The year is almost over, and I still loathe lists. In fact, I sat down to do this about seven times and simply couldn’t do it. So…I won’t. And you can’t make me!
Instead, I’m choosing to take you through a very cool, urban and interesting journey through my favorite songs of the year in no real particular order. So please, don’t pay too close attention to how this is all laid out. There is a number one song, though – my favorite song of the year! – and the rest is just delicious musical gravy…and a whole lot of international pop.
Why 60 songs? 50 wasn’t enough. Just go with it.
Without further ado, here are (just some of!) my favorite songs of 2018. You would have already heard every single one of these songs if you were subscribed to MuuTunes, FOR THE RECORD.
Rita Ora, “Let You Love Me”
Do not let your commitment to the “Who?” jokes stop you from recognizing that Rita Ora consistently delivered in 2018.
Lana Del Rey, “Venice Bitch”
In a #NewMusicFriday, streaming optimized world where pop songs barely stretch past the 3-minute mark, Lana Del Rey, in her usual Lana Del Fashion, just said fuck it. No, but actually: “fresh out of fucks forever,” she casually croons in the song’s first few moments. Her 10-minute hazy end-of-summer opus is a promising sign of things to come from next year’s casually titled Norman Fucking Rockwell – real title. God, I love her so much.
That’s not the only album worth getting excited about: with this first taste of what’s to come last month, Dido provided stunning proof that her upcoming album, Still On My Mind, is an early contender for Top Album of 2019. (God, another list?!) One might even say this one…blew me away. (Sorry.)
Rita Ora and Liam Payne, “For You”
A phenomenal pop duet that, surprisingly enough, never got old for me, despite dropping at the very top of the year. 2018 was truly the reign of Queena Ora. Oh, and a cameo from Bear Payne‘s father.
MONDO GROSSO and AiNA THE END, “偽りのシンパシー (False Sympathy)”
One of Japan’s most prolific DJ-slash-producers, Shinichi Osawa, pulled through yet again in 2018 with his captivating and consistently fresh brand of electronic pop as part of his work as MONDO GROSSO. The song is a dream. The video is mesmerizing. It’s about damn time for J-Pop to feel exciting again.
Felix Cartal, “Stop Being Yourself”
A Reverse Warholian self-empowerment EDM anthem sung partly from the perspective of one’s Inner Saboteur that came at exactly the right time in my life.
Ariana Grande, “breathin”
Alright! I’ll be honest: I barely wrote about Ari in 2018 because I wasn’t nearly as enthusiastic about her musical output as so many gays and girls on my timeline were in 2018. (I know. Cue the “I’m weird” meme.) I’m not trying to tear Lady ʸᵘʰ down because she’s the current reigning Queen. I just don’t feel what “Touch It” did for me. Or “Into You.” Or “One Last Time.” I recognize “God Is A Woman” and “No Tears Left to Cry” and “thank u, next” were all big cultural moments – I just wasn’t as moved. I tried! Nevertheless, “Breathin” gave me the closest thing to what I loved about Dangerous Woman.
Bebe Rexha, “I’m A Mess”
As a lifelong Rexhar and a bad bitch, let me tell you something: Bebe knows her way around a mean pop hook. I mean, a record-breaking country record? Sure, why not! Better – or, at least, more attuned to my own taste – is “I’m a Mess,” a kind of 2018 take on Meredith Brooks‘ “Bitch.” Coming from the woman who gave us “I Can’t Stop Drinking About You” and “I’m Gonna Show You Crazy,” it’s clear that Bebe’s just at her best when she’s a mess.
Heize, “Mianhae (Sorry)”
In an industry dominated by cookie-cutter idols, Heize stands apart as a satisfyingly strange solo oddity. Her jazzy and warm Wish & Wind made for a pleasant escape in the beginning of the year, and “Mianhae” in particular – coupled with its seemingly bleak visual commentary on pop stardom (in the vein of Ayumi‘s “Alterna,” Miley‘s “Robot” and Britney‘s “Mannequin”) – provided a thought-provoking experience.
Charli XCX, “Focus”
Sometimes I don’t want to think at all…which is ironic, given the track’s title. But I have worked through hour-long gym sets listening solely to this song on repeat without even noticing or minding one bit. Charli is always a reliable source for a robot-pop romp sent from the future. Focus, focus, focus…