My Favorite Songs of 2018

70. Ross From Friends
“There’s a Hole in My Heart”
Aphelion (Brainfeeder)
Don’t let the jokey name fool you, the London deep house producer is cranking out some of the most emotional dance music around. This expansive, meditative cut is maximum tears on the dancefloor, pairing a heartbroken vocal sample with expansive synths and subtle, inch-perfect percussion. I still haven’t seen an episode of “Friends,” but maybe this’ll make me give it a shot.

69. Christina Vantzou x Echo Collective
“Some Limited and Waning Memory”
No. 4 (Kranky)

The KC composer’s is fast becoming one of the most consistent, driving forces in ambient music. And to my ears, her fourth LP is her strongest yet. This cut is absolutely haunting, as it bleeds from lush strings to choral voices to naked piano without the slightest hitch. Some of the piano passages are Sakamoto-esque and among the most aesthetically beautiful moments of instrumental music recorded this year.

68. Nicholas Krgovich
Ouch” (Tin Angel)
If you can’t relate to Nicholas Krgovich’s placid jog through Portland, I can’t relate to you. A beautifully, simple song about trying to move on from a long relationship, “October” captures those confusing early post-breakup months where your feelings seem to shift with the breeze. He veers from the rush of meeting someone new into waves of bitterness about his ex into missing him into enjoying his freedom. Through it all, Krgovich’s ultra-lithe beam* of a voice keeps it all together, and the way it slices through the autumn chill and all the insecurity reminds us it’ll all be ok.


67. Lil Uzi Vert
“New Patek”
Digital Single
I can’t imagine what buying a 2.5 million dollar watch would feel like, but the Philly megastar sounds pretty fucking stoked about it. In fact, he seems so overcome with post-Patek purchase ecstasy that if Dolan Beats wouldn’t have cut the beat at the 6-minute mark, Uzi probably would have just kept rapping forever. Woulda worked for me.

66. Yves Tumor
Safe in the Hands of Love (Warp)
It feels criminal to put a track from the Turin artist’s incredible, shapeshifting 3rd LP this low on the list, but the project is just so cohesive, it’s hard to pull out any one song from it. Among the fascinating cacophony of sounds that range from ambient noise to club to alt-rock, I settled on the late-night groove of “Honesty.” The way Tumor balances the sticky, sung melodies (which kinda remind me of Marilyn Manson, somehow) with legit bass music is so effective, as is the way he wields the undulating beat to maximum effect.

65. Peggy Gou
“It Makes You Forget (Itgehane)”
Once EP (Ninja Tune)
No DJ made the leap in 2018 quite like the Incheon, South Korea native, graduating from promising talent to legit star. The 28 year-old headlined festivals all over the world and dropped the best music of her young career. This electro disco banger was the pick of the bunch, pairing her sing-song voice with a nasty baseline, well-placed vibraphones, and an extra helping of 90’s house grooves.

64. Foxing
“Nearer My God”
Nearer My God (Triple Crown)
The St. Louis indie rock crew’s third album is the sound of a band saying “fuck it, I’m going for it.” And nothing sums up that approach better than its title track: a cavernous emo ballad that sees Conor Murphy pleading with us to just fucking love him. It is direct, unabashed, and features one of the absolute monster crescendos of the year, which will leave you wondering if anybody out there wants you at all.

63. Boy Pablo
“Sick Feeling”
Soy Pablo (777)
A lovelorn, stoner-pop janglefest, “Sick Feeling” is the promising Norwegian quintet’s most impressive track to date. Leader Nicolas Pablo Muñoz gets all in his teenage feelings about saying goodbye to a lover (or, if you believe this tongue-and-cheek Genius interview, his Playstation). Whatever he’s singing about, it’s effective, affecting, and impossible to get out of your head.

62. Kodak Black
“ZEZE” (f/ Travis Scott & Offset)
Digital Single
It’s not easy to be a Kodak fan. When he arrived on the scene in 2014, it was obvious he was the rarest kind of young talent. But since then, he’s been consistently dogged by a litany of legal problems and alleged awful crimes. From a musical perspective, 2018 has been a potentially career-saving year for the still somehow only 21 year-old. And nothing captures it better than this breezy, ubiquitous slab of Island pop (and its viral dance), which hopefully will be a harbinger for better days to come for everyone involved.

62. Cardi B
“Get Up 10”
Invasion of Privacy (Atlantic)

If you’ve read my writing, you know that I’m not much of a BARS guy. But, to my ears, nobody spit a harder East Coast rap track this year than our girl Belcalis. A bit like a 2018 “Dreams & Nightmares,” “Get Up 10” is a mastercraft in storytelling, as she tracks her journey from Washington Heights to one of the biggest rappers in the world. More than a testament to her resilience, “Get Up 10” serves as a warning to non-believers who continue to dog her out for superficial reasons. You can keep betting against her, but you’ll keep losing.

GANGIN (Empire)
In an increasingly low-BPM rap world, it took me a few spins to catch up with the Vallejo young boys’ hyper-speed ode to the joys of rolling around with your friends. The musical manifestation of speeding through traffic, you can almost feel the car shifting and weaving during the electric trio of verses. All you can do is strap in and enjoy the ride.

59. Soccer Mommy
“Blossom (Wasting All My Time)”
Clean (Fat Possum)
Wasting your time on somebody that’s wrong for you might feel like a feckless task, but Sophie Allison knows that it’s an essential part of growing up and is incredibly helpful when it comes to finding a partner. This downtrodden, but hopeful strummer is the centerpiece of her critically-acclaimed Fat Possum debut, and it highlights her maturity as a songwriter and spotlights her plaintive and powerful voice.

58. Jimmie Allen
“Best Shot”
Mercury Lane (This is Hit)

From a songwriting perspective, “Best Shot” is the kind of sweet, solid, down-the-middle Nashville country song you’ve heard hundreds of times. However, there’s something about the Delaware native’s voice that stops you in your tracks. He’s not really a belter or a traditional powerhouse; it’s more subtle. There’s a warmth and richness to his voice that makes his words feel more genuine, more considered. You can’t teach it, and it makes all the difference.

57. Lil Tjay
Digital Single (Columbia)
He’s still only 17, but you can feel the world-weariness in the Bronx rapper’s voice. He opens his breakout single with “bodies drop all the time, I don’t feel nuthin’,” and things get bleaker from there, as he admits that even riches beyond his wildest dreams won’t solve his “99 problems, like Jay-Z.” However, there’s hope seeping through both verses that hints at a brighter future. I’m rooting for him.

Posted on by TP1.COM in Best of '18, Columns

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