The 15 Best Songs of 2018
15. Aphex Twin
It’s business as usual for Richard D. James. Rolling synths float on top of his signature drum n’ bass glitchery. This highlight off of Aphex Twin’s Collapse EP is another chapter in the legendary electronic musician’s much welcomed return.
“Me & My Dog”
Lucy Dacus, Julien Baker, and Phoebe Bridgers, all incredible songwriters in their own right, gifted music fans with a collaborative project that blends the trio’s unique talents. “Me & My Dog”, an ethereal ballad with evocative harmonies, tells a story of a severed relationship and the solace achieved after breaking toxic binds.
13. Marie Davidson
Canadian producer Marie Davidson introducers humor and spoken word into her thumping techno music. Davidson satirizes and critiques the touring lifestyle on this club stomper. Her answer to being in her position as an artist? “Work. Work to be a winner.”
12. Kacey Musgraves
Kacey is a refreshing voice in the world of contemporary country. Cowboys and Silverados are familiar pop country tropes that Musgraves intelligently makes her own on this sprawling break-up ballad. “Space Cowboy” captivates with her intimate vocal performance and sunny instrumentals.
“Is It Cold in the Water?”
Working with Let’s Eat Grandma, Charli XCX, and the PC Music label, Sophie has positioned herself at the forefront of a new wave of experimental art pop music. This alluring ballad off of her debut album, OIL OF EVERY PEARL’s UN-INSIDES, juxtaposes pop vocals with icy and spacious synths.
These Danish punks are always evolving their sound. The second single off their excellent Beyondless album sees Iceage embracing pop sensibilities. Singer Sky Ferreira is brought on to duet with frontman Elias Bender Rønnenfelt as they ruminate an unhealthy desire for another person while playful horns give the track a welcome glam rock feel.
9. DJ Taye
Chicago footwork producer DJ Taye shows his hidden skills as an MC on top of this complex dive into psychedelia. Weird rhythmic patterns and spiraling synths function to disorient the listener. “Trippin’” is an excellent step in the development of the footwork genre.
Spanish singer Rosalía creates a distinctive sound by fusing her traditional flamenco roots with modern elements of pop and R&B. Her seductive vocals ride on top of quiet hand claps, engrossing synths, and cacophonous percussion.
7. Snail Mail
Teenage songwriter Lindsay Jordan is one of the most buzzing names in the indie blogosphere right now. The lead single off her debut studio album is sparse and punchy, recalling the likes of Liz Phair. Snail Mail throws her feelings of unrequited love out in the open with a tastefully sarcastic display.
“Always Trying to Work it Out”
“Always Trying to Work it Out” is a disarming number and the most immediate song on Double Negative, the slowcore icon’s best album in recent years. A pummeling bass drum pushes this tune forward while the rest of the track is buried in mysterious fuzz and feedback. The vocal duet between Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker continually disintegrates and comes back into the fold, adding layers of mystique to an excellent piece of music.
5. Peggy Gou
“It Makes You Forget (Itgehane)”
The much acclaimed Berlin-based DJ and house producer sings in her native Korean on the year’s most enticing club anthem. This mellow and understated dance tune features rubbery drum machines, acid-tinted synths, and a moody vibraphone line. Peggy Gou is an exciting voice to be reckoned with in the world of dance music.
“Nice for What”
Drake is a factory for great hip-hop singles. “Nice for What” is no exception. Although Scorpion was an uneven entry into Drake’s discography, the lead single excites with Drake’s undeniably catchy performance and a well executed sample of Lauryn Hills classic “Ex-Factor. “Nice for What” is a warm ode to female empowerment from rap’s biggest name today.
3. Janelle Monáe
“Make Me Feel”
Janelle Monáe reintroduces herself with this towering piece of modern funk. The Prince-esque stomper grooves with a thick bass and synth lines. Shimmering electric guitar sprinkles on top. “Make Me Feel” is a massive single for one of the most forward thinking artists in pop, soul, and R&B music.
The Swedish dance-pop queen is back. No one is capable of expressing melancholic emotions within triumphant pop music quite like Robyn. Introducing itself with shiny synths, “Missing U” never lets up. Through its massive, rousing chorus, Robyn exclaims her longing for someone who is now missing in her life. The mastermind behind “Dancing on My Own” has yet another piece of artful pop perfection under her belt.
“Nobody” is a poignant and intensely honest declaration of loneliness. “Give me just one good movie kiss and I’ll be alright” foreshadows the song’s chorus in heartbreaking fashion. But just as the despair of the track seems to have taken over, Mitski surprises the listener with a sleak and immediate disco inspired refrain as Mitski leaves her feelings of isolation out on the dance floor. Just as indie rock seemed like it was running out of ideas, Mitski proves why she is one of the most important players in the scene today.