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Everything you need to know about the Hottest Records of 2019

The nominees for the Hottest Record of the Year 2019 have been announced, with Annie Mac whittling down 200 Hottest Records from across the past 12 months to just 20. But who will follow 2018's winner twenty one pilots?

The vote has now closed - Annie Mac will reveal the winner for 2020 on BBC Radio 1’s Future Sounds programme on 19 December, so make sure to listen in from 7pm.

In the meantime, here's everything you need to know about the 20 standout tracks.

1. Lizzo - Juice

What a year it's been for Lizzo. She’s conquered Glastonbury on the back of empowering album 'Cuz I Love You' and even got a standing ovation from Rihanna along the way. Not bad going. But the US star’s massive 12 months kicked off with 'Juice', Annie Mac’s Hottest Record back in January; an infectious, instantly Insta-captionable self-love anthem.

“It’s a banger, obviously, but it’s also a state of mind,” Lizzo has said of 'Juice'. “I want my music to make people feel good, I want it to help people love themselves. This song is about looking in the mirror, loving what you see, and letting everyone know.” Or, as she sings in the song itself: “If I'm shinin', everybody gonna shine”.

Tweet #R1LIZZO to vote for Lizzo - Juice or vote here

2. Little Simz Ft. Cleo Sol - Selfish

Warning: Contains very strong language. Third-party video may contain adverts

Speaking to Annie earlier this year, Simz explained how her album was all about growing up and learning from past mistakes. "No one warned me it was going to be this hard," the London MC said. "It feels like a grey area, which is why I called the album that.”

Your mid-20s might be a time of much confusion, but Simz managed to channel all the uncertainty into something fierce and self-assured with 'Selfish', a sure-fire highlight from her third album that advocates for staying true to yourself: “You don't have prove you got it when you know it's yours / I don't wanna feel disloyal for wanting to do me”.

Tweet #R1SIMZ to vote for Little Simz Ft. Cleo Sol - Selfish or vote here

3. AJ Tracey - Ladbroke Grove

Song of summer 2019? AJ Tracey’s hometown homage has to be up there. The West Londoner shut down plenty of festival stages with the slick and infectious 'Ladbroke Grove', which provided the perfect soundtrack for memories waiting to happen.

The track, which sampled none other than Jorja Smith, paid homage to classic-era UK garage (as AJ Tracey explained: “I think for UK people, garage is the ultimate feel-good music. It’s nostalgic”), while the pair’s Live Lounge performance of the track was simply unmissable. AJ and Jorja even covered a tune that influenced the song, namely Sweet Female Attitude’s 'Flowers'.

Tweet #R1AJ to vote for AJ Tracey - Ladbroke Grove or vote here

4. Dave - Black

Warning: Contains very strong language. Third-party video may contain adverts

'Black', the lead single from Dave’s Mercury Prize-winning album 'Psychodrama', was summed up by Annie as “absolutely powerful,” with Dave telling us in February: “This is my personal experience of being black… Everyone has their own background and history, that’s what I’ve been trying to explore more recently - where I come from, what makes me who I am... It’s not universal or definitive for everyone, but I think it is for me.”

The song came with one of the most iconic videos of the year too, with the Streatham star paying tribute to various “people of influence” - the likes of Stormzy, footballer Raheem Sterling, sprinter Dina Asher-Smith, actor Damson Idris, mathematician Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon and 1Xtra Rap Show host Tiffany Calver among the famous faces making cameos. “Hopefully this video will be a time capsule,” Dave told Annie, “so in five or 10 years when everyone’s killing it in their respective industries, we can look back and say, ‘Wow, they were all together at one point.’"

Tweet #R1DAVE to vote for Dave - Black or vote here

5. Sam Fender - Hypersonic Missiles

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Annie’s been a big champion of Sam Fender, who started the year by winning the Critics' Choice Award at the BRITs and saw his debut album, 'Hypersonic Missiles', reach No.1 in the UK during September. “People like Sam Fender are just so important to have in this day and age,” she said earlier this year. “He’s not your average successful artist, he’s different and I like that.”

Fender’s music often draws comparisons to Bruce Springsteen (always a big compliment) and his album’s title-track is one of his most vivid tales, draws upon politics, modern society as well as a bit of science fiction - inspired by a “newly developed Russian missile that travels at something like nine times the speed of sound.” Sam explains: “Amongst all the chaos is love and celebration, there is this glimmer of hope that runs through the song, a little notion that no matter what happens, these two people are gonna have a good time... regardless of the imminent doom.”

Tweet #R1SAM to vote for Sam Fender - Hypersonic Missiles or vote here

6. Billie Eilish - bad guy

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On the eve of releasing her debut album 'When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?' in March, Billie Eilish seemed unable to hold back her excitement at what was still to come, telling Annie of the record: “I just love what I’ve created, which is rare.”

Billie was right to be excited too, as 2019 has truly been her year. Still only 17, she’s topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic and become the youngest female artist to reach No.1 in the UK. Her brooding, bold and bassy pop has won her famous fans in everyone from Katy Perry and Camila Cabello to Dave Grohl and Niall Horan and she’s even gotten to collab with her all-time hero Justin Bieber. That’s not even mentioning the time she took Big Weekend by storm either.

It’s tough to choose just one of Billie’s many hits, but how many songs can say they inspired a Simpsons meme? The true height of modern success, we think you’d agree. 'bad guy' has also been a big favourite when it comes to Live Lounge covers - with both Bastille and Two Door Cinema Club taking on the track.

Tweet #R1BILLIE to vote for Billie Eilish - bad guy or vote here

7. Fontaines D.C. - Boys In The Better Land

Warning: Video contains flashing images

Dublin post-punks Fontaines D.C. are known for their poetic lyrics and raucous live shows. 'Boys In The Better Land', a Hottest Record from April when Phil Taggart sat in for Annie, combines both.

However, the song - which Phil says “instantly” hits you - almost sounded a lot different. Frontman Grian Chatten told us: “We [originally] wrote it to be slower, but through playing it over and over again, we eventually started playing it really fast and there’s a lot more energy to it now. I think it sounds a lot more witty, humorous and fun this way.”

Tweet #R1FONTAINES to vote for Fontaines D.C. - Boys In The Better Land or vote here

8. FKA Twigs - Cellophane

'Cellophane', released back in April, was FKA twigs’ first solo single in three years, and the perfect introduction to her new album, 'MAGDALENE'. A response to tabloid intrusion into the artist’s personal life, the song was described by Annie as “such a raw, powerful record”, with twigs “giving so much of herself out to the listener” on her own terms.

“It’s a very vulnerable record, a very fragile record,” twigs told us of her album as a whole, “but at the same time, to me, has a lot of integrity and strength.”

  • Watch FKA twigs perform Cellophane, plus other songs, in session for Radio 1 at Maida Vale in the video above

Tweet #R1TWIGS to vote for FKA Twigs - Cellophane or vote here

9. Stormzy - Vossi Bop

Warning: Contains very strong language

Stormzy performing 'Vossi Bop' live for the first time at Radio 1's Big Weekend in May was one of the festival's standout moments, with the #Merky MC joined by what sounded like the entire crowd repeating every line back to him.

Stormzy knew how special the song, his first UK No.1 single, was from the beginning, telling Rickie, Melvin and Charlie how he stumbled upon the beat via a Snapchat video from one of his oldest collaborators Chris Andoh: “He was in the studio making that beat. I was like, ‘Yo, I’m coming now. That beat is hard.’ I flew down there and we made 'Vossi Bop'… I was just spitting and having fun and [thought] ‘this can be this song that everyone bumps in their car, turns up and enjoys.”

Tweet #R1STORMZY to vote for Stormzy - Vossi Bop or vote here

10. Tyler, The Creator - EARFQUAKE

Warning: Contains strong language. Third-party video may contain adverts

A Hottest Record from Annie in May, 'EARFQUAKE' continued Tyler, The Creator’s artistic journey from angsty teen rapper to genre-blurring man of many talents. Previous album 'Flower Boy' introduced us to Tyler's newfound love of jazz, R&B and neo-soul, and 'EARFQUAKE' very much follows this path.

Tyler has revealed that he originally penned the song with Justin Bieber in mind, and that Rihanna was also offered to record the track but declined. Deciding to keep it for himself, the resulting version is raw and personal; solidifying Tyler's growing strength as a songwriter.

Tweet #R1TYLER to vote for Tyler, The Creator - EARFQUAKE or vote here

11. Clairo - Bags

'Bags', one of the highlights from Clairo’s debut album 'Immunity', is all about “learning to be comfortable in a place of the unknown… whether that’s relationships or if you relate it to something bigger in your life”.

While the studio version, co-produced with former Vampire Weekend member Rostam, was breezy and perfectly-made to soundtrack road trips, Clairo stripped things back when she performed the song for her Piano Session in August, with the emotional resonance of the track coming right to the fore.

Tweet #R1CLAIRO to vote for Clairo - Bags or vote here

12. Bon Iver - Hey, Ma

Warning: Third-party video may contain adverts

In recent years, Bon Iver’s music has become more and more cryptic, with song titles like '715 - cr∑∑ks' and ever more experimental production. The incredibly personal 'Hey, Ma', from his album ‘i,i’, however, is something of a return to his earlier work in terms of its songwriting.

Justin Vernon told Annie in August: “We’re not gonna hide behind this curtain this whole time, we’re gonna say something that’s pretty basic – something you can chew on… It feels like a nice change.”

Tweet #R1BON to vote for Bon Iver - Hey, Ma or vote here

13. CamelPhat x Jake Bugg - Be Someone

Warning: Video contain adult themes. Third-party video may contain adverts

A collaboration between Nottingham’s favourite guitar-wielder and house duo CamelPhat doesn’t sound like it should make much sense but, as Annie points out, it’s quite like “chilli chocolate” - you don’t think it’s going to work until you try it out.

The team-up actually made sense in several ways: the two acts are labelmates, CamelPhat are big fans of Bugg (paying actual money to see him live in the past) and all involved like to “try new things”. Jake said knew that any collab with CamelPhat would “sound great” and, well, he wasn’t wrong.

Tweet #R1CAMEL to vote for CamelPhat x Jake Bugg - Be Someone or vote here

14. Mist Ft. Fredo - So High

“With those two names, this song cannot fail,” Annie said of Mist and Fredo’s collab 'So High' back in July. Both artists are killing it right now: Fredo, off the back of a No.1 single and a cameo with Stormzy at Glastonbury, and Mist, one of the frontrunners from Birmingham’s booming scene.

Speaking to Annie on the line from Ibiza (he had played Stormzy’s Merky Fest the night before), the Brummie MC said of the link-up: “We’d been saying for a long time that we needed to get in the studio together. It was just a matter of time… It’s another track for the culture and to let them know that we’re here to stay.”

Tweet #R1MIST to vote for Mist Ft. Fredo - So High or vote here

15. Charli XCX & Christine and the Queens - Gone

Charli and Chris’ killer collab all started with a simple WhatsApp conversation, quickly resulting in a pop combo of dream-like proportions. “It’s a wonderful thing to have two women at your level coming together,” Annie said back in July.

Both artists knew the track was special from the beginning, with Charli said she sent an early version of the song over to Chris and “literally within 20 minutes, she came back with a full chorus and loads of lyrics and I was like, ‘Woah, this is the one.’” Meanwhile Chris, who rarely collaborates with other artists told Annie: “I felt really comfortable doing it. It was the first time that a collaboration felt natural to me… but also [it’s] a friendship.”

Tweet #R1CHARLI to vote for Charli XCX & Christine and the Queens - Gone or vote here

16. Aitch Ft. ZieZie - Buss Down

Warning: Contains strong language and adult themes. Third-party video may contain adverts

Manchester rapper Aitch has notched up three Top 10 singles this year, the latest coming in October with 'Buss Down', his team-up with Croydon vocalist ZieZie.

Following his dancefloor-filling 'Taste', the effortlessly cool 'Buss Down' showed another string in Aitch’s bow, with a video that even saw the star donning some swanky swing-era suits. What more could you want?

Tweet #R1AITCH to vote for Aitch Ft. ZieZie - Buss Down or vote here

17. Celeste - Strange

'Strange', this year’s breakthrough from Celeste, beautifully illustrates the agony of a relationship going full circle, as the LA-born, UK-raised soul newcomer sings: “Isn't it strange? How people can change / From strangers to friends / Friends into lovers / And strangers again.”

A low-key piano ballad, 'Strange' sees Celeste’s heartbreaking vocals take the limelight - and it’s a voice you’ll be hearing a lot more of in 2020 too.

Tweet #R1CELESTE to vote for Celeste - Strange or vote here

18. Foals - The Runner

This song had been several years in the making, as Foals frontman Yannis explained to Annie in September: “We’d be jamming the riff during soundcheck around Europe at the tail end of the 'What Went Down' tour and we couldn’t wait to get back in the studio.”

After initially “struggling with it for a little while,” the band had “one inspired afternoon when everything came together,” with Yannis combining the grungy, swaggering riff with lyrics about “confronting your own demons”. The end product was one of the big highlights from their TWO new albums in 2019.

Tweet #R1FOALS to vote for Foals - The Runner or vote here

19. J Hus - Must Be

Warning: Contains strong language. Third-party video may contain adverts

J Hus’ debut, 2017’s 'Common Sense', was a vibrant mix of UK rap, Afroswing and dancehall with tunes in abundance. The East Londoner returned earlier this year with a cameo on Dave’s album and then, in November, dropped solo single 'Must Be', which is just as slick as anything from 'Common Sense' but sees Hus experimenting with jazz horns and strings too.

If 'Must Be' is anything to go by, J Hus’ next album is going to be something very special indeed.

Tweet #R1HUS to vote for J Hus - Must Be or vote here

20. Patrick Topping - Turbo Time

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Newcastle’s Patrick Topping is a producer who Radio 1's Danny Howard says is “absolutely smashing it at the moment," and his disco-inspired house tune 'Turbo Time' is a tune that's impossible not to move to,

As Danny, sitting in for Annie, said of this Hottest Record from August: “It’s very worthy of the title ‘banger’. I know that word is thrown around a lot, but this definitely is one.”

Tweet #R1TOPPING to vote for Patrick Topping - Turbo Time or vote here

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