Joe’s Best Songs of 2018
IN MY opinion, 2018 has been the one of the best years for music in a good while. Perhaps last year’s crop of albums were a little stronger, shout out to Scum Fuck Flower Boy and Everybody Works, but 2018 was the year of damn good song-writing. Plus, there were some real surprises throughout the year. Who would’ve thought Kanye would disappoint, at least musically? Or the new The 1975 album would turn out to be great? Or that Janelle Monáe would release her best work? Not me that is for sure.
When I was writing this list, I noticed that a lot of the new music I have been listening to was made by a woman. Perhaps there has been a subtle change in the music industry as they react to a desire for more feminism and positive female representation, so more women are being pushed to the forefront. As a result they are getting more exposure, so it is more likely for me to listen to them. I hope so. Whatever the reason, it was certainly a nice surprise.
Anyway, enough hand-wringing, lets move on to what matters:
Honourable Mention: CupcakKe – ‘Duck Duck Goose’
” I thought I came but I peed on a dick” is the first line of ‘Duck Duck Goose’. Somehow, the song gets even better from there as the raunchy lyrics escalate to ridiculous levels. I had to show everyone this song and the music video just to bask in their confusion and incredulous laughter. CupcakKe isn’t just a one trick pony, however. She has a great ear for beats and the flow on this song is fantastic. An undeniable BANGER.
10) Ariana Grande – ‘Thank U, Next’
Somehow, Ariana Grande has released perhaps one of her best songs (easily top five) despite having an absolutely horrible eighteen months. Sweetener was a cool album, sure, but the context and the personal nature of ‘Thank U, Next’ really elevates it to a whole new level. A song about dealing with the endings of relationships in a mature fashion and using such a thing for personal growth should be applauded. Taylor Swift should take a leaf out of the Queen of Pop’s book when it comes to break-up anthems.
9) The Internet – ‘Roll (Burbank Funk)’
The Internet uncovered the best bass-line this year and then built a superb song around it. Sure its a self-referential seventies throwback to a degree, but that doesn’t take away from the overall quality. I couldn’t tell you what it is about or what message it has but ‘Roll…’ is just a fun song.
8) Disclosure – ‘Moonlight’
Man, I am so glad Disclosure are back. Their last album was a huge disappointment after their absurdly good debut and Moonlight is one hell of a return to form. The fun a Capella sample and their usual house-style really comes together in an energetic way. No one in the mainstream is making dance music as good as these guys.
7) Jon Hopkins – ‘Emerald Rush’
‘Emerald Rush’ is just sublime, man. I don’t mean that in the qualitative sense, although it is also brilliant, but in the literal meaning: “Producing an overwhelming sense of awe or other high emotion through being vast or grand.” The bass, the synths and the beat just sound so monumentally huge. It is a truly awesome song that evokes images of flying through space watching comets and stars cascade past me.
6) Drake – ‘Nice For What’
Why is it no matter how much I dislike Drake’s music as a whole, he always makes at least a song on every album he releases that I enjoy a great deal, even if I don’t know why? Well it turns out, Drake sounding like he is having fun and actually being women-positive leads to ‘Nice For What’. A song that I consider one of his best. Plus, the sampling of Lauryn Hill is almost prime Kanye-esque in its quality. Which is the highest praise I can give for a beat in the 21st century.
5) Robyn – ‘Missing U’
‘Missing U’ is exactly what I wanted from Robyn in 2018: a song that makes me want to dance whilst feeling sad. The further Honey transitioned from that style to a looser structure, the more the album lost me (although I would never call it bad). I just love the swirling synths in this song especially coupled with some of Robyn’s most poetical and evocative lyrics about loss and heartbreak, with a particular highlight being: “I’ve turned my sorrow into glass/so it don’t cast no shadow.” It isn’t particularly flashy, but the more I listen to ‘Missing U’ the more I enjoy it.
4) The 1975 – ‘Love It If We Made It’
A lot has been said about ‘Love It If We Made It’ over the months since its release and I don’t have much more to add. People have called it a song that sounds like a Twitter feed and a homage to Tears For Fears. They are right. It is gripping, dramatic, a millennial anthem and simply the right song for the right time in this age of social media. It actually made me a fan of The 1975, a band I had previously dismissed as emos whining, and forced me to take them seriously. They released so much good music this year that this choice was the hardest decision in the entire list.
3) Snail Mail – ‘Pristine’
I think there has always been a part of me that will forever be a teenage girl. I guess it has always been there with my enjoyment of Ariana Grande and Carly Rae Jepsen’s music. However, Pristine made me fully realise it because it is essentially a queer teenage girl’s catharsis about a relationship that was unrequited and it perfectly summed up a moment for me in 2018. Almost every lyric speaks to me on some level. I love the downcast singing contrasted with the addictive happy guitar chords. It gives what otherwise could be a bit of a dirge some energy and breathing space. And honestly. “there is no better feeling than coming clean”.
2) Kacey Musgraves – ‘Slow Burn’
Crystalline. Flawless. Heart-warming. These words and more come to mind when I think about ‘Slow Burn’. It begins quiet enough, with Musgraves singing about her beginnings, then gradually unfurls – lotus flower-like – into a declaration about slowing down, enjoying the smaller things and continuing to learn. Her voice is clean, clear and just wonderful. It is a song that sent shivers down my spine when I first heard it. Utterly superb.
1) Janelle Monáe – ‘Make Me Feel’
Honestly, I could put almost any song Janelle Monáe’s Dirty Computer on the top spot. But ‘Make Me Feel’, is the closest I have felt to using that phrase white people have stolen from ‘Black Twitter:’ “wig snatched” when I first heard it. It is sassy, very Prince, sexy and just an absolute jam. It was a blast to hear Janelle finally shed a bit of the artifice and just really cut loose. Plus, its on top of everything, ‘Make Me Feel’ is a brazen sex anthem dedicated to pan-sexuality, which deserves to be lauded as there aren’t enough queer pop songs in the world.
Other great songs released this year: Janelle Monáe – ‘Pynk‘, Kacey Musgraves – ‘High Horse‘, The 1975 ‘It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)‘, Kids See Ghosts – ‘Cudi Montage‘, The Internet – ‘La Di Da‘, Against All Logic – ‘Now U Got Me Hooked‘, SOPHIE – ‘Immaterial‘, Father John Misty – ‘Mr Tillman‘, Nine Inch Nails – ‘Shit Mirror‘ & Denzel Curry – ‘CLOUT COBAIN‘