A particularly exciting Top 30 chart this week, with lots of movement and a ton of new music. The Killers keep a firm grip on the #1 spot for a second week with their hopeful anthem “boy”, and Death Cab for Cutie‘s “Here to Forever” advances to #2. “Bad Habit” by Steve Lacy moves up two spots to #4, and Beach Weather‘s dreamy “Sex, Drugs, Etc.” jumps five spots to #5. Entering the top 10 are “Please Write Responsibly” by Granfalloon, from his wonderful album Calendar, which I just reviewed, and “My Babe” by Spoon, leaping 10 spots to #10, the highest upward mover for the second week. God, I love Spoon, and love that song!
A whopping six new songs enter my chart this week, more than I can remember in a very long time, and interestingly, four are by British acts. Beginning at #25, they are in order: “These Are the Days” by Irish band Inhaler, fronted by Elijah Hewson, the heartthrob son of U2 front man Bono Hewson; “The Echo” by immensely talented British singer-songwriter A.A. Williams, a hauntingly beautiful song I was alerted to by fellow blogger Robert Horvat (Rearview Mirror); “Spit of You” by British singer-songwriter Sam Fender (the guitars are absolutely gorgeous); the achingly beautiful “White Horses” by British singer-songwriter Art Block, who’s similarly-titled EP I reviewed last month; “Crest of the Wave” by British band Foals, one of my current top 10 favorite bands who can do no wrong when it comes to music; and “I Like You (A Happier Song)” by Post Malone & Doja Cat, currently at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. I’ve had several songs by the great Post Malone on my chart, but this is the first appearance for Doja Cat.
BOY – The Killers (1)
HERE TO FOREVER – Death Cab for Cutie (3)
SUPERMODEL – Måneskin (2)
BAD HABIT – Steve Lacy (6)
SEX, DRUGS, ETC. – Beach Weather (10)
BONES – Imagine Dragons (5)
TEK IT – Cafuné (8)
BROKEN RECORD – NAVE (4)
PLEASE WRITE RESPONSIBLY – Granfalloon (11)
MY BABE – Spoon (20)
PART OF THE BAND – The 1975 (12)
UNTIL I FOUND YOU – Stephen Sanchez (7)
VIVA LAS VENGEANCE – Panic! At the Disco (9)
CRACKER ISLAND – Gorillaz featuring Thundercat (18)
FREE – Florence + the Machine (17)
FAILURE TO COMPLY – MISSIO (14)
SOMETHING LOUD – Jimmy Eat World (19)
BREAK MY SOUL – Beyoncé (13)
GIANTS – WALK THE MOON (21)
PARTY4ONE – dwi (22)
WHAT’S THE TRICK? – Jack White (15)
SISTERS – pMad (26)
BITTER – Wild Horse (27)
WET DREAM – Wet Leg (30)
THESE ARE THE DAYS – Inhaler (N)
THE ECHO – A.A. Williams (N)
SPIT OF YOU – Sam Fender (N)
WHITE HORSES – Art Block (N)
CREST OF THE WAVE – Foals (N)
I LIKE YOU (A HAPPIER SONG) – Post Malone & Doja Cat (N)
I’m happy that The Killers are still together and making music more than 20 years after their formation, and their latest single, the beautiful, uplifting anthem “boy”, takes over the #1 spot on this week’s Top 30. About the song, band front man and vocalist Brandon Flowers said: “This was the first song written after we had to cancel the ‘Imploding The Mirage’ tour due to the pandemic. I had recently moved back to Utah and started to make trips to Nephi, where I grew up. I found that the place I had wanted to get away from so desperately at 16 was now a place that I couldn’t stop returning to. I have a son approaching the age I was at that time in my life. With ‘boy’, I want to reach out and tell myself – and my sons – to not overthink it. And to look for the ‘white arrows’ in their lives. For me now, white arrows are my wife, children, my songs and the stage.”
In other chart developments, Måneskin‘s “Supermodel” inches up a notch to #2, while Death Cab for Cutie‘s “Here to Forever” moves up three spots to #3. I can’t get enough of Beach Weather‘s “Sex, Drugs, Etc.”, which enters the top 10 at #10. The biggest upward mover is “My Babe” by Spoon, jumping seven spots to #20. And the lone debut this week is the delightfully delicious “Wet Dream” by quirky English duo Wet Leg. I couldn’t stand “Chaise Longue” but really like “Wet Dream” a lot.
BOY – The Killers (2)
SUPERMODEL – Måneskin (3)
HERE TO FOREVER – Death Cab for Cutie (6)
BROKEN RECORD – NAVE (1)
BONES – Imagine Dragons (7)
BAD HABIT – Steve Lacy (10)
UNTIL I FOUND YOU – Stephen Sanchez (4)
TEK IT – Cafuné (9)
VIVA LAS VENGEANCE – Panic! At the Disco (5)
SEX, DRUGS, ETC. – Beach Weather (14)
PLEASE WRITE RESPONSIBLY – Granfalloon (12)
PART OF THE BAND – The 1975 (13)
BREAK MY SOUL – Beyoncé (8)
FAILURE TO COMPLY – MISSIO (11)
WHAT’S THE TRICK? – Jack White (15)
SEASICK – The Rare Occasions (18)
FREE – Florence + the Machine (21)
CRACKER ISLAND – Gorillaz featuring Thundercat (22)
There are a ton of really outstanding songs out now, and I have to say that, having grown up during the 60s and 70s – which many consider to be the greatest years for music – I honestly never imagined I would still enjoy hearing new music at my advanced age in the year 2022. It keeps me hopeful about the future of music! Now, let’s get to the highlights of this week’s Top 30 chart. I love every song on this list, and wish I could place them all in the top 5. The haunting and topical “Broken Record” by British artist NAVE spends a second week at #1. The Killers‘ inspiring anthem “boy” closes in at #2, while Måneskin‘s “Supermodel” holds at #3 for a third week.
Entering the top 10 are “Here to Forever” by the ever brilliant Death Cab For Cutie, climbing five spots to #6, and “Bad Habit” by Steve Lacy, leaping eight spots to #10. British artist Granfalloon‘s delightful “Please Write Responsibly” and The 1975‘s enthralling “Part Of The Band” both climb four spots to #12 and #13, respectively. And Beach Weather continues their rapid ascent up my chart with their marvelous “Sex, Drugs, Etc.”, climbing seven spots to #14. Three songs make their debut this week: “My Babe” by Spoon, entering at #27, “Sisters” by Irish artist pMad, entering at #29, and “Bitter” by British trio Wild Horse, bringing up the rear at #30.
BROKEN RECORD – NAVE (1)
BOY – The Killers (4)
SUPERMODEL – Måneskin (3)
UNTIL I FOUND YOU – Stephen Sanchez (2)
VIVA LAS VENGEANCE – Panic! At the Disco (6)
HERE TO FOREVER – Death Cab for Cutie (11)
BONES – Imagine Dragons (7)
BREAK MY SOUL – Beyoncé (8)
TEK IT – Cafuné (10)
BAD HABIT – Steve Lacy (18)
FAILURE TO COMPLY – MISSIO (5)
PLEASE WRITE RESPONSIBLY – Granfalloon (16)
PART OF THE BAND – The 1975 (17)
SEX, DRUGS, ETC. – Beach Weather (21)
WHAT’S THE TRICK? – Jack White (15)
CLOSER – The Frontier (9) 19th week on chart
SIDELINES – Phoebe Bridgers (14)
SEASICK – The Rare Occasions (19)
MISTAKES – Sharon Van Etten (13)
LEMON TREE – Mt. Joy (12)
FREE – Florence + the Machine (22)
CRACKER ISLAND – Gorillaz featuring Thundercat (23)
One of the most hauntingly beautiful songs I’ve heard this year is “Broken Record” by British artist NAVE, the solo music project of singer-songwriter, composer and producer Nathan Evans. The prolific and hyper-talented musician creates gorgeous and dramatic music incorporating a broad array of genres and styles, including alternative electronica, rock, ambient, trip-hop, orchestral and dark wave. He’s also front man for alternative rock band Native Tongue. He wrote “Broken Record” to address the powerfully addicting allure of social media and its impacts on our emotional and mental health. Nathan states “‘Broken Record’ focuses on the like, follow and share society we have transitioned into over the past decade. Likes release dopamine like a drug and we become addicted to the validation, attention and acknowledgment of our successes or happiness. We hide behind filters and fake smiles to show an inaccurate reality we wish was real.” The song is stunning, with mournful, contemplative piano keys overlain with arresting percussion, swelling strings and mysterious vocal effects. I love male singing voices in the higher ranges, and Nathan’s is especially captivating here. Not only is “Broken Record” a gorgeous song, it also resonates very strongly with me, and I’m thrilled to place it at the top of my list this week.
In other notable chart developments, The Killers‘ uplifting anthem “boy” leaps 17 spots to #4, Cafuné‘s “Tek It” advances a notch to enter the top 10 at #10, Steve Lacy‘s “Bad Habit” jumps 11 spots to #18, and Beach Weather‘s “Sex, Drugs, Etc.” climbs nine spots to #21. The lone debut this week is the delightful “Party4One” by the brilliant Canadian artist dwi, which enters at #30.
BROKEN RECORD – NAVE (2)
UNTIL I FOUND YOU – Stephen Sanchez (1)
SUPERMODEL – Måneskin (3)
BOY – The Killers (21)
FAILURE TO COMPLY – MISSIO (5)
VIVA LAS VENGEANCE – Panic! At the Disco (8)
BONES – Imagine Dragons (9)
BREAK MY SOUL – Beyoncé (10)
CLOSER – The Frontier (4)
TEK IT – Cafuné (11)
HERE TO FOREVER – Death Cab for Cutie (14)
LEMON TREE – Mt. Joy (7)
MISTAKES – Sharon Van Etten (6)
SIDELINES – Phoebe Bridgers (12)
WHAT’S THE TRICK? – Jack White (13)
PLEASE WRITE RESPONSIBLY – Granfalloon (19)
PART OF THE BAND – The 1975 (20)
BAD HABIT – Steve Lacy (29)
SEASICK – The Rare Occasions (22)
ABOUT DAMN TIME – Lizzo (15)
SEX, DRUGS, ETC. – Beach Weather (30)
FREE – Florence + the Machine (23)
CRACKER ISLAND – Gorillaz featuring Thundercat (24)
Not a lot of changes from last week on my latest Weekly Top 30. Stephen Sanchez‘ beautiful retro love ballad “Until I Found You” holds the top spot for a second week, while “Broken Record” by British artist NAVE, and “SUPERMODEL” by Italian band Måneskin, each move up a notch to second and third place. “Bones” by Imagine Dragons and “BREAK MY SOUL” by Beyoncé enter the top 10 at #9 and #10, respectively. The biggest upward mover is “Boy” by The Killers, which climbs seven spots to #21.
Debuting this week are the charming funk-pop song “Bad Habit” by Southern California artist Steve Lacy – the song has already reached #1 on the Billboard Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart, and is at #3 on the Hot 100 – and the enchanting “Sex, Drugs, Etc.” by Massachusetts alternative pop-rock band Beach Weather.
UNTIL I FOUND YOU – Stephen Sanchez (1)
BROKEN RECORD – NAVE (3)
SUPERMODEL – Måneskin (4)
CLOSER – The Frontier (2)
FAILURE TO COMPLY – MISSIO (7)
MISTAKES – Sharon Van Etten (5)
LEMON TREE – Mt. Joy (8)
VIVA LAS VENGEANCE – Panic! At the Disco (9)
BONES – Imagine Dragons (11)
BREAK MY SOUL – Beyoncé (12)
TEK IT – Cafuné (14)
SIDELINES – Phoebe Bridgers (15)
WHAT’S THE TRICK? – Jack White (16)
HERE TO FOREVER – Death Cab for Cutie (17)
ABOUT DAMN TIME – Lizzo (10)
THE FUNERAL – YUNGBLUD (6)
LIN MANUEL – Onism E (13)
GREY – Holy Coves (17)
PLEASE WRITE RESPONSIBLY – Granfalloon (21)
PART OF THE BAND – The 1975 (22)
BOY – The Killers (28)
SEASICK – The Rare Occasions (24)
FREE – Florence + the Machine (25)
CRACKER ISLAND – Gorillaz featuring Thundercat (26)
A year after it’s release, the gorgeous throwback love ballad “Until I Found You” by adorable 19-year-old Nashville crooner Stephen Sanchez reaches the top spot on my Weekly Top 30. With it’s wonderful retro 50s doo wop vibe, highlighted by Sanchez’ beautiful jangly guitar and vibrant vocals, I cannot get enough of it! The song quickly went viral on TikTok, and has reached #1 in Malaysia, #5 in the Philippines and on the Billboard AAA chart, but only recently began climbing the Hot 100 Chart, where it currently sits at #88. The song is included on his 7-track EP Easy On My Eyes, which dropped August 19th.
For the marvelous official video, which came out in late June, Sanchez channels his inner Elvis, also pairing himself with a Marilyn Monroe lookalike as his love interest with whom he sings the song in a duet (although the layered vocals on the track are all his, from what I can tell). He told Rolling Stone “I was obsessed with the style of the 50s when I was growing up. The glamorous cars, movie theaters, mom & pop shops. I romanticized all of its visually stunning colors and sleekness. I wanted to implement all of that beauty into my dream of being a 1950s singer debuting his ‘hit’ song on the Ed Sullivan Show.”
In other chart highlights, the hauntingly beautiful “Broken Record” by British artist NAVE, and “SUPERMODEL” by Italian band Måneskin, each climb three spots to #3 and 4, respectively, and “Viva Las Vengeance” by Panic! At the Disco enters the top 10 at #9. Making their debut this week are “boy” by The Killers, at #28, and “Giants” by WALK THE MOON, at #30. As an old geezer myself, it’s heartening to see songs by veteran artists and bands over 40 like Sharon Van Etten, Jack White, Muse, Death Cab for Cutie, Jimmy Eat World, the Killers, Damon Albarn of Gorillaz, and Brian and Marc of The Star Crumbles, all of whom are still at the top of their game.
UNTIL I FOUND YOU – Stephen Sanchez (2)
CLOSER – The Frontier (1)
BROKEN RECORD – NAVE (6)
SUPERMODEL – Måneskin (7)
MISTAKES – Sharon Van Etten (4)
THE FUNERAL – YUNGBLUD (3)
FAILURE TO COMPLY – MISSIO (8)
LEMON TREE – Mt. Joy (9)
VIVA LAS VENGEANCE – Panic! At the Disco (11)
ABOUT DAMN TIME – Lizzo (5)
BONES – Imagine Dragons (13)
BREAK MY SOUL – Beyoncé (15)
LIN MANUEL – Onism E (14)
TEK IT – Cafuné (16)
SIDELINES – Phoebe Bridgers (17)
WHAT’S THE TRICK? – Jack White (20)
GREY – Holy Coves (18)
HERE TO FOREVER – Death Cab for Cutie (21)
COMPLIANCE – Muse (19)
SYNCHRONIZE – Milky Chance (10)
PLEASE WRITE RESPONSIBLY – Granfalloon (25)
PART OF THE BAND – The 1975 (26)
UNCONDITIONAL I (LOOKOUT KID) – Arcade Fire (12)
SEASICK – The Rare Occasions (27)
FREE – Florence + the Machine (28)
CRACKER ISLAND – Gorillaz featuring Thundercat (29)
Northern Virginia-based artist The Frontier (the music project of enormously talented, funny and gracious singer-songwriter Jake Mimikos) is a long-time favorite of mine. Drawing from elements of pop, folk, rock and electronica, his music is incredibly pleasing, relentlessly catchy, and flawlessly crafted. The prolific artist has released an impressive amount of music both as a band and a solo artist under The Frontier moniker since around 2015, and I’ve featured quite a bit of it on this blog. Several of his songs have appeared on my Weekly Top 30, with two – “Dark Places” (from 2019) and “Can We Go Back” (from 2021) – going all the way to #1. He now reaches the top spot for a third time, with his lovely, upbeat song “Closer”. I find that the more I hear his songs, the more I grow to love them, and “Closer” is no exception.
And speaking of love, I’ve fallen head over heels for the gorgeous “Until I Found You” by 19-year-old Nashville crooner Stephen Sanchez, which climbs three spots to #2. The song is included on his new 7-track EP Easy On My Eyes, which dropped August 19th. Entering the top 10 is the wonderfully complex “Lemon Tree” by L.A. indie folk-rock band Mt. Joy. Big upward movers this week include “Viva Las Vengeance” by Panic! At the Disco, which climbs six spots to #11, “What’s the Trick?” by Jack White, also moving up six spots to #20, and “Here to Forever” by Death Cab For Cutie, jumping seven spots to #21. Three great songs finally make their long-overdue debut: “Free” by Florence + the Machine, “Cracker Island” by Gorillaz featuring Thundercat, and “Something Loud” by veteran rockers Jimmy Eat World, entering at #s 28, 29 and 30, respectively.
CLOSER – The Frontier (2)
UNTIL I FOUND YOU – Stephen Sanchez (5)
THE FUNERAL – YUNGBLUD (3)
MISTAKES – Sharon Van Etten (4)
ABOUT DAMN TIME – Lizzo (1)
BROKEN RECORD – NAVE (7)
SUPERMODEL – Måneskin (8)
FAILURE TO COMPLY – MISSIO (10)
LEMON TREE – Mt. Joy (12)
SYNCHRONIZE – Milky Chance (9)
VIVA LAS VENGEANCE – Panic! At the Disco (17)
UNCONDITIONAL I (LOOKOUT KID) – Arcade Fire (6)
BONES – Imagine Dragons (15)
LIN MANUEL – Onism E (14)
BREAK MY SOUL – Beyoncé (18)
TEK IT – Cafuné (19)
SIDELINES – Phoebe Bridgers (21)
GREY – Holy Coves (20)
COMPLIANCE – Muse (23)
WHAT’S THE TRICK? – Jack White (26)
HERE TO FOREVER – Death Cab For Cutie (28)
IN THE MIRROR – The Interrupters (11)
DESPERATELY WANTING – The Star Crumbles (16)
WARNING SIGNS – Band of Horses (13)
PLEASE WRITE RESPONSIBLY – Granfalloon (27)
PART OF THE BAND – The 1975 (29)
SEASICK – The Rare Occasions (30)
FREE – Florence + the Machine (N)
CRACKER ISLAND – Gorillaz featuring Thundercat (N)
2018 was another banner year for music, with seemingly more of it being produced and released by a greater number artists and bands than ever before. And despite the fact that as a music blogger I’m exposed to a tremendous amount of music, I know I’ve heard only a fraction of all the singles and albums released in 2018. I get enough proof of this just by reading other bloggers’ year-end best-of lists, where in some cases I literally haven’t heard any of their song choices! Consequently, each of our annual best-of lists are going to include songs we know, and I’m certain there are some truly great songs that should belong on my Top 100 Songs list, except for the fact that I’ve never heard them! That said, there were so many fantastic songs in 2018, and it frustrates me to have to cull them down to only 100, omitting scores of tracks I really like. All the songs on this list could easily be in the top 40, and a song listed at #30 isn’t necessarily better than one at #60.
It also goes without saying that everyone’s music tastes are very subjective, so it’s guaranteed that not a single person reading this will agree with my song choices or their rankings. My list essentially contains my favorite songs of the year. My music tastes, while eclectic, lean toward Alternative Rock and most variations of Rock (hard, metal, post-punk, folk, progressive, electronic, surf, garage), R&B and Pop, so my Top 100 song choices generally reflect those genres. I like some hip hop and rap, but cannot tolerate the mumble rap or much of the other shitty hip hop, bro-country and pop music currently dominating the Billboard Hot 100. I’d rather listen to “Disco Duck” for an hour than three minutes of Cardi B (sorry Cardi B lovers). I’m not a music critic, and while I make every effort to recognize the cultural and artistic merits of music that came out this year, at the end of the day this is a list of songs that moved me personally – that gave me chills or that I simply enjoyed listening to over and over. Some were critically acclaimed, but many were not, and that’s OK. I love them, and that’s what matters to me.
Many bloggers and critics list songs in the year they were released, while Billboard and some other charts place them in the year they were ‘hits,’ which is what I prefer. Many of the songs on this list were released in 2018, however, a number of them were released in 2017 but didn’t chart until 2018. Also, because there are always a few songs that overlap from one year to the next, I always wrestle with how to rank them, as well as whether to list them in only one year or two. One example of this dilemma is “Without You” by L.A. band Disciples of Babylon, which spent the last week of 2017 and first week of 2018 at #1 on my weekly chart. It seems the fairest thing to do is include those songs on lists for both years if they spent enough time on the charts or ranked highly in each year. I suppose that at the end of the day it’s all silliness, but this is the way I choose to do it. The songs in this Top 100 that also appeared on my Top 100 Songs of 2017 are indicated with an * I wish I could have written a narrative for all 100 tracks, but being a slow writer who agonizes over every word, it would have taken me until mid-January to finish this post!
1. BROKEN – lovelytheband Unquestionably one of the most exuberantly catchy ear worms of 2018, this debut single by L.A.-based three-piece lovelytheband actually came out in 2017 as an exclusive release to Billboard that April, but didn’t chart until the beginning of 2018. It ended up being the #1 song of 2018 on the Billboard Alternative Chart, and is my personal pick as well. The song speaks to the idea that everyone’s flawed and has problems, and of finding someone who’s just as fucked up as you, and trying to make a go of it: “I like that you’re broken, broken like me. Maybe that makes me a fool. I like that you’re lonely, lonely like me. I could be lonely with you.” I love the chirpy synths, intricate guitars and strong drumbeat, as well as lead singer Mitchy Collins’ irresistible, quirky vocals that had me listening to the song again and again.
2. I FEEL LIKE I’M DROWNING – Two Feet I was blown away the moment I first heard the dark and sultry “I Feel Like I’m Drowning”, and quickly became a big fan of singer-songwriter Two Feet (born Zachary William “Bill” Dess) and his soulful, bluesy sound. This man can play guitar, and his songs are accompanied by some of the deepest bass grooves around, giving them tremendous heft and impact, and his vocals have a seductive, yet vulnerable quality that’s incredibly appealing. The song is about drowning in a toxic relationship, but could have also described his own mental state early in the year as the pressures of fame and professional commitments took their toll on his emotional well-being. Fortunately, he’s doing better and about to go on tour with Panic! At the Disco starting in January 2019. I had the good fortune of seeing him perform in L.A. in November, which you can read about here.
3. SIT NEXT TO ME – Foster the People * Foster the People are one of my favorite bands (see the header pic on my Twitter page), and I adore “Sit Next to Me.” The third single from their third album Sacred Hearts Club, it was released in July 2017 and debuted on my weekly chart that September. It reached #1 in on my chart in December 2017 (though by that time it had barely made the top 10 on only the Billboard Alternative Chart), and ended up at #20 on my Top 100 Songs of 2017. In January 2018, the song began to fall on my weekly chart, but kept rising on the Alternative Chart, eventually peaking at #3, and remaining in the top 10 for nine months until September 2018! It continued to hover in the 20s on my chart for several months, jumping back into the top 10 in July. I never tired of hearing it, and when I saw on my Spotify Wrapped report for 2018 that it was my most-played song of the year, it confirmed for me that it was also one of my favorite songs of 2018.
Song intros are important in setting the tone for a song, and “Sit Next to Me” has one of the most enthralling openings of any song I’ve ever heard, immediately grabbing hold and leaving me wanting more. It starts with a delicate shimmering synth and Mark Foster’s ethereal vocals, then bursts open into a breezy ballad loaded with gorgeous sweeping synths, subtle guitar and Mark Pontius’ perfect drumbeats. I love Foster’s fervent vocal style that includes lots of soaring falsettos and beautiful harmonic choruses. The song was inspired by his time spent in the L.A. bar scene. Foster explained in an interview with Rolling Stone: “Everyone was trying to look cool, say the right thing and be at the center of the universe. It was like a fashion show. In that environment, I felt alone in a room packed with people. I kept waiting for someone authentic to come walk through the door and sit next to me.” About the song’s slow rise and longevity, he stated: “I’m just kinda shocked. It’s kind of crazy to me that it’s been on the radio for so long and it keeps continuing to grow. I guess it’s a sleeper.“
4. THIS IS AMERICA – Childish Gambino One of the best songs of 2018 is Childish Gambino’s “This is America”, with its highly provocative lyrics and alternating mix of African-folk inspired melodies and pulsating hip hop-driven trap beats. But it was the brilliant companion video produced for the song that had the greatest impact, driving home the lyrics with shocking and often disturbing visual imagery, and quickly going viral the moment it was released on May 5th. Childish Gambino is the artistic name for the music project of the multi-faceted and incredibly talented actor, writer and singer Donald Glover. He packs a lot of symbolism into the video to address issues like racism and gun violence in America.
Things start off pleasant enough, with Glover/Gambino dancing about shirtless, but using grotesque smiles and exaggerated poses that some believe invoke the racist caricature Jim Crow. He sings “We just wanna party. Party just for you. We just want the money“, possibly referencing Black peoples’ historic role as entertainers for White people. Events take a violent turn when he walks up to a man who’s sitting on a chair playing guitar with his head covered by a hood, and shoots him in the head. A little later, he nonchalantly mows down a choir of singers with an automatic weapon. In both cases, he hands the guns over to someone holding a red cloth, giving the impression that the guns are being handled with greater care than the people he’s killed. The shooting of the choir is thought to represent the 2015 massacre at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Glover/Gambino and a group of kids clad in school uniforms dance throughout much of the video, smiling as violence erupts around them. At the end of the video, he’s shown running for his life from an angry white mob.
5. BAD BAD NEWS – Leon Bridges And speaking of soulful, Leon Bridges is like a breath of fresh air with his throwback R&B style that echoes some of the great soul singers of the 60s like Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye and Otis Redding. It’s a reflection of my advanced age, but I loved so many of the artists and music coming out of Detroit (Motown), Memphis and Philadelphia from the early 60s to the late 80s, and wish more Black artists would make music like this. In any case, “Bad Bad News” is fantastic, with jazzy guitar, gorgeous brass, crisp percussion and deep bass set to a soulful, hypnotic beat. Add Bridges’ smooth vocals, and the result is a little piece of sonic heaven. He sings about overcoming others’ lack of faith in him, and making it on his street smarts, honesty and belief in himself: “Ain’t got no riches, ain’t got no money that runs long. But I got a heart that’s strong and a love that’s tall. Ain’t got no name, ain’t got no fancy education. But I can see right through, a powdered face on a painted fool./ They tell me I was born to lose. But I made a good good thing out of bad bad news.“
6. ALL THE STARS – Kendrick Lamar/SZA The positively gorgeous “All the Stars” is one of many outstanding songs featured on the soundtrack for the hit superhero film Black Panther. A stylistic departure for Kendrick Lamar, the song is highly melodic, with vibrant sweeping synths and orchestration, set to a captivating beat. His vocals are mesmerizing and powerful as he sings the biting lyrics about duplicity and betrayal. And SZA blows our minds and eardrums with her bewitching soulful vocals. She passionately sings about her inability to resist another’s charms despite the fact he’s no good for her, always putting her faith in love and the stars, and when her and Lamar’s amazing voices are combined, it’s sheer bliss. I’ve listened to this song countless times and it never fails to cover me with goosebumps. The lush and colorful video is visually stunning, and one of the best of the year.
7. PAIN – The War on Drugs The War on Drugs are one of the best bands making music today, and I love their beautiful and lush melodic sound. The second single from their phenomenal, highly-acclaimed album A Deeper Understanding, “Pain” is one of my favorites among their many brilliant songs. (The album’s first single “Holding On” was #9 on my Top 100 of 2017). As I’ve alluded to earlier in this post, I know I love a song if it gives me chills, and “Pain” brings them in spades. The guitars and synths are so gorgeous they literally bring tears to my eyes, and lead singer Adam Granduciel vocals are brimming with heartfelt urgency that touches the soul. He told Q Magazine that “Pain” was inspired by the physical agony he endured from a ruptured disc. (Having recently suffered with pain from a back sprain myself, I can empathize.) It’s one of several tracks on A Deeper Understanding where he touches on the excruciating experience. “I couldn’t sit to work and I couldn’t stand up to play guitar,” he said. “The idea of chronic pain and what it does to the mind is scattered throughout the songs.”
8. CLOSER – IAMWARFACE London-based electro-rock band IAMWARFACE has released only a handful of songs, but are among my favorite UK bands. Their aggressive name is a fitting metaphor for their bombastic, high-energy, groove-based sound. They released their debut single “Say My Name” in 2016, a phenomenal track that literally left me speechless the first time I heard it, and it ended up at #14 on my Top 100 Songs of 2016. I didn’t think they could top that song, but I was wrong. In July they released “Closer”, and I was stunned as I heard the opening mysterious throbbing synth chord that slowly builds into a dramatic soundscape, enveloping us as lead singer Matt Warneford implores to someone with whom he seems to have an obsessive and destructive relationship. With that, the music explodes into a maelstrom of grinding synths, fuzzy guitars, buzz-saw bass, and thunderous percussion, punctuated by almost violently crashing cymbals that emphasize the feelings of desolation expressed in the bitter lyrics. Warneford’s emotional vocals seem filled with despair and resignation over a love affair that now lies in tatters. “Feel I’m walking on shattered glass. This romance just has to end, to reset, erase, begin again.” My body is covered from head to toe with chills by song’s end, overcome by the fierce beauty and power of this monumental track. The video is dark, ghostly and breathtaking.
9. LIVE IN THE MOMENT – Portugal. The Man Following up on their monster hit “Feel It Still”, which was my #1 song of 2017, Portugal. The Man struck gold again with “Live in the Moment.” The second single from their album Woodstock, it’s an exhilarating track, with a hard-driving beat, sweeping synths, chugging guitars and soaring choruses dominated by John Gourley’s wonderful tenor vocals. The song lyrics are pretty deep with lots of hidden meaning, but they basically touch on subjects of religion and mortality: “Let’s live in the moment. Come back Sunday morning. Got soul to sell. When you’re gone goodbye, so long, farewell.” Toward the end it transitions to an almost church hymn with a dominant organ riff and chant-like vocals produced by computer text-to-speech software that sing “Oh, God, I can hardly believe my eyes. Wake up everybody you know. Come and watch the garden grow. I’ll see you when you get there.” The imaginative video shows the band riding in a car with a giant puppet of a guy skateboarding on top, being chased by another with a policeman puppet on top of that car. I love it.
10. DIZZY – The Million Reasons “Dizzy” is an outstanding rock song by Chicago band The Million Reasons, and I loved it at first listen. The song is about a relationship in which both parties are blinded by an obsessive and possibly irrational desire for each other. It opens with an enthralling guitar riff that immediately pulls us in with the promise that something really beautiful is about to unfold, and as the music swells into a soaring anthem, we’re not disappointed. The instrumentals and lead singer Scott Nadeau’s fervent vocals are perfection, and by the time the chorus arrives with Mike Nichols’ jaw-dropping solo from his screaming guitar and Nadeau’s raw, impassioned wails, I’m left covered with chills and gasping for breath. This is truly one of the most beautiful rock songs I’ve ever heard.
11. JUMPSUIT – twenty one pilots I fell head over heels in love with twenty one pilots in the summer of 2015 when their fantastic single “Tear in My Heart” bored itself into my brain. I rarely purchase albums these days, but I bought Blurryface and played it non-stop the rest of that year and during much of 2016. “Tear in My Heart” ended up as my #1 song of 2015, and “Stressed Out” was my top song for 2016, with “Ride” placing at #3. Needless to say I, along with millions of other die-hard fans, eagerly anticipated the arrival of new music by twenty one pilots, and “Jumpsuit” didn’t disappoint when it debuted last July as the lead single of their forthcoming album Trench, which dropped in October. Like Blurryface, Trench is a concept album, and tells the saga of the fictional evil city of Dema ruled by nine bishops, referred to as “Nico and the Niners” in the companion single of that name that was released concurrently with “Jumpsuit”. The bishops impose the religious cult of Vialism upon their citizens, and they do everything in their power to prevent them from leaving the walled city. Because they are unable to see the color yellow, the only way to escape is by wearing a yellow garment. twenty one pilots lead singer Tyler Joseph’s alter ego is a character named Clancy, whose escape attempt is described in “Jumpsuit”. The song is a metaphor for the struggle with mental illness, with the evil city of Dema representing mental illness, and the bishops representing the internal struggles of a person suffering from mental illness.
When researching about the song, I learned it was co-produced by Joseph and Paul Meany, front man for the alternative rock band MUTEMATH (who toured with twenty one pilots on their Emotional Roadshow Tour). Given its subject matter, “Jumpsuit” is darker, edgier and more complex than many of their previous songs. It opens with Joseph’s altered vocals shouting “cover me“, referring to his jumpsuit. As the song progresses, the music alternates between barrages of Joseph’s heavy bass guitar riffs and Josh Dun’s pounding drums, and soothing interludes of hushed vocals, lush synths and haunting piano. Joseph’s vocals gradually build to a goosebump-inducing crescendo towards the end as he desperately wails “Jumpsuit, jumpsuit cover me!“
12. NINA CRIED POWER – Hozier featuring Mavis Staples Irish singer-songwriter Hozier burst onto the music scene in 2014 with his massive hit “Take Me to Church” and self-titled album Hozier, which in addition to “Take Me to Church” generated several more singles. Exhausted from nearly two years of touring, he took a break in 2017 and then began writing new songs this year, but it would be four years before he followed up with a surprise release in September of a four-track EP Nina Cried Power, which includes the title track. (He plans to release a full-length album in 2019.) “Nina Cried Power” is a magnificent and stirring gospel-infused ode to Hozier’s love of American rock and roll and it’s roots in R&B and gospel, with tributes paid to artists like Nina Simone, Joni Mitchell, Billie Holliday, James Brown and Mavis Staples, who lives up to her reputation by adding her powerful vocals to the song. In addition, legendary musician Booker T. Jones contributed his organ-playing to “Nina Cried Power” and other songs on the EP and forthcoming album. It’s a stunning masterpiece in my not-so-humble opinion, yet failed to connect with very many listeners for reasons I cannot fathom. It was a hit only on the Billboard Adult Alternative chart, where it reached #1.
13. THE JOKE – Brandi Carlisle One of the most beautiful and moving songs of 2018, Brandi Carlisle’s “The Joke” is a poignant ode to the delicate boys and striving girls who continue to struggle in our society. She explained her inspiration for the song: “There are so many people feeling misrepresented. So many people feeling unloved. Boys feeling marginalized and forced into these kind of awkward shapes of masculinity that they do or don’t belong in…so many men and boys are trans or disabled or shy. Little girls who got so excited for the last election, and are dealing with the fallout. The song is just for people that feel under-represented, unloved or illegal.” Carlisle has a strong, beautiful voice and – at the risk of sounding like a broken record – her stirring, passionate vocals on “The Joke” send chills up and down my spine. Hearing her sing the defiant lyrics “Let ’em laugh while they can. Let ’em spin, let ’em scatter in the wind. I have been to the movies, I’ve seen how it ends. And the joke’s on them” in her gorgeous voice, backed by soaring instrumentals highlighted by beautiful strings courtesy of the late Paul Buckmaster (a music genius who arranged Carlisle’s album By The Way, I Forgive You as well as such legendary recordings as David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” The Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers and many of Elton John’s early hits), is a religious experience indeed. Music doesn’t get any better than this!
14. LOADING ZONES – Kurt Vile I became a fan of Kurt Vile a few years ago when I really got into his wonderfully cool song “Pretty Pimpin’,” which ended up at #19 on my Top 100 of 2016. This past August, he returned with a new single “Loading Zones”, which I like even better. Vile’s layered, intricate guitar work is fantastic, and I love the talkboxy wah-wah riffs toward the end. He’s also quite the wordsmith. He sings of driving around his “dirty little town” of Philadelphia, running errands and parking for free in loading zones as he tries to stay one step ahead of the parking meter police, humorously played by actor Kevin Corrigan and Matt Korvette of the band Pissed Jeans in the entertaining video. He defiantly declares “I park for free! One-stop shop life for the quick fix / before you get a ticket / That’s the way I live my life” – leaving little doubt he’s the coolest musician around today.
15. PINK LEMONADE – James Bay I’ve liked James Bay and his music since his first breakthrough single “Hold Back the River” in 2014, but wasn’t what I’d call a huge fan. With his signature hat and long hair, and pleasing low-key folk-rock style, he quickly built a huge following. Then, in early March he released “Pink Lemonade” and appeared on Saturday Night Live, revealing a major change in both his look and sound. When I watched his performance on SNL, I nearly fell out of my chair! James had ditched the hat, cut his hair and replaced his casual clothing style with a hot pink sequined shirt and black leather pants, and he looked hot! As my friend Anthea commented – “who knew all that beautiful bone structure lay hidden beneath the hat and long hair!”
Not only that, I loved the song’s exuberant, harder rock vibe, with scratchy guitar, heavy bass and a driving beat. The song actually has a rather rough, gravelly production sound, which some felt detracted from its overall quality. My feelings are mixed about it, and perhaps James wanted a more rugged sound. In any case, many seemed to prefer his mellower folk ballads to this edgier sound, so “Pink Lemonade” was not as successful as his other singles. Oh well, their loss, as I love it and couldn’t hear it enough. The songs is about escape and not wanting to commit to a relationship, and the official video for the song is cleverly done, showing scenes of James building a rocket ship in the garage. But I’m sharing the video of his riveting and charismatic SNL performance instead, where he seems to channel John Mayer with the swagger of an early Elvis Presley. This is definitely my guilty pleasure track of 2018!
16. UNWIND – John Defeo John DeFeo is a soulful and talented R&B/hip hop artist based in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and he released one of the hottest singles of 2018. From his marvelous little EP Champagne Heart, “Unwind” is one steamy tune! From the moment I first heard that funky opening guitar riff and deep bass-driven beat, I was hooked. With a sensuous mellow dance groove that aims straight for the hips, the track echoes Justin Timberlake’s “Rock Your Body”, only it’s better and sexier. John sings to a woman he’s got the hots for, reassuring her that he also respects her and wants to get to know her better, not just have sex: “So right don’t talk shit, I bet you think I just wanna f**k. There’s more to it, please don’t confuse my vibe. Don’t get it twisted. If you’re down, I’m down. Tonight I’m gonna show you a good time. Me and you take a shot we can unwind.” I had this song on repeat all year!
17. WHATEVER IT TAKES – Imagine Dragons Imagine Dragons have been releasing music pretty much non-stop since the fall of 2012 when we first heard their breakthrough single “It’s Time”, and have ruled the rock and alternative charts ever since (although they seem to have also become the band some people love to hate, similar to Nickelback). Be that as it may, “Whatever it Takes” is an awesome song, overflowing with dynamic instrumentals, lush synths and soaring anthemic choruses that have become part of Imagine Dragons’ signature sound. And there’s no denying Dan Reynolds’ ability to stir our emotions with his commanding, powerhouse vocals. I really like his rapid-fire rapping on this song. The third single from their monster album Evolve, “Whatever it Takes” is about living life to the fullest, doing everything in your power to achieve your dreams, with no regrets at the end of your life.
18. GOLD RUSH – Death Cab for Cutie Death Cab for Cutie have been making music for 20 years, characterized by their pleasing, unconventional instrumentation and band front man Ben Gibbard’s distinctive vocal style. “Gold Rush” was inspired by Gibbard’s feelings about the ever-changing face of his adopted city of Seattle, which has seen tremendous growth in terms of jobs, construction and population over the past decade or so. In an interview with NPR, Gibbard explained “As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become acutely aware of how I connect my memories to my geography and [how] the landscape of the city changes. I’ll walk down Broadway and walk past a location that used to be a bar I’d frequent with friends, or somewhere where I had a beautifully intense conversation with somebody that I once loved very much. The song is not a complaint about how things were better or anything like that. It’s an observation, but more about coming to terms with the passage of time and losing the people and the moments in my life all over again as I walk down a street that is now so unfamiliar.” The lyrics he wrote for “Gold Rush” are some of the most poetic of any song in 2018: “Digging for gold in my neighborhood. (Gold rush) Where all the old buildings stood. (Gold rush) And they keep digging it down and down (Gold rush) so that their cars can live underground.” The song is built around a sample of Yoko Ono’s 1972 song “Mind Train”, with a chugging guitar-driven beat. The rich and varied layered instrumentals are marvelous, especially the recurring little piano riff.
19. WORLD GONE MAD – Bastille Another stellar song in 2018 was Bastille’s powerful anthem “World Gone Mad.” Though it was featured in the fantasy crime film Bright, the song was written by band front man and lead singer Dan Smith to address social injustice and the strong political divisiveness and turmoil afflicting so many countries, particularly Britain where it resulted in Brexit: “So this is where we are. It’s not where we had wanted to be. If half the world’s gone mad. The other half just don’t care, you see. You don’t wanna fuck with us. British to the very last.” Many of the lyrics also perfectly describe the current fucked up political situation in America, where we’re led by an evil, racist and narcissistic sociopath whose divisive rhetoric encourages nationalism and xenophobia, which is why it resonated so strongly with me. The song was a modest hit, charting only on the Billboard Alternative Chart, however I think it’s Bastille’s best song since “Pompeii”.
20. SAFARI SONG – Greta Van Fleet Speaking of powerhouse vocals, after bursting onto the music world in early 2017 with their explosive head-banger “Highway Tune” (which ranked #6 on my Top 100 Songs of 2017), Greta Van Fleet came roaring back with another fantastic hard-hitting single “Safari Song.” The astonishingly-talented young band from Michigan consists of brothers Josh Kiszka (a diminutive guy with a gargantuan bluesy voice that sounds disarmingly like an early Robert Plant) and twins Jake (guitar) and Sam (bass) Kiszka, and Danny Wagner on drums. In addition to the Robert Plant similarity, their guitar-driven blues-rock sound has also been compared to Led Zeppelin.
21. GHOST – Badflower 22. ONE FOOT – WALK THE MOON * 23. HANDYMAN – AWOLNATION 24. IN MY MIND – Draft Evader 25. SOBER UP – AJR featuring Rivers Cuomo 26. LOS AGELESS – St. Vincent 27. TWO HIGH – Moon Taxi 28. KINKY – Oli Barton & the Movement * 29. HUNGER – Florence + The Machine 30. &RUN – Sir Sly 31. MY BLOOD – twenty one pilots 32. NATURAL – Imagine Dragons 33. YOU WORRY ME – Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats 34. WITHOUT YOU – Disciples of Babylon * 35. GUIDING LIGHT – Mumford & Sons 36. ZOMBIE – Bad Wolves 37. SUCH A SIMPLE THING – Ray LaMontagne 38. ALL MY FRIENDS – The Revivalists 39. NEVERMIND – Dennis Lloyd 40. UH HUH – Jade Bird 41. FOUR OUT OF FIVE – Arctic Monkeys 42. HURT PEOPLE – Two Feet featuring Madison Love 43. BURN THE HOUSE DOWN – AJR 44. I ONLY LIE WHEN I LOVE YOU – Royal Blood 45. SCARY LOVE – The Neighbourhood 46. BODY TALKS – The Struts 47. HAPPIER – Marshmello featuring Bastille 48. BETTER NOW – Post Malone 49. SHE’S KEROSENE – The Interrupters 50. RED MOON SKY – Face of Stone 51. LIVING IN THE FUTURE – Dawes 52. 44 – Oli Barton & the Movement 53. THE NIGHT HAS AN ALIBI – Wons Phreely + The Horses 54. SAY AMEN (SATURDAY NIGHT) – Panic! At the Disco 55. SEVERED – The Decemberists 56. RUN FOR COVER – The Killers 57. WHEN THE CURTAIN FALLS – Greta Van Fleet 58. FEVER PITCH – Rainbow Kitten Surprise 59. CELEBRATE – Dirty Heads featuring The Unlikely Candidates 60. THOUGHT CONTAGION – Muse 61. GUIDE YOU IN THE DARK – Reckless Jacks 62. DEVIL – Shinedown 63. HAPPY HOUR – Weezer 64. PANIC – Agency Panic 65. COLORS – Beck 66. RX(MEDICATE)- Theory of a Deadman 67. CITY LOOKS PRETTY – Courtney Barnett 68. THE GOLD – Manchester Orchestra 69. ANGELA – The Lumineers 70. ALL ON MY MIND – Anderson East 71. HI HELLO – Johnny Marr 72. THE BIGGER THEY FAIL – The Autumn Stones 73. PASSION – AWOLNATION 74. WORKS EVERY TIME – Mini Mansions 75. CRAZY – From Ashes to New 76. LIFE TO FIX – The Record Company 77. SUPERWOMAN SWAY – Brett Vogel 78. YOU’RE SOMEBODY ELSE – flora cash 79. TIDAL WAVE – Portugal. The Man 80. SHAME – Elle King 81. BEST FRIEND – Sofi Tukker, NERVO, The Knocks & Alisa Ueno 82. FAVORITE COLOR IS BLUE – Robert Delong & K.Flay 83. UNREALITIES – Dying Habit 84. I HOPE YOU’RE HAPPY – Blue October 85. WANDER – Vox Eagle featuring Pierre Fontaine 86. RIDE OR DIE – The Knocks featuring Foster the People 87. HUMILITY – Gorillaz featuring George Benson 88. SORRY – Nothing But Thieves 89. FLAWLESS – Dorothy 90. MY MY MY! – Troye Sivan 91. WITHOUT WALLS – Lyia Meta 92. REMEMBER TO BREATHE – Hannah Clive 93. GOD’S PLAN – Drake 94. LUCID DREAMS – Juice WRLD 95. MAKE IT UP AS I GO – Mike Shinoda featuring K.Flay 96. YOU SHOULD SEE ME IN A CROWN – Billie Eilish 97. BORN FOR GREATNESS – Papa Roach 98. PATAGONIA – Patawawa 99. SILVER LINING – Mt. Joy 100. TRANSITION – The Winachi Tribe
1. GOLD RUSH – Death Cab for Cutie (2) 2. CLOSER – IAMWARFACE (3) 3. JUMPSUIT – twenty one pilots (1) 4. NATURAL – Imagine Dragons (6) 5. DIZZY – The Million Reasons (7) 6. 44 – Oli Barton & the Movement (5) 7. LIVING IN THE FUTURE – Dawes (9) 8. NEVERMIND – Dennis Lloyd (11) 9. RED MOON SKY – Face of Stone (4) 10. FEVER PITCH – Rainbow Kitten Surprise (8) 11. WHEN THE CURTAIN FALLS – Greta Van Fleet (13) 12. GHOST – Badflower (14) 13. UNWIND – John Defeo (10) 21st week on chart 14. SIT NEXT TO ME – Foster the People (12) 48th week on chart 15. RIDE OR DIE – The Knocks featuring Foster the People (17) 16. BETTER NOW – Post Malone (20) 17. SOMETHING HUMAN – Muse (18) 18. BURN THE HOUSE DOWN – AJR (19) 19. ALL MY FRIENDS – The Revivalists (21) 20. CRAZY – From Ashes to New (24) 21. CITY LOOKS PRETTY – Courtney Barnett (25) 22. HUNGER – Florence + the Machine (15) 23. I FEEL LIKE I’M DROWNING – Two Feet (16) 22nd week on chart 24. DEAD TO ME – Reality Suite (27) 25. PANIC – Agency Panic (28) 26. HUMILITY – Gorillaz featuring George Benson (22) 27. TIDAL WAVE – Portugal.The Man (30) 28. HI HELLO – Johnny Marr (23) 29. BODY TALKS – The Struts (N) 30. IN MY MIND – Draft Evader (N)
1. JUMPSUIT – twenty one pilots (1) 4th week at #1 2. GOLD RUSH – Death Cab for Cutie (2) 3. CLOSER – IAMWARFACE (3) 4. RED MOON SKY – Face of Stone (4) 5. 44 – Oli Barton & the Movement (5) 6. NATURAL – Imagine Dragons (7) 7. DIZZY – The Million Reasons (10) 8. FEVER PITCH – Rainbow Kitten Surprise (8) 9. LIVING IN THE FUTURE – Dawes (9) 10. UNWIND – John Defeo (6) 20th week on chart 11. NEVERMIND – Dennis Lloyd (13) 12. SIT NEXT TO ME – Foster the People (11) 47th week on chart 13. WHEN THE CURTAIN FALLS – Greta Van Fleet (14) 14. GHOST – Badflower (18) 15. HUNGER – Florence + the Machine (12) 16. I FEEL LIKE I’M DROWNING – Two Feet (16) 21st week on chart 17. RIDE OR DIE – The Knocks featuring Foster the People (19) 18. SOMETHING HUMAN – Muse (22) 19. BURN THE HOUSE DOWN – AJR (23) 20. BETTER NOW – Post Malone (25) 21. ALL MY FRIENDS – The Revivalists (26) 22. HUMILITY – Gorillaz featuring George Benson (17) 23. HI HELLO – Johnny Marr (15) 24. CRAZY – From Ashes to New (27) 25. CITY LOOKS PRETTY – Courtney Barnett (28) 26. SUCH A SIMPLE THING – Ray LaMontagne (20) 27. DEAD TO ME – Reality Suite (29) 28. PANIC – Agency Panic (30) 29. QUARTER PAST MIDNIGHT – Bastille (21) 30. TIDAL WAVE – Portugal.The Man (N)