NPR Music's Top 16 Songs Of October Love reigns in the best songs of October: there's lost love and love most generous, but most of all, love's transformative power.
NPR logo NPR Music's Top 16 Songs Of October

NPR Music's Top 16 Songs Of October

Phoebe Bridgers (center) and Matt Berninger (second from right) teamed up to record "Walking on a String," one of the best songs of October. Chloe Brewer/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Chloe Brewer/Courtesy of the artist

Phoebe Bridgers (center) and Matt Berninger (second from right) teamed up to record "Walking on a String," one of the best songs of October.

Chloe Brewer/Courtesy of the artist

Stream this playlist via Spotify or Apple Music.

Love reigns in the best songs of October: there's lost love and love most generous, but most of all, love's transformative power. But if you're sick of love hey, we know Anunaku will send you island-hopping with a percussive banger.

Below you'll find an alphabetized list of NPR Music's top 16 songs of October 2019. Be sure to check out our top 10 albums from the month as well.


Stream The List On Spotify

Alexa Rose, "Untitled No. 47" ♬ APPLE / SPOTIFY
An enchanting new Appalachian voice wraps her rambling mind around a dream; it sounds like the soul child of Bob Dylan and Dolly Parton. — Ann Powers

Anunaku, "Forgotten Tales" APPLE / SPOTIFY
Anunaku is an Italian producer and DJ partly inspired by Sufism and Vedic traditions. In this TSVI side project, he fully upholds the winning streak set forth by British electronic label Whities. — Andrew Flanagan

Common Holly, "You Dance" ♬ APPLE / SPOTIFY
"
Don't be afraid," Brigitte Naggar sings as a slow-brewing storm of guitar, percussion and vocals build behind her, as if daring her listener with every repetition: "Don't freak out." — Marissa Lorusso

Dermot Kennedy, "What Have I Done?" ♬ APPLE / SPOTIFY
The Irish star's marvelous debut album mixes rafter-rattling uplift with moody slow-burns. "What Have I Done?" splits the difference, building from a plaintive lament to a cell-phones-aloft crowd-pleaser. — Stephen Thompson

Frances Quinlan, "Rare Thing" ♬ APPLE / SPOTIFY
The lead single from Likewise, the debut solo album from Hop Along's venerated singer, shows Frances Quinlan stretching her sound in an exciting new direction as she ponders how to love generously. — Marissa Lorusso

Julien Baker, "Tokyo" ♬ APPLE / SPOTIFY
Losing love can feel like a crash landing and the terrifying truth is that crash landings always happen in slow time. Julien Baker captures the woozy fatalism of such fatal turns. — Ann Powers

Kembe X, "Limb" APPLE / SPOTIFY
A survivor of the middle class, squeezed between his dreams and his nightmares, Kembe X navigates life with this appropriately-titled underdog anthem. — Rodney Carmichael

Stream The List On Apple Music

Kelsey Waldon, "Kentucky, 1988" ♬ APPLE / SPOTIFY
"A wise woman told me, 'memories, you choose 'em,'" and that's just what Americana's most steadfast hard-country scion does on this, her version of "Coal Miner's Daughter." — Ann Powers

Matt Berninger, "Walking on a String (feat. Phoebe Bridgers)" ♬ APPLE / SPOTIFY
Perfectly blending two of the weariest voices around, "Walking on a String" builds to a grandly soaring finale — the most beautiful song ever to emerge from a Netflix original movie based on Zach Galifianakis' satirical talk show Between Two Ferns. — Stephen Thompson

Mercy Bell, "Chocolate Milk & Whiskey" ♬ APPLE / SPOTIFY
Life is complicated when you're a queer Filipina making country music in a Linda Ronstadt vein. Mercy Bell's inspiring ballad affirms that little pleasures and big love make it possible "to remember to myself be true." — Ann Powers

Mount Eerie, "Belief pt. 2" ♬ APPLE / SPOTIFY
Piano chords lope along to the last vestiges of a relationship in a slow, foggy waltz. In close harmony, Phil Elverum and Julie Doiron affirm with great stength, "I love you / I am for you." — Lars Gotrich

Patrick Watson, "Look at You" ♬ APPLE / SPOTIFY
Patrick Watson's dreamy new album Wave ruminates softly on death and loss. But in "Look At You," Watson shifts his focus to romantic promise; to the dizzy rush of new love and fresh hope. — Stephen Thompson

Perfume Genius, "Pop Song"♬ APPLE / SPOTIFY
In this joyous exhalation, Mike Hadreas tracks the spiritually transformative power of intimacy — from crystalline stillness to humid movement — with the power of peach imagery. — Cyrena Touros

Real Life Rock & Roll Band, "EarthBound Phantoms Not Numerous" ♬ BANDCAMP
A country-fried, psych-rock barn-burner slathered with Auto-Tuned howls and barbaric yelps that somehow turns into a mutant hoedown. Euphorically odd, yet very much of our genre-less time. — Lars Gotrich

Rex Orange County, "Always" ♬ APPLE / SPOTIFY
Rex Orange County at his most mature, backed by smooth horns and twinkling bells. "I'll always be the way I am," his voice soars, knowing that this is, in fact, a good thing. — Zoë Jones

Sudan Archives, "Glorious" ♬ APPLE / SPOTIFY
Sudan Archives learned violin by ear, beat production by hand and landed on her compelling fusion of a sound after digging into the musical history of Northeast Africa. "Glorious" features an assist from rapper D-Eight, a fellow Cincinnatian. — Andrew Flanagan