By writer/critic Kristians Fukss
The 80 best songs of this year – crossing almost every genre, welcoming newcomers like Westerman, Wild Pink and Let’s Eat Grandma and celebrating known acts. Here are our picks for the best songs of the year.
80. Tara Lily – Who Saw Who
A new artist from South London starts this list with her debut single – an urban jazz and grime fusion. With smoky vocals recalling the classic style of 50s jazz singers, layered over upbeat, urban jazz rhythms – it’s something that lodges in the brain, and definitely not something that you’ll hear everyday.
79. Roll (Burbank Funk) – The Internet
The Internet in one of the singles from their fourth studio album continue their funk-R&B ways. With dominating bass line, repetetive beat and Lacy’s cooled voice as the main motives, The Internet offers the spirit of Southern California’s funk.
78. Middle America – Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks
First single from their fifth studio album – “ode to underdogs everywhere”. Referencing the MeeToo movement and America’s social problems, the lead singer presents his voice as an irresistible melody.
77. Kush – David Murray, Saul Williams
/Fusion Jazz / Poetry/Rap
Musician David Murray and the rap artist and poet Saul Williams met at the funeral of writer, poet and activist Amiri Baraka, with whom both had shared a stage multiple times. David Murray was so impressed by the poetry thats Saul Williams recited that a collabration bloomed, beginning a new chapter in his 40 year jazz career.
76. Heaven’s Only Wishful – MorMor
MorMor wrote, recorded, and produced this melancholic track, as well as directed a music video – it is the new single from the Canadian singer/producer.
75. Lenny Kravitz – It’s Enough
The lead single from Lenny Kravitz’s 11th studio album Raise Vibration – a 8 minute long resistance hymn. Lead by political, racial – Trump era adressed issues and a steady bass and beat, creates a stong call for a change.
74. Sold Out Dates – Gunna feat. Lil Baby
Gunna blew up this year and is not anymore just an Young Thugh’s feature. Productive year for him too – two studio albums and much more singles and features, more known one on Travis Scott’s Astroworld. Sold Out Dates stand out with its smooth, string-based instrumental from producers Turbo and Ghetto Guitar.
73. Fists of Fury – Kamasi Washington
/Orchestral Jazz / Jazz Funk
Los Angeles-born saxophonist is famous for his spiritual kind of jazz, this time it is more powerful than spiritual. The opening song of the musician’s double album Heaven and Earth is a changing trip; with strong echoing vocals, backed with a choir it makes a grooving sound – one of the best jazz of the year.
72. Call-to-Arms – Moses Sumney
No words are needed – only “aaa”s and “ooohhh”s with an very upbeat instrumentals. The Title of the album Black in Deep Red, 2014. – inspired from a Mark Rothko painting.
71. Drive – Aimee Mann
Best cover of the year – Aimee Mann’s take on 1984 hit Drive from The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story. As heartfelt and beautiful as it can be.
70. TOOGOODTOBETRUE – Gallant feat. Sufjan Stevens & Rebecca Sugar
/Folk / R&B
Sufjan Stevens joins Gallant on a very layered, angelic track from Gallant’s forthcoming This Does Not Fit project. Rebecca Sugar, creator of Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe also appears.
69. I’m Not Scared – Tomberlin
One of the most intimate, beautiful and sad piano ballads – new artist’s Tomberlins single I’m Not Scared. Confession to the ugly side of love: And to be a woman is to be in pain
And my body reminds me almost every day.
68. Run the Road – Santigold
Santigold’s only single from the fourth surprise studio album I Don’t Want: The Gold Fire Sessions. The album was recorded in sessions that lasted over two weeks with the producer Dre Skull. They made new songs from unfinished ones they had found, including ones Santigold had previously worked on with producers like Diplo and Ricky Blaze.
67. La marcheuse – Christine and the Queens
Electronic blend with a strinking beat – French musician’s Hélöise Letissier’s only French spoken song on her second studio album Chris. Translates as the walker; its beat is addicting and the vocals are strong, letting us know she’s here to stay.
66. I Shall Love 2 – Julia Holter
Avant-pop lives – the fifth studio album Aviary by the American musician offers 90-minute search for meaning in a dehumanizing age. Overwhelming feelings goes through as the tracks slowly reaches its uplifting cullmination.
65. Moon River – Frank Ocean
On Valentines day Frank shared the loveliest surprise – a cover of Moon River – Breakfast At Tiffany’s classic. Frank’s take on it is superb – the voice overdubs, singature electric guitar and some atmospheric keyboards.
64. Confirmation – Westerman
The London newcomer Westerman has surprised with such an elegant and clear masterpiece of this year atmospheric indie-pop tunes.
63. Tomorrow – Kali Uchis
/Neo-Soul / R&B
Produced by Kevin Parker of Tame Impala, this is the groovy dream sequence of the Colombian-American musician’s newest studio album.
62. Devotion – Tirzah feat. Coby Sey
Tirzah’s debut album – experimental pop in a lovely way. Joined by electronic artist Coby Sey the love song is felt and beautiful.
61. Kids See Ghosts – KIDS SEE GHOSTS feat. Yasiin Bey
Duo Kanye and Kid Cudi made a collabration that toped all Kanye’s other productions in 2018. The credited feature Yasiin Bey is the rapper Mos Def, the chemestry between them all is top noch and the instrumental production from West and his collabrators makes it one of the best Hip-Hop of the year.
60. Black Lion – Makaya McCraven
/Free Improvisation Jazz
Drum jazz musician Makaya McCraven with help from collabrators can make an enigmatic, soundful and vibrant single from scratch – masterful jazz on its best.
59. Loading Zones – Kurt Vile
The former lead guitarist of The War on Drugs has been working solo for a while and has shown his class. Loading Zones stands out with its up front production and filling vocals.
58. We Appriciate Power – Grimes feat. HANA
Grimes has released only one single since 2015’s Art Angels – one of the craziest singles of the year with a beautiful stand out chorus and with help from indie pop singer HANA.
57. For You Too – Yo La Tengo
A band worth exploring – with its 30 year long life it has created a lot of beautiful and different tracks. Their 15th studio album – carefully approached with a bit of psychedelia, misteria and dreaminess, just like this song.
56. APESHIT – The Carters
With brilliant Pharrel William’s productions and Quavo’s & Offset’s features that fit perfectly with the fast forward flow, this self made flex is one of the best songs in Beyonce and Jay-Z’s careers.
55. In Another Life – Sandro Perri
One of my greatest discoveries this year – Canadian musician Sandro Perri and his new EP – some of the dreamiest / feel good music I know, lasting 24 minutes, it can change a day.
54. Broken Finger Blues – Richard Swift
Rest in Piece Richard Swift, who died in July this year. His last album is considered to be his best in his career. A great producer and a sidekick for such bands as The Black Keys and The Shins, I am thankful for this particular album and its ’60s and ’70s music tones and its melancholic cloudy sound. The Hex, released shortly after his death, marks a strong end to his career.
53. Nobody – Mitski
The fifth full-lenght release for the New York City artist – album Be the Cowboy, considered by other critics to be one of the bes
52. If the Car Besides You Moves Ahead – James Blake
James Blake has some great production credits in 2018; this single stands out with its melancholic baritone, high-pitched vocals and its experimental greatness.
51. Immaterial – SOPHIE
The debut full-length solo release – OIL OF EVERY PARL’S UN-INSIDES – one of the most originals sounds of today by the Los Angeles-based Scottish musician SOPHIE. Immaterial is as fun as weird – pop of the future.
50. Drake – Nice for What
The murda beat production + Lauryn Hill’s Ex Factor sample stands as a fanstastic critic and mainstream audiences pleaser. Drake shows his rap skill with clever lines and notable video, making this single stand out better than the whole album Scorpion.
49. Shoota – Playboi Carti feat. Lil Uzi Vert
I’m happy that Playboi Carti is continuing Magnolia’s started bass driven beats with this year’s Die Lit – follow up to 2017’s self titled debut album. With Lil Uzi Vert and producer Pi’erre Bourne on his side, this triumph anthem sets a high mark for contemporary rap.
48. Lake Erie – Wild Pink
Second studio album for the New York indie rock trio keeps up with thir first release. First single Lake Erie – carefully constracted track with its synth rock tag as its main powerline.
47. I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes) – The 1975
The third studio album from the British rock band – a hit for the mases and the critics, produced by the band’s own Matthew Healy and George Daniel. This particular song shines with its 80s/90s influence as the heavy but ear warming guitar blends with Matty’s vocals.
46. Void – Kilo Kish
/Experimental Electro Pop
The beat as electricity goes through the track, making it as bold, fast with an enigmatic sence. Kilo Kish continues to explore and mix genres with an very interesing and fresh outcome.
45. The Letter – Eleanor Friedberger
With a glance of 80s pop, the Illionois born musician, sings slowly and magicly, bringing nostalgia and comfort. The Letter’s beat is repetetive but so enjoyable, mixing the line between dance and regret songs.
44. Lemon Glow – Beach House
Beach House has been around for a while and is making their dream pop better and better. On their 7th record – called 7, they are just as dremy, only darker and stronger, pretty & mysterious.
43. Has Ended – Thom Yorke
/Soundtrack / Alternative
Luca Guadagnino knows how to choose music for his films – last year it was indie God Sufjan Stevens, this year it is Radiohead’s lead Thom Yorke. Thom has made a masterpiece for 1977 film’s remake. The long felt drums are played by his son, Thom adds the rest.
42. Nappy Wonder – Blood Orange
Dev Hynes on his fourth album is dealing with race issues, depression, mixing genres and creating heartwarm sounds. He can make an enjoyable chorus sound like an autotune, create unique instrumentals and mix it with a self made brilliance.
41. Licking An Orchid – Yves Tumor feat. James K
A song about sex – but it is not usual dirty love song, it is an dark and complicated masterpiece. Provocative and sad, melancholix guitar, with close lines between beauty and the ugliness taken from one of the best albums of the year.
40. no tears left to cry – Ariana Grande
Best pop record goes to Ariana Grande and this upbeat self-lifting anthem – lead single of Sweetener – Ariana’s best album to date.