Best Of 2018: Singles Through September
1 – Never Be The Same – Camila Cabello – From late 2017, “Never Be The Same” leads off Camila’s debut album where she changed her, admittedly stupid, album title to meet the market, is so great though her diva in waiting act doesn’t much matter. The smart metaphor, love as addiction, chirps on the song as it delves itself into electronic desire on the ever popular Adam Feeny’s sample. The performance on Fallon was epic, and I am frankly surprised it isn’t bigger.
2 – Better Now – Post Malone – This is what makes Post so rare, his instincts are both pop and rap and here he uses both to make a smooth pro pop move, consider it as big as these things get without Taylor shouting it out.
3 – One Kiss (with Dua Lipa) – Calvin Harris – The purest of disco songs featuring Dua who has a mustiness to her voice which oozes sensuality and a cool banging desire. The phut of the bass works as a hook all the way through and the strings are Love Unlimited.
4 – The Middle – Zedd, Maren Morris, Grey – The chorus is one of the best you will hear this year, and that is all about Australian songwriter Sarah Aarons, who kills it completely even if it was just 30 seconds on a memo.
5 – Body Count (feat. Normani & Kehlani) – Remix – Jessie Reyez, Normani, Kehlani – OK, where is that first album, Jessie? People are allowed favorites and Jessie is mine, the rasp in her voice, the badass self-awareness, and here a terrific paean to loving who you want to love, helped by the estimable Kehlani, Jessie brings Latin-R&B meets girl singer songwriting right into 2018.
6 – symbol – Adrianne Lenker – “The symbol of your love is time” makes sense between love and the death of it (and “8 makes infinity”) as the Big Thief lead singer whisper sing speaks all her distress and yet not distress, just a gorgeous strangeness.
7 – My My My! – Troye Sivan – Troye is like The Drums with an ear for the chart, and this is a gay moment which finds the attractive guy in complete seduction mode and with a chorus that ranks high “my,my,my, spend every night with you…” exactly, in the year of 20 gay Teen, this is what it sounds like.
8 – FEFE *Featuring Nicki Minaj and Murda Beatz) – Singles are a pop form and this a class act (not thematically of course) sex nursery rhyme and the best thing Minaj has rapped on this disappointing year for her.
9 – Beyond – Leon Bridges – This hasn’t broken pop the way it absolutely should have, yet it still stands as the best soul song of the year, the chorus is an earworm and it needs a Bloodpop remix right now though its natural contingent might be older than that.
10 – This Is America – Childish Gambino – Ostensibly about gun control, it has a wider range and while heard out of context of the viral video it is more a song in movement, the movements are strange and serving and intensely depressing and with suggestions of plagiarism a snapshot of a world in turmoil. However, though it is a great sound, the song is a little iffy
11 – Be Home Soon – Free Cake For Every Creature – A lovely song of romantic devotion,”You are the brownie to my tv dinner but i don’t wanna save you for later cause my loneliness mostly leaves every time you’re with me” Katie Bennett and Colin Manjoney harmonize while the girls sound like laughter through tears.
12 – Mariners Apartment Complex – Lana Del Rey – Yes, it is Lana so it is a sad song even while she uses the song to deny her sadness to the man she is dating. It works best as a glimmer of hope that merges with a soaring and subsiding sound. Nobody does this like Lana.
13 – Make Me Feel – Janelle Monae – Dirty Computer is a huge album for Janelle, and another song is at the top of my best songs, the album is at the top of my best albums, and this Prince rip? Homage? Whatever you want to call it, it is one of a kind that isn’t, and worth its position if only for her shout of “Good God, I can’t help it”.
14 – Confusion In The Marketplace – The Hold Steady – The strange thing about the Hold Steady is that they can’t write great, great, great songs all the time, though it feels like when they do it comes to them so easily. This is a typical Finn swing sing song sad sack but it is touched by he miracle of the song gods.
15 – Knockin’ On Your Screen Door – John Prine – This is one of those songs that feels as though it has been around since the 1950s, a gorgeous country rumble with a touch of twang and a nice shuffle drum.
16 – All The Stars (with SZA) – Kendrick Lamar – An echoey r&b track that worked as my entrance into SZA before her excellent performance at MSG. The Kendrick verse is best for being a little calmer. Kendrick reminds me of Chris Stapleton, they both need a valium..
17 – Liberated – Dej Loaf, Leon Bridges – As terrific an anthem for the girls who need no make up when they make up and a sense of liberation underlined by Leon.
18 – Mi Cama – Karol G – A wonderful slice of Latin American pop, the “pom pom pom” hook is money in the bank and, as is true with so much modern Latin music, the drums are way up in the mix.
19 – Almost Had to Start a Fight/In and Out of Patience – Parquet Courts – When the East Village Eye’s Leonard Abrams recommended these New York City 1980s post-punk 1980s sounding wannabes I thought his nostalgia buzz was off the charts. However, this twofer of half kilter rocker weirdness is a masterpiece of sorts, throwing in everything they have including background harmonies and guitars like chugging trains before bailing with a “This next one’s called “Freebird 2” “.
20- Walk in Circles – Grant-Lee Phillips – “St. Augustine said the wicked walk in circles and I thought, I have no problem with that. Sign me up with the witches then, if that means moving in step with nature – but let’s not go backwards.” This is the best slice of clangy folk meets classic rock, it’s like Byrdsy with a different type of singer.