2019 was arguably the best year for synthwave in its history to date, with the genre enjoying more polished, professional, and exciting creations under its banner than ever before. This year was also a pivotal one, as nearly all of the top synthwave songs released across the calendar year pulled away from the traditional sounds of the genre and embraced more modern influences with a higher number of vocal tracks.
Artists on the pioneering edges of the genre brought an infusion of fresh blood to synthwave, and an increasing number of high-profile creators adopted the genre as their own. The vibrancy and inspiration of these innovators helped set the stage for a terrific future for the genre heading into a new decade.
Here is the first half of the countdown, covering numbers 40 through 21. These are the best synthwave songs of 2019!
40. NINA – Automatic Call
A classic outrun rhythm underpins NINA’s heartfelt new track, “Automatic Call.”
39. Carpenter Brut – Hush, Sally, Hush!
Carpenter Brut’s sole release of 2019 embraces a dark, funky songwriting approach with satisfying results.
38. DEADLIFE – She Only Exists in Screens
Darkly melodic and imaginative, “She Only Exists in Screens” is a highlight off DEADLIFE’s new Singularity album.
37. Mega Drive – SKULjammer
Punchy darksynth from a pioneer of the style off Mega Drive’s new 199XAD album.
36. Donbor – Restore
A beautifully ominous piece from Donbor off the artist’s Don’t Kill Me EP.
35. Emil Rottmayer – Momentum
2019 was a terrific year for chill synthwave, and long-time contributor Emil Rottmayer continued to lead the pack with “Momentum.”
34. 3FORCE, Megan McDuffee – Promise
A unique collab results in a surprisingly rich and downtempo creation on “Promise.”
33. New Arcades – Another Night
“Another Night” is a melodic standout from New Arcades’ new full-length album Returning Home.
32. Cassetter, Megan McDuffee – Eyes With a Soul
A magical cyberpunk creation off Cassetter’s debut album, The Fugitive.
31. Maxthor – Run
Fan-favorite artist Maxthor released two great songs in 2019 with “Run” and “No One’s Gonna Save Us.”
30. Chela – Delivery
Chela made a surprising and welcome return in 2019 with multiple new tracks, including the upbeat “Delivery.”
29. Ray Gun Hero – Sector 12-B
One of the most immersive and well-realized cyberpunk tracks of the year courtesy of Ray Gun Hero.
28. Joan – Drive All Night
Joan has embraced their own unique take on retro synth music, and “Drive All Night” is a new pop classic.
27. Kim Petras – Wrong Turn
Kim Petras has been holding down retro synth music on the mainstream side since 2017, and she put a dark spin on her brand of synthwave in 2019 with new tracks like “Wrong Turn” and “Close Your Eyes.”
26. Moonrunner83, Megan McDuffee – Run Away With Me
Moonrunner83’s new Hearts on Fire album has its share of melodic gems, though “Run Away With Me” with regular collaborator Megan McDuffee is a clear standout.
25. Phaserland – Flip The Switch
Phaserland’s new album is full of Phaserland-type goodies. The title track is just one of them.
24. Isidor – Children of Cyberpunk
One of synthwave’s most consistent contributors delivered again in 2019 with energetic and imaginative tracks like “Children of Cyberpunk” off the new Avalon Quest album.
23. Tove Lo – Mistaken
Tove Lo blends modern mainstream vocals with ultra lo-fi synths for a remarkable contrast on the addictive new song “Mistaken.”
22. Scandroid – Writing’s On The Wall
Scandroid embraced an impressive array of songwriting approaches on his new album The Light, including the synthpop flavor of “Writing’s on the Wall.”
21. Kalax, Frankmusik – Calling
Kalax’s full-length III is filled with great songs, including the understated beauty of the collab with Frankmusik on “Calling.”