Every year the Happy Mag team collates our 100 favourite songs released by Australian and New Zealand artists, in order. This year, and henceforth, we’re calling it The Happy 100.
2019 was a monumental year for music, to say the least. Psychedelia and punk continued to ring aloud in Australia, two distinctly different breeds of music yearning for the same thing – escapism. Indie rock and pop enjoyed more time in the sun as dedicated online fan communities swelled ever further. Hip hop in Australia and New Zealand sounded more global than ever, and electronic music persistently found new and fantastical ways to transform.
Ten thousand words wouldn’t be enough to describe the beautiful mess that 2019 was, so let’s leave it with a statement that seems to sum things up nicely; musicians from this part of the globe never stop surprising us. Now, let’s have the music do some talking, shall we?
Find The Happy 100 of 2019 below – and if Spotify’s your jam, you can follow a playlist with all the songs here.
100. Full Flower Moon Band – Roadie
99. Babe Rainbow – Morning Song
98. Vast Hill – Heartbreaker
97. These New South Whales – In The Light Of Day
96. Roy Irwin – Awful
95. Rebel Yell – Night Drive
94. Private Function – Talking To Myself
93. Kitten Heel – Peephole Gallery
92. Olympia – Shoot To Forget
91. Sarah Mary Chadwick – The Queen Who Stole The Sky
90. Candy – Feel
89. Kira Puru – Everything Is Better Without You
88. Love Deluxe – Campari & Coke
87. ARSE – Safe Word
86. DZ Deathrays – IN-TO-IT
85. Yumi Zouma – Bruise
84. S.J. Smith – Shinjuku Love Hotel
83. Seaside – Sycamore
82. SCABZ – Feel Good Summer
81. Ainsley Farrell – Dark Spell
80. VOIID – Vile
79. The Laurels – Monkey On My Back
78. Courtney Barnett – Everybody Here Hates You
77. BLAND – The Common Ground
76. COFFIN – Be Gone
75. Party Dozen – Party Dozen
74. Hatchie – Obsessed
73. Eliza & The Delusionals – Just Exist
72. L-Fresh The Lion – Alchemy
71. Last Dinosaurs – FMU
70. Rosa Maria – Howlin’
69. Caitlin Harnett & The Pony Boys – Make You Feel Blue
68. Triple One – Butter
67. Pist Idiots – Motor Runnin
66. Johnny Hunter – Ashamed
65. Mildlife – How Long Does It Take?
64. Alex Lahey – Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself
63. Body Type – Insomnia
62. The Buoys – Inside Outside
61. Boy & Bear – Hold Your Nerve
60. Julia Why? – Starman
59. PLANET – Never New
58. Tiny Ruins – Holograms
57. Press Club – Behave
56. Crocodylus – Motivation
55. Benee – Evil Spider
54. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Self-Immolate
53. Le Shiv – No Freak
52. Baker Boy – Cool As Hell
51. Brightness – Feathers
50. Spike Fuck – Body By Crystal
49. I Know Leopard – Heather
48. Citizen Kay – Ego
47. Middle Kids – Real Thing
46. San Cisco – Skin
45. Egoism – What Are We Doing?
44. Spacey Jane – Good For You
43. Bec Sandridge – Eyes Wide
42. Tropical Fuck Storm – Paradise
41. Harvey Sutherland – Something In The Water
40. Sunscreen – High Over Love
39. Amyl & The Sniffers – Gacked on Anger
38. A. Swayze & The Ghosts – Connect To Consume
37. Collarbones – Deep
36. Soaked Oats – Coming Up
35. Georgia June – Prove Myself
34. Emerson Snowe – Human
33. Shady Nasty – Get Buff
32. Dying Adolescence – Pray 4 Me
31. Cool Sounds – More To Enjoy
30. Lime Cordiale – Money
29. Hayley Mary – The Piss, The Perfume
28. The Chats – Pub Feed
27. Shining Bird – Who Are We
26. 100 – Just Us
25. Genesis Owusu – WUTD
24. Sunbeam Sound Machine – Talking Distance
23. Bad//Dreems – Morning Rain
22. Alex Cameron – Miami Memory
21. Jack River – Adolescent
20. Tame Impala – Posthumous Forgiveness
19. WAAX – FU
18. Julia Jacklin – Pressure To Party
17. Carla Geneve – 2001
16. Lola Scott – Warzone of the Suburbs
15. DMA’s – Silver
14. Briggs – Life Is Incredible
13. GODTET – Enumerating
12. Annie Hamilton – Kitchen
11. Stella Donnelly – Old Man
RAT!hammock truly hit their stride in 2019, and Ghost was a key moment. It played elegantly to the lo-fi sound they’d established, but also packed a chorus you’d easily associate with a band one hundred times their size.
Despite the image their name might conjure, RAT!hammock are one of Melbourne’s brightest upcoming acts.
Alexandra, RVG’s first slice of new music since their 2017 debut full-length A Quality Of Mercy, melds personal and political themes in a meditative and distinctly Australian way.
As frontwoman Romy Vager tackles various levels of oppression and marginalisation, she delivers one of the most commanding vocal performances of the past 12 months.
Gone are the days when Pond were jamming in whoever’s house was free, (presumably) smoking weed, and writing about space and shit. Their last two studio albums, The Weather and Tasmania, are fully-realised conceptual pieces.
Countering the widely-realised misery of the modern world, Pond opt for fanfare and revelry. The jubilant Daisy celebrates this spirit in full.
Thelma Plum’s debut album Better In Blak is about resilience, self-love, and triumph. The title track turns insult into armour, a poppy song that silences Plum’s misogynistic and racist haters without adding any unnecessary fuel to the fire.
Throwing positivity and a hit single back at those who want to see your career dry up – that’s a power move.
Pasta was released as a single from Angie McMahon’s debut album Salt — never have one without a sprinkle of the other. It’s a ballad for existential millennial dread, a sensation of being lost that no amount of hot cannelloni will fix.
Yet, the track is upbeat and exuberant. If you too are feeling adrift, know there’s always time for celebration – even if it’s just in the privacy of your own bedroom.
In 2013, Gordon Koang fled his home country of South Sudan to seek asylum in Australia. Now, with the help of Melbourne label Music In Exile, Koang has released a string of the 2019’s most memorable singles.
Stand Up (Clap Your Hands) is a clear standout. The track is a joyous call for audiences to join Koang in dance, and we can’t imagine many people resisting.
Fixture Picture is one of Aldous Harding’s most straightforward love songs. By Harding’s standards, however, that may not mean much.
The opening track of her acclaimed third studio album, Designer, is a brilliantly surreal dream-folk gem that further broadens her rich and idiosyncratic catalogue.
The title track from Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ 17th studio album, Ghosteen, is a celestial parent; a transient spirit. Clocking in at over 12 minutes, the song is one of Cave’s most beautiful compositions – it’s surreal and heavenly, floating between bleak ambient balladry and a singular euphoric pop chorus.
As Cave weaves imagery of watching television with his family and washing the clothes of a lost loved one, he crafts one of the most powerful gut-punches of 2019.
Upon first glance, Jonathan Bree’s only single of 2019, Waiting On The Moment, seemed to signal a bright new direction for the regularly melancholic New Zealand songwriter. But beneath the sweeping string arrangements and swollen choruses creeped a bleak tale of modern love.
Nevertheless, as is custom with Bree’s music, we’ve had this one trapped in our heads since we first laid ears on it.
We’d say 2019 was Sampa The Great’s year, but she’s been hitting nothing but net since day dot. After warming our bones with two highly acclaimed mixtapes, one of the finest – if not the finest – rapper in contemporary Australian music finally dropped her debut album last year.
The Return was a monstrous listen, a 77-minute marathon with self-enlightenment at every turn. At the heart of this sense of discovery, Final Form blossoms.
Final Form is a union of everything Sampa holds at her artistic heart – her culture, her family, contemporary hip-hop, and more – a fusion of many pieces, mightier as a whole.