Normally, when I make my annual list of favorite songs I edit them into a video but this is a year to shake things up. So, instead, I’m following the same rules and putting it into a new format.
- The song does not need to have been released in 2018, but acquired and listened/loved by me during this year.
- Only one song per artist.
- Rather than ordering the songs in their order of purchase (as I’ve done since 2012), I’m going to arrange them by genre. (Note: These are the genres I define the songs as, rather than what others might).
- I’ll provide a memory, reason, or favorite thing about the song to explain why it’s made my list this year.
Without further ado, let’s begin!
- “I Like It” by Cardi B, Bad Bunny, and J Balvin. Obviously, I was enamored with the song of the summer with its fun rhythms, infectious rhymes, and catchy chorus.
- “Baby” by Clean Bandit featuring Marina and the Diamonds and Luis Fonsi. I’ve been a Marina fan for years and this collaboration with Clean Bandit and Luis Fonsi is perfection; plus the guitar is equally enthralling.
- “Shout Out to My Ex” by Little Mix. This girl group has perfected the art of the shout-along chorus, where you feel compelled to scream along at the top of your lungs about how your ex won’t bring you down.
- “thank u, next” by Ariana Grande. Speaking about thanking exes for lessons, Ariana’s timely single and its equally amazing music video were high points of my autumn.
- “Without Me” by Halsey. Sometimes in life, a song will hit you in the feels at just the right time and you know you’ll never be able to disentangle it from the moment you heard it. This is to say, I relate way too much to this song.
- “Green Light” by Lorde. Usually, I try to have at least one New Zealand artist on my favorite list and, perhaps in a cliché way, this year it’s Lorde. Not to say she doesn’t deserve it because this song and its piano beat bangs.
- “Sober” by Demi Lovato. I think, for anyone who deals with mental health issues or addiction, this song and its apology to our loved ones struck home; it really shows Demi’s emotional range to go from the highs of “Sorry Not Sorry” to this raw revelation.
- “Nothing Breaks Like a Heart” by Mark Ronson featuring Miley Cyrus. I’m really loving the blend of pop and country twang in this song that feels like the culmination of Miley’s musical journey up to this point—I hope to see more like it from her.
- “Let Me Go” by Hailee Steinfeld and Alesso featuring Florida Georgia Line. Not many songs capture wanting the best for your ex despite things not working out between the two of you, but this song does in a beautiful way.
- “Stressed Out” by twenty one pilots. I think this song sums up 2018, grad school, and my life in general lately.
- “Rose-Colored Boy” by Paramore. This song’s message about letting sad people express their emotions instead of telling them to just smile, move on, or let it go is such a mood.
- “What Kind of Man” by Florence and the Machine. If the opening drumbeat doesn’t sell you on this song and Florence’s wail doesn’t steal your soul then you didn’t have one to begin with.
- “Numb” by Meg Myers. It was a bit of a toss-up between this and “Jealous Sea” but, in the end, the music video and the sheer overwhelming weight of 2018 pushed this song to the top choice.
- “Glitter and Gold” by Barns Courtney. I really like how Barns Courtney blends rock, country, and a little bit of blues to create this anthem-like song.
- “No Roots” by Alice Merton. After about two listens you’ll be singing along to the chorus and tapping your toe to the beat.
- “Way Down We Go” by Kaleo. There’s something about the way that Kaleo’s voice drags over the drumbeat that makes this song sexy.
- “River” by Bishop Briggs. I’m a big fan of songs that combine traditional instruments and vocals with something a little unusual like rhythmic clapping and stomping.
- “Go Fuck Yourself” by Two Feet. Let me be honest: I clicked on the music video because there was a stripper. I stayed because this song has the sexiest bass drop over what sounds like a guitar(?) ever.
- “Wolves” by Rag’n’Bone Man featuring Stig of the Dump. Did I find this song because of a Hannibal fan video? Yes, but it has plenty of its own merits including fun chanting, howling, and a catchy beat.
- “Blood in the Cut” by K.Flay. The lyrics in this song are as sharp as the title suggests; it’s the kind of song that makes you feel deadly.
- “The Mystic” by Adam Jensen. I’ve got to thank Pandora for hooking me up with this song during long study sessions and perking me up in the lulls.
- “Blood // Water” by grandson. This song has a lot of different layers to it, but I’m mostly going to be thankful that it’s given me a new direction for my novel revision.
- “Guillotine” by Jon Bellion featuring Travis Mendes. Once the beat in this song hits it’s weirdly positive? I think this is one of the sweeter songs I’ve encountered this year.
- “I Could Use a Love Song” by Maren Morris. This song is a bittersweet mix of heartsick and optimistic, and I feel that.
- “Head Over Boots” by Jon Pardi. I had the pleasure of making a wedding slideshow and this was one of the featured songs, and it’s one that I’m still not sick of and it’s cute as hell.
- “Break Up in the End” by Cole Swindell. The sentiment of this song is one I’ve really taken to heart: don’t regret a relationship even if it ends.
- “Sixteen” by Thomas Rhett. There have been other country songs that summed up the wanting-to-grow-up feeling, but this one seems to do it a little better than most and it feels a bit more universal in many ways.
- “Miss Me More” by Kelsea Ballerini. Sometimes after a break-up it’s more important to get back in touch with yourself rather than moping over a person who’s no longer there.
- “Zombie” by Bad Wolves. I love the original song by The Cranberries, and I think Bad Wolves did it decent justice in their cover.
- “For Whom the Bell Tolls” by Metallica. This is a song I knew before this year, but I fell in love with its use in the credits of The Devil’s Candy and so hearing it reminds me of the film now.
- “Vacation” by The Go-Go’s. Yes, I was very familiar with this song before this year, but I didn’t own it. By the end of spring semester I was practically begging for a vacation.
- “Creep” by Postmodern Jukebox featuring Haley Reinhart. This cover takes the classic Radiohead song and turns it into a wailing jazz number that really laments their creep status—super fun to sing along to.
- “Gently Johnny” by Magnet. This is probably my favorite song from The Wicker Man soundtrack and hearing it instantly reminds me of the scene with Willow, and the band singing downstairs in the diegetic way.
If I had to go giving honorable mentions for albums, I’d like to mention Paramore’s After Laughter. This is a band I’ve enjoyed for thirteen years now, and—while others haven’t enjoyed their new music—I’ve found their newest album to be the perfect soundtrack to my 2018. Its tragi-pop sounds were a perfect blend of upbeat sounds and depressing lyrics.
If I had to bend the rules a little with previously owned songs, I’d like to at least mention Taylor Swift’s “All Too Well” and “Hey Jude” by The Beatles. Both songs have gotten me through some hard times this year and I’ve developed new relationships with them through those moments of singing, crying, shouting, and listening to their messages.
I look forward to seeing what the soundtrack of 2019 will be.