2018 has been a good year. For me, it’s been jam-packed with new things and experiences. I learned to drive this year and got my first car. I’ve had two amazing holidays, to New Orleans for Mardi Gras back in February and for a week with friends in Portugal. I managed to get one of these blog posts featured in the Sunday Mail. I’ve also been lucky enough to see just about all my favourite bands live this year (LCD Soundsystem, CHVRCHES, The Killers, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Lorde and, for the last time ever, Runrig).
As per usual, music has played a big part in giving my year some sort of soundtrack – proving some extra meaning to some of the best, and worst moments that have gone by.
I don’t often do this, but I think a running theme through this list is that of collaboration – where two artists have come together to make a song that suits them both and is brilliant in its own right. It might be something that’s more common nowadays, but it is noticeable through this list. Another interesting realisation I had was that as far as I can tell all of the songs on this list either are female vocalist only, or have female vocalists as the lead.
Read on to discover the best and brightest songs of 2018 (with a playlist at the end!):
40. Kacey Musgraves – “High Horse”
Kicking off 2018’s list with some spurs is this disco-country special from Kacey Musgraves. Her album “Golden Hour” released back in March is the critics’ choice as number 1 for the year, and it really does show her incredible talent as a genre-spanning singer-songwriter (although for me her best work is still 2015’s Pageant Material).
This tune is a fun and sassy take on people that get too big for their boots, and it manages to take them down while having one of the most enthusiastic and fun songs you’ll hear this year.
39. Cliq – “Wavey” (feat. Alika)
“Wavey” falls squarely into the “hype songs” category as one of the tunes that can kickstart a party or a night out. It’s dark, it’s dancey and it’s designed in such a way that makes it so, so catchy. It has lots of different layers to it, from Alika leading you on throughout the song, the drops that slow themselves down and then a good bass section towards the end.
If you ever need a bit of motivation for a Saturday night, this will set you in the right direction.
38. Hailee Steinfeld & Bloodpop – “Capital Letters”
By no means am I fan of the 50 Shades of Grey films (and I guess not many people are judging from their reviews), but one thing they’ve actually done quite well on is their soundtracks. Each film has had a relatively successful hit come out of the soundtrack. “Capital Letters” follows on this trend, pairing up one of pop’s most underrated singers Hailee Steinfeld with an upcoming producer Bloodpop. It’s simple, it’s cheery and it’s fun – you’ll have “up baby, up we go” stuck in your head for ages after listening to it.
37. Camila Cabello – “She Loves Control” 
With each passing month Camila Cabello’s decision to go it solo and leave Fifth Harmony looks better, as her smash hit album and recurring features have catapulted her to the A-list of modern music. This is one of the more energetic Latin-inspired songs on her album Camila, and shows off her vocal talents as well as having a good beat through it.
36. CHVRCHES – “Graves”
Love is Dead is an album born of the current political climate we live in, and for the first time Lauren Mayberry’s opinions on the wider world come through on songs like this one. References like “bodies washing up on the shore” and “sitting high on your throne and keeping an eye on the door” don’t require Sherlock Holmes to figure out, but all the while the message behind the song is very fun, upbeat and positive, about not giving in to that. I think it’s a very clever way of dealing with more grandiose subjects, and above all it’s just a good song.
35. CHVRCHES – “Get Out”
This was the first track released in advance of Love is Dead, and as such it really did set the expectations from the album, and in many ways it was a rather fitting summary of the album.
Its production is a cut above even the highly-polished Every Open Eye, and the vocals from Lauren Mayberry really are top-notch. It sounds really really good, but the songwriting lets things down a little – with a bit too much repetition.
Overall, I think it does stand out as one of the best on the album, but it’s not as good as it could have been.
34. Calvin Harris & Dua Lipa – “One Kiss”
If you listened to the radio at all this summer you’ll have heard this one from Calvin Harris & Dua Lipa. Harris has been experimenting with lots of different music types over the last few years, and this year he seems to have settled on “90s revival” – and this collaboration is probably his best attempt at capturing the mood he’s going for, and producing a good song out of it.
Dua Lipa’s probably one of the biggest singers in the world right now, and even though it’s a rather “flat” song she delivers one of the catchiest performances to have graced the charts in 2018.
33. Diplo & MØ– “Get It Right”
As far as a winning combination of musicians go, there’s not many more successful than Diplo and MØ. “Lean On” was practically everywhere in 2015, and then “Cold Water” in 2016 was almost as ubiquitous. Again here, on “Get It Right” her vocals float above the rather calming verses, which build into a much more fun and fast-paced drop that inspires a sense of confidence and happiness.
32. Clean Bandit – “Solo” (feat. Demi Lovato)
Ever since they first hit the charts in 2014, Clean Bandit have skewed ever more on to the pop side of music rather than their original electronic style, but I feel with “Solo” they turned back the clock a bit. At it’s core it’s a rather run-of-the-mill song about self-love (ahem), but the production is really good and Demi Lovato is utilised perfectly as a guest singer along with the sound effects in the chorus which definitely helped it stand-out, so much so that it was the most Shazamed song of the year.
31. Avicii – “Silhouettes” 
One of the saddest things to have happened this year was the untimely death of Avicii. I must admit that I hadn’t always been the biggest fan of his music, but his position as a trailblazer for modern dance music is undeniable, and his music always had a very definitive sound that made him stand out from the crowd.
Discovering some of his older classics, this was naturally one of the first ports of call. It’s a song that almost everyone will know, that’s formed the basis of so much Scandi dance music since its release – but even now it still sounds fresh and fun.