Best Singles of 2018
Some albums aren't as good as they, but contain some of the catchiest songs. Some tracks are just pure singles, still waiting for an album on the horizon (or in the infinite abyss of "never"). After weeks of procrastinating, I've finally done recapping the year 2018, with the songs I thought were highlights of the past 12 months of my life. One of the things I've noticed is the increasing number of love songs on my 2018 list in comparison to 2017. Weirdly there are also a very noticeable number of tracks with much harsher sounds rather than simple pop tunes. There's the discovery of avant-garde metal band Zeal & Ardor, but also the presence of one of the most streamed song of the year by Ariana Grande. There's also much less trap this year (maybe that's also because I narrowed it down to 50 songs as opposed to a hundred), although I acknowledge that there were some really great cuts from people like Trippie Redd & Denzel Curry. Again, this is all about personal impact as much as it is about the music's impact to the world. I've also chosen to limit the songs to only tracks that were released as singles, because they are the ones that were actually intended to be heard as individual songs, as opposed to an integral part of the albums. Hope all of you have fun discovering new music you might have missed from last year!
50. Blue Ribbon - Remo Drive
Although Remo Drive’s latest EP, Pop Music, probably did not harbour the same pop punk DIY vibe that their debut did, Blue Ribbon still caught my attention with its punchy riffs and acoustic guitar interspersals. The EP title suits their less fuzzier directions guitar-wise, as the tracks go for brighter, cleaner sounds, but it also alludes to the dangers of obsessing over sweet things in all forms.
49. gimam - niqie
Metaphors, parables and poetry are wonderful things, but there’s something that induces a sigh of wonderful respite when you hear a song that just says it like it is – sometimes life makes you feel so bored and lonely that you want to die. There’s nothing sarcastic about niqie, though they might not take themselves too seriously. Their brand of dream pop that’s exploding all over the Internet with artists like Boy Pablo and Phum Viphurit gives the genre a more local, laid back feel. You might get confused about why it’s so catchy at first, but unclench your butt, sing about death and this song hits all the right (millennial) nerves, especially yang xde member, xde awek.
48. Sunflower - Swae Lee & Post Malone
It’s fitting that the best animation film of 2018 (heck, one of the best animation films ever) got such a cool song to kick it off. Swae Lee of Rae Sremmurd and Post Malone come together to write this beautiful love song, that even by itself, holds a lot of heart. The guitars when Swae Lee goes “Ooooo” are so intoxicating. No other song captures naive, adolescent love quite like Sunflower did in 2018.
47. Exhale - Kemba ft. Smino
Kemba, formerly known as Yc the Cynic, comes back after going under the radar for a while with a chill lo-fi single reminiscent of his early days. I love this track because it’s filled with familiar pop references as the bars flow through stories of growing up and figuring things out. It’s relatable. It feels like it’s talking about you, and asking you to sometimes take a break and breathe.
46. Lucky - Lucie, Too
The Japanese trio is a solid twee pop outfit with short bursts of songs but plenty of sweet sentimentality to spare. The twee in this band is not just manufactured honey, as songwriter Cishato puts in a fast-paced indie rock sound to the mix. She’s proudly declared how much twee pop she listens to from the US and the UK, and the influence shows. Lucky is a fun listen and Lucie, Too is one of my favourite finds this year.
45. Million Dollars to Kill Me - Joyce Manor
Joyce Manor is a favourite emo punk band of mine that still sticks to the core sound of the genre and really hanging its strength on just really songwriting. Honestly, there’s nothing inherently special about this song. But that line “She’s the only one who could take you to a pawn shop/And sell you for twice what you’re worth” is such a great piece of songwriting, that it rang in my head for a long time in 2018. It reeks of codependency, an alarming sign of a relationship too one-sided, where one person puts too much stake on the other person elevating their sense of self-esteem. It’s emo rock - beautifully insecure and constantly in love with the wrong people.
44. Potato Salad - Tyler the Creator & A$AP Rocky
It’s always a treat whenever ASAP collaborates with Tyler. The chill vibe and the bars on this song are great. No one else can make the line “It’s not a purse, it’s a satchel” as cool as ASAP. Tyler’s rapping braggadocio is filled with humour and sharpness in Potato Salad. (You would think I hate glass homes way I'm handling the rocks/Who cast the first stone? Bitch it's me, fuck you thought? Real grunge nigga, I ain't got a flannel as the top”)
43. Pujaan Hati - Loko
Indie rock’s catchiest anthem this year is a sweet, schmaltzy love song where the earworms are both the chorus and the guitar riffs. A fun tune; Pujaan Hati a solid piece of slacker rock with humdrum vocals that’s bottom line comforting.
42. Jumpsuit - Twenty One Pilots
Twenty One Pilots have always sort of escaped my attention, with my brain having categorised them in the same sanitised chart-topping rock group as Imagine Dragons. With the release of their single Jumpsuit and their album Trench, they rebranded themselves into a more exciting, harder version of rock - at times escalating into the borderless realms of prog rock to sharpening the edges of their core alternative sock, imbuing a tougher facet to their music. Tyler Joseph’s songwriting in Jumpsuit is the perfect summary of this, with thumping bass riffs, alternative rock sensibilities in hooks, but never fearing the grit with the dark synths in their production and vocals. Twenty One Pilots rebranding is one of the most exciting moments for me in 2018.
41. LOVE YA!- HYUKOH
K-indie sweethearts HYUKOH wrote a wholesome declaration of love that soars and while assuring you that even though love can be scary, you should not be afraid. It’s one of their happiest songs, with no hint of skepticism or severity it all, yet without ever feeling cheap. There’s a lot of sincerity here that translates through the simple chorus and the music.
40. Tints - Anderson .PaaK ft. Kendrick Lamar
One of the poppiest tracks from Paak’s Oxnard is also a very a grim request for solitude from the darker side of the world. Kendrick Lamar and Anderson .Paak’s work off of each other really well, serving Dr Dre’s old school beat some justice with smooth flows and sweet vocals. The heavenly backing singers and the bright synthesizers makes Tints otherwise harrowing, sobering message an ironically joyful listen.
39. Losing You - boy pablo
Once again, Norwegian dream pop band Boy Pablo embraces the cheesy in their upbeat song Losing You. This time it comes with a little insecurity, as the singer feels like the person he loves is slipping away. Dance to your sadness though, the bassline throughout is infectious as hell.
38. Liberated - DeJ Loaf ft. Leon Bridges
Right as the year brought in Pride Month, the song Liberated quickly became its standout anthem for me. This hip hop song by songstress and rapper by DeJ Loaf is given a soulful, gospel touch by the old-school-cosiness of Leon Bridges’s vocals. The lyrics are empowering stuff, and the video is also one of the most memorable videos in 2018, with images of civil rights activism, black excellence, LGBT acceptance and just love; love everywhere.
37. Dancing Shoes - RYOTJONES
Ryotjones filled in the lack of funk in my 2018. They didn’t just fill it in, they entered the space, tore the ceiling apart with the groove and made sure everybody in the crowd was having fun. Dancing Shoes is Ryotjones strongest resume now for their capabilities as a band, capturing the soulful R&B & funk sound that I’ve been waiting for to make a comeback in the scene. The guitar solos, the lead vocalists charisma, the horns - it’s a huge chore just to sit down while listening to this. You gotta go down to the floor and shake what you’ve got!
36. thank u, next - Ariana Grande
Ariana Grande dropped a self-empowering, R&B hit that’s got soul, a synth-pop melody that bops, and a wholesome message of love & overcoming the odds. She struts a new strut with this anthem, you can feel a whole chapter starting as Ariana shares her moment of closure with the world. Hard to forget, but not a single regret.
35. Hunnybee - Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Psychedelic rock band Unknown Mortal Orchestra embraces a more subtle sound in Hunnybee, with a huge, bass-thumping nod to 70s pop about a masochistic love relationship (There’s no such thing, as sweet as a sting). You can feel the drama in the subject matter, as the strings welcome a love story not as rainbows-and-sunshine as once perceived.
34. Telltale Signs - Sobs
Bright jangly guitars and cool synth nuances with a tinge of dream pop intensity - Sobs first single of their eponymous 2018 album is filled with wonderful sonic moments. Celine’s sweet vocals are the main attraction here, but I can’t help and appreciate the really nuanced production too. Catch the riff break that happens when Celine signs “Break my heart now but at least I know”. Pop magic.
33. X - Poppy
As Poppy’s android character (who’s to say if it’s a character really) finds her way into becoming more sentient, she seems to become both more violent and more empathetic - like an AI aware of their destructive power but at the same time questioning its inner humanity. X is Poppy’s headbanging metal trip into this conundrum. It’s sweet, hard as fuck, and really uncompromising. There is no actual transition in this. It’s a mad splice of psychedelic acoustic parts where Poppy pray for harmony and killing dangerous boys and evil girls, and outright violent prayers for bloodiness. A sick progress of music for YouTube’s weirdest viral pop sensation. More please.
32. Venice Bitch - Lana Del Rey
I’ve been pretty indifferent or at least mildly excited about Lana Del Rey recently. Solid singles were around, but nothing hit me as much as Born to Die did back in 2012. That is, until Venice Bitch came out. The song started out like another run-of-the-mill Del Rey song until it transitioned into the chorus and after I realised that the song was 10 minutes long. But it’s 10 minutes of well-proportioned melancholy. Jack Antonoff and Lana Del Rey’s collaboration on this track takes us through waves of guitar textures & shoegaze-esque modulations - all of which conjuring a dreamstate worthy of Lana’s already dreamy voice.
31. Delta Wing - Kyoto Protocol
Delta Wing is a relationship song riddled with aviation metaphors that honestly takes the Kyoto Protocol sound to new heights. In my opinion Delta Wing, both in terms of lyricism and musical composition, is probably one of the most solid melodies the band has ever released. On the surface, it’s already a great alternative rock song with catchy riffs and a good amount of keys to add to the epic quality of the sound. Underneath are songwriting gems I can’t get out of my head, even from the very first verse (Just like a marvel of history, we are ahead of our time). Their latest album The Pen Is Mightier has a lot going for it, including the almost monologue-ish, Nick Cave-like singing in Universal Rhyme as Fuad welcomes you to life or the humour in Guilty Plea. Delta Wing though is the track that an incomparable amount of heart.
30. Mr. Tillman - Father John Misty
Father John Misty, aka Josh Tillman, gives off one of his most exhausting reprieve for his sanity in this beautiful piece of storytelling. In a world an egoified man becomes tired of himself, he finds his person continuously split in half by the reality of his being to feeling like an actor on a movie set. The setting of the song is in a hotel where the singer seems to be unaware as too who the people around him are and where he currently stands. Father John Misty’s self-aware deconstruction of his individuality finds life in one of my favourite calls to sanity I’ve ever heard in a song (“Mr. Tillman, for the seventh time/We have no knowledge of a film that is being shot outside/Those aren't extras in a movie; they're our clientele”)
29. Haruan Cina - Sweetass
Haruan Cina is the grunge single Malaysia never asked for but deserves. The fish name a nod at the name band Sweetass gave their sound, this song got me excited they’re making more music. This cut in particular feels brighter and poppier than the tracks in Wa Caya Lu. No compromise on the distortion and fuzz though, as the band sings about the virtue of patience (or masturbation? That’d be a very Sweetass thing to do) (Teruskanlah layan joran)
28. Can't Knock the Hustle - Weezer
Being a Weezer fan has been a wild roller coaster. A boat in the storm. As we, the seasick masses, lament the golden days of the Blue Album and Pinkerton, we hang our hopes on occasionally good releases that reflect the music we grow up with (e.g. Perfect Situation, Hash Pipe, NOT Beverly Hills). There was a period of total disappointment when they released Feels Like Summer because I thought it was the funerary bells signalling their spiral into pop death. Can’t Knock the Hustle changed everything for me and brought them back to life. In the single, they stick to their new modus operandi of making pop rock, but with cleaner, catchier productions. You can hear the horns that should belong in a Latin music band but somehow find themselves in the backbeat of a Weezer song. It’s all Dave Sitek (of one my favourite groups of the 2000s, TV on the Radio). His funk, left-field influence really finds its shine in this song. Weezer’s more self-deprecating attitude towards who they are and their musical journey (remember they covered Toto’s Africa) is endearing now with the help of their tightly-packaged sound. It also helps that Can’t Knock the Hustle stands amazingly as a working class anthem where people from all walks of life driver Uber to make a proper living on top of their 9 - 5 job.
27. Almost Had to Start A Fight/In & Out of Patience - Parquet Courts
Parquet Courts album Wide Awake one of my favourite punk albums of the year, and this twin-track is a standout track. It’s catchy, delirious, has two strong chapters, and honestly gives off a 70s Ramones vibe with but with slightly more effable substance. Almost Had to Start A Fight is a punchy, post-punk ode to nihilistic mania (“Why am I searching for a reason/I’m in a chaos dimension)
26. potage - tricot
Math rock gets dipped in caramel in tricot’s 5th single. Potage’s intricate rhythms webs out punchy melodies, where the bassline steadies it through like it’s tiptoeing on a tightrope. My favourite release from them so far, both the song and visuals that come with it stands out as a highlight of 2018 for me.
25. Love is a Beautiful Thing - Vulfpeck (Theo Katzman ft. Monica Martin)
Two angels met in the form of Theo Katzman & Monica Martin, as their accompanying band cherubs, Vulfpeck, and conjured up this lounge jazz audio blanket for all of us to keep warm. There are so many things to appreciate about this track, but one of which are the beautiful vocal harmonies between Theo and Monica. Monica, lead singer of the band PHOX, is known for her enchanting yet restrained voice. Never going too big, because she never needs to in order to charm. Couple that with Theo’s higher note register that makes all of his tracks more exciting, you get a really impeccable pairing for an already sweet love song.
24. Sincerity is Scary - The 1975
Sincerity Is Scary is the warmest single from The 1975’s album A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships. In an album that dissects what it means to be in love, or to live in a society, where the Internet permeates every space, Sincerity Is Scary feels like an honest exploration of the anxiety that comes with showing your true self online. At the same time, it wants you to be you: with horns and cheeky lyrics (why can't we be friends/when we are lovers), Sincerity Is Scary encourages you brave the odds of the cold cyber world & give a little kindness.
23. Gravedigger's Chant - Zeal & Ardor
In the song Gravedigger’s Chant, avant-garde metal band Zeal & Ardor actually holds back on their harsher sounds and show their industrial incarnation of gospel & soul. That doesn’t mean it’s not a metal track, with its macabre illustration of an undertaker maintaining its deceased clientele. It’s Hozier on the occult, and with a hard sound which makes the album Stranger Fruit a gem to listen to.
22. All Wordz Are Made Up - The Voidz
Harking back to the early days of MTV in the 80s, The Voidz captures a funky sound with a cyborg-voiced chorus that is addictive as well as face-meltingly trippy. Julian Casablancas introduces you to a world of quick sample cuts, synths and just the old world wide web squeezed into a single track.
21. Lux Prima - Karen O & Danger Mouse
This 9-minute epic worthy of a space opera was a pleasantly surprising from Karen O. Her voice is soft and sultry in this, but I’m just surprised that she sort of just blends in as opposed to standing out with her energy and personality. A lot goes into the production here with Danger Mouse on hand, which creates this huge dramatic milieu to a song that sounds like someone waking up from a cryogenic sleep to a hypnotic repetition “I’m no one/There’s nobody but you”. Really excited to see more from this collaboration this year in 2019.
20. Make Me Feel - Janelle Monae
Janelle Monae has always been a bisexual queen & a musical inspiration to many with her pushing the limits of her sound and aesthetics, and for 2018, I am thankful that she sort of took the soul of Prince’s Kiss and revitalise it in the more modern spectrum of sexuality. Make Me Feel is the best kind of primal - the kind which constantly explodes at different intervals and puts itself back together while bracing itself for the next expression. The funk in this track is uncontainable, the hook is unforgettable, and Janelle Monae just simply works it, in all of her colourful personas. The 1980s found their way through Janelle Monae, and she worked it and worked it until it was enough for her ethereal standards and the future of music. Sexy.
19. This Is America - Childish Gambino
With a shocking, controversial, and symbolic music video that went viral almost overnight and all major media outlet dissecting it with their own interpretations over several news cycle, it’s hard to believe This Is America came out last year. More than the graphicly profound video is also how Childish Gambino reframes trap music to his own style, mixed with gospel choirs, African chants and acoustic guitar that’s almost tropicalia. The strength of this song is that he delivers a bitingly grim overview of America in 2018 in a trap format without it ever feeling forced. The joy in the track feels cynical, and the darkness is a slap in the face (especially the last part of the song). Contrasting emotions in a schizophrenic society finds its home in the words and beats of Gambino.
18. Sweet Nothing - Crinkle Cut
One of the biggest musical injustices to me of 2018 is how Crinkle Cut seem to flew under so many radars when these people are high-key belting out chill soul vibes reminiscent of R&B girl groups of yore. Powerful vocals and harmonies makes this track a super sweet listen.
17. We Appreciate Power - Grimes (ft. HANA)
One of the coolest tracks of the year is suitably a cyberpunk screechy, Depeche Mode-esque metal track that speaks from the perspective of a despotic, amoral, artificial intelligence. Although the initial plan was for this song to be a collaboration between Grimes and Internet’s ‘uncanny valley’ sensation Poppy, the result with HANA still is a benchmark of how the dirty-industrial can meet with pop sensibilities to amazing effect. (Besides Poppy still has that song with Grimes, called X, which is another favourite of mine from 2018). Let’s all submit this messed up, flesh-based world to a Matrix overlord. As Grimes puts it “C’mon you’re not even alive / If you’re not backed up to a drive”.
16. Licik - Tuju | K-Clique
If you’re a Malaysian hip hop fan, and you haven’t heard of Sabahan collective, K-Clique, you’re drastically missing out. Just this year they released three bangers, two of which were Sah Tu Satu and Lane Lain Line. The other one is Licik where one of its members, Tuju, takes the lead. Carried by beats with the type of strings you hear in a Godfather movie, Tuju spits bars about overcoming deceit and self-doubt (Jiwa curiga/Sebab tak kenal diri). All of these verbal acrobatics is done with punctuated pacing, no blistering speed to show off his cold, sharp skills. Just truth bombs.
15. Z v Z - Zamaera
Very few tracks deserve to be deemed one of the ultimate motivational tracks of this year. As Zamaera recounts all the challenges she’s overcame and overcoming, (How do I move on if this heart remains vengeful?I forgive the old me but sometimes I forget to/Be a little strong), she also reminds us to not let the haters bring us down. The strong message is the cherry on top to the showcase of Zamaera’s versatility, where her bars flow seamlessly over soulful old school rap beats and when the backbeat comes in. Another great track, Truth, was released this year, but Z v Z is just a pure testament to the breadth of her skills. When it comes to Malaysian hip hop, Zamaera is already joining the pantheon of the greats even before she’s released a proper album.
14. Jasper's Theme - Tony Molina
In 2 minutes, Tony Molina crafts an entire movie of memories, heartbreak, coming-of-age and love. This man is a master of “less” is more”.
13. Ego - Margasatwa
Emotional pleas find a retro feel in Ego, a heartfelt song that seems to visualise a difficult relationship with so much sastera dari jiwa. I feel stupid every time I try to describe this song, but essentially it’s got it all: a beautiful string section, short but sweet guitar solos, resplendent vocals, and just lyrics that are equally filled with frustration but also hiding behind so much decorum and flair. I constantly myself wanting to repeat the chills I got when I first hear the chorus chime in with ‘Muka masih basah, disimbah masalah’. Almost impossibly beautiful, spread this gospel in every karaoke room you Nusantara music fans out there.
12. Ragu - VIONA
Takahara Suiko’s prolific solo project, VIONA,released several memorable songs this year including Srikandi, Masalah and even a flamboyant remix of Watimang Landak and Dikir Puteri called Watimang Puteri. Ragu however, stands out for its subject matter – an illustration of those forced to live behind a mask, unable to express their sexuality or mental health. The noir lounge pluckings of her ukulele accompanies a profound introspection as to the state of our society and the suffering that comes from repression.
11. Heat Wave - Snail Mail
Pitchfork’s, and most of the Western indie scene’s, darling at 19 is already a thoughtful, gut-wrenching lyricist, and with her debut album, she takes it further up a notch with melodies. The song is in theme with Snail Mail’s constant contemplation and procrastination against moving on and growing up (a feeling some 26-year-olds still feel *cough*me*cough*) The power chords feel atmospheric in this track and the song emanates the same emotion of just lazing around in the sweltering the lyrics already suggest.
10. Hire - Girlpool
“Purgatory please me”. “Advertise what makes you crazy” . Cleo Tucker’s an inspiration to me lyrically. Their journey through the gender flow gives us the album “What Chaos Is Imaginary”, which I think is a great record in telling the story of change, and fitting in a world that doesn’t seem to want you. Hire is filled with very raw, confessional moments that kindles the kinda angst that is eternal in a society which seeks to otherise all that you don’t understand. There’s something very truthful and pleading when the band sing, “Advertise what makes you crazy/So I can second guess my focus/Are you gonna hire me?”. Shakes me up from the inside, you know?
9. Gold Purple Orange - Jean Grae & Quelle Chris
There’s the music’s royal couple, Beyonce & Jay-Z, and then there’s the socialist leaders of the proletariat with Jean Grae & Quelle Chris. I’ve raved about their album Everything’s Fine before as an amazing dark piece of satire and I think a lot of everything that makes this album great is this single. The offbeat two-note digital beat with the subtle, creeping sax is minimal, but serves as a harrowing stage for Quelle Chris’s verse where he lists down stupid stereotypes that people abuse in their daily lives whether its racism, sexism, toxic masculinity or rape culture. The second verse, Jean Grae comes in and dissects inequality and privilege with lines like “Where typically those less exposed to those burdens (what?)/Can flourish without knowin' themselves/Without growin' themselves, without the moments of doubt”. Love the robotic flow that both rappers incorporate in this track, dishing out the medicine of truth with strikingly powerful deadpan humour.
8. bless ur heart - serpentwithfeet
Serpentwithfeet’s vibrato in this song sticks with me. His classically-trained voice builds itself a magnificent home in the alternative R&B world. I know we shouldn’t compare artists, but if I had to explain it to people unaware of serpentwithfeet, he exudes the verve of Nina Simone while singing in the sweet liltings of Frank Ocean. Bless ur heart is a beautiful celebration of self-expression, containing one of my favourite lines of 2018 ( Will they inspire subtle lovers to kiss with mouths they don't have yet?/Boy, whoever reads about how much I adore you/I hope my words bring them something new, something new). This track is a drastically underrated love song that needs more limelight.
7. Danny Nedelko - IDLES
2018’s positive punk anthem against xenophobia and racism, Joe Talbot sings about his brothers and sisters of different ethnicities and backgrounds in this catchy chant-worthy song. A welcome protest call for unity in a world filled with hate. I love Joe’s gruffy vocals while shouting out positivity, and there’s something excessively earwormy about a punk song with a spelling part.
6. Malamente - Rosalia
Even those unaware of the Spanish music scene heard the reverberations of Rosalia’s sound. Her flamenco pop sound (some claim an adaptation/appropriation of Gintano - a style of contemporary flamenco) bursts with colours and an inextricably darkness as well, as Malamente tells a story of tragic romance with backbeats that contain both verve and severity.
5. Nobody - Mitski
Mitski once against pulls of a charm offensive, this time with a depressing track about loneliness hidden behind happy disco tunes. The guitars sound like the rhythms from a Cardigans song, and the chorus speaks to the deepest part of the soul through just one word, over and over again until the sadness drills into you. Mitski’s voice comforts you in her moment of lonely introspection as the song sorta comes off as pretty empowering as much as it is somber.
4. Future Me Hates Me - The Beths
The power pop sound of The Beths is infectious genius, with hooky riffs and sweet vocal harmonies, but the thing that really got me falling in love with them and one of their best songs Future Me Hates Me are the lyrics, the verbal wiles of the lead, Elizabeth Stokes. Besides the really catchy chorus, Elizabeth Stokes songwriting is my newest inspiration. The way she puts the feeling of getting turned on and feeling pathetically in love in this song is amazing, e.g. “Oh when the floodgates are down/It’s the Marlborough Sounds/ I’m drowning . [the Marlborough Sounds is a places that used to be a valley but was eventually by the sea due to geological reasons. The lyrics basically imply that the singer’s ‘wet’]. The entire album is a collection of magnificent indie rock and power pop tracks all with an addicting feel. Their title track however is the most to-the-point and candid piece of music. Can’t help but to go back to this track again and again.
3. Irama Propaganda - Spooky Wet Dreams
Malaysia’s GE14 restlessness manifests itself in the cries of “Kau jolok” and funky bass lines, reminding us that the festive isn’t always glorious, and that keeping the anger alive keeps the higher ups accountable. Dance to it, mosh to it, in all of its unfettered energy bestowed by a rush of blood to the head, this song is a public service announcement. So much music came out this year, as always, but it would be hard to find anything else in 2018 that captures the zeitgeist we’re all feeling – whichever side we support.
2. Only Acting - Kero Kero Bonito
Ask me what a breakdown sounds like in music form, Only Acting would be my immediate recommendation. In a more real way though, Only Acting is a relevatory song, as lead singer Sarah Bonito sheds the kawaii J-pop image her fans know her for, showing a more extreme and darker side. Kero Kero Bonito’s Only Acting is a personal revolution, a oddly functional combination of harsh noises and indie rock.
1. Short Court Style - Natalie Prass
If it was possible to break my music player from repeating a song too much, I would have wrecked it so many times with Short Court Style This song is one of those pop songs that just stays with you for a long time. Short Court Style has the power to propel me to a different state of mind the Natalie Prass’s vocal layers come in, and then graciously met by the syncopated jazzy riffs while the glossy synths keep me alive. Natalie Prass’s evolution from a decent Dusty Springfield to a singer who pays homage to the 70s Motown vibe so well has been a riveting. It’s just an honest-to-god love song (“Oh, the heart is pumping rhythms that are not our own/Oh, but for all”), and for all its impact on me this year, for being able to make me happy almost instantly everytime I give it a listen, Short Court Style is definitely my track of the year.