2019 Award Nominations: Best Slow Song/Ballad ft. A&P Reacts

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Welcome to the 2019 Musicalypse Award Nominations! It is our second year after having changed our Award system over to the staff vote, and to shake things up, this year we’ve invited A&P Reacts to join us in the nominating and voting for the best of 2019. Ballads and slow songs are often horribly cheesy or fake and forgettable, but a few managed to catch our attention. Here are our nominations Best Slow Song / Ballad of 2019!

This year our nominations will be in their own separate playlists! You can follow them on Spotify:

1. Within Temptation – “Mercy Mirror”
2. Marko Hietala – “Isäni Ääni”
3. Kobra and the Lotus – “Wash Away”

2019 was a bit of a miss year for me with ballads. There were quite a few decent slow songs out there but very few songs really got me right where it counts. One of the first ballad-like songs of 2019 that caught my attention was “Mercy Mirror” by Within Temptation. While I confess that I haven’t even gotten around to looking up the lyrics yet, there’s something about the emotion in the chorus that I think earns this track my vote.

“Isäni Ääni” by Marko Hietala has one of the most laid-back grooves to it, combined with melancholic passion, and one of the most intriguing guitar sounds I’ve heard in a long time. Though my Finnish isn’t fluent and I lose a bit of something when I hear the song, I nevertheless feel a sort of Finnish melancholy coupled with a lot of emotion, despite the language barrier.

Kobra and the Lotus have a pretty good track record with slower tempo music, and “Wash Away” has a slow, anticipatory build-up, a powerful chorus, interesting melodic lines, and a dramatic C-part. It’s got enough power to make a slower song memorable.

Honorary mention(s): “Above the Treeline” by Everfrost; Within Temptation – “Firelight”

1. Leprous – “Alleviate”
2. Devin Townsend – “Spirits Will Collide”
3. Baroness – “I’m Already Gone”

Baroness, Tuska 2017

My nomination is actually all of the new Leprous album, Pitfalls. But for clarity, I chose just one to represent it: “Alleviate” is indescribably beautiful, yet haunting. The progressive elements give it an edge while Einar Solberg‘s gorgeous, soothing vocals take it to new heights. This band just keeps getting better and better.

Empath is already a pretty slow album overall but for my money “Spirits Will Collide” is the strongest contender for this category. It has that familiar self-esteem reaffirming message that Devin Townsend really likes to push. It has big sounds and mellow bits. It’s metal for a sunny day.

I would have loved to see more Baroness on these lists this year. Sadly, overall I found Gold & Grey a disappointing follow up to Purple. “I’m Already Gone” does what a good Baroness song does; it combines a simple southern rock aesthetic with the intrigue of progressive metal. It’s easy to get lost in its groove.

Honorary mention(s): Opeth – “Lovelorn Crime”; Marko Hietala – “Isäni Ääni”

1. Ray Alder – “The Road”
2. Soen – “River”
3. Opeth – “Minnets yta”

My favorite ballad of the year is definitely “The Road” by Ray Alder. The lyrics are sung from a dying man’s perspective, saying goodbye to his loved ones, and they’re straightforward but moving while Alder’s delivery is soulful and dripping with emotion. The bonus track edition of the album includes an acoustic version of the song, which is gorgeous as well.

I might as well have picked “Lotus” from Soen, but “River” edges it out, thanks to Joel Ekelöf‘s wonderful vocal performance, which shows new sides of his voice with both the low-pitched verses and the falsetto at the end. The slide guitar adds to the soothing atmosphere, creating an appropriately floating feel.

“Minnets yta” continues Opeth‘s tradition of strong ballads, featuring interesting chord progressions, heartfelt vocals by Mikael Åkerfeldt, and beautiful piano and strings, and the song is topped off by a fantastic guitar solo by Fredrik Åkesson. Can anyone ask for more?

1. Devin Townsend – “Spirits Will Collide”
2. Everfrost – “Above the Treeline”

Much like how Devin Townsend gives no fucks, I give no fucks in deciding that “Spirits Will Collide” is a slow enough song to fit in this category. It’s powerful message, combined with Enya-like choral parts that blend seamlessly with the backing growls work really well. It’s very passionate and beautiful under the gritty parts. It’s the kind of message you can’t whisper to someone, but you need to grab that someone by the collar and shout.

The last one is “Above the Treeline” by Everfrost. It’s one of the simpler compositions from Winterider, but tells a very tragic tale of someone wanting to give comfort to a friend who not only lost their parents, but lost them in a hard time when he would have needed them the most. Combined with a guitar solo by Asim Searah [Wintersun], the song really is a lovely piece.

1. Soen – “River”
2. Soen – “Lotus”

… [the tunes are hummed by the birds]

A&P Reacts:
1. Beast in Black – “Oceandeep”
One of the best if not the best ballad of 2019. Powerful, emotional and beautifully delivered by one of the best voices in metal today.

2. Tarja – “You and I”
If you are looking for a perfect romantic wedding song, this one is for you. A perfect love song, that showcases her voice, talent and ability to bring emotion out of each single word she sings.

3. CyHra – “Lost in Time”
Jake E.‘s performance in this song is memorable to say the least. His ability to carry this song and deliver a powerful and emotional performance make this song special and beautiful.