Welcome! Happy New Year. 2018 was a roller coaster of a year and the music reflected that. Let’s get started!
Disclaimer: These are my opinions.
Zedd, Maren Morris and Grey, “The Middle”
Released in January 2018, “The Middle” by EDM powerhouses Zedd and Grey and country superstar Maren Morris was one of the first smash hits of the year. Peaking at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and boasting an impressive three Grammy nominations including Song and Record of the Year, this fun and catchy tune combines Zedd and Grey’s EDM prowess with Morris’s powerful and distinctive vocals making it one of the best pop songs released in 2018.
Tamia, “Leave It Smokin”
Tamia has one of the best voices in music. Her catalog is filled with classic R&B ballads, uptempos and straight up anthems and this 90s tinged spring tune released in April of 2018 is no exception. “Leave It Smokin” is a song that can be played while your cleaning, in your car, at a party or even in the shower. The grown and sultry vibe of this R&B banger makes it a clear standout on Tamia’s latest offering, Passion Like Fire. She even references it in the Chorus of the Song
Khalid, Normani “Love Lies”
Khalid was one of the biggest breakout stars of 2017 and his collaboration with Normani made her one of the biggest breakout stars of 2018. The steamy R&B tune taken from the Love, Simon soundtrack peaked at #9 on the Billboard charts. The popularity of the song increased when the duo gave an unforgettable performance of the hit at the Billboard Music Awards in May 2018. Khalid and Normani are definitely here to stay and slay of course.
Kacey Musgraves, “High Horse”
Musgraves is one of the most clever, sarcastic, witty and sassy songwriters in music today. Her distinct wittiness in her lyrics makes her a standout in the country genre. The minute she croons “Oh I bet you think you’re John Wayne” at the beginning of this psychedelic, disco, genre-bending country track, she pulls the listener in for a relatable and fun ride that they’ll never forget. The Hannah Lux Davis directed video is also something you should check out.
Janelle Monae, “I Like That”
Dirty Computer by Janelle Monae wasn’t just an album, it was an event. There’s a reason why this musical and visual masterpiece was nominated for Album of the Year. “I Like That” is an ode to being different and embracing it wholeheartedly. The video directed by Lacey Duke is also reflective of the song’s theme and honestly, we like that too.
Mariah Carey, “Giving Me Life” feat. Slick Rick and Blood Orange
Mariah Carey is legendary. Point, blank and the literal period. She is also here to stay and she proved that with the November 2018 release of her album Caution. The Blood Orange produced and Slick Rick assisted “Giving Me Life” hits right in the 90s feels with its haunting but sultry production(in contrast with its title) and Mariah’s signature breathy vocals. What throws the listener for a loop is the guitar driven ending that starts off with subtle vacation vibes then it goes into this interlude that gives the song a cool rock edge and showcases Carey’s head and whistle notes. Honestly the title of the song is appropriate and we can’t forget the references to Barbara Streisand and Marilyn Monroe as well. Carey’s willingness to take risks makes the tune a standout out on the album.
Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, “Shallow”
A Star Is Born is one of the most commercially successful and critically and acclaimed films of 2018. Fun Fact(that you already might know): This was Cooper directorial debut and Lady Gaga’s film debut and they did not disappoint. Unsurprisingly, The soundtrack was a hit as well. The soundtrack peaked at #1 on the Billboard 200 and the hit song “Shallow” peaked at #5 on the Hot 100. You could not go anywhere in the Fall of 2018 without hearing this power ballad. Cooper and Gaga’s voices soar and the lyrics seep into your soul. The song is nominated for Best Original Song at the Golden Globes and nominated for four Grammy awards including the coveted Record and Song of the Year.
Rosalía, MALAMENTE (Cap.1: Augurio)
Fuego. This song is literal fire. Rosalía is one to watch! The opening track taken from her genre-bending international smash El Mal Querer combines the singer-songwriter’s distinctive vocals, handclaps, elements of Hip-Hop, spoken utterances of the song’s title, “Mira” and “y yo” and the flamenco sound to create one of the most memorable tracks of the year and quite possibly the decade.
Ariana Grande, “no tears left to cry”
Ariana Grande is the epitome of living and breathing resilience. When Ariana announced that she was releasing new music in 2018 the world was waiting in great anticipation for another hit from Billboard’s Woman of the Year and well, she DELIVERED. The visually spell-binding clip directed by the one and only Dave Myers didn’t disappoint either. When the song starts, it gives you the impression that it’s going to be a ballad but as soon as the beat drops it transforms into a catchy and melodic dance-pop tune about embracing a joyful state of mind after a hard time. Listeners and pop critics alike enjoyed the ode to happiness and the song peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.
“Shine the rest of the Stars are watching……………” Track 3 from Anitta’s hotly anticipated EP Solo is self-empowerment anthem that speaks to and not at the listener. If you want a pep talk when you feel down about yourself, this is one of the songs to listen to. The Brazilian pop queen reminds you to embrace your uniqueness and to wear your crown.
Kacey Musgraves, “Butterflies”
“Stealing my heart, instead of stealing my crown, untangled all the strings ’round my wings that were tied.” “Butterflies” taken from Grammy nominated and critically acclaimed album Golden Hour is a celebration of what love is supposed to feel like. The sweet ballad is about finally feeling happiness and fulfillment in a relationship after not experiencing that feeling in a while. You can feel the happiness and peace in Musgraves vocal performance and the laid back and romantic production of the song. You can play this song in a decade and it will still sound fresh. It’s no surprise that “Butterflies” earned Musgraves a nomination for Best Solo Country Performance at the upcoming 61st Grammy Awards.
Jessie Reyez, “Sola”
Sola is a heartbreaking but self-aware and self-assured ballad about not being the type of girl your boyfriend’s mother wants. Reyez showcases her versatility and vulnerability with this Spanish language track. The beautiful guitar-driven ballad is a definite standout on her EP Being Human In Public. The passion in Reyez vocals are on full display here and the passion and vulnerability in her vocal performance is what makes this song memorable.
The opening lyrics of Anne-Marie’s closing track “Machine” taken from her debut album Speak Your Mind grab you the minute the song begins. Written by Anne-Marie, Ilsey Juber and Teddy Geiger, the song serves as a painful but needed reminder that are emotions and mistakes are the things that make us human. Sometimes we ponder these things………….. We think about how much better our lives would be if we didn’t feel and if we didn’t mess up but honestly, our ability to feel and get through hard times is what makes us superheros in our own right.
Tori Kelly (feat. Kirk Franklin), “Never Alone”
Tori Kelly is quite the storyteller in this inspirational Gospel track featuring Contemporary Gospel icon Kirk Franklin. “Never Alone” is the second single from Tori Kelly’s Sophomore studio album Hiding Place. The uplifting tune does not disappoint in its pursuit to convince the listener that they are loved and that they are never alone. Also let’s not forget about the VOCALS. The song caught so much attention that Kelly performed it on The Late Late Show with James Corden. The song is also nominated for Best Gospel Performance/Song at the upcoming 61st Grammy awards. We hope it wins.
Alessia Cara, “Not Today”
Whether you’ve experienced a breakup or not, almost anyone can relate to the feeling of being so sad that you can’t get out of bed. You know that things will get better and people tell you that but you don’t feel that in the current moment, you’re like “One day but not today.” Cara captures the essence of this feeling perfectly in “Not Today” from her latest album The Pains of Growing. The Wes Anderson inspired video puts all of these emotions in perspective. “Not Today” is one of the many examples of why Cara is not only one the best songwriters of her generation but one of the most prominent voices of her generation.
Ariana Grande, “breathin”
“Just keep breathin and breathin and breathin, you know I gotta keep, keep on breathin.” Anxiety is no joke. It can feel so overwhelming to the point where you feel like you feel like everything is clouded. The Hannah Lux Davis directed video clip captures this perfectly. Grande has been very open about her anxiety making her a role model amongst her fans and peers alike. When life gets overwhelming, this is one of the songs to play. The “My air” refrain is just genius. Grande’s vocal performance and relatable lyrics make this one of the best songs of 2018.
Kali Uchis (feat. Tyler The Creator and Bootsy Collins), “After The Storm”
This song is inspirational. Very inspirational and that is what makes it absolutely genius. The production, Collins voice and Uchis vocals grab you from the moment you begin to listen to it. Another thing that grabs the listener is the pitch drop that occurs when Tyler The Creator begins his verse. “After the storm is when the flowers bloom.” Released in January 2018, “After The Storm” is not only one of the best songs of the year but it also boasts one of the most impressive videos of the year directed by Nadia Lee Cohen. The lyrics speak to and not at the listener. Let’s be real for a minute, all of us experience hard times, what is life without them? When you feel like things aren’t going to get better remind yourself of the times when things were hard and got better, the times when you received your flowers after the rain, clouds, thunder, after the storm. The album Isolation has established Uchis as one the most unique and prominent music makers of her generation.
Lauren Daigle, “Still Rolling Stones”
Many music lovers and critics alike have compared Lauren Daigle’s husky alto voice and style to Adele but Ms. Daigle is in a league of her own. The CCM powerhouse has had a very successful 2018. Her third studio album, Look Up Child peaked at #1 on the Billboard US Christian albums chart and #3 on the Billboard 200 chart. In addition to her crossover success in the CCM genre, Daigle has performed on several prominent daytime and nightime talk shows including The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and The Ellen Show. The opening track “Still Rolling Stones” from Look Up Child is the 60s tinged inspirational anthem you want to listen to when you reflect on your journey in life. The moments when you feel like your life is over and you can’t go on and then you hear a voice say “RISE UP” and that is voice that keeps you going, the voice that reminds you of why you’re still here. The voice that reminds you of your purpose and reminds you to never forget it.
Here’s to more exciting music in 2019!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!