple Mountains – Purple Mountains

“I feel the presence of my son, all around, but he may not be there. I hear him talk to me, parent me, guide me, though he may not be there. He visits [my wife] Susie in her sleep regularly, speaks to her, comforts her, but he may not be there,” Nick Cave writes in a letter to a fan on how he deals with the grief of losing his 15–year old son. Ghosteen completely devastated me and left me screaming to the heavens in hope for a loving God. —RB

Dave DiMartino, writer

1. Sean O’Hagen – Radum Calls, Radum Calls 

2. Spearmint – Are You From the Future? 

3. The Drums – Brutalism 

4. The Apartments – Live at L’Ubu

5. Bibio – Ribbons

6. The Catenary Wires – ‘Til The Morning 

7. Tim Buckley – Live At The Electric Theatre Company, Chicago, 3–4 May, 1968 

8.Gold Celeste – The Gentle Maverick 

9. Beangrowers – Dystopia EP 

10. Momus – Akkordian

I keep coming back to Radum Calls, Radum Calls, the marvelous new album from Sean O’Hagen — once of Microdisney, maybe still of the High Llamas, and a man whose music seems to be coming from another plane entirely. It has been a very good year for new music, and I couldn’t be more enthused about it. Seriously! —DD

Jim Farber, writer

1. Tanya Tucker – While I'm Livin'

2. Michael Kiwanuka – Kiwanuka

3. Fontaines D.C. – Dorgel

4. The Hu – The Gereg

5. Sam Fender – Hypersonic Missiles

6. Billie Eilish – When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

7. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Ghosteen 

8. Bon Iver – I,I

9. Brittany Howard – Jaime

10. Sturgill Simpson – Sound & Fury

On Tanya Tucker's first album of original material in nearly two decades, the 60–year–old did something she had never done before. With considerable cajoling from producer/writer Brandi Carlile, Tucker removed all the filters and softeners from her sound to lay her soul bare. The strategy echoed the one Rick Rubin used on the later Johnny Cash recordings. But Carlile (and her writing partners) went a step further to create songs tailor–made for Tucker's outlaw character. The result? A comeback album that brought an already stellar career to a new peak. —JF

Todd Garrin, Yahoo Entertainment & Lifestyle producer

1. Lana Del Rey – Norman F***ing Rockwell

2. Beck – Hyperspace

3. Keane – Cause and Effect

4. Lizzo – Cuz I Love You

5. Billie Eilish – When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? 

6. David Byrne – American Utopia on Broadway

7. Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars

8. Carly Rae Jepsen – Dedicated

9. Solange – When I Get Home

10. FKA twigs – Magdalene

Not only did she make a great album, but she dropped an F– bomb in the title. Dropping just as the sun set on summer, Del Rey delivered her best album since 2014's Ultraviolence — something we can all be f***ing grateful for. —TG

Magdalena Guillen, Yahoo frontpage editor

 1. Karen O & Danger Mouse – Lux Prima 

 2. The Black Keys – Let’s Rock

 3. Lana Del Rey – Norman F***ing Rockwell

 4. Gary Clark Jr. – This Land 

 5. Harry Styles – Fine Line

 6. Sturgill Simpson – Sound & Fury

 7. Orville Peck – Pony

 8. Billie Eilish – When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? 

 9. Midland – Let it Roll

 10. Lizzo – Cuz I Love You

Lux Prima isn’t just my top album –– I’ll be controversial and actually say it’s one of my favorite albums of all time. Karen O’s immaculate voice (and Danger Mouse’s production) takes you on a journey throughout space and time, exploring the depths and peaks of a cosmic universe filled with nebulas of power, constellations of tenderness, and bad–assery — all while revolving around the themes of self–reflection and rebirth. With this album, it’s all about the journey, not the destination. —MG

Sofia Fernandez, Yahoo Entertainment senior manager, video

1. Deerhunter – Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared? 

2. The Raconteurs – Help Us Stranger 

3. Marika Hackman – Any Human Friend 

4. Michael Kiwanuka – Kiwanuka 

5. Wand – Laughing Matter

6. Karen O & Danger Mouse – Lux Prima 

7. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Ghosteen

8. Brittany Howard – Jaime

9. Angel Olsen – All Mirrors

10. The National – I Am Easy to Find

Deerhunter's eighth studio effort is indie rock in all its blissful, introspective, melodic, experimental glory. Opener "Death in Midsummer" sets the tone for what's to come, crafting thought–provoking lyrics and unconventional instrumentation into an alterna–pop song for the ages. Standout tracks include "Midsummer," "Element," "What Happens to People," and "Futurism." —SF

Laura Ferreiro, writer

1. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Ghosteen

2. Karen O & Danger Mouse – Lux Prima

3. Vampire Weekend – Father of the Bride

4. Bat for Lashes – Lost Girls

5. Michael Kiwanuka – Kiwanuka

6. Angel Olsen – All Mirrors

7. Billie Eilish – When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

8. Weyes Blood – Titanic Rising

9. Keane – Cause and Effect

10. Wilco – Ode to Joy

Haunting, heart–wrenching, and achingly beautiful, Ghosteen finds consummate songwriter Cave grappling with the death of his teenage son, traversing the long and winding path that grief can take us down with all of its unexpected twists and turns. Offering up despair and transcendence in equal measure, Cave’s powerful lyrics are punctuated by muted pianos, soaring strings, and synthesizers. It’s a melancholy lament to be sure, but ultimately it’s incredibly hopeful. —LF

Joel Huerto, Yahoo frontpage editor

1. Taylor Swift – Lover

2. Blackpink – Kill This Love

3. Post Malone – Hollywood's Bleeding

4. Lil Nas X – 7

5. Bad Bunny – X 100pre

6. BTS – Map of the Soul: Persona

7. DaBaby – Baby on Baby

8. Ariana Grande – Thank U, Next

9. Billie Eilish – When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

10. Camila Cabello – Romance

Whether you like Taylor Swift or not — I fall somewhere in between — you have to respect her undeniable talent both as a singer and songwriter. Even though she didn't completely shed her immature reputation, her seventh studio album Lover was honest and deeply personal. You could say it was produced with more heart than Braun. Oops! I meant to say brawn. —JH

Liz Kiernan, Yahoo Entertainment & Lifestyle commerce director

1. Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars 

2. The Who – WHO

3. Mercury Rev – Bobbie Gentry's The Delta Sweete Revisited 

4. Jenny Lewis – On the Line 

5. Leonard Cohen – Thanks for the Dance 

6. Kim Gordon – No Home Record 

7. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Ghosteen

8. Duff McKagan – Tenderness

9. Iggy Pop – Free 

10. Harry Nilsson—Losst and Found 

Bruce’s solo acoustic projects are doomed to comparison with 1982’s Nebraska. This, his first studio album in five years, is not as stark and elegiac as that minor masterpiece. Instead, it’s a collection of spirited yet soulful ballads that leave a whiff of sagebrush and the images of Monument Valley in their wake. —LK

Jen Kucsak, Yahoo Entertainment senior producer

1. Backstreet Boys – DNA

2. Jonas Brothers – Happiness Begins

3. Taylor Swift – Lover

4. Ariana Grande – Thank U, Next

5. Lana Del Rey – Norman F***ing Rockwell

6. Lizzo – Cuz I love You

7. Billie Eilish – When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

8. Mika – My Name Is Michael Holbrook

9. Coldplay – Everyday Life

10. Mark Ronson – Late Night Feelings

Backstreet's Back — alright! — and they were partying like it's 1999 on their latest album. Twenty years on, they still showcased their classic Backstreet sound, but with a new twist… and Brian, Kevin, Nick, Howie, and AJ sounded better than ever. —JK

William Laws, Yahoo frontpage editor

1. The Chemical Brothers – No Geography 

2. Charli XCX – Charli

3. Billie Eilish – When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

4. Bon Iver – I,I

5. Tyler, The Creator – Igor 

6. Lana Del Rey – Norman F***ing Rockwell

7. Tinlicker – This Is Not Our Universe 

8. Clairo – Immunity 

9. Karen O & Danger Mouse – Lux Prima 

10. Tourist – Everyday

The Chemical Brothers’ ninth album might be their most unabashedly fun and club–ready yet. Having ignored and outlasted the EDM trend that dominated dance music for the early part of this decade, the Manchester natives have refreshed their early “big beat” and “rocktronica” sounds to something more digestible for the average listener. Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons have been doing this for 30 years, but they’re still on the cutting edge of a genre they helped usher into the mainstream. —WL

Lori Majewski, SiriusXM host/veteran Yahoo freelancer

1. The Highwomen – The Highwomen 

2. Lana Del Rey – Norman F***ing Rockwell

3. Tanya Tucker – While I’m Livin’

4. Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars

5. Coldplay – Everyday Life 

6. FKA twigs – Magdalene

7. Mark Ronson – Late Night Feelings 

8. King Princess – Cheap Queen

9. Billie Eilish – When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

10. Harry Styles – Fine Line

Man, did we need the Highwomen in 2019. With country radio playing nearly nine male artists for every female one according to SongData, the badass country supergroup of Brandi Carlile, Maren Morris, Amanda Shires, and Natalie Hemby walked into the saloon with their guns drawn. And armed with this near–perfect album of anthems representing a rainbow of female experiences — mother, daughter, gay, straight, freedom fighter, taken–for–granted prisoner of a s***ty relationship — they shot a bullseye. 

Ryan Miller, Yahoo Entertainment & Lifestyle senior SEO strategist

1. The Beat – Public Confidential

2. The Prizefighters – Firewalk

3. The Aggrolites – Reggae Now!

4. The New York Ska–Jazz Ensemble – Break Thru

5. Catbite – Catbite

6. Stop the Presses – Money in the Bank

7. Eastern Standard Time – Time for Change

8. The Abruptors – Love and Other Disasters

9. Joker’s Republic – Falling Behind

10. The Specials – Encore

The Beat’s Public Confidential may have been one of the earliest releases of 2019, but still hits as the best album of the year. Released shortly before the death of frontman Ranking Roger, it provides extremely danceable ska tunes that both call back to the classic records of the Beat (known as the English Beat in the U.S.) with “Who’s Dat Looking” and “Long Call Short Talk” and continue to move forward with new arrangements like “Skank Away.” As with any decent British ska record, social commentary and messaging isn’t going to be far from the constant upbeat, and Public Confidential offers that in spades, giving the listener something to chew on while tapping one’s feet from gun violence to false accusations and imprisonment, and the fight for racial harmony. —RM

Kamilah Newton, Yahoo Lifestyle journalist

1. Burna Boy – African Giant

2. Megan Thee Stallion – Fever

3. DaBaby – Baby on Baby

4. Beyoncé – Homecoming

5. Drake – Care Package

6. Ms. Banks – Coldest Winter Ever Pt. 2

7. Ari Lennox – Shea Butter Baby

8. Mahalia – Love and Compromise

9. Dave – Psychodrama

10. Anderson .Paak – Ventura

The combination of Burna Boy's infectious Afrobeat melodies, energies, and his ability to teach, speak to, and feed the soul has made this album my No 1. —KN

Rob O’Connor, writer

1. Peter Laughner – Peter Laughner

2. The National Lights – Whom the Sea Will Keep EP 

3. The Replacements – Dead Man’s Pop

4. Bob Dylan – The Rolling Thunder Revue: The 1975 Live Recordings

5. Gene Clark – No Other, Deluxe Edition

6. Damien Jurado – In the Shape of a Storm

7. Swans – Leaving Meaning

8. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Ghosteen

9. Shana Falana – Darkest Light

10. Craig Finn – I Need a New War

Peter Laughner died in 1977 at age 24 and has been a touchstone for ‘70s punks who also loved singer–songwriters like Tim Hardin, Van Morrison, and Bob Dylan ever since. This self–titled 5LP/CD box collects and curates his writings in a generous book and, of course, his music that was rarely recorded under professional care. Home tapes, radio station performances, cover songs galore and a number of stunning originals that never made it to Rocket From the Tombs or Pere Ubu — the two bands whose names and legends will be considered important among serious rock scholars/fans for eternity where Cinderella Backstreet sadly will not — make this the most fascinating release of 2019. Now, you can’t say you weren’t warned. —RO

Nick Paschal, Yahoo Entertainment senior producer

1. The Raconteurs – Help Us Stranger

2. The Heavy – Sons

3. Cage the Elephant – Social Cues

4. Gary Clark Jr. – This Land

5. The Black Keys – Let's Rock

6. Brittany Howard – Jaime

7. Beck – Hyperspace

8. Michael Kiwanuka – Kiwanuka

9. Roses and Cigarettes – Echoes and Silence

10. Band of Skulls – Love Is All You Love

Jack White returned with Brendan Benson and the rest of the Raconteurs for their first album in over a decade, and the boys picked up right where they left off with this bluesy rollercoaster of rock. The album starts off hot with "Bored and Razed," which was clearly born out of their Detroit rock roots, but doesn't stay in high gear for long as it downshifts to more chill tracks like "Only Child." Hopefully, we won't have to wait another 11 years before these guys hit the studio again. —NP

Kevin Polowy, Yahoo Entertainment senior correspondent

1. Little Brother – May the Lord Watch

2. Lion Babe – Cosmic Wind

3. Choosey & Exile – Black Beans

4. Rapsody – Eve

5. Kemba – Gilda

6. Benny the Butcher – The Plugs I Met EP

7. Lianna – Como el Agua

8. Sampa the Great – The Return

9. Otis Junior & Dr. Dundiff – Cool

10. Homeboy Sandman – Dusty

It's been nine long years since the last Little Brother album, the under–the–radar and admittedly underwhelming Leftback, even if North Cackalack mic ambassadors Phonte and Rapper Big Pooh have each been prolific as solo artists over that LB–less era. But what a blessing they've left with May the Lord Watch, a lean and mean 37–minute, 15–track (including five unskippably hilarious skits) collection that proves they're right in the thick of their primes and might just be the best work they've ever done — all the more impressive considering longtime beat maestro 9th Wonder sat this one out. From the Common/"Light"–esque "Sittin Alone" to the neck snapping "Black Magic," this is grown–folks rap at its very finest and purest. More please, LB! —KP

Arjuna Ramgopal, Yahoo Entertainment & Lifestyle senior producer

1. Lizzo – Cuz I Love You

2. Michael Abels – Us soundtrack

3. Taron Egerton – Rocketman

4. Billie Eilish – When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? 

5. Solange – When I Get Home

6. Himesh Pate – Yesterday

7. Various artists – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

8. Various artists – Blinded by the Light

9. Ariana Grande – Thank U, Next

10. Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross – Watchmen: Volume 1

Cuz I Love You by Lizzo is packed with hits from top to bottom, providing one of the most complete albums in 2019. “Juice” is an instant classic, but Lizzo shows her range by slowing it down for songs like “Jerome” and “Lingerie.” There's something in this album for everybody, and it's such an enjoyable listen from beginning to end. —AR

Craig Rosen, writer

1. The Minus Five – Stroke Manor

2. Vampire Weekend – Father of the Bride

3. Mercury Rev – Bobbie Gentry's Georgia Sweete Revisited

4. Billie Eilish – When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

5. Lana Del Rey – Norman F***ing Rockwell

6. Lizzo – Cuz I Love You

7. The Raconteurs – Help Us Stranger

8. Anderson .Paak – Ventura

9. Gary Clark Jr. – This Land

10. Jenny Lewis – On the Line

The Minus Five's Stroke Manor isn't just an album — it's a testament to survival and recovery. In November 2017, singer–songwriter Scott McCaughey suffered a life–threatening stroke; as he recovered and regained control of his faculties, he wrote the songs that make up Stroke Manor, which are alternatively rocking, haunting, and strangely uplifting. —CR

Jon Wiederhorn, Raising Hell: Backstage Tales From the Lives of Metal Legends author/veteran Yahoo freelancer

1, Tool – Fear Inoculum

2. Thom Yorke – Anima

3. Lana Del Rey – Norman F***ing Rockwell

4. Slipknot – We Are Not Your Kind

5. Sharon Van Etten – Remind Me Tomorrow

6. Baronness – Gold & Grey

7. Kim Gordon – No Home Record

8. Alcest – Spiritual Instinct

9. Opeth – In Cauda Venenum

10. John Luther Adams – Became Desert

Psychedelic alt–metal legends Tool were dormant for 13 years while the music world changed around them. But any question of the band's continued relevance was immediately dispelled by one listen to Fear Inoculum,  a visceral yet ethereal 80–minute exploration of the inner and outer self and beyond. Now that Rush have left the radar as the world preeminent progressive hard rockers, Tool should proudly ascend the podium to represent. If only they'd represent a little bit sooner next time. —JW

Chris Willman, Variety features editor/veteran Yahoo freelancer

1. Taylor Swift – Lover

2. The Highwomen – The Highwomen

3. Billie Eilish – When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

4. The Raconteurs – Help Us Stranger

5. The New Pornographers – In the Morse Code of Brake Lights

6. Leonard Cohen – Thanks for the Dance

7. Maren Morris – Girl

8. Yola – Walk Through Fire

9. Ariana Grande – Thank U, Next

10. Tanya Tucker – While I’m Livin’

How rarely does it happen that the most popular artist in the world is also the one turning out the best string of albums? Well, the Beatles did it, and you’d be hard–pressed to cite anyone else who’s pulled off that double duty since. After the darker turn of Reputation, Swift returned with a more sprawling tour de force, focusing on the promised songs of newfound love and contentedness but also taking detours for outward–leaning subjects like feminism, gay pride, grief, and even American dystopianism. Because we still need some shadows in our pop deliriums. —CW

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