We’re only halfway through the year but 2018 has already delivered some absolute bops, some emotional tear-jerkers and everything in between. We’ve seen some artists like Troye Sivan and Ariana Grande make epic comebacks whilst your old favourites Christina Aguilera and Lily Allen are struggling to get any airplay. Newcomers like Noah Kahan and Anne Marie are dominating radio globally and it’s exciting to hear fresh voices get so well received. In Australia Eilish Gilligan, Mallrat and Didirri are taking over Triple J and are touring Australia playing sold out shows respectfully to excited crowds. Not to mention the movements we’ve seen that have artists speaking up more confidently and expressing themselves like we’ve never seen before. A couple of years ago LGBTQ+ artists were struggling to get mainstream radio airplay and were hiding their sexuality by using incorrect pro-nouns but now radio seems to be dominated by queer artists. Even straight artists like Shawn Mendes are jumping on board and using gender neutral pro-nouns in their songs to show their support. So yeah, it really is an exciting year for music. But lets look at who has some of the best songs of the year so far…
20. Childish Gambino – This Is America
“This Is America” speaks for itself. The politically driven track addresses black lives in America and as apart of their culture in general. The music video also addresses America’s fascination with guns and how they are more protective over the machinery than the victims. It’s a very politically awakening song that makes you stop and think and want to blast it loud so other people can hear it and its powerful message. The brilliant thing is that he manages to deliver all these messages in a respectful way as well as make it catchy, engaging and memorable without it being gimmicky.
Favourite lyric: “This is America, don’t catch you slippin’ now”
19. Alison Wonderland – Church
“Church” may have a less extravagant production compared to ‘Happy Place’ but this song will take you on an emotional and honest journey. She reflects on the toxic people around her as well as realises her self worth and how it is important to get out of that situation. It’s a very important storyline that has an uplifting tone to it. The beat drop is very catchy and takes this song to a new height of emotion. It’s a song that does grow on you with each listen and will end up becoming an anthem you didn’t realise you needed.
Favourite lyric; “Never celebrate your hands on me. You better treat me like church”
18. Didirri – I Can’t Get Last Night Out Of My Head
Didirri finally had a little pop moment with this little vulnerable gem. Lyrically the song is quite simple but it’s very effective with his angelic harmonies and the use of repetition. He reflects on the rekindling of an old flame and how he knows he shouldn’t have but was so caught up in the moment. The production begins acoustically with only a guitar and gradually builds with the addition of percussion, strings, piano and a gospel inspired final chorus. Whilst this may be the boldest we’ve heard him as an artist he also hasn’t compromised who he is as an artist.
Favourite lyric; “I bruise easily”
17. Bebe Rexha – I’m A Mess
‘I’m A Mess’ is a rhythmic pop anthem that is about celebrating your imperfections and insecurities. The New York singer-songwriter does this in a very playful and bold way by addressing all of her own personal self loathing thoughts. It’s very raw and honest but she mixes it up to provide an empowering outlook of positive thoughts that she tells herself to help get through the dark times. The contrast of the two feelings is really powerful and helps create such a special vibe. The production perfectly fuses a rhythmic pop beat with electronic synths and delivers a bold sound that is as catchy as ‘I Got You’, and that’s a massive call.
Favourite lyric; “Everything’s gonna be alright. Everything’s gonna be Ok. It’s gonna be a good good life, that’s what my therapists say”.
16. Robinson – Nothing To Regret
I love a little pop gem and New Zealand songstress Robinson served just that on ‘Nothing To Regret’. The vibrant and emotional pop moment sonically sits somewhere in-between Lorde, Tove Lo and Lana Del Rey. It explores the ups and downs of life by delivering a catchy and punchy chorus with slick indie-pop beats. It’s kind of the anthem for people who are a little lost, hurt, living in limbo and need a reminder to realise that it’s okay to feel like this and to embrace it. After a first listen you will enchanted by her simple vocal delivery along with the vivid imagery and production.
Favourite lyric; “I’m tired of counting myself back to sleep”
15. Sigrid – Schedules
Sigrid is the next big thing and if you aren’t already obsessed with her then you will be. Schedules’ is a sassy but sweet track about falling for someone and not worrying that it may not logistically work and just going with the flow. She is known to release quite sad and vulnerable tracks that reflect on heartbreak, betrayal and confusion but for this song she switches things up and sheds a little ray of positivity and hope. From the opening keys she instantly gives you ‘High Five’ vibes before dropping pulsating synths similar to ‘Strangers’ and completely changes things up. It’s playful, catchy and just delivers a pure euphoria that is hard to explain.
Favourite lyric; “Thought I saw you in the crowd tonight but I know you’re somewhere else, you’re just on my mind’
14. Superorganism – Everybody Wants To Be Famous
Superorganism are not your average band. All 8 members hail from different corners of the world and came together via social media before relocating to London where they are now based. This bold track holds onto their psychedelic pop vibe and experiments with a heavier pop finish. The euphoric and playful hook will be instantly stuck in your head and will truly drive you to push replay as soon as it finishes. Lyrically it looks at a fictional history of the band with a rise and fall from fame by selling out to advertisers. It’s a very strange concept that works so perfectly with the bands colourful personality.
Favourite lyric; “Everybody wants and nobody’s ashamed. Everybody wants you to know their name”
13. Troye Sivan – My My My
From the very first listen ’My My My’ will have you captivated, ready to dance and have you feeling all the feels. It’s an euphoric pop anthem that is all about liberation, freedom and love. It’s one of his most upbeat and feel good songs that celebrates being in love and having that strong connection with someone. It’s a very strong comeback for someone who truly is an incredible voice for the LGBT and young adult community. His follow up single ‘Bloom’ was a little more risqué but continued the anthem and bod production.
Favourite lyric; “Oh my, my, my! I die every night with you”.
12. Noah Kahan feat. Julia Michaels – Hurt Somebody
In 2017 Noah Kahan introduced his vulnerable and intimate guitar lead tracks to the world with the breakthrough hit “Young Blood”. But 2018 is shaping up to be a even bigger year for the singer-songwriter after the massive success of ‘Hurt Somebody’. This emotionally raw song looks at a break up and having to hurt somebody when you really don’t want to because you still have feelings for them. The chorus has this uplifting melody to it which will be instantly stuck in your head and when you realise what the lyrics are saying your heart will break a little. But you can’t help but want to keep listening and pushing replay because it’s such a beautiful song.
Favourite lyric; “Hold me close and I won’t leave, cause it hurts when you hurt somebody”.
11. Panic! At The Disco – High Hopes
Even with a constant changing line up there are two things that haven’t changed about Panic! At The Disco and that’s Brendon Urie’s vocal and lyric impact as well as the adoring fanbase they have captivated. Their sixth studio album ‘Pray For The Wicked’ hears them continuing the heavy pop directed sound their last record ‘Death Of A Bachelor’ introduced along with a slicker production full of horns, trumpets and strings. The epic ‘High Hopes’ is the albums crowning moment with it’s epic and empowering hook that you can’t help but singalong to. It comes by no surprise that this song is quickly climbing the charts and receiving heavy radio airplay because it really is one of the best feel good tracks of the year.
Favourite lyric; “Stay up on that rise and never come down”
10. Eilish Gilligan – S.M.F.Y.
Over the last year Melbourne singer-songwriter Eilish Gilligan has delivered some memorable alternative pop tracks with big heart and a lot of emotion. But she kicked off 2018 with the release of “S.M.F.Y” which heard her heading towards a more polished pop sound. She doesn’t sacrifice her original sound and instead shows an impressive growth where she’s adapted and evolved as an artist. There are so many things I love about this song but one of the things that first grabbed my attention was the unusual and captivating structure. The track doesn’t have your typical verse, chorus format and instead hears the production growing along with the storyline until the vibrant production breakdown at the end which will have you wanting to dance around like no one is watching. Lyrically the song is a bit of a rollercoaster of emotions. It reflects on a relationship that has ended and having to come to terms with the fact that it’s over but not being able to stop thinking about them. Instead of it being super sad its more reflective and a positive tribute to who they used to be.
Favourite lyric; “Cause wasn’t it the truth, so magic finding you”.
9. 5 Seconds Of Summer – Youngblood
2018 is apparently the year I’ve become a 5 Seconds Of Summer fan. I never thought I would actually say those words but it’s happening. Their new record hears them experimenting with a groovier sound full of pulsating synths, banging drums and killer choruses. They are moving further and further away from their pop-punk sound and to be honest they’ve become almost unrecognisable. This honest track looks at a relationship where they’ve reached breaking point and they push each other away but it’s still so confusing saying goodbye as there is still strong feelings involved. The production is very experimental and hears them switching up the sound during the hook with a more rhythmic and commanding delivery. The whole time I was listening to this song I was impressed and couldn’t believe it was 5SOS. I really wanted to dislike it because it was them but they proved me wrong. It’s an absolute tune.
Favourite lyric; “Say you want me, say you want me out of your life and I’m just a dead man walking tonight”.
8. Shawn Mendes – In My Blood
Shawn Mendes is another artist who has completely won me over this year. He’s gone from releasing manufactured guitar and piano pop to a blues influenced alternative pop sound. For his third studio album he has evolved once again with a bigger rock-pop sound. “In My Blood” hears him holding onto his raw roots while injecting an arena ready Kings Of Leon sound. While it does have a very bold production it also hears him being the most intimate and honest he’s been yet. He confronts his personal battle with anxiety and explains how having anxiety isn’t just a negative thing. The honest track is very relatable and introduces a darker melodic feel which was very overdue. I also loved the fact that his lead single wasn’t a cliche love song because that would be too predictable. Instead you have an anthem for anyone that feels lost and to be honest that’s more important in this current state of the world.
Favourite lyric; “Sometimes I feel like giving up but I just can’t, it isn’t in my blood”
7. George Ezra – Paradise
“Paradise” delivers an upbeat and euphoric production that perfectly captures the feelings of falling in love and being undesirably happy. It’s a very cute and feel good track that quickly became a fan favourite in his live set. It’s sonically on the same path as “Budapest” but has a cleaner pop delivery during the hook. His vocals are strong and showcase different shades without getting distracted. The structure and his pure honest lyrics help him become the artist we need him to be. It’s a ridiculously catchy track which will you wanting run around and dance under a sunset.
Favourite lyric; “I’m in paradise whenever I’m with you”
6. Amy Shark – I Said Hi
2018 is the year of Amy Shark. She’s already released what is undoubtedly the best album of the year so far and has given everyone a life anthem. “I Said Hi” is a triumphant pop track that hears her honing her sound and delivering pure empowerment and emotion. The song reflects on the inner battle of staying true to yourself whilst also trying to deal with the issues surrounding your life. It’s about fighting for what you believe in and not giving into the inner struggle. The production is very bold and embodies that bigger sound that “Weekends” and “Blood Brothers” strived towards. It’s super catchy and empowering and will have you singing along straight away. But it wasn’t just this song that has impressed me this year with ‘All Loved Up’, ‘Psycho’, ‘You Think I Think I Sound Like God’, ‘The Slow Song’ and ‘Sink In’ all making me a little emotional.
Favourite lyric; “And I bet the whole world thought that I would give up”
5. Mallrat – Groceries
Now THIS is a song. ‘Groceries’ is an euphoric little pop gem that will have you gushing over a crush and playing a supercut in your head of memories you have with them. It’s a very visual track that will instantly have you feeling good and is the perfect summer anthem. It continues the indie-pop sound her massive single ‘Better’ introduced with chilled out synths and a euphoric hook that you won’t ever get out of your head. I just can’t comprehend how perfect this song actually is.
Favourite lyric; “I’d miss our kiss if it ever left my lips” // “No one I know is sticking on my mind when I go, except ya”.
4. Ariana Grande – No Tears Left To Cry
“No Tears Left To Cry” is everything you wanted Ariana Grande’s comeback to be and more. The song begins as a simple melodic ballad with a dreamy synth production that hears her serving strong and powerful vocals. At first your thoughts are “okay here we go, she’s releasing a generic pop ballad as her comeback” but then 20 seconds in she drops this nostalgic 90’s beat that will have your jaw resting comfortably on the floor. It’s super fresh and nostalgic at the same time and will have you vibing instantly. Her vocal delivery changes back and forth between this melodic delivery and this funky half talking and singing technique. Her vocal runs throughout the track are flawless and effortless and you truly can’t fault them. The nostalgic vibes it creates are so fun and interesting because there is no other pop songs out there right now that sound anything like it. Lyrically she aims to empower with this self-lifting anthem that explores picking yourself up after you’ve reached rock bottom. The production structure is quite different that it could’ve come across quite disjointed with the different musical ideas but instead it’s been polished and mastered so well that it is very effortless.
Favourite lyric; “Right now I’m in a state of mind I wanna be in like all the time”
3. Florence + The Machine – Hunger
‘Hunger’ is the dark horse of 2018. At first I thought this song was a little predictable but it has this adventurous layering that will make you want to put it on repeat and go exploring. It reflects on the way we all have this hunger inside of us to want to change and stand up for things. his song returns to her alternative pop roots and was created to be performed live as it has this anthemic sound which will be oh so euphoric in a festival setting. With each listen it grows on you and while it may sound like a typical Florence + The Machine song and some may argue that it’s predictable I have to question if you would really want her to try any other sound.
Favourite lyric; “We all have a hunger”
2. Kendrick Lamar feat. SZA – All The Stars
This was an early standout for song of the year. Kendrick Lamar is one of the biggest names in Hip-Hop right now and for this collaboration he teamed up with hip-hops most exciting newcomer SZA. ‘All The Stars’ is a pulsating synth meets hip-hop track that delivers a polished production and a slick hook that will have you vibing instantly. Kendrick leads the verses with a vocal distortion that you would expect to hear on a Daft Punk track before giving his usual polished rap delivery. But it is SZA who really steals the show on this track. Her hook is STRONG and provides the big euphoric moment this song needed. It’s very cinematic and will have you throwing you arms in the air and wanting to dance.
Favourite lyric; “Fuck you and all your expectations. I don’t even want your congratulations”.
1. Louis The Child feat. Wafia – Better Not
And we’ve finally reached number one and what a song to top this countdown! One thing that constantly impresses me about Louis The Child is their inventive production that isn’t driven by your traditional or generic EDM breakdowns. As of recently every producer seems to be releasing the same exhausted beat drops that are quickly becoming predictable and boring. But not Louis The Child. They’ve teamed up with Australian pop newcomer Wafia for an absolute tune that has become the soundtrack of my year so far. Better Not” is a slightly different sound for them as it’s more vulnerable than they’ve ever shown before but it still delivers an explosive breakdown. The song explores opening up to the idea of falling in love and not letting past experiences stop you from being in the moment and ruining something special. Whilst the lyrics and vocal delivery is quite emotional the beat drop is this really playful early 2000’s throwback that implements a carefree tone. These two moods perfectly combine to give you a really cool pop moment.
Favourite lyric; “Don’t overthink it, let it go and try to trust the feeling”.