All of the music that moved me in 2018 mirrored my year’s experience. A period of intense growth and self-discovery, the music I found helped me, and in many cases, really challenged me. As I reflect on the songs that meant the most to me this year, I see that the common thread between all of them is honesty.
That’s what 2018 was for me—one of painstaking honesty. I found ways to be honest with myself, even when it hurt, and did my best to be honest with others. The stories told in my top 10 songs of the year reminded me that my vulnerability is important; an asset, even. Honesty elevates art. That’s what made these songs so excellent, and ones that pushed me through a year of uncertainty.
In no particular order, these are my top 10 songs of 2018.
1. Spit // Ian Sweet
Ian Sweet’s Crush Crusher, a record that faces frontwoman Jilian Medford’s trauma head-on, was paramount to my 2018. It’s my favorite record of the year—with this song at the top as well. In “Spit,” Medford sings of a love destined to be doomed, but her partaking in it regardless. It’s a song about a recognition of a loss of control; a theme of my year for sure.
2. Borderline // Ariana Grande
WOMAN. OF. THE. YEAR. PLUS MISSY ELLIOT? IT’S A DONE DEAL.
3. Successful // Ariana Grande
It’s a surprise! Surprise!
4. Leave it in my Dreams // The Voidz
This song was the first one I loved in 2018. The first track following 2014’s Tyranny, a record that I honestly didn’t love, this song renewed my hope in Julian Casablancas and his versatility as a musician. It’s a perfect crush song; one you want to sing to the person you’re infatuated with. “Anywhere with you could change my mind.” Are you kidding? <3
5. So I Don’t Feel Useless // Diana Lopez
SZA follows her on Instagram. Enough said.
6. Coffee Bean // Travis Scott
This song knocked the wind out of me the first time I heard it. It’s the perfect close-out to ASTROWORLD, a mellow and sincerely honest confession of the race and familial relations that warp his sense of belonging in the Jenner/Kardashian family following the birth of his daughter. It’s compelling without being cheesy; it’s honest but doesn’t give away too much. It’s a banger in its own right.
7. Superposition // Young the Giant
This song appeared in the lowest point of my year. It saved me. It’s one that’s aligned itself well with the direction YTG are taking their sound in. It’s also another quality crush song. I love crush songs more than anything.
8. Jinx // Mary Claire
I’ve been obsessed with Seattle-based musician Mary Claire since seeing her at a house show in September. Her debut record, Phantom Limb, is simple, honest, and cuts to the core. In “Jinx,” Claire sings, “Did the thought of my mouth scare you away?” and like, let’s be real, we’ve all felt that way once or twice in our lives. Maybe. Hopefully it’s not just me.
9. What’s the Use? // Mac Miller
What words can be said about the person who popped into our middle school lives and changed them forever?
10. I Don’t Even Smoke Weed // Empress Of
The first time I heard this song, I thought to myself, “They’ll be playing this in Forever 21’s across the world in a week’s time.” The second time, as I paid closer attention to the lyrics, I immediately recognized that the themes of the track centered around romantic abuse. In the track, she sarcastically takes the blame for all mistakes made, both hers and those of her partner. She plays the role of a submissive partner, being put through pain because she doesn’t know or want any better. It’s brilliant.