Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Favorite Songs of 2018 (Part Four)

Happy holidays and m(ariah)erry C(arey)hristmas, everyone. It is not only time for us all to get holly, jolly, merry, and bright, but also time for us to compile all of the tracks that made this year a bit more enjoyable. For reference, one musical act is allowed to have only one track on the countdown. Below is the fourth and final set of songs in the countdown; click the links to see part onepart two, and part three.


10. "It's Not Living (If It's Not With You)" by The 1975

"It's Not Living (If It's Not With You)," the track that Matty Healy described to Billboard as "the big heroin one" from The 1975's third record, is just that: Packed with a glossy guitar, a children's choir, and an effortless melody, the love letter to the drug is an instant essential in the band's discography. It exudes a strange feeling of sentiment, optimism, and relief in hindsight, though, knowing Healy is clean from heroin as of the album's release.



9. "Make Me Feel" by Janelle Monáe

The sexiest song of 2018 came from the least likely competitor: The once sexually-devoid Janelle Monáe made a splash with her pansexuality... and released the explosive track to confess her existence as a sexual being. “Make Me Feel” capitalizes on Julia Michaels and Justin Tranter’s disjointed, staccato songwriting structures, perhaps better than any song ever has before. And of course, the Prince sample certainly didn’t hurt this song’s already strong case.



8. "September Fades" by Ralph

From the bubbling synths to the vocal swoops and soars, everything about "September Fades" is effortlessly smooth. Ralph's voice runs like fingers across velvet as she laments on falling out of love while her lover is none the wiser: "September fades, but you stay the same. Evergreen. When I'm cold, watch it snow. But you never leave," she sings. The production feels both vintage and current, hitting the right balance of today's synthpop and yesterday's disco. (Plus, if this track doesn't make you want to dance in a vintage suit and a pair of heels behind the closed curtain of a cheap motel, nothing will. What a serve.)


7. "Doesn't Matter" by Christine and the Queens

When singing in English, Christine and the Queens carries herself with a certain bluntness. “If I believe in God, and if God does exist, it doesn’t matter, does it?” she sings over gurgling bass surges and sharp drum kicks on “Doesn’t Matter.” Her instrumentation bends and warps under its own heat, feeling much more human and emotive than the sharp, polished beats of Chris' earlier work. It counters a strong melody without overpowering her double-tracked vocals, resulting in a career redefining moment.


6. "No Tears Left to Cry" by Ariana Grande

Ariana Grande’s first release since a suicide bombing at the Manchester stop on her Dangerous Woman Tour took the lives of over 20 people, "No Tears Left to Cry" is stained with grief but is fueled on optimism: Sleek, disorientating production dances below Grande's pleading – but not showy – vocal melody as she promises to put her grieving period to bed. It’s not only a new career high for Grande, but also the forward-thinking pure pop track that otherwise abysmal Top 40 needed and deserved this year. (And yes, this deserved to be her first number one. Thank u, next.)


5. "Mariners Apartment Complex" by Lana Del Rey

With every album, Lana Del Rey somehow transforms into something a bit more alluring than her last reincarnation. As the introductory track to her upcoming album, "Mariners Apartment Complex" takes her back to the acoustic pop-rock of Ultraviolence – and it marks her most carefree track since... forever. She and super-producer Jack Antonoff craft a beautiful acoustic soundtrack to match her peace. It exudes what a good time it is to be alive for Lana Del Rey – and if she's living her best life, then so are we.


4. "The End of Love" by Florence + The Machine

Whereas Florence + the Machine’s previous albums took the form of deep, quick gasps, their fourth studio record is a calming exhale. As it nears its end, the record encounters its most awestruck moment: "The End of Love," a nearly five-minute story that touches on her struggles with her grandmother's suicide. Never have Florence Welch's foghorn vocals been so exposed as they are here: "We were reaching in the dark that summer in New York. And it was so far to fall, but it didn't hurt at all. Let it wash away, wash away," she wails into an abyss, with only piano making footprints below her.


3. "Slow Burn" by Kacey Musgraves

On tracks like "Slow Burn," Kacey Musgraves proves she is among the best at bottling small town sentiment at the tap. Born in the desolate Golden, Texas, and raised in a nearby town, Musgraves pens this autobiographical ode to carelessness, to going nowhere fast in a town where piercing your nose outrages grandma. In a world of commercialized, prepackaged country made for midwestern radio consumption, "Slow Burn" is country done right – its appeal transcends genre by following its creator's lead, not trying to do anything but exist in the moment.


2. "Fallingwater" by Maggie Rogers

After a breakthrough track like the low-maintenance "Alaska," Maggie Rogers didn’t seem like the type to release an anthem... until she released one encapsulated in a somewhat nonchalant pop shell. "Fallingwater" is a captivating track that flows like a river over a rocky terrain – a smooth appearance in its overtones, with a grainy floor underneath. Its beautiful stonewashed production runs against a persistent drumbeat and Rogers' matured vocals, resulting an organic track that washes over listeners and pulls them into its current.


1. "Lately" by Wet

The most stunning track in Wet’s discography also happens to be the most captivating track of the year. "Lately" turns a defeated energy into a triumphant realization: "I’ve been bending over backwards just to make you feel like you’re wanted. But what have you done for me lately?" sings frontwoman Kelly Zutrau, refusing to let her own energy be expended only for somebody else's stability without anything in return. The track unfolds into a beautiful reclamation of her well-being as her fragile notes cycle between highs and lows with grace over an immersive soundtrack that is quintessential Wet.

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