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NPR Music's Top 20 Songs Of July

The Highwomen's "Crowded Table" is one of NPR Music's best songs of July.
Alysse Gafkjen
Courtesy of the artist
The Highwomen's "Crowded Table" is one of NPR Music's best songs of July.


In July, our gifts came in twos. There were not one, but two singles by The Highwomen, the supergroup featuring Brandi Carlile, Maren Morris, Amanda Shires and Natalie Hemby. With one foot in Southern punk and another in country bop, Miranda Lambert dropped both "Locomotive" and "It All Comes Out in the Wash." In selecting the best songs of the month, we had a hard time choosing — though we sort of cheat by including the inseparable Rosalía twofer from the F****** Money Mansingle.

Below you'll find an alphabetized list of NPR Music's top 20 songs of July 2019. Be sure to check out our top 10 albums from the month as well.

Ada Lea, "Wild Heart" APPLE/SPOTIFY
A lighters-up anthem for all the seekers of the world, with brilliant interplay between the incidental ambiance of life and the quiet wisdom in Ada Lea's voice. — Robin Hilton

Angel Olsen, "All Mirrors" APPLE/SPOTIFY
Olsen enlists a 14-piece orchestra and other top-notch collaborators to craft a swelling, synth-soaked pocket epic. But at the core of "All Mirrors" is a voice of profound intensity, intimacy and unadulterated power. — Stephen Thompson

Bad Heaven Ltd., "Bed" APPLE/SPOTIFY
Careening between hushed vocals and fuzzed-out guitars, "bed" empathetically conveys both the suffocating dread and glimmers of hope that can accompany living with chronic mental illness. — Marissa Lorusso

Chance the Rapper, "Roo" APPLE/SPOTIFY
Chance spits brotherly-love bars with his bro Taylor Bennett over a searching beat that leaves room for the kind of heartfelt honesty that only comes from years of surviving each other and the world. — Rodney Carmichael

Charli XCX, "Gone (feat. Christine and the Queens)" APPLE/SPOTIFY
Charli XCX's collaborations truly connect when there's a shared pain or ecstasy. In the neon-pop song "Gone," Charli and Chris project their anxieties across a heavy, stuttering beat that blooms and retreats. — Lars Gotrich

Floating Points, "LesAplx" APPLE/SPOTIFY
For his first new music in two years, Sam Shepherd has left the psych-out wilds and returned to the crucible of his creative development, the club. — Andrew Flanagan

Giya Kancheli, "Letter to Composer Sulkhan Nasidzeq" APPLE/SPOTIFY
Unlike the Georgian composer's larger, brooding monuments to grief, this miniature for violin and strings (one of 18 "Letters to Friends") floats on a wistful cloud of goodwill. — Tom Huizenga

The Highwomen, "Crowded Table" APPLE/SPOTIFY
This mission statement from the genre-busting, country-rocking supergroup — "I want a house with a crowded table, and a place by the fire for everyone" — is the rousing singalong America genuinely needs right now. — Ann Powers

Jenny Hval, "Ashes to Ashes" APPLE/SPOTIFY
A song about a dream about a song about a burial service. A solemn rite decorated with arpeggiated synths and a feather-light groove "filled with sadness." — Lars Gotrich

Jesca Hoop, "Old Fear of Father" APPLE/SPOTIFY
Jesca Hoop's latest work recalls early Tori Amos in the way it radiates uncommon delicacy and steely strength amid profound commentary on generational gender dynamics. — Stephen Thompson

Joan Shelley, "Cycle" APPLE/SPOTIFY
Scrims of trembling strings and the purr of a Wurlitzer are among the subtleties lifting this song about love's unpredictability to shattering levels of compression and bittersweet release. — Tom Huizenga

Kronos Quartet, "Beebopterismo (Terry Riley)" APPLE/SPOTIFY
What does outer space sound like? Croaks, blurps and squeaks captured by NASA spacecraft commingle with Kronos' strings for an art-meets-science intragalactic hootenanny from Terry Riley. — Tom Huizenga

Miranda Lambert, "It All Comes Out in the Wash" APPLE/SPOTIFY
Miranda Lambert owns up to the chaos that comes with living. Her latest unfussy romp is a reminder: Even if stains and mistakes make complicated messes, grab a Tide stick and get on with it. — Lyndsey McKenna

Purple Mountains, "That's Just the Way I Feel" ♬APPLE/SPOTIFY
Silver Jews' David Berman returns with a bracingly honest, funny/sad take on a life of frustrated expectations, bitter mishaps and a life spent "forced to watch my foes enjoy / ceaseless feasts of schadenfreude." — Stephen Thompson

Residente, iLe & Bad Bunny, "Afilando Los Cuchillos" YOUTUBE
This is the sound of modern protest music in Latin America, delivered via social media directly the front lines of the demonstrations in Puerto Rico. — Felix Contreras

Rosalía, "Milionária / Dio$ No$ Libre Del Dinero" ♬APPLE/SPOTIFY
"Old Town Road" may be the Song of the Summer, but after dropping this split single on the heels of "Con Altura" and "Aute Cuture," Rosalía deserves to be named the season's MVP. — Lyndsey McKenna

Sam Smith, "How Do You Sleep?" APPLE/SPOTIFY
I, for one, would not have anticipated that a song co-written by Max Martin and sung by Sam Smith would end up being a model of style and restraint. And yet. — Jacob Ganz

Sheer Mag, "Hardly to Blame" APPLE/SPOTIFY
Rock-and-roll heartbreak psychically mapped onto the streets of Philadelphia, with a singalong chorus that skips over cracked sidewalks and crushed tallboys. — Lars Gotrich

Terry, "Drawn for Days" APPLE/SPOTIFY
Terry — a supergroup of Melbourne post-punk musicians — offers a slice of '80s DIY perfection, reminiscent of indie-rock forefathers Beat Happening and The Cannanes. — Otis Hart

YBN Cordae, "Have Mercy" APPLE/SPOTIFY
Trying times mixed with adolescent angst can disguise ennui as auto-pilot. But over eerie woodwinds, YBN Cordae refuses to admit defeat: "Life'll hit you with a light jab / Mike Tyson, strike back." — Sidney Madden

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