My Top 40 Songs of 2018

10.  CNCO & Little Mix – “Reggaetón Lento” [2017]

This one might really be classed as more of a 2017 song, but I only finally relented to it this year.  It features a boy-band v girl-band style of old, whilst featuring the almost mandatory Spanish infusion of pop music from this year.  It’s remarkably catchy, doing the job of the slow groove that the song’s title suggests, and having a chorus that you can sing along to without speaking a word of Spanish.

Above all that though it’s slightly tongue-in-cheek and definitely very upbeat, so it’s one that even though you’ve heard it thousands of times before on the radio you’ll not fail to perk up when it rolls around again.

9. Riton & Kah-Lo – “Fake ID”

Some artists work together so well that all of their songs turn out to be a hit, think Clean Bandit and Jess Glynne.  Riton and Kah-Lo are the same, with UK DJ Riton creating some amazing melodies and Nigerian rapper Kah-Lo providing some brilliant and unique flows over them.

This song was one of my first “car songs”, becoming a staple of my drives to or from work.  Its’ unashamedly underground dance style is so good and lends itself really well to repeat plays, and this is definitely one of the most underrated songs of the year chart-wise.

8.  M.O – “Bad Vibe” (feat. Lotto Boyzz & Mr Eazi)

Making a return this year, M.O’s “Bad Vibe” shows why their R&B flavoured pop is some of the best around.  They only feature on the chorus, but it’s got such a summer vibe and a positive feeling to it that it’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

The verses themselves also are built really well to make the most of the choruses, with the simple Latin beat behind it also doing it’s part.

7.  Cardi B – “I Like It” (feat. Bad Bunny & J Balvin)

The epitome of this year’s Latin invasion of pop music, this is perhaps Cardi B’s most fun song and one that is so very addictive.

The beat behind it is riffed from a 50s song, and then it’s injected with plenty of bass and then skipped over by one of Cardi’s best flows.  She’s full of her signature pomp and self-aggrandisement but also packs in a great chorus that’s always a highlight when featured.

This would be higher up on the list if it weren’t for Bad Bunny & J Balvin being so monotone and frankly uninteresting compared to Cardi, but nonetheless it’s still a bop.

6.  Hailee Steinfeld & Alesso – “Let Me Go” (feat. Florida Georgia Line & watt) [2017]

Speaking of cultural fusion, this song features one of Sweden’s top DJs, the world’s upcoming pop singer, and country’s upcoming bands and manages to fit them all on a brilliant song.

The lyrics to this one are delivered in a really heartfelt way about trying to leave someone on a good note, and it’s underscored by a really nice and simple guitar-based verses before a soaring chorus from Alesso with voices singing over the top.

The whole song probably shouldn’t work as well as it does, but it is phenomenal, and one that’s been on repeat for most of the year.

5.  Avicii – “What Would I Change It To?” (feat. AlunaGeorge) [2017]

The final Avicii entry on the list is also one from his final release last year.  In his return EP, he made a collaboration that made the charts, but the best song was his one with AlunaGeorge.  This is an incredibly moving song, about self-acceptance in the face of despair, and one that I felt captured a sort of positive message to take despite the tragic circumstances of Avicii’s death this year.  One that’s going to stay with me for a while.

4.  Sigala & Paloma Faith – “Lullaby”

There’s no dance artist like Sigala that can manages to make every song full of happiness and have it still be perfect for the dancefloor.  “Lullaby” is a masterclass in dance music writing, with the choruses stringing you along perfectly with a lot of rhythm, the breakdowns having you sing along, and then the drop leaving you with a grin on your face.

Paloma Faith is actually one of the best singers around for these types of songs, as she proved years ago when she teamed up with Sigma for “Changing”.  Here there’s a nice balance of using her voice and then hiding it away behind the beat, before culminating with bringing the two together.  It manages to tell a story with the music that is refreshing and makes for an incredible tune.

3.  Riton & Kah-Lo – “Up & Down”

This year’s match made in heaven, this song has been super addictive and a masterclass in how to build a dance song for a club.  It’s repetitive enough to get the gist of quickly, it’s got some fun lyrics that flow brilliantly and then it’s got a fun and dancey chorus.

It’s simplicity itself, but it’s made for an excellent song that I couldn’t get enough of hearing, make it a staple of pretty much every music listening session I’ve had since its release.

2.  Sigrid – “Strangers” [2017]

Young Scandinavian pop stars are a dime a dozen, but there’s something special about Sigrid.  Even at a young age she’s writing and singing some of the best pop hits out there, and pulling it off with a whimsy and energy that’s magnetic.  It’s impossible not to smile when listening to one of her songs.

“Strangers” is the pinnacle of her career so far, marrying a killer beat with an almost nursery rhyme verse structure that makes it irresistibly catchy.  The breakdowns are so memorable, it’s got rather deep lyrics behind it all (“falling head over heels / for something that ain’t real” rings true for everyone at some point) and then it all builds to a fantastic finale.

1. Cardi B – “Bodak Yellow” [2017]

Quite often it can be a single song that launches a career into the stratosphere, and changes the face of a part of music as we know it.  “Mr Brightside” still makes the charts in the UK as the triumph of indie pop as it introduced us to The Killers, “Levels” by Avicii more recently made EDM the staple of modern music that it is today.  “Bodak Yellow” has done the same by reinventing our relationship with rap music.

Throughout the song it’s a tour-de-force of self-promotion, doing what rappers have always done.  But Cardi B is so effortless in her execution and threatening with her words that she seems like a seasoned pro rather than an Instagram reality star making her first real strides in the game.  Right from the off she’s at the throat of everyone else, and no matter when you hear it first you’re going to pay attention.

But whilst it can be quite a harsh song at times, it’s packed with a sense of humour as well.  Within the tight rhymes there’s many lines that’ll trip you up and make you laugh.

The last song to hit this sort of level was Azealia Banks’ “212”, and while that is still one of my favourite songs, she never really quite captured that feeling in her songs again.  With a string of hits under her belt even after “Bodak Yellow”, though, I think Cardi B’s story will be different.

 

So for another year, that’s that!  Thanks very much for reading and until next year, when there’ll also be a list for my favourite songs for the decade, have a great time!

If you’d like to listen to all the songs above in the form of a Spotify playlist, you can find that below:

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