Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Favorite Songs of 2018 (Part One)

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 are the first five of the countdown; check back for the rest of my list in the coming days.

25. "High Five" by Sigrid

There seems to be a winning formula to Sigrid's music: A vague diss track with gentle, raspy verses and a howling chorus. Rinse and repeat. And you know, if it works, it works. A towering pop track that begs for a dance routine, "High Five" falls right in line. She tip-toes through trickling verses before granting a payoff in a faux-operatic chorus: "Oh, everybody loves a show. Lights on, they all go home. You won't let anybody close. That high five is all you got," she wails through a wall of blaring synths.

24. "Fall" by Sasha Sloan

Viral pop newcomer Sasha Sloan has plastered her name all over 2018, hitting the ground running with two extended plays and a flurry of singles. What starts as something so delicate and fragile turns into a sweeping statement on "Fall." Accompanied by a piano, she begins to ponder the chances of a second chance in a relationship. By the end of the track, a beautiful sea of strings and reverberated vocal lines wash her into an outright plea: "I'm ready to fall in love again. I'm ready to call you up again. I'm ready to talk and be your friend," she sings.

23. "Ignore Me" by Betty Who

After faltered promotion for two records and nearly no traction in popularity growth, the fracture between Betty Who and RCA Records was more respectable than it should have been. The proper close of Betty Who’s short chapter as a major label artist, “Ignore Me” is the send-off that recognizes what her past working relationship gained her, but it begs for a new beginning: “You don’t get to call like it’s last year. We’re here, and you’re still getting it all. The best thing you can do is just ignore me," she sings in the minimalist synthpop track that proves she never deserved to be handed the short end of the stick.

22. "The Middle" by Zedd, Maren Morris and Grey

For a song that over half a dozen people calibrated for success, "The Middle" sure rose to the occasion this year. Bypassing Top 40’s blind obsession with hip-hop and the 12 pop vocalists who did demo takes for the track, it swings into Nashville to grab Maren Morris, glosses her up in a hypnotizing vocoder, and restores glory to dance music, which has been floundering in the current pop music landscape. Does it feel manufactured? Yes. But sometimes something so wrong also feels oh-so right.

21. "Honey" by Robyn

It would have been criminal for Robyn to leave us for as long as she did without returning with a track as stunning as "Honey." Though her album's lead single panders to the hoards of fans she gained by way of Body Talk, "Honey" is a much more progressive dance track that is everything we didn't know we actually needed from Robyn. It is just as thick and sticky as its namesake substance, with its neo-'90s low-fi house beat muffled through a pool of the sweet stuff. Her double-tracked melody is smooth and effortless, getting its energy from the aortic drumbeat below it and left to permeate into the track when that beat is pulled away in the chorus.

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