In “Best Albums of 2019,” Times critics give their top picks for 2019. Here, for instance, is the music critic Jon Pareles’s No. 1 choice:
The weird outsider became a popular girl in 2019. The songs of Billie Eilish, 17, are death-haunted and depressive, by turns arrogant and anxious, mocking and desperate. Yet they became mass singalongs, aided by Eilish’s busily maintained, anti-fashion social media presence. Eilish’s sound understands how adolescence can feel like a horror movie: the constantly looming suspense, the way the ordinary is suddenly pierced by the ghastly or the absurd. Her music often whispers, but it’s hardly soothing. Quiet moments are shattered by creepy sound effects or loud intrusions, while her breathy vocals — hushed enough for A.S.M.R. — often carry bitter thoughts. The show-tune shapeliness of her melodies is often a sardonic frame for grim sentiments, to be faced with a ballooning bass line and a self-conscious smirk.
And here are two of the top picks of the Times critic-at-large Wesley Morris, who wrote “The Best Performances of 2019”:
Officially, what Ohashi did with her perfect-10 floor exercise at a college gymnastics meet in January was a solo routine. But somebody made a video of her slingshot leaps and Velcro-tight landings, and in it, you can see her daggone teammates not just cheering her on, but eventually moving with her in synchronicity to choice bits of songs like “Proud Mary” and “September.” They don’t just have the usual tumblers’ spunk. They’ve got rhythm and timing and great taste for that floor-exercise soundtrack.
Jharrel Jerome in ‘When They See Us’
It’s true that Jerome is around for the first three parts of this mini-series about the so-called Central Park Five, but the final installment focuses on the incarceration of Korey Wise, and Jerome and his full, searching eyes change the meaning of the dutiful, scrupulously moral thing we’d been watching. He gives the existential terror some rage and physical imagination and, most impossibly, these glimmers of wonder.
Or you can find inspiration outside The Times, whether in Vulture’s “The Best Video Games of 2019,” Space.com’s “Best Space Books and Sci-Fi for 2019,” Time magazine’s 2019 Person of the Year or Sports Illustrated’s 2019 Sportsperson of the Year.
Students: Scan some of the sources of inspiration we’ve included above. Then tell us …
— If you were making your own 2019 Top 10 list, what would be on it?
— What were the best things about 2019 for you? What world, national or local events did you enjoy? What breakthroughs in science or technology excited you? What would be your headline for the year?
— What were the worst things about 2019? What happened in the news that would make the list? What annoyed you about pop culture or sports?
— What happened in your own life this year that was wonderful? In what personal ways will you be sad to see 2019 go? What aspects of your personal, family or school life will you be happy to leave behind?
Students 13 and older are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.