Catalog of Thoughts Music

ITHYP Presents: The 50 Best Songs of 2018 – Part 2

Featuring Drake, Ariana Grande, GOT7, and more.

And that’s a wrap, folks! As promised, here is Part 2 of my 50 Best Songs of 2018! Enjoy, and make sure you share some of your favorite songs of the year with me in the comments section below or hit me up on Twitter so I can retweet all the great music I failed to mention here!

If you missed Part 1, click here. Have a happy new year and I’ll see everyone in 2019!

Click the image above for a full playlist of this year’s list on Apple Music!

25. Becky G. & Natti Natasha – Sin Pijama

You would think “Mayores” would have been the beginning and the end of Becky G., but nah — Becky G. proved her staying power to the world when she dropped the equally iconic club banger, “Sin Pijama.”
Listen Spotify | Apple Music

24. Childish Gambino – This Is America

Childish Gambino flirts with societal tension in one of this year’s most memorable, and perhaps one of the most important singles to reach mainstream appeal.
Listen Spotify | Apple Music

23. GOT7 – Lullaby

GOT7 is at its best when the group delivers exciting up-tempos tethered to infectious melodies, and “Lullaby” delivers that in spades.
Listen Spotify | Apple Music

22. Neon Bunny – Tell Me

Neon Bunny knows how to do electronic music that is joyful to listen to and technically superior in quality to a lot of what is out there in Korean music today, and she lets that talent shine in the bright and intricate “Tell Me.”
Listen Spotify | Apple Music

21. KATIE – Remember

“Remember” offered one of the most hypnotizing vibes of 2018; its swelling, layered production stayed with me all year.
Listen Spotify | Apple Music

20. Cardi B, Bad Bunny & J Balvin – I Like It

This was Cardi’s year. Her music tore through the charts and the souls of millions, providing a lot of us with some of the dopest music, like “I Like It,” that re-energized the world’s love for Latin-infused bops.
Listen Spotify | Apple Music

19. James Bay – Us

James Bay’s bluesy singing resonates beautifully from beginning to end in the delicately crafted ballad, “Us.” It’s intense and powerful and explodes with emotion in its final measures.
Listen Spotify | Apple Music

18. Hyukoh – Love Ya!

I was lucky enough to see Hyukoh live this year, and if I had to choose one of my favorite moments in his entire show, it was vibing to “Love Ya!” with hundreds of others that adore the band’s music as much as I do.
Listen Spotify | Apple Music

17. Drake – Nice For What

It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t show Drake some love on my list, especially for dropping so much piping hot content this year. “Nice For What” pulled back its instrumental to allow the focus to fall on Drake’s slick verses. The idea was for it to feel like a timeless track and Drake nailed it to a T.
Listen Spotify | Apple Music

16. Sunmi – Heroine

Sunmi is living proof that longevity in Korean pop is possible (we miss you, Wonder Girls!), and the extravagant “Heroine” is just another trophy she can add to her collection of hits.
Listen Spotify | Apple Music

15. Ariana Grande – thank u, next

Ariana Grande’s vocals are only a fraction of what makes her such a compelling artist. Another is how fantastic her singles have been, production and composition-wise, the last couple of years. Her recent smash “thank u, next” gave me everything I needed in a breakup song and more.
Listen Spotify | Apple Music

14. H.E.R. – Fate

Deep and immersive ballads over a piano drive me absolutely crazy, so it’s no surprise that H.E.R.’s “Fate” managed to grip my heart and soul with its pounding emotional resonance.
Listen Spotify | Apple Music

13. Pistol Annies – Best Years of My Life

While Pistol Annies delivered a killer moment with “Got My Name Changed Back” (a brave and energetic one at that), I felt completely absorbed by “Best Years of My Life” and its melancholic sweetness. Nothing gets me quite like a Country song, y’all.
Listen Spotify | Apple Music

12. Aseul – Sandcastles

Aseul took me on a mesmerizing journey the first time I listened to “Sandcastles.” It’s such a fluid electro-pop song that doesn’t settle for ordinary, as it unfolds stylistically through a sweet mixture of genres and vocal processing.
Listen Spotify | Apple Music

11. The Carters – APESHIT

Beyoncé and Jay-z gave me the dose of self-indulgence I needed to get me through those times I felt less than. The hypeness; the grandeur; the ferocious attitude – it is all there on “APESHIT.”
Listen Spotify | Apple Music

10. PENTAGON – Shine

2018 will go down as the year that K-pop stepped out into the world as a global phenomenon thanks to groups like BTS, Monsta X, and NCT 127, among others, leading the way in Western dominance unlike ever before. It was also the year that I felt the most detached from that world of music entirely.

Throughout the year, I would read updates and articles from K-pop writers and feel disconnected from their writing, finding nothing that they said inspirational about a culture that once held a beat in my life. Instead, I turned away from noisy Western publications and grew to admire K-pop and Korean culture a lot more simply by investing very little. In doing so I came across a few truly exhilarating moments of ooie-gooie, tooth-achingly delicious K-pop, the best of which came in the form of PENTAGON’s “Shine.”

Listen Spotify | Apple Music

09. Troye Sivan – My My My!

Troye Sivan has come a long way since his humble beginnings. In 2018, the pop superstar (and gay icon) exploded with some of the most infectious music to hit airwaves. Sivan’s Bloom explored the intricacies of his emotional evolution from teen to young adult, and the sensational “My My My!” led the way with a mighty presence.

“My My My!” is one of Sivan’s grooviest releases. It’s also very relatable. I could easily hear it on the soundtrack to my autobiographical coming-of-age movie. The song spins all of my young run-ins with love into a palpitating work of art, and I’m sure I’m not alone. Sivan leans into his melodic strengths with a deep passion here and the result is an electrifying ode to the many layers of romance.
Listen Spotify | Apple Music

08. Crush – Endorphin (feat. PENOMECO & PUNCHNELLO)

Crush understands how to do R&B music and how to do it exceptionally well. What I love about him is that he’s also actively redefining what R&B could sound like, frequently toying with the arrangements of his songs and finding ways of delivering those experimentations without losing his essence as an artist. He offers one of his most compelling productions of 2018 in “Endorphin.”

The song, featuring rappers PENOMECO and PUNCHNELLO, is a throbbing mid-tempo that is surprisingly smooth and seductive. It’s a lustrous four minutes of dreamy chords and glistening harmonies that you’ll get lost in if you’re not careful.
Listen Spotify | Apple Music

07. Ariana Grande – God Is a Woman

If Ariana Grande hadn’t convinced you that she’s a goddamn beast at singing, she made sure to lay it all on the table this year when she started teasing her 2018 album, Sweetener. Her boldest flex came when she dropped “God Is a Woman,” a song that demanded respect right in its title.

What launched this song into another dimension was Grande’s high degree of vocal showmanship. She’s never sounded more confident. Listening to it for the thousandth time, I am still filled with excitement listening to Grande slide into falsetto with ease and shoot a ferocious mixed voice right through me throughout the final arc of this fierce declaration of power. If 2018 marked anything it’s that Ariana is that gal/that bitch/that WOMAN and she’ll be damned if you’re not listening.
Listen Spotify | Apple Music

06. Robyn – Honey

For someone who’s been following Robyn’s career for over a decade, the fact that she made any kind of comeback this year means more than words can amount to, and with good reason. Not only do I love her — some of Robyn’s earliest work defines big periods of my late teens and I’ll hold her music dear for as long as I’m alive — but her music is some of the best that’s out there, period. She’s mastered the art of subtle electronica and her silky smooth voice melts over her music like butter. Or in this case, “Honey.”

Robyn is a gentle soul and she manages to translate her sweetness perfectly in “Honey,” a simple dance anthem that gels rapid-fire verses with a pulsating beat and glitchy synths. It’s the electronic magnificence I’ve come to admire about Robyn’s music. It’s not cluttered or overwhelming, but airy and compelling enough to inspire anyone it reaches.
Listen Spotify | Apple Music

05. SHINee – From Now On

When I found out the news that Jonghyun passed away (December 18th), it was a day before my birthday. I’ve received devastating news many times in my life, but this one really wounded me because of its timing. It tore right through me leading up to the 19th, and since then it has effectively fractured any emotional connection I’ve ever had to those days.

I can’t imagine what Jonghyun was going through in those final moments, and I would prefer not to, but as someone who has battled depression nearly all his life, I felt suddenly vulnerable reading that someone I admired was fighting vicious demons of his own. I’ve had a hard time coming to terms with Jonghyun’s death because of this. I used to see so much of myself in him as a person — at least as much as we were allowed to see — and out of nowhere, I saw so much more. I saw my fate if I let that same darkness take ahold of me, and it scared me.

It’s been a year now and it is still a very raw topic for me to talk about. I’m incredibly grateful to be alive and enjoying myself the best I can. I will never forget how much positivity Jonghyun brought me and his role in shaping my outlook on music. I also want to take a moment to give thanks to Onew, Minho, Key, and Taemin for inspiring strength in all of us. Their resilience has meant more to me than they will ever know. I consider myself immensely lucky to have seen them perform together as five last year, and I will be there again if they’re ever back. So, guys, this one is for you.
Listen Spotify | Apple Music

04. Natalia Lafourcade – Tus Ojitos (Vals de la Guardia Vieja)

In the last couple of years, Natalia Lafourcade has deconstructed her music and reconstructed it again in an effort to honor the heartbeat of her Latin roots. The results have been two albums filled with inspired whisps of traditional Mexican sounds.

The title of those albums explains it all: Musas: Un Homenaje al Folclore Latinoamericano en Manos de Los Macorinos, Vol 1 y 2. Or, an homage to Latin American folklore in the hands of Los Macorinos. Both albums contain rich arrangements of old and new compositions by Lafourcade and her contemporaries, sung beautifully and performed masterfully across an array of traditional Latin American instruments. Deciding on one track to showcase on this list felt like a complete disservice to the groundwork laid out on this project, but I’ll leave you with “Tus Ojitos,” an elegant love song filled with charm and a garden of melodies to savor.
Listen Spotify | Apple Music

03. Janelle Monáe – I Like That

Janelle Monáe made it very clear that no matter what, she was going to stay true to herself, and she relays that sentiment with the groovy “I Like That” off her impeccable 2018 comeback album, Dirty Computer.

Monáe has always experimented in her music, but this is the first time her galaxy of ideas have felt cohesive and polished to perfection. “I Like That” gave us Monáe’s suave demeanor in audio format, jetting out slick lyrics across a dreamy instrumental. It’s a self-empowering anthem that anyone who’s ever been fucked with can relate to, and I’m glad that it’s Janelle Monáe the one spearheading this message.

“I remember when you laughed when I cut my perm off
And you rated me a six
I was like, “Damn”
But even back then with the tears in my eyes
I always knew I was the shit” — Girl, you better tell ’em.
Listen Spotify | Apple Music

02. Kacey Musgraves – Slow Burn

I’m just as surprised as the next person to have fallen madly in love with Kacey Musgraves’ 2018 album, Golden Hour. If you’ve been dying for a fresh Country album stripped of mainstream treatment, you’re at home listening to Kacey Musgraves’ recent masterpiece.

Golden Hour is spirited and deeply emotional, filled with sweet instrumentals and creative arrangements that will leave you breathless if you give yourself into its gravitational pull. One of the songs that does this best is the ethereal “Slow Burn.” It’s a gorgeous mid-tempo that draws you in like a warm embrace. It’s full of heart and honesty that Kacey expresses through magical melodies and subtle instrumental nuances. If there was a song this year that ever brightened my mood completely, it was this one.
Listen Spotify | Apple Music

01. Rosalía – Pienso En Tu Mirá

It feels right to give my girl Rosalía the number one spot on my 50 Best Songs of 2018 list; if not for the masterful work on “Pienso En Tu Mirá,” then at least for the incredible journey she took us through with its release.

This year, Rosalía released all of the songs off the incredible El Mal Querer in chapters throughout the year, giving each enough breathing room to shine on their own, with music videos each to elevate their performance. I knew Rosalía was on to something when she dropped “Malamente,” but I wasn’t ready for how hard she would go on “Pienso En Tu Mirá.” Rosalía marries flamenco with hip-hop elements in such a revolutionary way, that you’d think she had just invented a genre. But it’s this intensity in her music that set Rosalía apart this year. At a time when I was desperately seeking for something that could resonate with me deeper than everything I’ve been listening to for the last few years, she came in and offered the remedy I needed.
Listen Spotify | Apple Music

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