26 December 2018

Twenty GREATteen: Best in Music

It's about time we round out every little pop culture facet of 2018 - or as we're calling it for some reason, Two-Thousand GREAT-teen. It was pretty great, right?

Remember when we could even say that years were great? What was the last great year we had? The world is awful. That's why we have some fun music to jam out to - something needs to distract us from real problems. Whether or not there's value to both pursuing fruitless entertainment and making lists about it is beyond our scope. Let's have fun!

Best Songs of 2018:

There were actually a lot of songs I dug hardcore this year. As we do, without much evaluation, here is a smattering of the best we had, new and old from this GREAT year:

"Psycho" - Post Malone ft. Ty Dolla $ign
"Finesse" by Bruno Mars ft. Cardi B
"Nice for What" - Drake
"Stir Fry" - Migos
"All the Stars" - Kendrick Lamar ft. SZA
"Pray for Me" - The Weeknd ft. Kendrick Lamar
"Be Careful" - Cardi B
"King's Dead" - Jay Rock, Kenny, Future, James Blake
"This is America" - Childish Gambino
"Feels Like Summer" - Childish Gambino
"Girls Like You" by Maroon 5 ft. Cardi B
"Taste" by Tyga
"Humility" - Gorillaz
"Crush" - Tessa Violet
"Nice for What" - Drake
"In My Feelings" - Drake
"Hunnybee" - Unknown Mortal Orchestra
"Best Hugs" - DRAM
"Mo Bamba" - Sheck Wes
"See You Again" - Tyler the Creator ft. Kali Uchis
"Thunderclouds" - LSD
"Thank U, Next" - Ariana Grande
"Sicko Mode" - Travis Scott ft. Drake
"Sunflower" - Swae Lee, Post Malone
"Just a Stranger" - Kali Uchis ft. Steven Lacey

That's some list. My favourite song of the year of course is WIN by Jay Rock.

Some stray observations - this was a huge year for many artists. Travis Scott, Drake, Childish Gambino, Ariana Grande, Camila Cabello, it was maddening. Ariana Grande made a really great case for Artist of the Year and no one made a bigger hyped album than she did with Sweetener, only to then drop her greatest single as a response to the heartbreak that followed the Pete Davidson puppy love that made said alubm. "Thank U, Next" ended up being one of her best tracks of the year and one of the best songs anywhere.

However, it's gotta be the B. 2017 was a huge year for her blasting on to the scene, but 2018 proved that she has the goods to stay. She was on every song ever, dropping four singles of her own, but being featured on an additional nine tracks. Led by "Finesse", "I Like It", and "Girls Like You" spreads over a solid amount of genres and across the entire year. She's a bridge between hip-hop, pop, and Latin and the most 2018 artist ever.

This year was also a tipping point in how we listen to music. Radio Top 40, Spotify Top 40, and album sales had nothing to do with each other. I named Camila's "Never Be the Same" the Summer Jam Queen, but few agreed with me. It was probably Drake. It's not like adaptation is bad - we just need to figure this shit out.

Music Video of the Year:

As soon as it dropped, there was no question. There's no video more in the political moment, with a beat and flow that stands on its own, lyrical relevancy to both what's on screen and in its own context and also dramatically captured our attention. Between Atlanta, SOLO (2018), and everything he did as Childish Gambino over summer ("Feels Like Summer" was also an amazing video), Donald Glover had a hell of a year.

Albums of the Year:


As we usually do, I like to separate music into three big mega-genres. Pop, Hip-Hop, and Rock. Rock never has any good albums anymore, so we'll start there. There was some interesting stuff made by Father John Misty and the Gorillaz that I'm into, but nothing that stood out as the best they've done (or better than even 2017. Also they're barely even rock).

No, we'll give 2018 to the 1975 and they're album, A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships. The album oscillates between these Vampire Weekend hipster vibes and some slow contemplative work that straddles genre, autotune, and simultaneously uplifting and depressing beats. There's super 80s synth on "It's Not Living" and that Tool Time song is poppy and engaging as hell. Some tracks are a little on the saccharine side, but there's always a bite around the corner.

Top Tracks: "Love It If We Made It", "I Like America & America Likes Me", "I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)."


There were a lot of great pop albums this year. Ariana's Sweetener would be the obvious choice because it's super popular and pretty damn good. Robyn's Honey was also notable, but to be honest, sounds like the same exact stuff she made ten years ago. I mean, I like that, but it just seemed like nothing innovative. No, we'll give it to newcomer Kali Uchis and her debut, Isolation.

Her vocals are haunting, seductive, and scathing. Every single track is an earworm. It's awesome. There's a pop sensibility there with a beat that has a little more edge. She had some high-profile collabos with Gorillaz, Tyler the Creator, and Bootsy Collins but always appears as the dominant voice. To be honest, I was looked with the first real track, "Miami" and never let go. There's some funky lovemaking shit on this album, boi.

Top Tracks: "Your Teeth in My Neck", "Dead to Me", "Tomorrow", "After the Storm"


I had a tough time with this, actually. Scorpion? Astroworld? Invasion of Privacy? Ye? There were a lot of high profile albums, and even though the latter there will surely be left off a lot of lists because of his pro-Trumpiness, Kanye actually made a lot of good shit this year. Instead, let's cop out and just say it's the whole Black Panther album.

It was a solid flick - I'd call it good and not great, but it delivered one of the best inspired by Albums of all time. I like how Hip-Hop artists take this on, like Jay-Z with American Gangster (2007). Anyway, Kendrick Lamar could have phoned it in - instead this album has relevant movie tracks, a great launching point for some monster songs this year, and room for some actual introspective shit. This is maybe a cop-out to just give it to Kendrick Lamar this year, who seemed to mostly spend it having fun with Jay Rock. I don't actually plan on highlighting Panther all that much in my Top Movies Post, so let's jazz on it here.

Top Tracks: "Opps", "Paramedic!", "Redemption"

And there you have it, folks. That's all you need to know about the music of 2018! What do you think? It was an underrated year as I look back on it. Keep jamming, baby!!

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