The Top 10 Songs of 2018

The Top 10 Songs of 2018

#10: “Pick Up”/ DJ Koze

Many times in life, and also in music, less is more. German producer DJ Koze proves this as his single loop of unparalleled precision and catchiness carries sampled vocals from Gladys Knight on this standout from his sprawling electronic record Knock Knock. There’s a stunning juxtaposition here that merits attention; a combination of upbeat house grooves and bittersweet melancholy.

#9: “In My Dreams”/ Kali Uchis

Colombian-American Kali Uchis displays synth-pop perfection over a concise, upbeat keyboard riff, complete with a cameo from none other than Damon Albarn. An effortless transition from the catchy “oh-oh-oh” lines of the verses into its soaring chorus comes complete with some serious demonstration of her impressive vocal range through the coda; this is a track to escape to.

#8: “Some Kind Of Game”/ A.A.L.

Nicolas Jaar expands upon his trademark psychedelic electronica for hard house beats on this intense, relentless banger. Precise and dance floor ready, this track is seemingly never-ending, and the attention to detail is flawless between its perfectly integrated sampling and the crucial moment early-on where the beat drops altogether.

#7: “Slow Burn”/ Kacey Musgraves

The opening track from the country singer’s breakthrough crossover album is much more than a Taylor Swift moment, as rich production combines with Musgraves’ soothing, warm vocals all above a spot-on melody. This became the song of the summer for those less inclined towards silly, poppy rap songs- it encapsulated everything a summer anthem should be, with a chill vibe in terms of both sound and theme.

#6: “Fly”/ Low

What we have here is an exquisite use of space and restraint, with “Fly” serving as the perfect tone setter early on the devastating slowcore epic Double Negative. A softly rolling bass line picks up subtle piano chords intermittently beneath Mimi Parker’s gorgeous falsetto as pleads, “Take my weary bones/ And fly…”

#5: “Lifetime”/ Yves Tumor

There wasn’t any other song this year that had as much going on as this one- forceful, cascading percussion, haunting piano lines, subtly intertwined horn elements- all behind forefront vocals. AND I MISS MY BROTHERS!!!

#4: “Suspirium”/ Thom Yorke

Perhaps Yorke’s defining moment as a solo artist, “Suspirium” drifts beneath a haunting piano line that is at once foreboding and impossibly gorgeous, a combination that he has mastered in his work with Radiohead. Subtle flute elements add texture and beauty, while of course there is that trademark falsetto holding it all together.

#3: “Believe”/ Amen Dunes

Damon McMahon’s coarse vocals wash over this perfectly orchestrated melody with fluidity and nostalgic emotion, creating the rock song of the year by any measure. The twangy folk-Americana vibe of its guitar line builds steadily into a thematic and stunning crescendo, touching on spirituality, mortality and acceptance in five short minutes that would be better off never ending.

#2: “Please Don’t Die”/ Father John Misty

This heartwrenching ballad finds Josh Tillman as honest and vulnerable as we’ve ever heard him as he sings about “All these pointless benders, with reptilian strangers” between harmonica, perfectly placed 7th chords and a lifted falsetto through a chorus that hints towards serious suicidal considerations during the two months he spent living alone in a hotel and wrote this song. Watching this truly awe-inspiring video, the chorus being sung from his wife Emma’s perspective truly resonates, which literally means that Father John Misty is issuing (gasp!) a cry for help.

#1: “Lemon Glow”/ Beach House

Aside from the fact that this is arguably the first song Beach House has ever written that is quite so blatantly and seductively sexually driven, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that this was clearly the best song created in 2018. Synthesized keyboard opens the track on a menacing note as the shoegaze textures of Alex Scully’s guitar provide the perfect backdrop for Victoria LeGrand’s sultry, intimate vocals over lines like “I come alive/ You stay all night”. But it isn’t all fun and games; there is tension and grind within the repetition of the persistent synth line that dominates here, as well as abrasive percussion elements, all of which add a realistic element to the representation of a true relationship, sexual or otherwise. The beauty of Beach House is their ability to capture exactly that in a surreal ambiance that runs to the contrary.

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