Kim Petras, “Heart To Break”
Speaking of the LGBTQ community at large, if you went out to a NYC gay bar at any point over the past year (especially in Brooklyn), you’d already know that Kim Petras is a staple in these queer DJ sets. The concept of a “perfect” pop song is subjective, but “Heart to Break” comes pretty fucking close.
Miley Cyrus and Mark Ronson, “Nothing Breaks Like a Heart”
Oh, a heart? Admittedly, it took me a few days to live with this. The video feels a bit like that “Gay Rights!” – Jennifer Lawrence meme. If it’s meant to provide commentary on Miley’s own celebrity obscuring the more serious issues in society (I read many different takes on it to try and ‘get it’), I’m not sure that landed with the general public. Still! What a damn superstar. And who better to slightly bite Dolly Parton‘s “Jolene” than her goddaughter?
Kacey Musgraves, “Butterflies”
Now taking applications to become the boy who makes me feel the way this song sounds. (You probably already know how I feel about this album.)
I love them all individually, but Lisa seems like the obvious Beyoncé of BLACKPINK (to me, anyway), so this was somewhat of a surprise. Still, Jennie held her own as the first to go solo from the group with her first aptly-titled solo offering. That “bichi” (“shining”) sounds like “bitch” exponentially adds to the fierceness of the chorus.
J Balvin, Jeon and Anitta, “Machika”
Yes, we also made (a little) time for straight men in 2018. As I’ve explained in my Top Albums list, Vibras proved irresistible, as Balvin continues to bring reggaeton to new heights. His concert at Barclays was also one of the year’s brighter memories, for sure. And with Anitta thrown into the mix, there was no escaping this all-star collaboration. A smash, indeed!
Speaking of: I got the honor of chatting with the Queen of Brazilian Pop for the first time in 2018, who warned me that this one was on the way. Banana the Snake invited a ton of his friends for a muddy, Spanish-language orgy. (Anitta’s Solo trio is a win, for that matter – this one’s my personal favorite of the three.)
Becky G and Natti Natasha, “Sin Pijama”
Since we’re on a Spanish kick, why not keep it going with the reigning Princess of (Spanish) Pop? In case “Mayores” didn’t make it clear enough in 2017, Becky G is genuinely coming for the throne, as she continued to do in 2018 with Natti Natasha in an oh-so-“Slumber Party”-esque romp.
Inna, “No Help
The ever-prolific Romanian Queen of Pop returned several times in 2018, and her glitchy bilingual banger “No Help” – a flawless tie-in with her Coca Cola sponsorship – supplied all the solo self-empowerment needed for the year.
Still in Spanish, but now in Spain: Rosalía is quite simply a game-changer. An innovator. The past meets the future – and a total delight to hang out with and chat about her career ambitions, for that matter. Tra, tra!
Chungha, “Roller Coaster”
Honestly, the soloists really did it for me in 2018. Chungha, I.O.I. member-turned-solo superstar, started the year off right with the euphoric, fluorescent “Roller Coaster.” The post-chorus (“aaah–AAA-ahhh!“) remained firmly planted in my brain all year long. And she’s a pleasure to talk to!