Our favourite local music from the past year in one sprawling Spotify playlist – throbbing DIY party hits to sensitive soul, championship celebrations to pop-punk introspection
What did Toronto sound like this year?
That question might have been easy to answer a few years ago (even if it was never as sum-upable as we thought it was), but as we move into the 2020s after a breakout decade for music from Toronto, the sound of the city feels more slippery than ever. Just look at this year’s best Toronto albums list – there’s bars-heavy hip-hop, sensitive soul, fist-raising pop-punk, capitalism-defying post-punk, instrumental psych and outlaw country.
While compiling this 101 best Toronto songs of 2019 playlist, though, a few themes did present themselves. The Raptors won their first championship this year, and the city’s rappers perked right up. The sounds of the city’s DIY dance underground started to find their way onto wax (or SoundCloud streams). Pop and hip-hop absorbed influences from all the diverse influences that make up the city’s culture and slang. And that local vibe trojan horsed itself into some music you wouldn’t necessarily know had Toronto fingerprints on it – artists like the Mountain Goats via Owen Pallett, Kanye West via Sean Leon and Taylor Swift via the kids of Regent Park School of Music. Somehow even Snow’s long-ago hit Informer found its way back onto the charts with some help from global reggaeton giant Daddy Yankee.
The city is batting a high average when it comes to music, and you can hear it in this sprawling playlist. The only real rule to putting it together was to cap it at 101 songs (harder than you might think) and that each artist could only be represented once (with a few little exceptions here and there). It’s been sequenced to flow from start to finish, so you can start at the top and let it play through. Or start playing anywhere and listen for a while. Or just hit shuffle and see what comes up.