2018 has been a phenomenal year for all kinds of reasons, one of which being the music released in the last 12 months. This year, I have enjoyed so many new songs and albums, from newly-discovered artists to all-time favourites. Many of you will know how much I love and obsess over music, and 2018 has been no exception to that.
Below, I’m going to write about the music I have enjoyed during 2018. I have also created a Spotify playlist with the highlights from this list, so you can check out some of my favourites from this year. Finally, each entry in this post will be linked to a relevant YouTube video of the song, or of a single from the album mentioned. I hope you enjoy, and find some new music to finish off your 2018, or start your 2019 with!
Music Released in 2018
Dodie dropped Party Tattoos on New Year’s Day — I remember it clearly. I’d just watched the London fireworks on the TV with my family, and had brought up Twitter to see what people were saying as 2018 entered into existence. And, out of nowhere, there everyone was, talking about Dodie’s new song — and rightly so! It’s continued to be one of my favourites throughout the year; she performed it in April, when I saw her live in London on her tour. I just love the relatable vibe of the song, and how it embraces youth, and yet recognises its fragility and finite nature.
Expectations has grown to become potentially my favourite album of 2018. Sometimes, I think the phrase ‘gay icon’ is thrown around far too much, labelling anyone who even approaches a member of the same sex as a role-model for LGBTQ+ people. But, in this case, I agree: Hayley Kiyoko is a gay icon, and I love her. I also love how she sings about falling for someone of the same sex, who in turn is with/chasing someone of the opposite sex — it’s just so much more realistic than some songs about homosexual relationships and crushes. ‘He’ll Never Love You (HNLY)’ will always be a proper anthem, whilst Curious will always be a song my friends and I scream at parties. Other parts of the album have a more chilled-out air, and I like how the album fits together, each song really following on from the one before it.
Fenne Lily was the opening support act on Dodie’s UK tour back in Spring 2018, which is how I discovered her and her music. ‘What’s Good’, the leading single from the album, was the song that stuck in my head from her performance, but the whole album — which was released on the same week as Dodie’s London show — is so, so good. The songwriting is truly incredible, and I like the quiet mood that runs throughout the album as a whole, breaking the intensity of loud pop music with some really well-written, well-performed songs.
This song, taken from the soundtrack from the second series of 13 Reasons why, really stuck with me, for one reason or another. I love the message and the story it tells, and have a particular fondness for the chorus. I will always remember an evening in July: one of my close friends and I were getting ready for a mutural friend’s 18th birthday party, and this song came on our playlist. We literally listened to it over and over again, screaming out the words and getting ridiculously excited about a song which, in reality, is pretty average pop.
I love it.
Eurovision — potentially the highlight of my 2018 — came around in May, with the final being just 36 hours before my first GCSE examination. I watched both semi-finals and the Grand Final religiously, using Twitter to get all the gossip, behind the scenes news and interviews. The winner, Toy, was the entry from Israel, and (without spoiling it too much), involves a woman making a chicken noise… I’m still perfecting my impression, but honestly, it’s such a brilliant song. Entries from Cyprus, Finland and Sweden were also notably good this year.
Crush is, for want of a better phrase, just an actual jam. The sentiment of the song — being crazily in love with a crush — is so relatable and honest, whilst the chorus of the song is just a SCREAM OUT YOUR VOCAL CHORDS moment, you know? I also really like the beat of this song, and I can’t work out why; it’s just kind of … *cringes* funky?
I’d never really been a fan of Panic! At the Disco before; their style of music had just never appealed to me. however, I heard High hopes on the radio quite a bit here in the UK, and liked the sound of it, so thought I’d give the album a go — and I’m so glad I did. It’s a lot more rock-like than I’d usually enjoy, but definitely still incorporates many elements of modern pop, and I love the catchy choruses and reflective lyrics. I also love how, often, the music really does go above and beyond to reflect the message or idea of the lyrics, with the tone of the song really being brought to life through the instrumentation and musical writing.
This has definitely been my stand-out album of the year, no questions asked. I have always liked Ariana Grande — more as a guilty pleasure in years gone by, to be honest –, but I feel like this year, I’ve become a true, potentially slightly obsessed, fan. ‘No Tears Left to Cry’ was such a great song to kick off this year’s releases with, and ‘God is a Woman’ is such a feminist anthem; I love it. But there are also some non-single songs on the album, specifically ‘R.E.M’, and ‘Better off’, which really stand out as exceptionally good songs. A lot of people shot down the album because of songs like ‘Blazed’, but they’ve all really grown on me, and each make me feel something unique and special. I particularly like the tribute to the Manchester Bombing victims at the end of the album, after ‘get well Soon’.
Lauren Aquilina hasn’t released music since her debut album, ‘Isn’t It Strange?’ Back in 2016. This latest song is quite a different sound, but I really like it: it’s creepy and slightly chilling, but the emotion in her voice is really clear, and I think the chorus, like other songs on this list, is just so catchy and easy to sing along to.
I study A-level French at college, and so I’m always slightly drawn to modern French pop music. In the UK, at least, we have very little popular music from French artists — in fact, Christine and the queens is, for the moment, probably the be all and end all of French influence on English pop charts. Still, that’s not so bad: her latest album is fantastic! I love that she’s recorded English and French versions of pretty much every song, and there are hence some songs which I prefer the English version for (‘5 Dollars’), and some which I prefer the French version for (‘Comme si on s’aimait’). I’m just so pleased that there is some French music in English pop, and I’m so glad that it comes from Christine and the Queens, with her great sound and the ideas and messages she promotes.
Apart from being, like, the most viewed music video of the year, etc etc, Thank You, Next is, easily my favourite song of the second half of the year. Whilst it is admittedly slightly petty, I love that she dropped it 30 minutes before SNl, in which her ex was performing — savage, Ari. I just think the song’s lyrics are so raw, so honest, and I love the mood of acceptance and moving on, and of learning to love oneself. I’m so excited for the next album to be out; if this is anything to go by, we are really all in for a real treat when it drops in 2019.
So, there you go — my musical roundup for 2018. Do you agree with my selection? Is there anything you think ought to be included, or something new here you’ve discovered? I would love to hear from you in the comments below! What’ve you been listening to this year?