Criteria is a mix of Youtube views, radio airplay, Spotify streams, cultural impact and a smidge of critical appreciation. Don’t argue.
- Designer- Niniola ft. Sarz
Sarz does a wonder on the percussive heavy beat for Niniola’s Designer, a racy, hectic song that works as an anti-consumerism screed. Designer preaches true love and companionship over material things. The video directed by Sesan is a brightly colored affair that has Niniola reupping why she is one of the most watchable performers in the business today.
- Blow my mind- Davido ft. Chris Brown
Davido’s collaboration with Chris Brown scored two million views within 24 hours of upload on video-sharing platform YouTube. The song itself isn’t particular striking and both singers have done superior work individually. But put them together and the chemistry that emanates between them is enough to uplift the genre limitations of Blow my mind to something altogether more interesting.
- Reason with me- Rude Boy
With over 39 million views on Youtube alone, Rude Boy’s plea to a loved one for patience, support and perseverance hit a nerve with audiences everywhere. Reason with me is almost laughable on first listen as the song borrows from all the elements- cheesy lyrics, bad rhyming, repetitive hooks- that made P-square so popular. However, the song’s rag to riches message is a surefire hit and Rude Boy rode it all the way to a profitable outcome.
- Anybody- Burna Boy
Angelique Kidjo’s 1992 hit We We is given a modern day afrofusion treatment by producer Rexxie who adapts it and clothes it in Burna Boy’s image. Burna Boy sends a message to his naysayers over smooth saxophone riffs and a relentless rhythmic percussion. While promoting the African Giant album in America, Burna Boy chose to lead with Anybody.
- Fvck you- Kizz Daniel
What did it take to get Nigerians excited this year? The singer formerly known as Kiss Daniel certainly had some ideas. Sex, infidelity and the bitter dissolution of a romantic relationship. For added effect, he threw in some name calling, slut shaming, a hint of colorism mixed with generous doses of the F- word and a new trend was born. He called it the #FvckYouChallenge and invited everyone to share. The industry took the bait and before long, a genuinely viral sensation was born.
- Dumebi- Rema
Rema’s Dumebi is perhaps the unlikeliest hit of the year. Half of it is playful gibberish and sounds like the vibing of a kid who is bored in the studio. But it is for this same reason that it works, even better than songs that had a lot more thoughtfulness to their penmanship. Making it all come together is Rema’s innocent appeal that crosses the bridge between afrobeats and alte. None of it would work without him at the center.
- Soapy- Naira Marley
A song as scandalous as Soapy is almost guaranteed to be a hit. After a stint in prison, Naira Marley emerged from the experience with his prison diaries. Soapy explains the masturbation practices that inmates in prison, in the absence of regular sex partners, make do with to ease off steam. Marley’s beloved Marlians ate it all up and the dance became a huge sensation.
- Baby- Joeboy
With his megahit Baby, Joeboy became the poster boy for the influence of Mr Eazi’s emPawa Africa, an incubator program that funds music videos and provides career guidance. A beneficiary of the program, Joeboy broke out big with Baby, an addictive mid-tempo love song that has scored over 20 million streams this year alone, across Youtube and Spotify platforms.
- Jealous- Fireboy DML
Released in the twilight days of 2018, Jealous crossed over to become one of the biggest, most ubiquitous songs of 2019, delivering instant superstar status to YBNL’s Fireboy DML. Produced by Cracker Mallo, Jealous borrows heavily from Arabian and highlife music. But it also stands as its own saccharine sweet thing, conjuring up memories of lazy summers and innocence lost.
- Killin Dem- Zlatan X Burna Boy
The beat on Killing Dem is cluttered, overtly percussive and totally irresistible. It is also not easy to dance to and all that jerking and pulsating it demands of you is a skill that is deliberately acquired. But that didn’t stop the iconic fusion of Zlatan’s leg work with Burna Boy’s growl from morphing into one of the year’s mightiest songs.
Wilfred Okiche is a medic, reader, writer, journalist, culture critic, and occasional ruffler of feathers. One of the most influential critics working in the Nigerian culture space, his writing has appeared extensively in platforms like YNaija.com and 360nobs.com. Okiche has provided editorial assistance to the UK Guardian and has had his work published in African Arguments, Africa is a Country and South Africa’s City Press. He has received trainings and acquired experience in multimedia and online journalism. He also appears on the culture television show, Africana Literati. He has participated at critic programs in Lagos, Durban and Rotterdam.