A reflection on pop music in 2018, from rap’s resurgence, to the year of Ariana, to a new global pop world order
Once upon a time, in the early to mid-aughts, rap ruled the radio. We lived in a world where D4L, Mims, Yung Joc, and Chamillionaire could all score #1 hits, and no one would think twice about it. The past decade saw the genre pushed back into the margins, but in 2018 rap made a major resurgence in the pop landscape.
Chromatics. BeyoncÉ. KENDRICK LAMAR. THE WAR ON DRUGS. WHO WILL JOIN THEM AS MEMBERS OF THE #1 ALBUM OF THE YEAR CLUB? FROM KACEY MUSGRAVES TO AMEN DUNES, MARIAH CAREY TO YVES TUMOR, THESE ARE THE BEST ALBUMS OF 2018.
By this time tomorrow, we’ll know for certain who is nominated for the 2019 Grammy Awards, representing the best in music from October 1, 2017 to September 30, 2018. So, save your “#JusticeForABriefInquiryIntoOnlineRelationships” for this time next year. But as often the case, there will be outrage, ridicule, and, just maybe, someone somewhere will be happy.
From cardi b’s summer anthem to lady gaga & bradley cooper’s showstopper, Beach House’s steady hand to Lil Wayne’s return to form, 2018 had something for everyone. these are the songs that we’ll remember most fondly from the year that was.
100. YEARS & YEARS: “ALL FOR YOU”
99. WESTERMAN: “CONFIRMATION”
98. CHELSEA JADE: “LAUGHT IT OFF”
97. DAM FUNK: “IN THE CITY”
96. BOY PABLO: “LOSING YOU”
95. BROCKHAMPTON: “1999 WILDFIRE”
94. AMBER MARK: “LOVE ME RIGHT”
93. LEON BRIDGES: “BEYOND”
92. LANA DEL REY: “VENICE BITCH”
91. ROSS FROM FRIENDS: “PROJECT CYBERSYN”
90. NICKI MINAJ: “GOOD FORM”
89. FATHER JOHN MISTY: “MR. TILLMAN”
88. YO LA TENGO: “FOR YOU TOO”
87. LOW: “DISARRAY”
86. THEOPHILUS LONDON: “ONLY YOU” [FEAT. TAME IMPALA]
85. JANELLE MONÁE: “I LIKE THAT”
84. YUMI ZOUMA: “CRUSH (IT’S LATE, JUST STAY)”
83. MORMOR: “WAITING ON THE WARMTH”
82. CUPCAKKE: “QUIZ”
81. CHANNEL TRES: “JET BLACK”
Every year there’s a handful of pop songs that sound like surefire hits without ever reaching the heights they deserve, and one such song from 2018 is Years & Years’ Palo Santo highlight “All For You.” While that song never took off the way it should have, “Good Form” was one of the biggest hits from Nicki Minaj’s Queen, an album that otherwise failed to launch hit singles like her previous albums did. It features one of the more charismatic performances from Minaj in some time, and with a new remix featuring Lil Wayne, “Form” will undoubtedly be one of the defining songs from the Queen era.
And while “I Like It” didn’t reach the heights of Janelle Monáe’s biggest 2018 hit “Make Me Feel” – more on that one later – it is another exhibit in why Monáe has become one of our most beloved stars. And with a rising profile in the film industry, the general public is getting to know what the lucky ones that have been following her for over 10 years now have known since Idlewild.
Indie acts Yo La Tengo (“For You Too”), Father John Misty (“Mr. Tillman“), and Low marked their 2018 returns with some of their most remarkable work to date. Low in particular made us rethink what the Texan band is capable of, “Disarray” a stirring highlight off their phenomenal album Double Negative.
Elsewhere, “Only You,” “Crush (It’s Late, Just Stay),” and “Waiting on the Warmth” showcased ear worm melodies that expand the reach of pop as a genre, while “In the City” and “Project Cybersyn,” this volume’s two instrumental electronic tracks, pulled listeners in without a single word.
Travis Scott has always been an interesting figure because of the company he keeps. His music, which to this point had marginal flashes of a potent rap star lurking underneath, felt more interested in conveying a certain mood than individual thought. He wasn’t going to dictate how you felt; he’d reaffirm it. That he’s been a key contributor to albums from Kanye West and Rihanna, collaborated with Quavo on a full-length LP, and married into the Jenner family, had eclipsed his solo output to this point.Continue reading “Travis Scott makes the leap on ASTROWORLD”→