The Year in Music

As society’s tensions with technology and identity continue to rage, figures in the music industry tackled them with an open mind, making 2019 a year of great complexity but even greater creativity

Look at the creative industries – or just the news – and you’ll see that there have common threads woven throughout in 2019. Debates surrounding technology and identity have become mainstays in the cultural conversation and cultural output, too. Whether they’re sources of writhing concern or creative ingenuity will depend on who you ask.

In the music industry, it seemed to manifest in the latter. This year, we found numerous artists embracing their vulnerabilities in new ways. Others addressed reservations around technology by using it to appeal to our human nature, openly exploring its possibilities in performances and embedding it in their creative practice. These days, it might be tempting to shut off from what’s going on outside, but a clutch of creative individuals are boldly marching into the eye of the storm – though not without their all-important collaborators.


Social media has placed us closer than ever to our idols, but the flipside is that many celebrated figures are stepping back from the spotlight as more becomes expected of them. However, in what Patrick Burgoyne described as “a deliberate retreat from such social media mayhem”, Nick Cave has demonstrated that the online world can still be a place of conversation through his Q&A-based website The Red Hand Files.

Undeniably one of the most ambitious figures in contemporary music, FKA twigs opened herself up to the world with her allegorical album Magdalene, which came out in October. The LP was an intense exploration of vulnerability, beautifully reflected in the resplendent music video for the lead single Cellophane, directed by Andrew Thomas Huang.