Top 30 Songs for March 14-20, 2021

  1. FIRE – Two Feet (6)
  2. DRIVERS LICENSE – Olivia Rodrigo (1)
  3. 1ST TIME – Bakar (5)
  4. HEAT WAVES – Glass Animals (4)
  5. DIRTY – grandson (2)
  6. LEVITATING – Dua Lipa featuring DaBaby (7)
  7. THE BANDIT – Kings of Leon (8)
  9. SOFIA – Clairo (11)
  10. SLEEP – The Frontier (13)
  11. ALL ABOUT YOU – The Knocks featuring Foster the People (14)
  12. MY EX’S BEST FRIEND – Machine Gun Kelly & blackbear (15)
  13. LET DOWN – Michigander (16)
  14. COLD – Chris Stapleton (9)
  15. THE ADULTS ARE TALKING – The Strokes (10)
  16. THEREFORE I AM – Billie Eilish (12)
  17. SHAME – Saboteurs (18)
  18. ESTELLA – Kenny Hoopla featuring Travis Barker (19)
  19. ENEMY MINE – Roadkeeper (20)
  20. WAITING ON A WAR – Foo Fighters (22)
  21. BREATHE – Ships Have Sailed (23)
  22. FIRE FOR YOU – Cannons (17) 20th week on list
  23. SKIN AND BONES – Cage the Elephant (21)
  24. ALL MY FAVORITE SONGS – Weezer (27)
  25. ROSE HIPS – Dawning (28)
  26. TIME TRAVELER – Matt Jaffe (29)
  27. BEAUTIFUL DISGUISE – Melotika (30)
  28. GOOD DAYS – SZA (26)
  29. I NEED YOU – Jon Batiste (N)
  30. NOT DEAD YET – Lord Huron (N)

Top 30 Songs for March 7-13, 2021

  1. DRIVERS LICENSE – Olivia Rodrigo (1)
  2. DIRTY – grandson (3)
  4. HEAT WAVES – Glass Animals (6)
  5. 1ST TIME – Bakar (7)
  6. FIRE – Two Feet (11)
  7. LEVITATING – Dua Lipa featuring DaBaby (8)
  8. THE BANDIT – Kings of Leon (9)
  9. COLD – Chris Stapleton (4)
  10. THE ADULTS ARE TALKING – The Strokes (10)
  11. SOFIA – Clairo (12)
  12. THEREFORE I AM – Billie Eilish (5)
  13. SLEEP – The Frontier (15)
  14. ALL ABOUT YOU – The Knocks featuring Foster the People (16)
  15. MY EX’S BEST FRIEND – Machine Gun Kelly & blackbear (19)
  16. LET DOWN – Michigander (20)
  17. FIRE FOR YOU – Cannons (14)
  18. SHAME – Saboteurs (21)
  19. ESTELLA – Kenny Hoopla featuring Travis Barker (22)
  20. ENEMY MINE – Roadkeeper (23)
  21. SKIN AND BONES – Cage the Elephant (18)
  22. WAITING ON A WAR – Foo Fighters (25)
  23. BREATHE – Ships Have Sailed (26)
  24. TROUBLE’S COMING – Royal Blood (13)
  25. VIRUS – Vanity Fear (17) 21st week on list
  26. GOOD DAYS – SZA (24)
  27. ALL MY FAVORITE SONGS – Weezer (30)
  28. ROSE HIPS – Dawning (N)
  29. TIME TRAVELER – Matt Jaffe (N)
  30. BEAUTIFUL DISGUISE – Melotika (N)

Top 30 Songs for February 28-March 6, 2021

  1. DRIVERS LICENSE – Olivia Rodrigo (2)
  3. DIRTY – grandson (3)
  4. COLD – Chris Stapleton (5)
  5. THEREFORE I AM – Billie Eilish (6)
  6. HEAT WAVES – Glass Animals (8)
  7. 1ST TIME – Bakar (9)
  8. LEVITATING – Dua Lipa featuring DaBaby(10)
  9. THE BANDIT – Kings of Leon (12)
  10. THE ADULTS ARE TALKING – The Strokes (11)
  11. FIRE – Two Feet (15)
  12. SOFIA – Clairo (14)
  13. TROUBLE’S COMING – Royal Blood (4)
  14. FIRE FOR YOU – Cannons (7)
  15. SLEEP – The Frontier (17)
  16. ALL ABOUT YOU – The Knocks featuring Foster the People (18)
  17. VIRUS – Vanity Fear (13) 20th week on list
  18. SKIN AND BONES – Cage the Elephant (16)
  19. MY EX’S BEST FRIEND – Machine Gun Kelly & blackbear (21)
  20. LET DOWN – Michigander (27)
  21. SHAME – Saboteurs (23)
  22. ESTELLA – Kenny Hoopla featuring Travis Barker (25)
  23. ENEMY MINE – Roadkeeper (26)
  24. GOOD DAYS – SZA (24)
  25. WAITING ON A WAR – Foo Fighters (29)
  26. BREATHE – Ships Have Sailed (30)
  27. SATISFIED – Skar de Line (22)
  29. BROKEN PEOPLE – almost monday (20)
  30. ALL MY FAVORITE SONGS – Weezer (N)

Top 30 Songs for February 21-27, 2021

  1. CAN YOU FEEL THE SUN – MISSIO (1) 3rd week #1
  2. DRIVERS LICENSE – Olivia Rodrigo (2)
  3. DIRTY – grandson (3)
  4. TROUBLE’S COMING – Royal Blood (4)
  5. COLD – Chris Stapleton (12)
  6. THEREFORE I AM – Billie Eilish (6)
  7. FIRE FOR YOU – Cannons (5)
  8. HEAT WAVES – Glass Animals (8)
  9. 1ST TIME – Bakar (9)
  10. LEVITATING – Dua Lipa featuring DaBaby (10)
  11. THE ADULTS ARE TALKING – The Strokes (11)
  12. THE BANDIT – Kings of Leon (15)
  13. VIRUS – Vanity Fear (7)
  14. SOFIA – Clairo (16)
  15. FIRE – Two Feet (17)
  16. SKIN AND BONES – Cage the Elephant (13)
  17. SLEEP – The Frontier (19)
  18. ALL ABOUT YOU – The Knocks featuring Foster the People (20)
  20. BROKEN PEOPLE – almost monday (18)
  21. MY EX’S BEST FRIEND – Machine Gun Kelly & blackbear (25)
  22. SATISFIED – Skar de Line (23)
  23. SHAME – Saboteurs (24)
  24. GOOD DAYS – SZA (27)
  25. ESTELLA – Kenny Hoopla featuring Travis Barker (28)
  26. ENEMY MINE – Roadkeeper (29)
  27. CAN I BELIEVE YOU – Fleet Foxes (21)
  28. LET DOWN – Michigander (N)
  29. WAITING ON A WAR – Foo Fighters (N)
  30. BREATHE – Ships Have Sailed (N)

Top 30 Songs for February 14-20, 2021

  2. DRIVERS LICENSE – Olivia Rodrigo (23)
  3. DIRTY – grandson (6)
  4. TROUBLE’S COMING – Royal Blood (5)
  5. FIRE FOR YOU – Cannons (2)
  6. THEREFORE I AM – Billie Eilish (8)
  7. VIRUS – Vanity Fear (3)
  8. HEAT WAVES – Glass Animals (10)
  9. 1ST TIME – Bakar (11)
  10. LEVITATING – Dua Lipa featuring DaBaby (13)
  11. THE ADULTS ARE TALKING – The Strokes (14)
  12. COLD – Chris Stapleton (15)
  13. SKIN AND BONES – Cage the Elephant (4)
  15. THE BANDIT – Kings of Leon (17)
  16. SOFIA – Clairo (16)
  17. FIRE – Two Feet (22)
  18. BROKEN PEOPLE – almost monday (18)
  19. SLEEP – The Frontier (20)
  20. ALL ABOUT YOU – The Knocks featuring Foster the People (21)
  21. CAN I BELIEVE YOU – Fleet Foxes (9)
  22. THINK I’M CRAZY – Two Feet (12)
  23. SATISFIED – Skar de Line (19)
  24. SHAME – Saboteurs (25)
  25. MY EX’S BEST FRIEND – Machine Gun Kelly & blackbear (27)
  26. HEADSTART – Jade Bird (24)
  27. GOOD DAYS – SZA (28)
  28. ESTELLA – Kenny Hoopla featuring Travis Barker (29)
  29. ENEMY MINE – Roadkeeper (30)
  30. MARIPOSA – Peach Tree Rascals (26) 22nd week on list

Top 30 Songs for February 7-13, 2021

  2. FIRE FOR YOU – Cannons (2)
  3. VIRUS – Vanity Fear (1)
  4. SKIN AND BONES – Cage the Elephant (6)
  5. TROUBLE’S COMING – Royal Blood (7)
  6. DIRTY – grandson (8)
  8. THEREFORE I AM – Billie Eilish (10)
  9. CAN I BELIEVE YOU – Fleet Foxes (4)
  10. HEAT WAVES – Glass Animals (11)
  11. 1ST TIME – Bakar (12)
  12. THINK I’M CRAZY – Two Feet (5)
  13. LEVITATING – Dua Lipa featuring DaBaby (14)
  14. THE ADULTS ARE TALKING – The Strokes (13)
  15. COLD – Chris Stapleton (16)
  16. SOFIA – Clairo (15)
  17. THE BANDIT – Kings of Leon (23)
  18. BROKEN PEOPLE – almost monday (19)
  19. SATISFIED – Skar de Line (20)
  20. SLEEP – The Frontier (21)
  21. ALL ABOUT YOU – The Knocks featuring Foster the People (22)
  22. FIRE – Two Feet (25)
  23. DRIVERS LICENSE – Olivia Rodrigo (27)
  24. HEADSTART – Jade Bird (18)
  25. SHAME – Saboteurs (26)
  26. MARIPOSA – Peach Tree Rascals (17) 21st week on list
  27. MY EX’S BEST FRIEND – Machine Gun Kelly & blackbear (29)
  28. GOOD DAYS – SZA (30)
  29. ESTELLA – Kenny Hoopla featuring Travis Barker (N)
  30. ENEMY MINE – Roadkeeper (N)

Top 30 Songs for Jan. 31 – Feb. 6, 2021

  1. VIRUS – Vanity Fear (1)
  2. FIRE FOR YOU – Cannons (3)
  4. CAN I BELIEVE YOU – Fleet Foxes (2)
  5. THINK I’M CRAZY – Two Feet (5)
  6. SKIN AND BONES – Cage the Elephant (6)
  7. TROUBLE’S COMING – Royal Blood (7)
  8. DIRTY – grandson (8)
  10. THEREFORE I AM – Billie Eilish (11)
  11. HEAT WAVES – Glass Animals (12)
  12. 1ST TIME – Bakar (13)
  13. THE ADULTS ARE TALKING – The Strokes (15)
  14. LEVITATING – Dua Lipa featuing DaBaby (18)
  15. SOFIA – Clairo (16)
  16. COLD – Chris Stapleton (17)
  17. MARIPOSA – Peach Tree Rascals (10) 20th week on list
  18. HEADSTART – Jade Bird (19)
  19. BROKEN PEOPLE – almost monday (21)
  20. SATISFIED – Skar de Line (22)
  21. SLEEP – The Frontier (23)
  22. ALL ABOUT YOU – The Knocks featuring Foster the People (24)
  23. THE BANDIT – Kings of Leon (29)
  24. SHAME SHAME – Foo Fighters (14)
  25. FIRE – Two Feet (30)
  26. SHAME – Saboteurs (28)
  27. DRIVERS LICENSE – Olivia Rodrigo (N)
  28. VISITOR – Of Monsters and Men (20)
  29. MY EX’S BEST FRIEND – Machine Gun Kelly & blackbear (N)
  30. GOOD DAYS – SZA (N)

100 Best Songs of the 2010s – #51: “All the Stars” by Kendrick Lamar and SZA

The song at #51 on my list of 100 Best Songs of the 2010s is “All the Stars” by songwriter and rapper Kendrick Lamar and singer-songwriter SZA. One of many outstanding songs featured on the soundtrack for the hit superhero film Black Panther, the gorgeous song is a stylistic departure for Lamar. Unlike most of his rap-heavy hip hop songs, “All the Stars” is highly melodic, with vibrant sweeping synths and lush orchestration, set to a strong thumping drumbeat. His vocals are mesmerizing and powerful as he sings the biting lyrics about duplicity and betrayal, while SZA captivates 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: ” This may be the night that my dreams might let me know / All the stars are closer.”

The song received much critical praise, but also a few withering reviews. Most critics and fans much prefer Lamar’s edgier rap songs like “Alright” and “HUMBLE” for their artistic innovation and how they speak to issues in the Black community – which I certainly appreciate – however, I’m just personally more drawn to this type of beautiful and melodic song. Sheldon Pearce of Pitchfork called it “generic and so nondescript that it reeks of compromise, devoid of personality or any true vision, and pales in comparison to both Lamar and SZA’s recent works,.” Well I say screw him! He’s entitled to his opinion and I’m entitled to mine, and I love it!

The dramatic and richly colorful video, directed by Dave Meyers and the little homies, is visually stunning, and one of the best of the year.

Top 100 Songs of 2018

Screenshot (60)

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.

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.”

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
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
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
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
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
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
95. MAKE IT UP AS I GO – Mike Shinoda featuring K.Flay
96. YOU SHOULD SEE ME IN A CROWN – Billie Eilish
98. PATAGONIA – Patawawa
100. TRANSITION – The Winachi Tribe

Top 30 Songs for May 6-12, 2018

1. THE JOKE – Brandi Carlile (2)
2. PINK LEMONADE – James Bay (3)
3. BROKEN – lovelytheband (1)
4. WHATEVER IT TAKES – Imagine Dragons (4)
5. &RUN – Sir Sly (6)
7. THE NIGHT HAS AN ALIBI – Wons Phreely + the Horses (8)
8. BAD BAD NEWS – Leon Bridges (9)
9. YOU WORRY ME – Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats (5)
12. I FEEL LIKE I’M DROWNING – Two Feet (17)
13. ALREADY GONE – Brett Dennen (14)
14. SATURDAY SUN – Vance Joy (16)
16. THE GOLD – Manchester Orchestra (13)
17. SEVERED – The Decemberists (12)
18. SORRY – Nothing But Thieves (22)
19. SAY AMEN (SATURDAY NIGHT) – Panic! At the Disco (23)
20. WORLD GONE MAD – Bastille (10)
21. CELEBRATE – Dirty Heads, The Unlikely Candidates (27)
22. WITHOUT WALLS – Lyia Meta (24)
23. DEVIL – Shinedown (25)
24. DOUBT – Joywave (26)
25. UNWIND – John Defeo (28)
26. I HOPE YOU’RE HAPPY – Blue October (30)
27. MY MY MY! – Troye Sivan (19)
28. FAVORITE COLOR IS BLUE – Robert DeLong, K.Flay (N)
29. TWO HIGH – Moon Taxi (20)
30. ALL THE STARS – Kendrick Lamar, SZA (21)