20. Au/Ra & Camelphat – “Panic Room” (2018)
One of the things that attracts me to a song most is the way in which it creates an atmosphere, and “Panic Room” is a perfect example of this. Everything about it is designed to be a little unsettling, with the simmering beat, the haunting vocals and the random dark synths drawing in. It’s a great piece of songcraft and one that’s ideal for the dancefloor too, so it’s a win-win.
19. Post Malone & Swae Lee – “Sunflower” (2018)
Post Malone may be one of the biggest artists in the world right now, but he’s not someone whose work really cuts through for me, but this is one exception. It’s quite a simple love song at its core, but its low-key delivery and basic imagery make it hit home all the harder. A really good song, and almost certainly the best ever Spiderman soundtrack song.
18. Sigrid – “Mine Right Now”
Sigrid’s debut album “Sucker Punch” was one of my favourites of the year, bringing together a range of songs about young love and heartbreak and delivering them with perfect pop beats and towering vocals. This is one of the best on the album, showing Sigrid at her best vocally while she espouses the feeling of enjoying what is here in the moment before fleeting romances flees.
17. Ariana Grande – “break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored”
This song feels like it puts the Ariana-coined term “big dick energy” into practice, as she swaggers through and talks about stealing someone away from their girlfriend. There’s a lust and a confidence all wrapped up in there, as well as the sort of longing she has that calls like a siren. The tune is slow, it’s calming, and it’s always really satisfying to listen to.
16. Billie Eilish – “bury a friend”
This was the first Billie Eilish song I’d heard, and what struck me about it was the fantastic way in which it created an atmosphere. Using strange noises, such as dentist drills, makes you feel unsettled, so much that you feel almost comforted by the lullaby chorus. While obviously in the darker reaches of her music, it’s not hard to see why this was so interesting and received such attention, and provided such an addiction in an era where chart music can be so bland.
15. Duke Dumont x Gorgon City – “Real Life” (feat. Naations)
Marking the return of two British bastions of the mid-10s deep house craze, this tune brings the best of that genre back. Each step of the song feels slightly different from the verses to the chorus, and it’s excellent in the way it builds through that all, then brings it back to a groove. It’s incredibly catchy and proves how simple music can have a lot of depth to it.
14. Sigrid – “Never Mine”
In many ways this song is an antidote to “Mine Right Now” from the same album, with a much simpler tune but one falling deeper for someone than they feel about you. The deep synths bubble along nicely and it feels very much like an early CHVRCHES tune, and altogether they make up the ingredients of a great song.
13. Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello – “Señorita”
The old duet isn’t so much in style these days, but these two might well have brought it back with this raunchy Latin hit. There is a palpable chemistry in the way the song goes back and forth between the two and the song feels very natural in the way it flows. Normally I find Mendes to be quite annoying to listen to, but here those sharper (whinier) edges are softened out, and Cabello’s raw appeal complements that brilliantly.
12. Charlie XCX – “1999” (feat. Troye Sivan)
This is a pure, fun and nostalgic song – taking us back twenty years and making everyone think about how bloody old they are now. What it does so well is to somewhat mimic the song structures that were so popular back in the late 90s, featuring so many hooks it wouldn’t be fair to name just one, and a turn from Troye Sivan that adds an extra punch to the onslaught of memories. It’s worth checking out the video as well and seeing how many references you can get too.
11. Ciara – “Thinkin Bout You”
While Ciara probably never got as famous as her Justin Timberlake collaboration “Love, Sex, Magic” might have suggested, this track proves she still has talent in abundance. The message is fairly simple, the constant question of whether someone else cares about you as much as you do about them, but it’s delivered with such a longing as a funky groove plays out underneath that it leaves you singing along and repeating it over and over.