Lyzette’s 25 Best Albums of 2018

As per my originally intended schedule for this list season, I intended on having my list of the Best Non-Hit Singles of 2018 out as of a couple weeks ago. Turns out real life had different plans for me – not the least of which being an actual Christmas holiday sneaking up on me this winter. Additionally, I’ve been teaching myself how to use Final Cut Pro, doing some street photography here and there, and catching up on some books, film, and TV… so all that’s been eating up a ton of my time!

At last, though, I’ve finally been able to sit down and write out a post. As you’ve undoubtedly noticed, though, this is not for my Best Non-Hit Singles of 2018 – that one is still going to take a little more time (there were a lot of good songs last year!). Instead, I bring you my favorite albums of the year! I’ve been really excited to formulate this list all year long; so excited, in fact, that I even went out of my way to compile a list of favorite albums from the first half of 2018. Unlike in previous years, I was actually able to keep up with the seemingly never-ending queue of new albums that were being pumped out all year long. Now that I’m completely caught up, this list is probably as accurate as I could make it (for the time being, anyway).

Instead of following along with last year’s list of 50 albums, I decided to narrow this down to only 25, in an attempt to streamline it to only the best of the best. The only rule I have for this list is that albums must have had been released at some point during the 2018 calendar year. The only order this list will be in is alphabetical – I just wouldn’t be satisfied with any kind of ranking I give these albums! But there is one album I love quite a bit more than the others, which I will make clear later down the line. While there are a lot of obvious picks here, I hope that there’s also enough out-of-the-blue stuff to keep things interesting! First, though, some honorable mentions.

  • Little Dark Age – MGMT: It’s still pretty remarkable to me that MGMT have somehow remained relevant in 2018! Anyway, this pretty damn solid through an through, with “Me and Michael” and the title track being some of my favorite cuts of the whole year. It just barely missed the cut for this list, honestly.
  • In a Poem Unlimited – U.S. Girls: Believe me when I say that I was devastated that this could not make the final cut. This record is spacey and psychedelic as all hell, but also pretty fierce, edgy, and even catchy at points. Certainly one of the most unique-sounding pop albums out there.
  • Musas Vol. 2 – Natalia Lafourcade: I listened to this album while sunbathing during a pretty warm day, and it honestly might just be the best way to listen to it. These soothing Spanish instrumentals paired with Lafourcade’s vocals are just plain exquisite. She gives one of the finest renditions of “La llorona” I’ve ever heard.
  • Die Lit – Playboi Carti: This has got to be one of the most replayable albums to come out this whole year. I love the way Carti subverts the cloud rap genre, helped in no small part by producer Pi’erre Bourne, who is already doing huge things. Sometimes we just need a fun, mindless party record, and this one passes with flying colors.
  • Miserable Miracles – Pinkshinyultrablast: I’ve totally dug everything I’ve listened to from this shoegaze band and this is no exception. It’s dense, buzzy, poppy, atmospheric, and oh so magical. Check it out!
  • Hell-On – Neko Case: Neko Case is a total class act, now and forever. This record in particular is as defined by its lush, jagged instrumentals as it is by Case’s melodic vocal delivery and exquisite songwriting. It’s not my favorite of her albums – but it’s still real damn good.
  • Bloom – Troye Sivan: One of the most blissfully gay albums of the whole year; the title track is a godsend for sure. Sivan has been doing such amazing things lately and I’m excited to see what else he’ll bring us in the future.
  • Turn Off the Light, Vol. 1 – Kim Petras: Halloween-themed things are totally my bag – I had a whole Halloween TV party last year! And Kim Petras’s little record was the soundtrack for my whole October. Girl’s doing amazing things!
  • Honey – Robyn: Definitely one hell of a comeback album. I love records that just make me feel good while I listen to them, and this one fits the bill. It’s just the right blend of retro, lively, and sexy – a great party album, for sure!
  • Loner – Caroline Rose: Perhaps one of the most overlooked albums of the whole year. There are so many varying styles of the “indie rock” brand here, it’s practically mind-boggling. “Money” is especially a simple, fun little jam.
  • Caution – Mariah Carey: Are you kidding me?? If this album came from anyone else, it would possibly be the finest piece of work in their repertoire. Since it’s Mariah, though, it’s just another truly top-tier album to add to the pile. I’ll be spinning “GTFO” until the day I die.

Whew… honestly, this isn’t even the extent of the honorable mentions I wanna place here. But I’ve already gone on for too long without even embarking on the actual list… so here we go. These are my BEST ALBUMS FROM 2018!

Dead Magic by Anna von Hausswolff

Kicking things off with one of the most unusual entries of the bunch. But believe me when I say that this album totally blew me away from the get-go, even if I am relatively unversed in Neoclassical Darkwave. Von Hausswolff’s brooding compositions have the depth and timbre of funeral dirges, while her voice seems to have come from a different sphere entirely. It’s got just the right air of cryptic spookiness to make something this calculating remain intriguing from start to finish. Overall, it’s the perfect kind of album to accompany a long, melancholic walk late into the night.

Best tracks: “The Mysterious Vanishing of Electra”, “Ugly and Vengeful”

7 by Beach House

I’ve been a fan of Beach House since discovering Devotion way back in my early college days, and it always astounds me how they seem to only top themselves with each subsequent album they’ve released since. While their last couple albums had found them in a sort of creative slump, 7 succeeded at breathing new life into the band with the combination of sharper sonic edges and dense, shoegaze-esque textures from song to song. The end result is a sort of mini masterpiece; a collection of absolutely lovely, immersive tunes; a comforting experience that lingers long after it has ended.

Best tracks: “Dark Spring”, “Lemon Glow”, “Dive”, “Black Car”

Streams of Thought, Vol. 1 by Black Thought

Like last year, I will also be including EPs here – and deservedly so, since there were a number of really solid shorter records this past year. Regrettably, I still have yet to listen to Streams of Thought, Vol. 2, but this EP on its own pretty much blew me away. While Black Thought’s bars are undoubtedly great, he is complemented by some truly wicked production from 9th Wonder. Solid, heavy beats, clever, fire bars, and great guest vocalists – can’t really ask for much more from a good rap album, to be honest.

Best tracks: “Twofifteen”, “Dostoyevsky”

Negro Swan by Blood Orange

I must admit that I wasn’t completely won over by Blood Orange with Freetown Sound, my first venture into his work. With this one, though, I finally get it. I fully dig this record’s sleek, urban atmosphere that leans more on the minimalist side of things, elevating some of the more subtle vocal and production elements the color the narrative. There are a number of really strong melodies here, but the instrumentals are also so, so impressive at moments. This results in a lovely, dreamy album that, nonetheless, is tightly produced enough to not overstay its welcome. It’s also so damn empowering, and I sure as hell needed that in 2018. I could listen to this one twenty more times.

Best tracks: “Orlando”, “Jewelry”, “Charcoal Baby”, “Chewing Gum”, “Runnin'”

By the Way, I Forgive You by Brandi Carlile

Leave it to Brandi Carlile to forever remain successful at tugging at the most delicate of my heartstrings. She certainly has one of the all-time best voices in modern-day Americana, and it’s demonstrated time and time again through the length of this album. While there are songs here that have the tendency to not hit as hard as I would like to, it’s more than made up for by the effortless power of some of the more compelling tracks. But through it all, Carlile’s commanding voice remains front-and-center and refuses to falter for even one second. That, more than anything, makes this one of the more engrossing listens of the year.

Best tracks: “The Joke”, “The Mother”, “Fulton County Jane Doe” “Party of One”

Everything is Love by The Carters

Yeah, I won’t win any cool points for this one, but I don’t care. This is, hands-down, my most replayed album of the whole year, and is it really hard to see why? The songs are catchy and confident, the length is a breeze, and Beyoncé and Jay-Z have the most infectious chemistry. But yeah, Bey is definitely the ringleader here, with a personality that effortlessly shines track after track. In particular, I find myself quoting “Nice” very often (“Fuck youuu…”), though that’s certainly not the only one. This was my wind-down album of the year, and I have no shame at all for loving it as much as I do.

Best tracks: “Apeshit”, “Boss”, “Nice”, “Lovehappy”

Chris by Christine and the Queens

I listened to a lot of great pop albums throughout 2018 and I would be remiss to not save a spot on this list for Chris. Essentially every song on here is dance floor-ready, with some like “Girlfriend” being delightfully, surprisingly subversive along the way. Chris has got a great voice, with a vibrant personality to match, and the 80s synth backup driving the album is absolutely to die for. It’s one of the most confident, effortlessly sexy albums of the whole year, and it deserves a hell of a lot more love.

Best tracks: “Girlfriend”, “Doesn’t Matter”, “5 Dollars”, “Goya Soda”, “Whats-her-face”

May Your Kindness Remain by Courtney Marie Andrews

Boy oh boy, this album completely staggered me. I’ve seen Courtney Marie Andrews’s name floating around for a while now, but I somehow never listened to any of her work until this year. Her voice is intensely emotional, though skillfully restrained where it matters. Her songwriting is rich in palpable imagery, which guides the emotional swell of so many of these delicate melodies. In an age where the country music scene feels increasingly shallow (and male-dominated), it’s nice to be reminded that such solid, beautiful country music like this still exists.

Best tracks: “Lift the Lonely From My Heart”, “Rough Around the Edges”, “Took You Up”, “Long Road Back to You”

High As Hope by Florence + the Machine

With the exception of their blip of mainstream success around the turn of the decade, I’ve never paid much attention to Florence + the Machine, though I’ve certainly always admired Florence Welch’s powerful vocals. With High As Hope, demonstrations of this come in spades, accompanied by some impassioned, poetic lyricism. While the band has been accused of hardly straying for their typical sound, I think here their keyboard-driven style here has proven to be some of their most impassioned, impersonal work. Looks like I gotta pay closer attention to the group in the future.

Best tracks: “Hunger”, “Big God”, “Patricia”, “100 Years”

Bark Your Head Off, Dog by Hop Along

Hop Along, on the other hand, is a band that has never failed to impress me with each record they release. Frances Quinlan has one of the best voices in rock music right now, and she continues her songwriting craft rather successfully with this new record. I just love how each track seems to consist of a variety of unique instrumentals that intertwine with each other so seamlessly, making for a rather vibrant, playful album. This somehow remains the case for even the more downbeat songs! This album further demonstrates all the amazing things this band is doing, and I can’t wait for their upcoming output.

Best tracks: “Somewhere a Judge”, “How You Got Your Limp”, “Look of Love”, “Prior Things”

Joy as an Act of Resistance by IDLES

This one came completely out of nowhere for me, but I’m so glad it did. Fiercely political and cleverly hilarious, this is totally the record we need right now. It’s just as much a record for today’s current social climate as it is a universally just-plain-pissed-off hardcore punk cut. These instrumentals attracted me on a totally visceral level – I just couldn’t help but bounce along to so many of these tracks. Moreover, these are some of the more enthralling lyrics I’ve encountered all year. There weren’t many other albums this year that were as much of a punch in the gut as this was, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Best tracks: “I’m Scum”, “Danny Nedelko”, “Love Song”, “Samaritans”

Dirty Computer by Janelle Monáe

And here we are – my favorite album of this whole year. Even before I watched the visual accompaniment to this album (which is also spectacular), I felt like I was taken on a sort of kaleidoscopic journey from the very first listen. Each song seems to possess its own personality, almost its own world entirely. And through it all, Janelle Monáe herself wears her heart on her sleeve and plays ringleader with such exquisite brilliance. And yes, this album is very, very gay – so obviously I was bound to love it! I’ve listened to individual tracks countless times and the album itself in full about ten times – it’s just plain addicting and one of the most fun albums of the entire year. How this isn’t universally recognized as one of the best of the decade is beyond me.

Best tracks: “Crazy, Classic, Life”, “Screwed”, “Django Jane”, “Pynk”, “Make Me Feel”, “Americans”

Everything’s Fine by Jean Grae x Quelle Chris

The very first track of this album introduces us to a stressed dude “flying high on every drug imaginable”, a depressed Fine Arts academic with twenty cats, and a non-human entity from the future all uttering this album’s titular phrase… you could only imagine where it goes from here. This album is a creative, kooky definer of the times, built around the fact that, indeed, everything is not fine. The married couple at the heart of this record have such impeccable chemistry, the likes of which I haven’t seen elsewhere this year (no, not even the Carters could match them). This is one hell of an important album and I’m sure it’ll be rightfully recognized as such in due time.

Best tracks: “House Call”, “Gold Purple Orange”, “Peacock”, “Breakfast of Champions”

Phantom Thread OST by Jonny Greenwood

This one came to me really early in the year and quickly earned a permanent slot in the year-end list eventually to come. I guess maybe my love for its connecting film (and anything P.T. Anderson, really) might’ve influenced my raves on this one, but also it’s genuinely pretty great for what it is. These strings are almost unbearably melodramatic, often melancholic, though there’s enough variance in the minor lyrical details of each track to keep it interesting from start to finish. It’s really no surprise how this one became my most-played reading soundtrack of the year. Jonny Greenwood is an absolute treasure.

Best tracks: “Phantom Thread I”, “The Hem”, “Alma”, “That’s As May Be”, “House of Woodcock”

Golden Hour by Kacey Musgraves

If 2018 will only be remembered for me as the year I discovered Kacey Musgraves, then it was a good year indeed. Alongside richly produced instrumentals, Musgraves shares her unique blending of moment-to-moment observations on life, love, and family. She consistently does an incredible job at staying true to country roots while upturning many of its archaic, traditional values altogether. “High Horse” alone is an excellent example of this, as well as my most-replayed tune of the whole year. I’ll admit time and time again that the country music scene is in a crisis, but it must not be all bad if Musgraves is still around.

Best tracks: “Slow Burn”, “Butterflies”, “Happy & Sad”, “Wonder Woman”, “High Horse”

Isolation by Kali Uchis

In the mess of mediocre R&B albums that have been carelessly flung out these past few years, Kali Uchi’s debut album shines like a gem. Her hooks are sensual and Uchis herself has enough Latin-infused swagger to give this record a glimmering personality. I love the Spanish-language songs the best, but there are others here that seem to completely obliterate the boundaries of Latin R&B completely. It’s tempting to lump her into any number of R&B/pop divas that have broken out recently, but best believe that she’s different. There’s so much potential here for something truly amazing in the future, and I can’t wait for that.

Best tracks: “Miami”, “Tyrant”, “Nuestro Planeta”, ” In My Dreams”, “After the Storm”

Time ‘n’ Place by Kero Kero Bonito

While being pretty impressed by Kero Kero Bonito’s spritely debut from 2016, their follow-up EP TOTEP was slightly less than impressive. This album, though, completely shattered any expectations I had for them. Influenced as much by electropop as by noise rock, the eccentric clashing of styles here is nothing short of awe-inspiring. While certain parts of this work as a perfect little pop record, other parts make sure the listener is always kept on their toes at every turn. All this is led by Sarah Bonito as a strong, essential backbone for the group’s ever-evolving style. Really interesting stuff here, for sure.

Best tracks: “Time Today”, “Only Acting”, “Make Believe”, “Dear Future Self”, “Swimming”

I’m All Ears by Let’s Eat Grandma

Following a trend with this year, it seems, Let’s Eat Grandma (hilarious name, by the way) ended up being among my most cherished discoveries of the year. While the art pop elements of this album are surely pronounced, the duo is not reluctant to insert some more sugary elements into their compositions. Alongside some intentional moments of discord here and there are some lush, layered, and truly gorgeous instances that help define the album into something very special. This all cumulates into one hell of a closer – but you gotta get through the rest of the meat first! Trust me, it’ll all be very worthwhile.

Best tracks: “Hot Pink”, “Falling Into Me”, “Snakes & Ladders”, “Donnie Darko”

Bon voyage by Melody’s Echo Chamber

In 2017, Melody Prochet suffered an undisclosed (as far as I know) accident that left her in the hospital for several months and possibly at the brink of death. She used music to aid in her healing process, and while everyone heals in their own ways, it’s pretty admirable how this album replaces the inevitable depression and melancholy of such a situation with something much warmer and unexpectedly quirky. The instrumentals here are vibrant and even a bit weird, though she makes it work in spite of its unpredictable nature. It’s definitely one of the coolest psychedelic albums of the year, and a great example of how one strong musician refused to let tragedy completely define her art.

Best tracks: “Cross My Heart”, “Desert Horse”, “Visions of Someone Special, On a Wall of Reflections”

Be the Cowboy by Mitski

Mitski’s name has only grown larger since the passing of time since her highly acclaimed Puberty 2 album, and Be the Cowboy showcases her work at the height of her powers (so far). Through a delicate melding of distinctive styles, her emotions range from textured romance, to bitter frustration, to deep, painful sadness. And it’s all through her impressive knack at simplistic lyricism that nonetheless have the potential to break hearts and cause tears to fall. This record comes and goes like a powerful gust of wind, but I could really stand for it to be twice as long. Mitski is one hell of a talent and deserves every bit of love she’s been getting.

Best tracks: “Geyser”, “Lonesome Love”, “Nobody”, “Pink in the Night”, “Two Slow Dancers”

Wide Awaaaaake! by Parquet Courts

Never thought I would highly praise a post-punk album from this the year of our lord 2018, but here we are. This is one of the straight-up grooviest album of the whole year, in the sense that the prominent guitar and bass lines deliver groove after delicious groove from track to bombastic track. From its retro sound (with production helmed by Danger Mouse) to the often politically-charged lyricism, this album proves that the vibrancy and energy of 80s punk still lives on in this very different world. Just a perfectly solid album, really.

Best tracks: “Total Football”, “Before the Water Gets Too High”, “Freebird II”, “Wide Awake”

I’ll Tell You What! by RP Boo

RP Boo is apparently a major creative force behind the subgenre of house music known as footwork – I didn’t know this before listening to this record, but his dominance on the style is all over this album. Throughout the album,  the numerous vocal samples all fold upon each other again and again, alongside extensive drum fills and snares. Although the result is an abstract, formless tapestry, each and every track seems to successfully tell its own story nonetheless. This is just one cool-ass record overall, and it shouldn’t be overlooked.

Best tracks: “No Body”, “Back from the Future”, “At War”, “U-Don’t No”

Your Queen is a Reptile by Sons of Kemet

I don’t often place a lot of jazz records on these types of lists – the entire genre is a major blind spot, I’m afraid – but I could not avoid giving this one a mention. This is some of the best percussion I’ve heard all year; those drums just do not let up! Just as notable as the drums, though, are those impassioned layers of horns, from the lively saxophones to the deep, throbbing tubas. It brings to mind Fela Kuti and his protest symphonies that seem to be endless. A similar energy is captured here – heaven knows we need a record like this to breathe some life back into the earth.

Best tracks: “My Queen is Ada Eastman”, “My Queen is Harriet Tubman”, “My Queen is Angela Davis”, “My Queen is Doreen Lawrence”

Oil of Every Pearl Un-Insides by SOPHIE

2018 was a huge year for bubblegum bass artist SOPHIE, who had been making her name known steadily over the course of the decade. Her debut album works as not only as an introduction to her work, but as a maturation of such. While many of these tracks consist of the same aggressive, mechanical structure that she has been synonymous for, there are also a number of softer, more delicate lyrical tunes here. The result is probably the most futuristic-sounding record of this entire year. It will be really interesting to see how this album holds up with the passing of time, but for now it’s delightfully unlike anything else here.

Best tracks: “It’s Okay to Cry”, “Ponyboy”, “Faceshopping”, “Whole New World/Pretend World”

A Laughing Death in Meatspace by Tropical Fuck Storm

What better way to end this list than with the strangest band/album name pairing on this entire list?? I had no idea what to expect here, and after listening I’m still not entirely sure how to parse this record. These some elements of traditional blues here, but it’s all shrouded by a thick, raw cloud of experimental garage punk – akin to the White Stripes or Black Keys, but much more grungier and dissonant. Of course, there is some structure to the chaos though; in particular, these guitars and bass are so, so good. Pair that with some catchy melodies and politically-charged lyrics, and we’ve got quite a strong record that, quite frankly, needs so much more attention than its name might invite.

Best tracks: “Antimatter Animals”, “The Future of History”, “Soft Power”, “A Laughing Death in Meatspace”

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Lyzette’s 15 Best Hit Singles of 2018

And another one. Now that I’ve gotten my Worst Hit Singles of 2018 out of the way, it’s time to finally dwell more on the positive side of things. After all, there is a reason why I avidly follow each week of the Hot 100 so closely week after week – I genuinely enjoy pop music, and today’s pop music is no exception. Yet even though this past year was full of genuine groans and eye-rolls over what the American public had decided to make popular, not all of it was really all that terrible. In any case, I find that I generally enjoy writing more about the stuff I liked and loved than the music I despised – it’s always nice to look back and reflect on the music that helped me go on day after day, even during the darkest of times.

And yes, there was actually good music this year! Both within and away from the pop charts – although, today we’ll be talking about the former (the latter will come later). As I stated in my previous post, I want to put greater emphasis on the songs that stuck around the top 40 for at least two weeks. Also they must have not been qualified for the 2017 list, blah blah blah.

Okay, you already know the drill. These are my BEST HIT SINGLES FROM 2018!

15) “Barbie Tingz” by Nicki Minaj

Following similarly ranked picks on my Worst list, this single only spent a single week in the top 40, so I’ll put it at the bottom here. While I’ve always been a supporter of Nicki Minaj, I’ve had a love-hat relationship with her fairly recently. Still, there’s no denying that her two big solo singles this year, “Barbie Tingz” and “Chun-Li”, are total bangers. Generally speaking, this one rises slightly above the other and is the one I would bump more regularly. I love the old-school beat and Minaj sounds as confident as ever here. Sure, there are some weak lines here and there, but that’s basically par for the course when dealing with Nicki Minaj. What really matters is that this is a fun, upbeat bit of boastful hip-hop that proves that, even in her more wary times, Nicki can still put out one hell of a bop.

14) “Lemon” by N*E*R*D ft. Rihanna

Yeah, technically this would’ve been a late-2017 hit, but it really started to get a boost in the early parts of 2018. While I’m suspicious that the Drake remix is mainly responsible for this, the original mix is the one I love the most. Pharrell Williams’s production is as poppin’ as ever, with elements of New Orleans bounce thrown into the mix for added party textures. But really, the true star of the show here is Rihanna, who spits enough solid bars to make me convinced that she could put out one hell of a rap album. I still give it a spin from time to time and many of its lyrics have entered my daily lexicon, including, “Don’t drink the Kool-Aid, my friends” and “Count the muthafuckin’ digits”. In a better world, this would have been a top ten smash hit hit – nonetheless, it’s pretty nice seeing N*E*R*D in the Hot 100 in 2018.

13) “APESHIT” by The Carters

Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s collaborative album Everything is Love was released completely out of nowhere and, for me at least, remains one of the most replayable records to come out of the entire year. One of the highlights is, undoubtedly, “Apeshit”, a track pretty much dominated by the Queen Bey herself. Supported by some ominous trap production and backup from Quavo and Offset from Migos, she doesn’t exactly spit the most cutting-edge, unique bars, but boy does she have every right to brag as much as she does. Oh yeah, and there’s a Jay-Z verse in here too, and it’s pretty much what you’d expect from him as well. They’ve both got such great chemistry throughout the course of the album, and this is a good example of such. It may not be my favorite of the Everything is Love tracks, but I am glad it became as big of a hit as it was.

12) “Stir Fry” by Migos

And speaking of Migos. Although Culture II wasn’t nearly as solid of an album as its predecessor, there was still a good deal of solid tracks in the mix… at over an hour and forty minutes in length, I sure would hope so. “Stir Fry” was one of the most interesting, unique singles to come out of the album rollout, with glimmery production from Pharrell Williams (I swear, it was a total coincidence that I ranked three Williams tracks right next to each other). While the discography of Migos tends to consist of song after song that sound ridiculously identical from one another, “Stir Fry” gives us its own blend of shinier, bouncy beats alongside the trio’s typical trap sound. The personalities of the two are also positively vibrant, with their standard flows and ad-libs weaving around each other swiftly and energetically. There’s even a melody of sorts hiding around in here! Sure, this might be the most accessible song that the group have done up ’til this point, but the polished edge sure does wonders for them.

11) “One Kiss” by Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa

Calvin Harris has been on his A-game lately, particularly since the release of last year’s Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1, which garnered him a number of impressively catchy retro bangers. Since his “Promises” with Sam Smith didn’t make as much of a mark on the Hot 100 as I would’ve hoped (it would have definitely made top five for me!!), this will have to do. Don’t get me wrong, though – this song kicks ass. Taking influence from 90s house music, the nostalgic vibes are still on full force here with the mixing that incorporates piano chords, horns, and other groovy, summery sonic effects. Guest vocalist Dua Lipa has been killin’ it lately as well, and her involvement on this track is indispensable. The way she sings, “Something in you lit up heaven in me” is one of my favorite line deliveries of the year, and the end result is something of a toned-down version of Harris’s 2016 hit with Rihanna “This Is What You Came For”. In other words, it’s pure dance floor bliss.

10) “Nice For What” by Drake

I doubt anyone else had a bigger year in music than Drake – which is insane, considering I thought he was totally off the map after 2017’s More Life failed to impress much. While “God’s Plan” was admittedly a grower and had some strong qualities of its own, I never really cared too much about it, other than it coming off as just another song to add to Drake’s brag-rap repertoire. But then “Nice For What” rolled around, and I found myself actually kind of excited for what else he had to offer. The Lauryn Hill sample works better than it has any right to, and its affectionate shoulder-rubs with its bounce style sets it apart from anything else on air – certainly admirable in this age of pop radio.. Is this Female Empowerment™ for the sake of catering to Drake’s audience of young women in order to attempt a second number-one hit? Probably – it sure did succeed at this. Nonetheless, when he says lines like “Workin’ hard, girl, everything paid for” and “You know dark days, you know hard times”… I feel it deep inside. Try as I might to fight it, I can’t ignore when a song makes me feel this good.

9) “All the Stars” by Kendrick Lamar and SZA

When “All the Stars” was released right at the start of the year – alongside Kendrick Lamar’s announcement of his involvement in the Black Panther soundtrack – listeners reacted with discontent and anticipatory skepticism. I must admit, I was in that crowd as well. After all, this is far more polished and conservative than anything else that either of these two artists had put out up until this point. After a few listens, though (as well as the added context of the aforementioned film and my favorite music video of the year), I finally got it. It’s less of a display of the artists’ lyrical talents, but sets itself to be more of a mood setter, a stance typical of soundtrack tunes. But even if this is relatively toned-down, it’s still got the thumping rhythm of its production, the depth of its sonic textures, and the vocal soarings of SZA, who sounds so beautiful and seems to carry the entire song on her back. Lamar, moreover, works as ringleader to the project – it’s not as rough and raw as we’re used to from him, but it doesn’t need to be. Once the end credits of Black Panther rolled around, I finally felt this overwhelming wave of emotion that I knew this song had the potential to grant me – and it continues to do so with every play since.

8) “King’s Dead” by Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar, Future, and James Blake

And now for another cut from the Black Panther soundtrack. When it comes to this song in particular, there seems to be two different camps of listeners: those who think that Future’s verse is unlistenable trash, and those who admire its ambition. If you’ve heard the song, you know exactly which part I’m referring to. Honestly, though, this song is on this list almost entirely due to the sheer magnitude and force of Lamar’s outro verse – it’s basically everything that critics complained wasn’t present in “All the Stars” and thus gave some hope for the remainder of the project. It demonstrates Lamar’s penchant for raw, unbridled bars that seem to go for miles and really helps the whole track end on a bang. But even outside of this section, this is just a really good posse record. I’ve gone out and listened to some more of Jay Rock’s stuff – maybe I’m wrong, but nothing else I’ve found seems to come even a little bit close to the confident, cool flow he spits here. I suspect that the chemistry between the performers plus the production might help heightened the performance in some way. And as for that Future verse? It’s some of the most fun I’ve had with any music all year round. “La-di-da-di-da”

7) “Psycho” by Post Malone ft. Ty Dolla $ign

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking – but I think I get it now. Well, at least with this song anyway. It seems like the theme for pop music in 2018 concerns songs that gradually grow on me with multiple listens over a significant amount of time. For “Psycho” in particular, I never thought much of it until I listened to it during my walk home late at night when a lot of its nocturnal textures really came into view. “Psycho” might not be the best name for it, actually, since the song is pretty damn chill, barely straying from its casual melody from start to finish. There are some pretty subtle-but-strange quirks thrown in here and there, such as the background siren effect almost unnoticeable, but impossible to ignore once you do, and an allusion to Bozo the Clown in the chorus (does anyone in 2018 understand that reference?). Both Post and Ty Dolla emit their general style of boasting about how much money, jewelry, and cars they own, and its basically what one would expect from the rap scene of 2018. Something about this just seems a bit more humanly positive and affirming than other low-energy songs like “Sad!” or even Malone’s own “I Fall Apart” – it comes in lines like Malone’s, “My money thick, won’t ever fold” and Ty Dolla $ign’s sung, “Girl, you look beautiful tonight”. Overall, not too bad coming from the “White Iverson” guy.

6) “Powerglide” by Rae Sremmurd ft. Juicy J

I’ve been a Rae Sremmurd apologist for quite a while now – basically since I discovered both SremmLife and SremmLife 2 sometime in 2016. While I do agree that the duo have yet to make anything else quite as good as “Black Beatles”, I also don’t think they’re nearly as bad as so many make them out to be. Which is why it was so painful to watch the abysmal failure that was SR3MM, their third album that was basically doomed to fail from its trash pile of a marketing strategy alone. While I’m yet unsure if Rae Sremmurd will bounce back from this (at the very least, Swae Lee has got a bright future), “Powerglide” remains a bright spot in this episode. The production from Mike WiLL Made-It is immediately intense from the get-go and doesn’t let go for a second. And yes, it’s true that the beat and chorus heavily sample Three 6 Mafia’s “Side 2 Side”, but differences are absolutely crucial to making this more melodic and party-ready for a more modern age. Swae Lee’s hook is one of the most immediately catchiest of the entire year and I’ve been singing it from the very first listen. Typical of Rae Sremmurd tunes, there are a few pretty weak lines here – I still don’t know what “unintentional flexing” means. Additionally, I’m no big fan of the guest verse from Three 6’s Juicy J, which takes the carefree party vibes of the previous lines and make it explicitly misogynistic. Still, the good parts of this song make it one hell of a banger, so I’m all the more willing to tolerate its minor imperfections. These boys always know how to have a good time.

You know the drill now. Here are the honorable mentions that just missed the cut for this list.

  • “Finesse (Remix)” by Bruno Mars ft. Cardi B: The first thirty seconds of this remix was one of my favorite musical moments of the first half of the year. The early 90s feel is awesome, sure, but it was also our first taste of Cardi’s terrific, playful personality on a major hit single. If we had more of that through the actual track, this would have probably made the list.
  • “Marry Me” by Thomas Rhett: It’s kind of wild that this is from the same guy who gave us the atrocity of “Life Changes”. Sure, this reeks with a whole bunch of whinery about being friendzoned, but it’s also remarkably sincere for what it is. It’s just a nice bit of storytelling through song, which doesn’t come around these parts very often.
  • “Ric Flair Drip” by Offset and Metro Boomin: Pretty typical trap rap, lyrically, but I also find the dense bass and the chorus quite a lot of fun. These bars are good, too. Like I said before, Offset is a great performer when he isn’t too busy being homophobic!
  • “Mine” by Bazzi: Yeah, that “hit it from the back” line just about disqualifies it from the list. Everything else about it is pretty standard teenage lovey-dovey stuff that I actually find pretty sweet and endearing. The spacey, understated production is neat too, though I wish the whole thing were a little longer.
  • “I Like It” by Cardi B, Bad Bunny, and J Balvin: That Pete Rodriguez sample is instantly legendary and Cardi sounds like she’s having a damn good time. I could do without the other two featured artists, but it’s a small price to pay for a totally solid party track.
  • “Chun-Li” by Nicki Minaj: The second of Nicki’s two big solo hits this year. The beat punches a little hard here, but the lines are clumsier – also, I don’t completely buy the whole half-baked Chun-Li comparison. Still, I enjoy jamming out to it now and then.
  • “Candy Paint” by Post Malone: Probably the most solid of Post Malone tracks I’ve heard thus far – it’s kept off the list by only barely making a blip on the pop charts. The production is sparkly and gorgeous and the melody is just so charming. I would best describe it as a sunnier-sounding “Psycho”. I really wish this were a bigger hit over a bunch of his other songs.
  • “In My Feelings” by Drake: Okay, I admit, I fell hard for this track upon the release of Scorpion, all the way to the song’s multi-week run at number-one. While it doesn’t hold up quite as well to numerous plays as “Nice For What” and others, the bounce influence works surprisingly well… and yeah, that hook is one hell of an earworm.
  • “High Hopes” by Panic! At the Disco: If only the production on this track weren’t so overblown and messy (especially at that dreadful final chorus), this would have surely made my top. Nonetheless, fourteen-year-old me is happy to see that Brendon Urie still has a place in the 2018 music scene – although this being P!ATD’s biggest hit ever is questionable.
  • “Speechless” by Dan + Shay: This song dethroned “Meant To Be”‘s 50-week run at the top of the country charts and that alone earns it all of my respect. Besides this, though, it’s a lovely, simple little country song in days were ones like these seem few and far between.
  • “Sunflower” by Post Malone and Swae Lee: Even before I watched the new Spider-Man film, I had this song on repeat for a little while. It’s just adorable and so damn sing-along-able. Gosh, I never thought I would have so many Post Malone songs in a Best list…

Okay, and now onward with my TOP FIVE HIT SINGLES OF THE YEAR.

5) “Never Be the Same” by Camila Cabello

Last year, I didn’t have any time at all to make my list of top hit singles for 2017 – but if I had, I assure you Camila Cabello’s “Havana” (featuring Young Thug) would have been quite near the top, if not the number-one choice. It’s a sensual combination of modern pop-R&B and Latin pop inflections, driven by a feisty piano and mild trap elements that give it a personable edge and make it one of the most enticing singles of its year. What impressed me the most, though, is the degree of agency it gave its lead performer. As a member of Fifth Harmony, Cabello hardly impressed me; moreover, her solo efforts (as featured artist on Shawn Mendes’s “I Know What You Did Last Summer” and Machine Gun Kelly’s “Bad Things”, as well as her first true solo effort “Crying in the Club”) reinforced my intuition as her being just another flash-in-the-pan pop performer. “Havana” gave me hope, though – this young woman has the potential to really do some truly incredible things, given the degree of space she has to really flex her skills.

I’ll admit that “Never Be the Same” isn’t exactly perfect. The lyrics are a tad iffy and Cabello’s voice on the chorus and especially her falsetto on the pre-chorus is… divisive. Nonetheless, the positive qualities of this song have a tendency to pile atop each other, resulting in a blissful bombast of pop goodness. Take the very beginning of the track – via production courtesy of Frank Dukes, we are treated to a dreamy toy-piano-like synth line straight out of Brian Eno’s playbook (no joke!). Camila continues in this deep, husky vocal delivery that perfectly complements its lyrics about love as a serotonin addiction (“Something must’ve gone wrong in my brain / Got your chemicals all in my veins / Feeling all the highs, feel all the pain”). The delivery of the “nicotine, heroin, morphine” line in the pre-chorus, has its haters, but I think it’s a perfect setup for what’s to come next: a chorus of full, unrestrained, helplessly hooked pleasure. In all ways that “Havana” was juvenile and playful, this song is earnest and sultry, which is probably the best logical step for Cabello to take in her career. This has be super stoked to see what else she has up her sleeve.

4) “Boo’d Up” by Ella Mai

Outside of the trap and the mumble rap scenes, there are very few new artists that broke into the top 40 this year – and of those, there are even fewer that seem all that promising, with the potential for interesting, cutting edge stuff in future years. Maybe I’ll be eating my words later, but I really don’t find myself particularly excited for whatever output Bazzi, Anne-Marie, Normani, or Lauv may give us in the next year or the year after that. Enter Ella Mai, an English R&B performer signed by DJ Mustard’s label who seemingly fell from the heavens to offer us the gift of actually interesting, lovely pop ballads! I really can’t tell you what 2000s-era dream cloud Ella Mai derived from, but I’m totally grateful they gave her to us.

This song is also produced by DJ Mustard, and if you know anything about the quality of Mustard’s songs, this should come nothing less than a shock to you. Just as a brief example, he also helped to give us “Freaky Friday” (read about that on my Worst Hit Singles of 2018 list!), which comes across as a super basic backing for any run-of-the-mill Chris Brown failure. A failure, though, this song is not. The backing instrumental is lush and lovely, with small accents of piano and pulsing R&B beats circulating throughout the swaying midtempo rhythm. Ella Mai herself also has a wonderful voice, reminiscent of the crisp cadences of R&B lady-crooners from the 90s and aughts, such as Aaliyah, Alicia Keys, and Ashanti. It’s a pretty little song about being in love and lyrically there’s not much else going on with it (“Feeling like I’m touching the ceiling / When I’m with you, I can’t breathe / Boy, you do something to me”). The highlight for me, though, comes with her iterations of the titular phrase in connection to her heartbeat: “Listen my to heart go ba-dum, boo’d up / Biddy-da-dum, boo’d up”. Clever bits of wordplay like these don’t find their way onto pop radio very often, and it makes for one hell of a hook. While even the best of pop music finds itself suffering from overplay, I’ve yet to grown even a little bit tired of this song – the delicate nature of its instrumental and vocalist seem to only grow better with time. It’s a rare bit of sophistication that is sorely needed in trying musical times like these.

3) “Pray For Me” by The Weeknd and Kendrick Lamar

And now for the final of the Black Panther soundtrack singles to find its way on the list. Upon the surprise release of “HUMBLE.” last year and its subsequent debut at number-one on the Hot 100, Kendrick Lamar seemed to instantly become the name of the hour and has continued to have a very prominent, successful year throughout 2018. Not too bad for someone who has been steadily rising from his underground reputation for the past few years. Similarly in the latter parts of 2015, The Weeknd found himself moving above the underground R&B scene and into the throws of superstardom after he accomplished back-to-back chart-topping singles with “Can’t Feel My Face” and “The Hills”. While he has made some questionable musical choices since then (see “Party Monster” on my Worst Hit Singles of 2016), his influence on the surround R&B culture is unmistakable. It’s only a matter of time that these two unstoppable forces would at least consider collaborating on the track that would combine their lyrical and stylistic abilities into something truly awesome.

The rhythm of “Pray For Me” could probably best be described as “tribal”, fitting in with the thematic nature of the film from whence this comes. Abel gets the first verse here, and boy does he sound terrific – making it all the more infuriating that he squanders his talents with inane shit like My Dear Melancholy,. It’s also just pretty incredible how a line like, “Who’s gon’ save me from myself when this life is all I know?” is something that is as fiercely connected to the content of Black Panther as it is to the cult of personality that is The Weeknd himself. While Lamar’s single verse is, like in “All the Stars”, a sort of watered-down version of what we get from him in his solo efforts, the intensity of his delivery is still ever-present, working incredibly well in this much more polished, radio-friendly production. Said production by Frank Dukes is punchy, driven, and impassioned without taking things too over the top. It’s just a very well-crafted, introspective little track; maybe it isn’t the conventional choice for a top-three pick in a list like this, but it certainly hasn’t overstayed its welcome for me.

2) “Be Careful” by Cardi B

Three out of the top five of my Best Hit Singles produced by Frank Dukes? Don’t mind if I do. Throughout 2018, Cardi B has proved that her potential for greatness extends far and beyond what she gave us in “Bodak Yellow”. From spunky party anthems like “I Like It” to more hard-hitting flex tracks like “Bartier Cardi”, her music alone gives listeners some sense of her palpable personality she freely displays on social media, earning her recognition in the first place. Yet even before the release of her acclaimed debut album Invasion of Privacy, Cardi released a song that would shine a light on some more vulnerable edges of her personality that had never before been revealed. This was further elevated with her performance of this song on SNL, which revealed her pregnancy to the world and further emphasized the weight and importance of the lyrics she vocalizes.

“Be Careful” was released after months of speculation and rumors regarding infidelity on the part of Offset, whom Cardi was engaged to at the time (they have since parted ways). Cardi herself has said that this song wasn’t aimed at Offset directly, but is rather a culmination of emotions she had felt from being wronged in the past. In any case, this song is one hell of a scathing indictment. Through two verses and a couple choruses, she absolutely pours her heart out in what could possibly be one of the most intimate diss tracks in recent years. For many who have ever been cheated on, lines like “You still stutter after certain questions / You still keep in contact with certain exes” are all too familiar. While the whole song remains pretty low-key yet terribly true in their sentiments, I mostly love the lines, “Between a rock and a hard place, the mud and the dirt / It’s gonna hurt me to hate you, but lovin’ you’s worse”. It probably best puts into words the struggle in trying to make it work with someone you love who also hurts you so fucking much. Keeping with the 2000s nostalgia that this year seems infatuated with, these hard-hitting lyrics are brilliantly balanced by a light, airy backing instrumental that also sounds oddly off-kilter, much like a beautiful relationship gone off the rails. Overall, this is probably my pick for the most matured and probably best song that Cardi B has given us so far. In general, we just need more songs where rap goddesses lay off one on their man who’d done them wrong.

1) “No Tears Left to Cry” by Ariana Grande

Nine of my top fifteen hit singles feature women vocalists. Four out of the top five are solo woman performers. This wasn’t exactly intentional, but would you have expected anything less from me? Anyway, I gleefully settled with Ariana Grande for the number-one spot this year. Previously, I named “Into You” as my second-favorite hit single of 2016 – although if I went by this year’s rules for that year, it would have easily topped that list. I still think “Into You” is one of her strongest songs ever, even over this song, yet there were so much fewer bright spots throughout 2018, making this song all the more important to brightening my day in the darkest of times. Grande herself wrote this song from her own place of darkness after a particularly difficult 2017 – though it’s no news that the months surrounding the release of her newest album Sweetener would be accompanied with its own share of stresses and tragedies. She succinctly referenced her particularly tough 2018 with a tweet later this year: “remember when i was like hey i have no tears left to cry and the universe was like HAAAAAAAAA bitch u thought”.

Anyway, I knew from the first listen that this would be somewhere up in the higher rungs of my Best of 2018 list. Producer Max Martin is an absolute master with creating wonderfully layered, fun pop masterpieces, and this is yet another example of his craft. The trance-like opener anticipates a moody, somewhat operatic tune – that is, until Grande guides the tempo into a double-time speed (“I’m pickin’ it up, pickin’ it up / I’m lovin’, I’m livin’, I’m pickin’ it up”), leading to a more upbeat dance-pop vibe that takes over the remainder of the track. Evidently, this seems to parallel the road from deep, dreary depression into happier times, a narrative seemingly told through this dense sonic energy alone. Grande, as always, sounds absolutely beautiful, with vocal tones that perfectly fit the uptempo, danceable qualities of this song, while carrying its own undertones of pain and growth.

Of course, the journey away from a densely depressive episode isn’t quite as easy as a “happy-sad” dichotomy, outlined by the way notes of sadness and despair are lightly peppered into some lines in the verses (“Comin’ out, even when it’s rainin’ down”). Overall, though, this song is mainly about the challenge it takes to overcome oppressive times of trauma and depression – sometimes, you simply just have to will yourself to believe that you haven’t got a single tear left and that it’s time to move on. In dark times like these when getting out of bed and leaving the house seems like a task in and of itself, this song feels like a perfect motivator to get up, leave all your troubles behind, and just dance. Throughout 2018, this has been the soundtrack to the days where dancing is within my realm of possibility – and then just like that, things suddenly don’t seem so insurmountable.

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Lyzette’s 15 Worst Hit Singles of 2018

Here we go, folks! Year-end list season has officially begun, and as I stated in my schedule for list season, this one is first. Posting my list of the worst songs of the year just always made sense to me, since I’m free to just forget they ever existed the second I click ‘publish’!

Enough has been said about the real-life atrocities and bleak darkness of 2018 for me to dwell on those parts of the year – here, I’ll only be talking about the pop music of the year. I’ve got to be honest, though. I’ve been avidly keeping up with the Hot 100 since the tail end of 2015 and while that isn’t really that long at all, it’s enough for me to know that this is the least interested I have ever been in a chart year. I want to be clear with what I mean by that – for the past four years, I’ve been progressively working my way through the top 100 songs of every year since 1957, when the Hot 100 began. I recently wrapped up my overview of 1987, so now I’ve got 30 years of charts under my belt. Out of all thirty of these chart years, with the addition of the four chart years between 2015-2018… I felt like I was wasting my time with this year’s pop songs more often than any other year I’ve covered.

Now there have certainly been worse years, that’s for sure. But with this year in particular, I felt like nothing I listened to was contributing anything new or interesting that didn’t already exist in some form. Continuing from 2017, rap still dominates, with trap and mumble rap being the most prominent this year – but while there were a decent number of songs that were legitimately enjoyable, most of it was just a grimy cloud of drug abuse and gun violence. Pop music is still rearing its head here and there, but the age of the pop star has shifted into non-recognizability and the production of these songs tends to be just plain bad. Rock music has suffered an even poorer fate, with only a couple of bands crossing over into the pop charts and only with messy, blown-out instrumentals and a lack of the energy these bands possessed in the 2000s. The worst songs of the year, though, all had one thing in common: they added absolutely nothing new to conversation and only work to fill up sonic space in uniquely obnoxious ways.

I’ll get more into it down below! Just like last year’s list and the best and worst lists of 2016, songs are only eligible for this list if they peaked within the top 40 and would not have qualified for the 2017 list. For this year, though, I’ll introduce a new rule: songs that have been in the top 40 for at least two weeks will be given priority over all others. 2018 gave us a whole bunch of album bombs and many of these non-singles tracks ranked pretty high on the chart before plummeting the following week. To talk in length about more than a couple of these tracks would just be a waste of time on my part and relatively uninteresting on readers’ parts. After all, it’s far more interesting to gripe about the bonafide, unarguable hits!

And with that, I won’t any more time… on with my WORST HIT SINGLES FROM 2018!

15) “Dame Tu Cosita” by El Chombo

My apologies for leading off this list with some particularly nightmare-inducing single cover imagery. Make no mistake, though, this song isn’t ranked at the bottom because it’s the least bad of any of these. On the contrary, I feel that it’s the least song-like of any of these entries… if that makes any sense. The lone fact that the guy behind “Chacarron Macarron” achieved a Hot 100 hit leaves me pretty dumbfounded overall. And yes, I know that a viral meme is really all to blame for this becoming at all relevant – with this overwhelmingly mindless repetition and unpleasant raunchiness. The sonic equivalent to getting a dentist drill right through the eardrum.


14) “End Game” by Taylor Swift ft. Ed Sheeran and Future

Yeah, the bottom rung of this list is basically a glorified version of the dishonorable mentions. Taylor Swift’s album Reputation is mostly a 2017 release, but January ’18 saw this song nested in the top 40 for a few weeks so I think it’s worth a mention here. While so many ragged on “Look What You Made Me Do” a year ago, I think this song is the real stinker of the album. I’m actually not that opposed to this production – a little bit Swifty pop, a little bit trap – and Future actually makes his short presence worthwhile. Swift and Sheeran, though, are so completely out of their element, it’s laughable. Not to mention the, “Big reputation, big reputation” line, which sounds embarrassingly forced. I suspect that most have forgotten about this cut by now – all the better.

13) “Everyday” by Logic and Marshmello

So, this song only spent a single week in the top 40, but clung around the bottom half of the list to qualify it as a minor hit for rapper Logic and EDM producer Marshmello. While I’ve in the past spewed some vitriol for Logic’s hit last year “1-800-273-8255” (my #2 worst song of last year), I’m actually not totally opposed to Logic as a performer. He tends to have some pretty corny songs here and there, but he also possesses the talent and ability to throw out some pretty cool lines every so often. This, however, is not the song for that. Let’s just take a look at the chorus: “I work hard every mother fuckin’ day / I work hard, I work hard… Today is my day, it’s my day, and no matter what they say / It’s my day, la-la-la-la-la-la”. Yeah, you can probably see what the problem is. While this is my main qualm with the song, he’s clearly just phoning in the rest of the tune lyrically. Marshmello’s backup adds some interesting atmosphere, but it’s useless with no adequate substance to back it up. Best to leave this one behind.

 

12) “RAP DEVIL” by Machine Gun Kelly

Alright, now here we go with the actual hits. And here we got one of the many diss tracks that blew up through the year, this one from Machine Gun Kelly aimed at veteran rapper Eminem. Essentially, while there is some potential here for something truly biting, MGK instead settles for some pretty limp insults. In the chorus, he remarks on his “sweatsuits and corny hats”, and later on he throws punches on such biting subject matter as his choice of reading material (“All you do is read the dictionary and stay inside”) and his height (“How could I even look up to you? You ain’t as tall as me / Five eight and I’m six four”). While there are some creative references to some of Eminem’s past work, these lines are still just as corny as all the rest. Even though I’m not nearly as fond of Em’s response track “Killshot” as everyone else seemed to be (he’s still bad…), at least it effectively elevated the beef while marking Mathers as the clear winner. This, though, is just pointless.

11) “FRIENDS” by Marshmello and Anne-Marie

And now for the second of two Marshmello entries. If I could appreciate this song for one aspect, it’s the fact that the verses possess a fair bit of a punch to its attitude, which is something that can’t be said for the majority of the entries here. Even its pre-chorus ain’t all bad – even if the line, “Don’t look at me with that look in your eye” is just lazy songwriting. Where it all falls apart is in the chorus, which is more mellow and downbeat than this song needs. We could use Demi Lovato’s 2017 hit “Sorry Not Sorry” as a counterexample – yeah, I know it was my #20 worst hit of the year, but at least the buildup to the chorus is delicious and well-rewarded! It also doesn’t help that Anne-Marie just isn’t a good enough of a singer to make these lines really kick. Marshmello’s contribution, as in “Everyday”, is just fine – well, except for that weird G-Funk bit before the final chorus, which just feels forced and awkward. Anyway, this is just a limp, faceless kind of song that really could have been something more… but alas.

10) “Te Bote (Remix)” by Nio García, Darell, and Casper Mágico ft. Bad Bunny, Nicky Jam, and Ozuna

I always feel a little bit bad ragging on non-English tunes, because I know deep inside that part of my dislike for it has to do with my not being fluent in its language and therefore at least a little bit being lost in translation. I have to say, though, that this might have been the very worst reggaeton hit of the year – I could not stand it. I guess having Ozuna sing the main hook wasn’t a good idea, as his voice is easily the most insufferable in the entire gaggle of vocalists featured here. I have no idea how Ozuna has become one of the biggest names in the whole scene, as his voice has never not just been absolutely grating. Bad Bunny, Darell, and Casper Mágico all seem to blend into one another in equally drowsy, absolutely dull flows. Nio García just leaves no impression at all, and while Nicky Jam is easily the best one here, at this point I’m just far too tired to even give much of a damn about his performance. Because this song does, in fact, run for nearly seven minutes. All while mindlessly repeating the same basic, tedious melody again and again, with no variation or switch-up whatsoever – though there is plenty of toxic masculinity to go around, if we’re being honest. This sucks.

9) “Get Along” by Kenny Chesney

Yep… just like my past couple of year-end lists, there will be country music on here. I feel like maybe I’m a bit unfairly biased against the genre, but really it’s only because the state of country is currently at a slump and has been for a while. They aren’t always so obviously bad, though – take this song from country vet Kenny Chesney, for example. The guitar twang is pleasant and the chorus has a casual melody with lyrics about tolerance. That’s not bad, right? Well, this is a country song, so of course there’s got to be some kind of “turn the other cheek” connotation, which does not work in today’s world. The fact that the chorus also co-opts Rodney King’s famous quote (“Can’t we all get along?”) for its own means leaves a bad taste in my mouth. The final nail in the coffin for me, though, was the sexist second verse that comes utterly out of nowhere: “Saw a model on a billboard, 1-800-get to know me / Wondered was she Photoshopped or were her eyes really that lonely?”. I wonder why so many made a fuss about the similar line in Kendrick Lamar’s “HUMBLE.” (and reasonably so), yet no criticism of this particular line seems to exist. Not all country music is bad, sure, but this tune and its success doesn’t give me much hope for the immediate future.

8) “Meant To Be” by Bebe Rexha ft. Florida Georgia Line

And now, inexplicably, the longest running number-one single on the country charts – of all time! II really can’t decide what I hate the most about this song. Is it the basic-ass trap beat undercutting everything? Is it the lame-ass introductory verse (“Baby, lay on back and relax / Kick your pretty feet up on my dash”)? Is it the utterly slapdash nature of that annoyingly repetitive chorus? Is it the way that one guy sings, “Whoa, hold up, girl”? Is it that total joke of a bridge (“Maybe we do, maybe we don’t / Maybe we will, maybe we won’t”)? I’m sure it’s a little bit of everything all at once. I already knew that FGL were bad, but I’m mostly disappointed at the downfall of Bebe Rexha here. Her chorus in G-Eazy’s “Me, Myself, & I” was easily a high point in late 2015/early 2016 pop music, while this one here is just so grating. I’m sure I probably shouldn’t complain that this song runs at under three minutes and thus is here and gone before I know it – considering that it’s a bad song, that should actually work in its favor. But I think its short length only further emphasizes how little effort they placed in cranking this one out.

7) “Life Changes” by Thomas Rhett

And the third and final country song of the list. I had a hard time deciding whether this one or “Get Along” should be ranked higher – but then I decided that the absolute smugness represented in this song’s lyrics made it the worst by a full head and shoulders. It’s even more painful considering that Thomas Rhett also had a hit this year with a song that’s made my shortlist for the best of 2018 (watch out for that one soon!). Anyway, I guess I’m just slightly irritated with songs that brag about making the big time with little to no effort placed in getting there. Sure, hedonism in pop lyrics is a thing, but here Rhett talks about going to college and composing a “notebook full of bad songs” – and poof! Just like that, he’s famous. This same air of nonchalance happens when he describes his wife getting that “blue check mark by her Instagram” and their adopting a child from Uganda, only to have one more on the way. And in between these verses is that just-as-insufferable chorus: “Ain’t it funny how life changes? / You wake up, ain’t nothing the same”. Yes, it’s breezy and catchy, and I’m probably just in the wrong for despising it as I am for hating the similarly breezy, catchy “Simple”. But I guess I don’t need to hear about how great Thomas Rhett’s life is – with him being one of the biggest names in Nashville in recent years, it’s nothing I’m not already well aware of.

6) “Taste” by Tyga ft. Offset

Lately there seems to be this unsettling trend of folks forgetting that Tyga is just as bad of a rapper as he is an awful person. To be fair, though, the utter unpleasantness of this song isn’t completely Tyga’s fault alone. The song was produced by D.A. Doman, who previously produced Chris Brown’s atrocious “Privacy” and, later, “ZEZE” by Kodak Black, Travis Scott, and Offset (which would have probably made this list if it had been released earlier). And yes, Doman also produced “Swish”, which is such a lazy carbon copy of this tune – just listen to it yourself. But let’s get to “Taste” itself! First of all, its main sample loop feels so lazily pasted on and gets old incredibly fast – which is too bad, considering that it goes on and on with absolutely no variation. And these lyrics! Amongst a barrage of typical flexing, Tyga claims that he’ll “stick to your bitch like a spray tan”, while she “sucks [him] like a fuckin’ Hi-C”. Yep, all the same sickening sexism clothed in eye-roll-inducing metaphors. Offset is on here too, which is fine – I generally like him when he isn’t being a homophobic mess! His verse is okay, but it’s clear that he’s phoning it in, chiming in with his signature flow while also getting on Tyga’s level with the line, “Like the way she suck it, suck it like a Jolly”. And I get it – this all has to do with “taste” and it’s multiple definitions. I’ve always just been pretty unfazed by Tyga’s attitude and personality in tunes like “Rack City” and “Make It Nasty” – this is just another one to add to the dull, lifeless pile.

Once again, before we move on to the top five, here’s a short list of dishonorable mentions that I felt deserved to be alluded to, before I presumably leave them behind forever:

  • “Filthy” by Justin Timberlake: I feel like everyone at this point is content to just pretend like JT’s whole Man of the Woods shtick didn’t happen. But boy do I remember it, especially the wretched taste in my mouth I had upon the first and subsequent listens of the lead single, “Filthy”. From the messy production to the annoying lyrics, this is certainly a low point for the pop idol.
  • “The Middle” by Zedd, Maren Morris, and Grey: A good chunk of the pop music from 2018 fits in this irritatingly middle ground (no pun intended) of “bad, but too soulless to give much of a damn about”. While basically following the cookie-cutter formula of Zedd’s “Stay” from the previous year, “The Middle” has a tendency to just go in one ear and out the other, with no big fuss in either direction. It’s a shame that Maren Morris’s career seems to be content on treading this path, considering how promising it started out being.
  • “Wait” by Maroon 5: I actually enjoyed this for the first couple of listens. And then that chorus went from kind of cute to just maddening in its repetition. The song is in the same brand of mindless fluff that Maroon 5’s been churning out the past couple years. More on that later…
  • “Call Out My Name” by The Weeknd: Wherein The Weeknd croons and whines his way through heartbreak in typical melodramatic Weeknd fashion. There’s seriously nothing here that hasn’t already been iterated in a number of songs from the guy, and the bitterness spewed here doesn’t make for a pleasant listen whatsoever.
  • “Esskeetit” by Lil Pump: Lil Pump is often named among one of the “good” mumble rappers, namely for the nonsensical, tongue-in-cheek style he often employs. While I can see the appeal in something as ridiculous as “Gucci Gang”, for example, I just can’t here. The production is grating as hell, and the lyrical repetition, while sarcastic to the core, just doesn’t have enough substance behind it to make it worthwhile. Regrettably, it’s beat is too sluggish to make it even slightly worthwhile!
  • “Yes Indeed” by Lil Baby and Drake: Drake’s had his fingers in a lot of pies these last couple of years, and while I’ve never held nearly the same amount of vitriol that others seem to have for him, his single verse on this up-and-coming rapper’s breakthrough single is about as phoned in as I’ve ever heard him. Literally not a single line sticks out, whereas Baby’s rhymes stick out for all the wrong reasons. I don’t want to get too into it here, but the “Wah wah wah” line just about sums it up.
  • “Yikes” by Kanye West: “Yikes” just about sums up this whole year for Kanye West… honestly, while Ye is the most underwhelmed I’ve ever been about any of his albums, it’s less bad than it is just plain forgettable and throwaway. Still, the Russell Simmons line in this one is worth keeping in mind – just another major failure on West’s part.
  • “Simple” by Florida Georgia Line: This one almost made this list… and then at the last minute, I decided I couldn’t really justify in words why I hate it. It’s as down-to-earth as FGL have ever been, the guitars are pleasant, there’s a cute message behind it… but still. Every time it gets stuck in my head (which is quite often, by the way), I just feel miserable. It’s grating in ways that I can’t quite put to words – so I won’t. I’ll admit I’m probably incorrect in this judgment… but it doesn’t feel like I am.
  • “Mo Bamba” by Sheck Wes: I’m so ridiculously on the fence about this song. For one thing, the on-the-fly freestyle quality of its production really shows, and not in a good way. These lyrics are awful, Wes can’t hold a note, and the repetition of its droning hook really grates after just a few seconds. But then there’s that midway breakdown (you know the one) that almost makes it all worthwhile… until that also gets just as annoying. It’s not as terrible as they say, but it’s also not as good.
  • “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran: It’s true that this was my least favorite hit single from 2017, though I’d confess that much of it was due to the sheer overplay around Christmastime. It’s too bad, then, because the song continued to chart until it finally fell off in October, a good chunk of its run spent in and around the top twenty. Maybe I was a bit too hard on it initially, but I still find it insufferably dull and insipid. I hope Sheeran doesn’t continue to create a career out of wedding ballads – he’s far too talented for that.

And now time for the BOTTOM FIVE OF THE YEAR! (And trust me – these are all real doozies)

5) “Girls Like You” by Maroon 5 ft. Cardi B

While Maroon 5 have been on pretty unsteady ground since they’ve become huge the past few years, it seems that they’ve been particularly bland since about 2016. While “Animals” was at least an interesting kind of bad, it takes me a couple seconds to even decipher the differences between “Don’t Wanna Know”, “Cold”, “What Lovers Do”, and “Wait”. None of these songs add anything new to the conversation, except in the sense that they’ve broadened the dimensions of boredom I can feel while listening to a Maroon 5 song. They’ve never been a great band, sure, but it’s more and more felt like their work is devolving into a characterless, droning sludge with a “Pop Music of the Late 2010s” sticker pasted on it.

And then there’s “Girls Like You”, the song that feels like their magnum opus of sonic monotony. The fact that the introductory guitar is quickly drowned out to the back of the mix only a few seconds into the song should warn listeners what is to come next. And then that first couple lines of the first verse, sung flatly by Adam Levine: “Spent 24 hours, I need more with you / You spent the weekend getting even, woo-ooh”. There’s so little effort made here at lyrical development, it’s almost comical. And then there’s that dreadful earworm of a chorus: “‘Girls like you run ’round with guys like me ’til sundown / When I come through, I need a girl like you, yeah yeah”. That first line alone is as useful of a statement as, “these shoes go with those pants”. In general, though, I just don’t know what I’m supposed to feel from this. Should I feel empowered? Happy? Bittersweet? I feel none of the above. Never mind that they brought in the usually great Cardi B in to do basically her equivalent of Offset’s verse in “Taste”, yet somehow more forgettable. The fact that this went to number-one for seven weeks only proves that a huge amount of people confuse flavorless universality for something more meaningful. This will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.

4) “Sad!” by XXXTentacion

I would like to start this off by saying that my criticisms for this track (and X’s music in general) have nothing to do with the audience who have found their own meaning in his music, especially with helping come to terms with their own feelings of depression and sadness. I am in no position to claim that a person is wrong for leaning toward a piece of media that helped give them a reason to live. Music is especially a great catalyst for this change, and often in ways that we ourselves can’t really quite put into words. It’s one huge reason why I love music so much, and no one is a lesser person for their unique ways of healing through material that just so happens to be problematic.

Thus, I am speaking completely as an outsider to this specific situation when I say that this is a truly dreadful song. And yes, I am speaking primarily of that one line in the hook (“Suicide if you ever try to let go”), but also so much more. See, this song claims to come from a place of heartbreak and melancholy, thus the artist’s repetition of, “I’m sad and low, yeah / I’m sad, I know, yeah”. But that’s not all that’s going on here. Just about everyone knows by now that XXXTentacion very likely assaulted his then-girlfriend, who is the subject of this song. When I wrote about “Look At Me!” as my #10 worst hit song of 2017, I noted that often life imitates art in these ways – a violent, abusive person made this song that glorifies such graphic violence. But there are other ways that one can be violent that do not involve guns and fists. I can personally state that the numerous times that ex-lovers have threatened suicide if I had ever left their side have traumatized me deeply, and it’s taken years for me to overcome this. While there’s only a single other verse in “Sad!”, the lyrical content only highlights the back-and-forth nature of his words: “I gave her everything; she took my heart and left me lonely… I love when you’re around, but I fuckin’ hate when you leave”. By framing the tattered relationship around his hurt feelings and her wrongdoing, it neglects the cycle of abuse that undoubtedly influenced much of his sentiments. It really speaks volumes about how much we as a culture praise the anti-hero that a track as harmful as this became such an unstoppable chart-topper. God help us.

3) “Broken” by lovelytheband

And now for my choice of hit single that I hate and will likely miss the year-end lists of most other pop critics out there. Seriously, if there’s any accolade that I could pin onto 2018 – as far as pop music is concerned – I would title it the Year of the Banal. While songs like “Outside Today”, “Whatever It Takes”, “Lucid Dreams”, “I’m Upset”, “I Like Me Better”, “No Brainer”, “I’m a Mess”, and “Mo Bamba” all missed the final cut upon making this list, I could see eye-to-eye with someone’s reasoning behind adding any of these to their own personal ‘Worst of 2018’ list. What these songs have in common, at least for me, is that in the dozens of times each have passed through my eardrums… I’ve felt nothing. I get no sense of glee, sadness, anger, frustration, or chill from either of these. They all feel devoid of the bl0od, sweat, and tears that have helped compose all the good (and even some of the bad) songs of the past. They all feel pumped out of some music-making machine and not actually written by real-life human beings with experiences and emotions. The act of listening to these songs, then, are nothing less than a miserable experience altogether.

“Broken” also falls into this category for me, but somehow it’s so much worse. I think it’s that main synth riff that drives this song along – the one that is often accused of mimicking a similar riff in MGMT’s “Kids”, a much better song. It’s a masquerade of liveliness in a song where no such thing actually exists. Besides this, though, the whole production of this song feels like it’s unpleasantly drifting underwater, including the nasally vocals of Mr. Anonymous-Lead-Singer. Sure, every year has gotta have its own fluke indie hit but this feels like a total downgrade, with its lyrics about two “broken” people who find each other amidst the monotonous, fake culture around them (“These aren’t my people, these aren’t my friends”). This is a message I can get across, sure, but there’s simply not enough of a drive here to feel at all compelled by the substance at all. The melody in the verses are limp as hell while the chorus sounds only slightly more song-like than a mere chant. The bridge is where it really falls apart, though, where some truly ugly phasing effects are brought in to accompany the insipid junior existentialism (“Life is not a love song that we like / We’re all broken pieces floating by”). I probably wouldn’t hate this song as much if it felt like the folks behind it tried even a little bit to make it shine more than the standard empty gloss of pop radio… but there’s just nothing here to grasp at. It really gives me no hope for next year’s fluke indie hit – and the year after that, etc.

2) “Fefe” by 6ix9ine ft. Nicki Minaj and Murda Beatz

Last year, I stated that 2017 was the year that we allowed a child molester to enter the top 20 of the country’s pop charts. Frustratingly, a handful of other songs from 6ix9ine have stumbled their way onto the Hot 100 this past year. This includes three songs in the top 40 – including this one, which peaked at #3. Really, I could probably just include 6ix9ine’s entire presence on the Hot 100 as the true receiver of this penultimate spot. Every week I look forward to listening to the latest update on the chart, but lately the lingering presence of the New York rapper has been a huge sore spot. I’ve never enjoyed a single song he’s put out, and seeing that he somehow manages to cross over into the pop charts despite the reprehensible nature of his music and self… well, it depresses me.

Honestly, though, “Fefe” took me off guard the very first time I listened to it. While earlier singles like “Gummo”, “Kooda”, and “Keke” demonstrated his distinct scream-rap style that, nonetheless, remained unchanged record after record, this one was very different. While we get a taste of this vocal style at the intro (“It’s fuckin’ Treyway!”), the verses here are softer and more melodic than what we’re used to. Well, I guess it’s melodic for 6ix9ine, as they mainly just consist of the same singular note spoke-sung throughout the entire song. Lyrically, there’s nothing new here – just the same ol’ empty flexing that we’ve been used to from this guy so far, including a line where he names his sex partner the titular “Fefe” (Google it if you don’t know what it is) and an endless barrage of references to gun violence. There’s an “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe” line in the bridge that I’m almost positive this song was built entirely around – hence the monotone speak-singing. This whole song feels like a sick experiment in just how little effort one could put into making a song that will, inexplicably, become a smash on the pop charts.

Of course, the surprise guest on here is another huge reason this had enough clout to become a hit. I generally love Nicki Minaj on principle, but boy, she sure was messy this past year. And one of her many big missteps was, yes, offering a guest verse on a song for a truly reprehensible human being. Though her contribution isn’t particularly bad, in the sense that it’s an autopilot version of her brand of sexual bragging and is, thus, mildly passable as opposed to horrendous (like the rest of the song). But goodness, is it disappointing to see her stoop so low. Although I must give the majority of the blame to 6ix9ine himself. By watering his sound down to something somewhat resembling the mush of formless trap that has been invading the airwaves the past couple years, more and more people are starting to feel like it’s actually fine to support this guy, despite all that he most definitely has done. That might be the most detestable thing about this song overall.

1) “Freaky Friday” by Lil Dicky ft. Chris Brown

I knew this song was going to top this list from the very first time I listened to it. And yes, in a way, this sounds pretty unfair to Lil Dicky, Chris Brown, and producer DJ Mustard, as this song had come out in March, far before the vast majority of the year’s biggest hits had even been released. Nonetheless, I was so appalled by how tasteless and unfunny seemingly every single line was – and yes, the tastelessness is something that I have grown to just accept from Chris Brown, especially after the atrocities that were the Heartbreak on a Full Moon singles. Up until this point, while I would’ve never called myself a fan of Lil Dicky, at the very least I could appreciate the unique perspective that this white, Jewish rapper-comedian had brought to the table. By pairing up with Chris Brown of all people, he seems to be content with shooting himself in the foot.

And it’s not just the fact that he and Chris Brown paired up for a recorded duet. See, this is a novelty track and the entire concept is that Chris Brown and Lil Dicky have mysteriously switched bodies and, thus, identities and realities. It’s like the classic film of the song’s namesake, with the added dimension that now Dicky’s getting a taste of Brown’s fame and fortune, while Brown is enjoying anonymity for a change. I’ve gotta be honest, though – it’s almost solely through that very first verse that this song made its way all the way up here (well, not solely… but we’ll get to those other lines later). Dicky wakes up in Brown’s body and realizes that he can dance, is friends with famous people, and can get any woman he wants. But most importantly – it takes up the entire latter half of the verse, after all – he can finally say the N-word in public. While it is Brown who literally does the singing at this part, listeners are implored to assume that Dicky is singing these parts, making it a truly awkward, nonsensical wish fulfillment fantasy of some kind – it might be the single most reprehensible aspect of this song.

But trust me, there’s so much more to hate about it. Such as Dicky’s character celebrating that he’s now “light-skinned black”, Brown’s character feeling relieved that he can finally let go of his “controversial past”, and plenty of dick jokes galore. All of this is set atop DJ Mustard’s production, which is essentially the most DJ Mustard-y beat imaginable – if you weren’t paying attention, you’d probably just assume this was another basic, run-of-the-mill Chris Brown song (and I wouldn’t blame you). While the joke as a whole is pretty bad, it goes completely off the rails by the end, where Dicky is then inexplicably transported into Ed Sheeran’s body… and then DJ Khaled’s body. Finally, he somehow ends up in Kendall Jenner, immediately declaring “I got a vagina” and his intent to “explore that” – which is an absolute breach of consent and essentially sexual assault. It is this last part that, fittingly, is the final nail in this goddamn coffin – joking about rape and sexual assault is the oldest, dirtiest trick in the book. This song and its subsequent success on the charts has made me certain that we’ve still got a lot of work to do. Let’s make it a goal to be a bit more conscious of what we willingly put in our eardrums through 2019. As for this song, though… fuck it. It’s easily the worst of this year – I’m glad I trusted my initial gut reaction.

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Every Hot 100 Number-One Single: “Stuck on You” (1960) by Elvis Presley

It’s a bit funny that out of all the chart-topping singles that I could have landed on that would’ve been this challenge‘s introduction to the King himself (he has eighteen!), the very first one ended up being one of his least popular. Not “Heartbreak Hotel”, or “All Shook Up”, or “Jailhouse Rock”, or “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” – “Stuck On You”‘s the one! It’s sort of like how the first song that I covered from Michael Jackson was not “Billie Jean” but “Ben”, or how I covered “Don’t Forget About Us” before “Vision of Love”, “Emotions”, “We Belong Together”, or any of the better-known Mariah Carey number-ones. I guess these things are just bound to happen when I let a randomizer guide my way through this project!

In comparison to many of the aforementioned singles above, this particular song is usually considered a relatively less well-known record than some others from Elvis Presley. The most notable fact about this one is that it was the first single Presley released after his two-year leave to the US Army. Thus, it could be argued that much of the cause for this hitting the top of the Hot 100 is Presley’s wave of devoted fans’ anticipation over at last receiving a new song after two years of waiting. Then again, they didn’t really do much waiting after all, given that Presley’s label RCA heavily prepared for his enlisting by recording a bunch of records to be released during his time away from the studio. In fact, ten of these singles would become top 40 hits of their own, including the chart-topper “A Big Hunk o’ Love”. Nonetheless, there was still enough hype backing this single to top the Hot 100 for four weeks, ending the nine-week run of Percy Faith’s “Theme From A Summer Place“. It was Presley’s thirteenth number-one single overall, his first of the 60s, and eventually would become the ninth most popular song of the year.

However, comparing this song to his material from the few years leading up to it makes clear the ways in which this song sticks out. In particular, this song sees Presley using more of his lower bass vocal register, as opposed to his higher, raspier quality demonstrated in early rockabilly-style hits like “Hound Dog”, “Jailhouse Rock”, and “Hard Headed Woman”. Of course, Presley had famously made a name for himself with his unique singing style that balances these lower and higher registers – just take a listen to other songs like “Heartbreak Hotel”, “Love Me Tender”, and “All Shook Up”. The difference with “Stuck On You”, though, is that this bass register sounds much stronger than these earlier hits. While Presley often sounded a bit shaky when reaching these really low parts, he sounds much more comfortable here. This is helped by the much more polished production, elevated by simple instrumentals and catchy backup vocals from the Jordanaires.

Not all of it is strong, though – the lyrics in particular drag this song down in a huge way. A declaration of love to his betrothed, Presley begins the first verse: “You can shake an apple off an apple tree / Shake-a, shake-a, sugar, but you’ll never shake me”. I get the point being made here, but the “shake-a, shake-a” part definitely feels like filler that doesn’t need to be there at all. The second verse continues with, “Gonna run my fingers through your long, black hair / Squeeze you tighter than a grizzly bear”, which an even stranger comparison considering that grizzly bears aren’t particularly known for their hugs. And the inanity of this statement is really about as interesting as this song gets – the bulk of the lyrics really just consist of Presley-style wordless vocalizations (“Uh-huh-huh, yes siree, uh-huh-huh”). The hook is fine and good – “I’m gonna stick like glue, because I’m stuck on you” – but it just makes for a combination of words and phrases that really have nothing at all to do with each other. This sloppiness in songwriting ranks this among Presley’s most forgettable fare.

But then we get to the bridge and… oh, dear. This is a big reason why I can’t get into a bunch of these love songs from the era, with their antiquated tendencies to treat women like their lovers’ possessions. Here he states, “Hide in the kitchen, hide in the hall / Ain’t gonna do you no good at all / ‘Cause once I catch you and the kissin’ starts / A team of wild horses couldn’t tear us apart”. Ignoring the perplexing situation that might require one to resort to “wild horses”, it’s worth considering why this poor woman would be hiding from this guy in the first place. Additionally, I’m then forced to assume that the “kissin'” here is completely one-sided… and buddy, that’s sexual assault.

Nonetheless, I can’t really get too angry with this song. As I mentioned earlier, this is one of his least remembered hit singles, so history has been deservedly neglectful toward it save for Elvis fans themselves. It’s really not hard to see why – there is hardly anything to grab onto as far as a hook or melody is concerned and the songwriting is just dreadful. Presley sounds better than ever here, sure, but he would more successfully execute this timbre with later hits like “Can’t Help Falling in Love”, “Devil in Disguise”, and (my personal favorite Presley chart-topper) “Suspicious Minds”. Anyway, this guy’s career is one of the most gargantuan to ever exist – though the concentration on his music tended to peter out through the rest of the decade, he still topped the Hot 100 five more times. There’s a whole lot more to discuss when it comes to Elvis Presley – let’s consider this one more of an awkward introduction than anything else.

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It’s Year-End List Season! 2018 Edition

Year-end list season is upon us! While I know that eventually I should make more of an effort to move away from lists and into substantial reviews on this site… there’s no denying that lists and especially countdowns are just so fun to do. And readers of this page seem to enjoy them as well, so I’ve no incentive at all to end them completely! While lists get a lot of flak, I’ve always loved them for the convenience of collecting one’s thoughts into one place, making it all the more easier to compare and contrast with others. Year-end lists also feel like a great way to finish up a long, tired twelve months – a sort of ceremonial ribbon atop the accumulation of everything that occurred through that time, and a final goodbye before we all move on to start fresh with a new year. And heaven knows this year has been particularly long and tiresome… so let’s get to it!

So I’m sure you might be asking what lists y’all should be expecting this time around. To quell these thoughts, I’ll lay out which lists I plan on publishing in a rough chronological order. While I do intend to keep on this order for the most part, depending on time and energy, the order in which these are published are subject to change.

  1. Worst Hit Singles of 2018
  2. Best Hit Singles of 2018
  3. Best Non-Hit Singles of 2018
  4. Best Albums of 2018
  5. Best Films of 2018

This basic order depends on a variety of factors. The Worst Hit Singles of 2018 is first because, while I do enjoy writing about what I consider to be the worst songs on the Hot 100 this year, I don’t wish to dwell too much on the negative aspects of the year – there’s already been a hell of a lot of negativity in 2018 that’s not even remotely related to music or film. This is also why I am not writing about the worst non-hits singles, albums, or films; for the latter two in particular, I don’t often seek out those that I know I’ll dislike, so it’ll just be a couple lists of mere disappointments. And yes, I am planning to just get it out of my system first so I’ll have time to gush about the things I do love.

After Worst Hit Singles comes Best Hit Singles. These two are coming before any of the others primarily to coincide with Billboard releasing their annual list of the top 100 songs of the year. The year-end list should be published by Billboard sometime in December, so I plan to have my own lists up slightly before this, if not around the same time. At this time, I don’t know how long these lists will be; the past couple years I’ve done twenty, but I’ve been contemplating making them a little shorter with a list of dis/honorable mentions. Same goes with the other lists – I’ll know when I get there.

Unlike the Hit Singles lists, my lists for Best Non-Hits, Albums, and Films will all rely on stuff specifically released within the calendar year. Currently, I am scrambled to get everything I missed during the year, while also keeping up with new material that has any possible of making my final lists. My personal deadline for the former two is the first week of January, roughly speaking. Nonetheless, I plan to release these gradually from late December ’til about mid-January. The Non-Hit Singles list will come first, since I tend to go through singles a lot faster, while I want to have my Best Albums list up sometime in the next month. Realistically speaking, due to the oddity of the release calendar when it comes to films, I will likely not have the Best Films up until around February. That’s okay, though – I don’t particularly mind having this list coincide with the Oscars!

And in case you desire a more organized version of everything I just stated above, here is a rough list of dates of when I want to have these up:

  1. Worst Hit Singles of 2018: Dec. 1-7
  2. Best Hit Singles of 2018: Dec. 7-15
  3. Best Non-Hit Singles of 2018: Dec. 20-27
  4. Best Albums of 2018: Dec. 25-Jan. 7
  5. Best Films of 2018: early to mid-Feb.

And, once again, all of these date regions are certainly subject to change depending on whatever happens to hop up in my personal life to delay one to all of these, or not.

I’ve been a tad flakey in past years when it comes to these year-end lists, so I really plan on giving it my all this time around. I’ve been preparing for them all very diligently this time around, so I really hope it shows in my final results. I’m super excited to get all of these out and share with y’all my final thoughts about the wild and crazy year that was 2018!!

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