Best Of 2018: Songs Through November
Comment: I am baffled as to what constitutes a single, an album track may well be pulled off and made a single simply because there is a video. I’ve been dealing with that question for the better part of five years. So, late in the game, I’ve dumped my fav songs and mixed it with singles…
1 – Thank U, Next – Ariana Grande – Every year may well get the best song it deserves, but I don’t believe we’ve been that good. Ariana has capped off a a couple of years that have included a terrorist attack, the death of her ex, Mac Miller, a very public engagement and break up, and capped it with her best song, and the best single of the year: a gorgeous, tuneful, breathy, self-examination of love and her crazy, classic life.
2 – 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.
3 – Sicko Mode – Travis Scott – Travis glued together this masterpiece of hook and mood.
4 – Crazy, Classic Life – Janelle Monáe – I behold these truths to be self-evident, this is the great theme song for everyone, we all have a stake, we all want it, need it and deserve it, and it is so great, so catchy, that hook is world class. This is the motto in all its glory:
We don’t need another ruler
All of my friends are kings
I’m not America’s nightmare
I’m the American dream
Just let me live my life
I took out the Oh-oh’s here but they are there, believe me
5 – Issues/Hold On – Teyana Taylor – Of the 35 songs of June from Kanye, this is the best. A straight up soul masterpiece, stripped of Kanye’s production it would still be great. “You tell me you love me well tell me again, I need the reassurance every now and then” is a great love lyric. “This is deeper than you and other women, this is is daddy issues…” is better.
6 – Whathegirlmuthafuckinwannadoo (feat. Janelle Monáe) – The Coup, Janelle Monáe – Without a doubt, one of the very best Prince tributes, steals, homage, whatever, you will ever hear.
7 – 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.
8 – 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.
9 – 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.
10 – 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.
11 – 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.
12 – 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.
13 – Good As You – Kane Brown – Country song of the year, Kane celebrates true love, no really: it’s his wedding song and the video is of him and bride taking their vows.
14 – Opening Act (The Shooby Dooby Song) – Bahamas – That shuffle intro is a thing of beauty and the song itself stands head and shoulders above anything else on the album, and the album is great, but this song? The “shooby dooby” hook is money in the band, the rhythm section, Pino Palladino and James Gadson, have the confidence to let Afie Jurvanen be a smooth and warm funkiness on this addictive track.
15 – FEFE *Featuring Nicki Minaj and Murda Beatz) – 6ix9ine – 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
16 – I Have A Need For Solitude – Mary Chapin Carpenter – A gorgeous version of a lovely and quiet sad song, taken at a lovelier and slower pace.
17 – 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
18 – Boo’d Up – Ella Mae – A huge single, and maybe an anomaly as her debut album didn’t manage more of the same, but it blasted through the channels of hip hop with a hook to lift ships to dry land
19 – 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.
20 – 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.
21 – 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.
22 – 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.
23 – Pussy Is God – King Princess – Remember in the 1980s when some feminist lesbians propounded a complete break from men, not the worst idea I’ve ever heard. King Princess, sexually at least, breaks completely with men and here she explains what she loves
24- Don’t Leave Me Alone (feat. Anne-Marie) – David Guetta, Anne-Marie – The latest of a triumvirate of pop EDM genius this year, along with Calvin Harris and Zedd, they all hit paydirt with earworms of the highest magnitude. Anne-Marie’s solo album was pretty good as well, Guetta’s went on too long
25 – 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.
26 – Duck Duck Goose – cupcakKe – This is a dirty little nursery rhyme of completely addictive proportions by a modern down Millie Jackson: “I can make your dick stand up like statue of liberty one long sweet fuck…” Yup.