2018 was my first full year of actual streaming. I should have made the move from cds years ago. So many musics, all available, lovely. Even limiting myself to one song per artist my top 40 became a 42 but it could easily have stretched to a 100 or so. There was a lot of good music this year. (I suspect there is a lot of good music every year, but being able to stream stuff made it really easy for me to find, I should probably revisit the last decade or so).
Anyway, these are the songs that warmed my heart the most this year. Sorry in advance if this is just a long boring list. It would probably have helped to do one of those playlists, but I’m not on Spotify, so….
42. Logic (featuring Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, The RZA, Method Man, Inspectah Deck, Cappadonna, Jackpot Scotty Wotty, U-God, Masta Killa and GZA) – Wu Tang Forever
Logic actually did “assemble the Clan like Voltron” and we really should celebrate that, because it doesn’t happen nearly often enough.
41. Half Waif – Lavender Burning
A bit sad, a bit beautiful, mentions a bird, it’s like it was written for me.
40. Ariana Grande – God is a Woman
thank u, next is great too, but this was my favourite this year.
39. Sons of Kemet – My Queen is Angela Davis
It’s jazz, but you can’t stop dancing. Strange but true.
38. Cardi B – I Like It
This, or something else from Invasion of Privacy, is on everyone’s list, isn’t it? Unless you only like death metal or folk music or something, in which case it might not be.
37. Chase & Status (featuring Cutty Ranks) – Retreat
I didn’t see this coming. Retreat has the energy, and the sound, of a certain type of dance music that filled me with joy as a teenager. Hearing it for the first time I had a wave of delicious nostalgia – The Prodigy Experience, Metalheadz, SL2, etc – and the fun doesn’t fade on repeated listens. An absolute joy.
36. Dream State – Solace
Being, basically, an old man, I have no idea whether Dream State consider themselves ‘metal’ or something completely different, but they are, to my ears, ‘that sort of thing’. What made Solace stand out to me when I first heard it was the vocals, which are brilliant. I love a song that you think you can sing along to but when you try it, it breaks you physically and (a little bit) emotionally. This is one of those. A healthy reminder that not all guitar music sucks.
35. Natalie Prass – Oh My
Dare I say, the acceptable face of the revival of the 80’s sound? I promise not to compare and contrast this with a certain Manchester four-piece, but this is better, obviously, with a lovely gentle Prince-like feel.
34. Jericho Jackson – Overthinking
I could have picked almost anything off Khrysis & Elzhi are Jericho Jackson but chose this. It’s a striving to perfect a hip hop style that has existed for some time rather than an attempt to do something new, sure, but so what? It’s really high quality stuff.
33. Otha – I’m on Top
Both of Otha’s singles this year (the other being One of the Girls) were great. A sort of lo-fi Saint Etienne sound, maybe, something like that? Describing music is hard. It’s really good though.
32. Skyzoo – Baker’s Dozen
Like Overthinking, Baker’s Dozen mines a sound from hip hop’s past and, also like Overthinking, it does it very well indeed. It’s very New York, which is obviously a good thing.
31. Kimbra – Recovery
A break-up song with an undertone of dark humour – “That bumper sticker’s right / Only you can change your life / Somewhere I lost my confidence” – that is the stand out track on Primal Heart.
30. Sigrid – High Five
All out, no apologies, Radio 1 pop, but with a hint of melancholy, like what your mom likes.
29. Drake – Nice For What
It takes a brave person to take a sample from the greatest album of all time. Sometimes bravery pays off though, like with this one. I’m not going to try to describe it because it’s Drake, so you’ve already heard it.
28. Towkio (featuring Teddy Jackson) – Symphony
Symphony is essentially a shit chat-up line expanded to four minutes. It really, really shouldn’t work, but it does because it is so darn goofy.
“If god sent me an inquiry
About angels that he missed consistently
And then you fell out of the sky with some angel wings
Would you believe it was meant to be? Huh?”
See what I mean?
27. Caroline Ross – Cry!
Electro indie? Is that a thing? I dunno. Anyway, it earns its exclamation mark and you really can’t ask anymore than that.
26. Joan as Policewoman – Warning Bell
She’s consistent, that Joan as Policewoman. Great as always.
25. Big Narstie – Whoa
Am I right in thinking Big Narstie says he is going to spray men down like Pledge in this one? If so, it may be the greatest reference to a household cleaner in pop history. Even if he doesn’t, he does say “I’ll bungee jump your soul bro” which is superb and he also rhymes ‘Ric Flair’ with ‘hell fucking yeah’ which is also superb. Very shouty, totally NSFW, and utterly inspired.
24. The Breeders – Wait in the Car
Leaving a decade or so between each one seemingly has very little effect on the quality of Breeders albums. They just get back together and get on with things. This was my favourite off their latest.
23. Halo Maud – Wherever
Watch the bass line. Where’s it going? Where’s it going? Ooooooh. Lovely. Lovely stuff.
22. Little Simz – Offence
“Fuck it lemme get a birthday cake and it ain’t even my birthday”. Couldn’t put it better myself. Perfect.
21. Kendrick Lamar & SZA – All the Stars
Another one where a description would be superfluous. You know this one. You like it too.
20. Wiley (featuring Scratch and D Double E) – Bar
D Double E is so very very good at what he does, totally stealing this (already great) song with his verse. His solo album was pretty good too. Good year all round.
19. Saba – Broken Girls
In which a man analyses his weaknesses and finds himself lacking. “I know that I’m not shit, I know that it’s toxic”. Not a comedy.
18. Flohio – Watchout
The beats underneath this one are proper bleepy mate. All over the shop in the very best of ways. Flohio is brilliant, and could be massive in a Boy in da Corner kind of way but she probably won’t be because people get obsessed with things like that Manchester four piece I mentioned earlier, and that I am definitely not going to talk about now, instead and miss all the good stuff.
17. Domo Genesis – Me vs. Me
“It’s like I got my brain in a grip, you know
Me Vs. Me: the most dangerous shit”
16. Haley Henderickx – The Bug Collector
This has a very nice Nick Drake-y feel to it, but better (for me) because it’s less ethereal lyrically, more grounded.
15. Idles – I’m Scum
It was a toss up between this or Never Fight A Man With A Perm but every track on Joy as an Act of Resistance is great. As the title suggests, the album manages to rage against the world without losing its sense of humour, providing a healthy dose of great bounce-around-the-room post-punk and punchy one-liners.
14. Childish Gambino – This is America
You definitely know this one. Even your nan knows this one. She likes it too, because it’s awesome.
13. Czarface & MF Doom (featuring Open Mike Eagle & Kendra Morris) – Phantoms
The stand out track from another of the year’s finest albums.
12. First Aid Kit – Fireworks
This is probably the ‘family song of the year’, loved by everyone in the house.
11. Kacey Musgraves – Butterflies
This is from one of those cool albums that people on Twitter like. They aren’t right about everything but they are about this. Lovely stuff.
10. Homeboy Sandman & Edan – The Gut
Great rapping over really unusual samples. If that is your sort of thing, check this (and the rest of the album) out.
9. Anderson .Paak – Bubblin
You know this one too. It was on an advert and everything.
8. Janelle Monáe (featuring Zoë Kravitz) – Screwed
The perfect reaction to Trump’s America. There is nothing you can destroy that we can’t rebuild, but with swears, and class. Splendid.
7. Pusha T – If You Know You Know
Proof that whatever is going on in Kanye’s head, he is still a world class producer. The highest point of several high points to the (five?) albums he recorded in the (desert?) this summer.
6. Bali Baby – Backseat
This is one of those songs that sound up but whose lyrics are way way down, all sad and that. It’s great.
5. Inara George – Young Adult
I can’t quite put my finger on why I love this song as much as I do. Or rather, I know, but it is a kind of special that is hard to put into words. Anyway, I like it a lot. I like singing it.
Blimey. I’m really really bad at this listing songs I like thing. Jesus. At least nobody is still reading this far down, except maybe Tim, who has impeccable manners.
4. Denzel Curry – Vengeance
I’m an embarrassing dad for just liking Denzel Curry’s stuff. It’s not for me, it’s for the young people. It’s bloody good though. Really bloody good.
3. Shannon Shaw – Golden Frames
It’s a proper old school big voice big soul broken heart torch song this one. Absolutely stunning.
2. Lizzo – Boys
I nearly made this number one. Definitely the most funningest song of the year.
- Black Thought – Twofifteen
This is insanely good, so it wins.