Sorry, Lizzo lovers. But Billie Eilish is the artist of the year for 2019.
The 17-year-old home-schooled hero made angsty, introspective bedroom electro-pop. Rarely has a teenager been able to articulate her pain, anxiety and other thoughts so creatively.
I was so taken by Eilish’s album that I went to see her in Milwaukee; the night she performed in Minneapolis, I was covering Luis Miguel, who ironically rates as the best local show I saw in 2019. Eilish was electrifying, captivating.
Lizzo had a big year, too. But you knew that. Even though her “Cuz I Love U” wasn’t as impressive as her earlier made-in-Minneapolis recordings, it grew on me — especially because the songs were so ubiquitous and her Armory concert was so special.
1. Luis Miguel, Xcel Energy Center, June 8. In an exhilarating nearly three-hour marathon, the Mexican superstar proved to be one of the most emotive performers vocally and visually on the arena circuit.
2. Lizzo, the Armory, Oct. 9. A truly empowering star turn by a newly minted superstar.
3. Cecile McLorin Salvant, the Dakota, June 19. An extraordinarily adventurous jazz exploration by a singer and her pianist.
4. Brandi Carlile, State Fair, Aug. 31. Who was more overjoyed — the giddy performer or the worshipful sellout crowd?
5. Hugh Jackman, Xcel, June 22. Spontaneous and sentimental, the actor/singer/dancer was uncompromisingly ambitious, flashy, entertaining and uplifting.
6. Bob Dylan, Mankato Civic Center, Oct. 24. His most focused and impassioned Minnesota performance in recent memory.
7. Neil Young, Orpheum, Jan. 28. This was the best of his four gigs for its playfulness, freewheeling pace and generous length as well as his chattiness and lovable finickiness.
8. Luke Combs, Xcel, Sept. 28. This first-time Nashville headliner was a knockout with his down-home personality, powerful voice and superior songs.
9. Jeff Lynne’s ELO, Xcel, July 25. It was sonic magic, especially after a 38-year absence from the Twin Cities.
10. Jennifer Lopez, Xcel, June 28. This dancing superstar wowed with flash, panache and endless energy.
1. Billie Eilish, “When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?”
2. Brittany Howard, “Jaime. ”
3. The Highwomen, “The Highwomen.”
4. King Princess, “Cheap Queen.”
5. Lizzo, “Cuz I Love U”
6. Ariana Grande, “Thank U, Next”
7. Lana Del Rey, “Norman [Bleeping] Rockwell”
8. Santana, “Africa Speaks”
9. Gary Clark Jr., “This Land”
10. Bruce Hornsby, “Horizontal Zero”