In the year 2009, music lovers around the world have been treated to an eclectic mix of standout releases, memorable concerts, and unforgettable stories.

Here, we’re going to take a look back at the music that we’ve been listening to this year – revealing our favorite songs, greatest albums, and most played artists. So let’s dive right in.

The Year In Music: A Tale Of Two Decades

Looking back over the last 12 months, it’s easy to see that 2009 was a monumental year for music. Not only did we get to enjoy a bumper crop of phenomenal albums, but we were also graced with an unprecedented number of legendary performances. It seems that music lovers are continually being treated to superb live music experiences as more and more bands and musicians realize the importance of delivering a thrilling live show. There was also a noticeable increase in independent and small label artist releases which helped to revitalize the music scene and provided a breath of fresh air for weary fans.

The Greatest Love Songs

It’s been a rough year for love and heartbreak, especially as it relates to love songs. Love, emotions, and heartache dominated the music landscape, as mainstream acts broke down the walls of censorship and released passionate songs about romantic love. Perhaps the most significant example of this trend was Katy Perry’s “Hot & Cold,” the lead single from her dazzling album Witness. The track marked a turning point in pop music, as it was the first time that a song not directly tied to a movie or other merchandising campaign had dominated the airwaves for so long.

Other big name artists followed suit and released heartfelt love songs, resulting in a perfect “honeymoon record” full of songs that lovers can listen to and bond over. It was a glorious year for love songs and a sad year for fans of BTS, who had to suffer through the absence of their favorite singer, Jungkook. We can but hope that the guys are finally getting their ‘ship in order and are preparing to release some new music very soon!

Rap, Metal, And Jazz

Speaking of Jungkook, it was one thing to miss him while he was away, but it’s another thing entirely to see him pop up in other people’s songs. This trend manifested itself in many ways in 2009, as music fans got to enjoy the talents of artists they love appearing on songs they may not have found out about otherwise. One of the best examples of this phenomenon was Kendrick Lamar’s “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe” featuring Andra Day. Essentially a love letter to his city of Los Angeles, Kendrick Lamar’s song drew heavily from the city’s influential and unique blend of hip-hop, jazz, and rap music. It was a masterclass in how to incorporate different styles and influences into one cohesive song and displayed Lamar’s huge potential as a performer. You may not have heard of Kendrick Lamar, Colbie Caillat, or Andra Day, but you will certainly hear of them if future releases follow the same trend as “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe.”

Hip-hop and R&B have been prominent in music all year, with numerous high-profile collaborations between established solo artists and groups. The best-selling albums this year were probably Lady Gaga’s Fame and Katy Perry’s Prism, two monumental pop albums that featured prominent hip-hop and R&B songs. While both Gaga and Perry have always been prominent voices in their industry, their music this year has taken on a more mature and professional tone, indicative of their increased experience and growing stardom. These albums are two of the best that the music industry had to offer this year.

The Revival Of Indie Music

On the subject of growing up, many indie labels released albums by young artists this year, providing a platform for upcoming musicians to showcase their talent. In 2019, the world of independent music will be celebrating 10 years of the so-called “indie revival,” as pioneering labels like Heavenly, Warp, and Rough Trade revived the scene and helped to establish a new generation of independent labels.

Luminous and vibrant, the indie music scene in the UK has always been about quality over quantity and putting out only the best music that you can. It’s therefore not surprising that with many top artists touring the country and releasing albums, that the demand for shows and albums increased. One of the best examples of this year was Laura Marling, the solo artist from the band Wolf Alice who scored a hit with her album I Do, which featured prominently on our list of favorite songs.

On the subject of quality, lots of exciting new artists emerged in 2019, with the best new bands and solo artists bringing something unique to the table. While we wait patiently for the next album from BTS, it’s good to know that there are plenty of other artists out there who can continue the legacy of K-pop and make it more accessible to an international audience.

The Year In Performance

Another significant trend this year was the growing prominence of theatrical performances in the music industry. Whether it was Lady Gaga taking the stage at Superbowl half-time to perform her spectacular solo, Katy Perry’s Prism World Tour, or Beyonce’s Coachella performance, live music performances grew in popularity and were an essential part of the cultural landscape.

Performing artists this year didn’t just take the stage either, as lots of songs were released as part of pop culture and film’s biggest events. This was most notably the case for Black Panther, the monumental film about T’Challa, the king of Wakanda, which featured an all-star cast including Michael B. Jordan, Danai Gurira, and Letitia Wright. The soundtrack to the film was spearheaded by Kendrick Lamar and featured songs woven into the narrative and performed by the director’s brother, Dre, along with Lamar, and the late Mac Miller.

Other songs released as part of this soundtrack were drawn from the impressive discography of the great American rapper, Mac Miller, whose death earlier this year was particularly tragic. While many musicians were inspired by his life and music, so too was the world of cinema as a whole this year – particularly fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Most Played Artists

It’s always interesting to look at the most played artists on Spotify, as it gives an idea of the songs that listeners are most drawn to. In terms of overall plays, it was a year dominated by Bruno Mars, who scored a string of massive hits in 2019, most notably “When I Was young” and “24k Magic.” Mars’ brand of pop has always been popular with listeners, but it was more apparent this year that his songs have the ability to travel, as many of his songs were in heavy rotation not just in the UK but across Europe too. Mars’ “When I Was young” in particular shot to number one in the UK and scored the biggest week of any song this year.

Another artist whose songs constantly find their way into rotation is Taylor Swift. The pop superstar scored a series of huge hits in 2019, most notably “Style,” “Forever & Always,” and “You Need To Understand.” While her albums have consistently found success, it seems that her songs are particularly suited to connecting with new audiences. Whether that’s due to her more mature vocals or the confessional nature of her songs, it’s apparent that Swift is always eager to connect with fans in new ways and grow her audience.

It was another strong year for Taylor Swift, but it was also a big year for Harry Styles. Even before he publicly came out as gay, the singer found himself at the center of a storm when rumors spread that he was involved in a same-sex affair with actor John Goodman. Although Styles was never officially confirmed to be gay, his identity as a proud gay man was not hidden this year, as he often took to Instagram to post videos and messages about his sexuality.

It seems like there’s always been a diverse group of artists that we fans have turned to over the years, whether it’s been Britney Spears, Enrique Iglesias, or Usher. In 2019, that list was topped by none other than Ariana Grande. The rising pop star has already established herself as one of music’s biggest voices with three albums and multiple smash hits under her belt, but it was her songwriting and vocal performances on “Thank U, Next” that truly stood out. The song, along with its accompanying music video, became a viral video hit and was hailed as a coming out anthem for the gay community, particularly the queer dance craze that was sparked by it.