Throughout 2018 there were songs that made you dance and there were songs that made you cry and there were even songs that made you simultaneously do both at the same time. But looking back at the year that was, there’s no denying that it was a single dominated year. Each week your ears were flooded with cool new tracks on your New Music Friday playlists and at times you were oversaturated with choices. But there were some tracks that immediately stood out and saw your play count getting higher and higher as you continued to push replay. With a genre varied selection, I broke down my 30 favourite songs from 2018. Do you agree with this tight list?
30. 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”.
29. Yorke – First Light
It’s not often that debut singles just hit you right in the chest with such certainty but Yorke has successfully done just that. ‘First Light’ is a triumphant first serving that showcases raw emotion and a whole lot of heart. The Byron Bay singer-songwriter introduced herself through the crisp synth production that is layered with dreamy vocal harmonies. The steady drum beat leads this song to an empowering and therapeutic release of repressed emotions. She explores the tough aftermath of a break up where you’re trying to pick up the pieces and find yourself again in amongst mixed emotions. Her lyrics will overcome you with this empowering release of feelings with the whispering of “I’m struggling, you’re struggling” in the pre chorus. It’s the sort of song you’ll want to blast on a coastal road trip with the window down and the volume turned all the way up.
Favourite Lyric: “you were on my mind, for the longest time”.
28. Ciara – Level Up
Self-love anthems were one of the big trends of 2018 and no one gave a sassier delivery like the ultimate RNB queen, Ciara. ‘Level Up’ was a huge comeback for the singer-songwriter in America with it inspiring a whole wave of choreographed numbers. From a first listen you can’t help but be obsessed with the ridiculously catchy hook that will have your toes tapping and your head spinning. It’s a very chaotic and fun track which was the perfect comeback for her. It perfectly preceded the brassy ‘Dose’ which continued the bold sound she’s redefined and is making 2019 a very exciting and promising year for her.
Favourite Lyric: “Fake friends get dropped like weight. Team love, don’t want no hate”
27. 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”
26. Handsome – No Cowards
2018 saw us being introduced to Handsome which is the new project from Sydney singer-songwriter Caitlin Park. And the colourful and vibrant affair hears her expressing her sexuality loudly and proudly. Her debut EP ‘No Hat No Play’ is a cohesive and experimental collection of tracks which perfectly introduces this DIY indie-pop sound. But it was the groovy indie-pop gem ‘No Cowards’ that captivated my attention immediately with its raw energy during the hook. It progresses with a minimal pulsating synth during the verses that grows with the addition of a bouncy baseline. There is this energy behind it which will have you wanting to just scream the lyrics loudly and proudly.
Favourite Lyric: “I don’t want to die without knowing you’ve tried”
25. Kacey Musgraves – High Horse
Kacey Musgraves is a force to be reckoned with. Not only is she one of Country music’s most talked about singer-songwriters she is also creating quite the buzz in the pop world. Her fourth studio album hears her covering all bases and continues to grow her arena ready country-pop which has seen her share stages with Katy Perry, Harry Styles and Lady Antebellum. But it’s the song ‘High Horse’ that has received the most hype. This disco meets country track is absolutely flawless. It’s so shiny and great and will have you dancing and singing along to it’s catchy hook immediately. It’s the perfect step over the line into the pop world that will open a lot of doors for her.
Favourite Lyric: “I bet you think you’re first place. Yeah, someone should give you a ribbon and put you in the hall of fame for all the games that you think that you’re winning”.
24. 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”
23. Jack Gray – My Hands
In 2018 Jack Gray was introduced as one of Australia’s best kept secrets after signing to Warner Music. The Sunshine Coast based singer-songwriter and producer is no stranger to the road and has just wrapped up a massive sold out tour with Dean Lewis and Robinson where he swooned crowds with his chill indie-pop. The infectious ‘My Hands’ heard him evolving from his early tracks ‘Jumper On You’ and ‘Red Rental Car’ and heading towards a polished indie-pop production. The song begins with a pulsating synth beat intertwined with a groovy guitar riff before exploding in the chorus with this euphoric upscaling. Citing sonical similarities to the likes of Troye Sivan, it’s not surprising that this electronic influenced song quickly gained a lot of traction.
Favourite Lyric: “she took my head when she took my hands”
22. King Princess – Talia
After breaking through the mainstream circuit with ‘1950’, King Princess has become of the must watch viral stars of 2018. With her debut album slated for 2019, she’s expected to only get bigger and bigger. ‘Talia’ is taken from her debut EP which delivers an emotional and euphoric moment of self realisation and heartbreak. It’s one of those songs that will have you wanting to dance and cry at the same time then run around punching the air.
Favourite Lyric: “If I drink enough, I swear that I will wake up next to you”
21. Calvin Harris feat Sam Smith – Promises
Over the past couple of years Calvin Harris has been leaning towards a funky injected sound which is a massive departure from his usual EDM. But in 2018, he crossed paths with a disco infused bop that heard him teaming up with Sam Smith. Changing up the pace this vogue ready song hears Smith singing about love and self-empowerment instead of his usual gut wrenching heart break material. Everything about this song is groovy and will have you clicking your fingers sassily.
Favourite Lyric: “Magic is in the air, there ain’t no science here”
20. 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”
19. Cardi B – I Like It
Cardi B is unstoppable. Her debut album ‘Invasion Of Privacy’ was a bold and fierce collection of autobiographical and fun tracks. And ‘I Like It’ was one of those playful moments that mixed trap and Latin influences with her hip-hop roots. It was an immediate grower that took a few listens for me to fall in love with but now I can’t stop blasting it everywhere. Because, I like it! *sorry for the pun, I couldn’t help myself*.
Favourite Lyric: “I like texts from my exes when they want a second chance. I like proving ****** wrong, I do what they say I can’t”
18. CXLOE – Show You
Over the year CXLOE has showcased an empowering, angsty and dark side that has heard her airing her anxieties but for ‘Show You’ she completely unleashed a seductive and emotional side. This was her big synth-pop moment that cemented her as one of Australia’s most exciting newcomers. It took hrt strong pop vocals and infused them with a dreamy and seductive vibe with a synth heavy presence that will have you ready to dance. It has a very reminiscent sound to Tove Lo, Banks and Rachel Platter with its emotive storyline along with DIY synths and polished pop layering that will have you pressing replay over and over again.
Favourite Lyric: “If you want it baby I can show you. Let me explain as I’m taking it off. If you want it I can get to know you”.
17. Cody Simpson – Underwater
2018 saw Cody Simspon returning to music as the artist he was meant to be with an organic, surf rock, blues inspired and summer soaked sound. ‘Underwater’ heard him delivering a funky production that incorporated pulsating synths, groovy guitar riffs and an all-around summer vibe. Setting the mood with a lonely guitar strumming he adds in some light synth percussion before taking a dramatic pause to exhale before the song ultimately explodes during the hook. The structure of the whole song will have you captivated, intrigued and grooving along. This is by far his strongest release and perfectly captures who he is as an artist and brings this new project into the spotlight.
Favourite Lyric: “I’m underwater cause I’m drowning in your body”.
16. 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 LGBTQ+ and young adult community. His follow up single ‘Bloom’ was a little more risqué but continued the anthem and bold production.
Favourite Lyric: “Oh my my my! I die every night with you”
15. G FLIP – Killing My Time
One of the most buzzed about acts in the Australian music industry at the moment is G-FLIP and after a sell-out tour and a full capacity BigSound showcase it’s not hard to see why. ‘Killing My Time’ is just one of those infectious and feel good indie-pop songs that has a chorus that was born to be heard on the radio. It’s a song you would want to blast on a roadtrip with friends and scream along to at a festival. It’s just a lot of fun and super groovy.
Favourite Lyric: “Baby inside I die cause the way you work, yeah, you know you got it”
14. Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper – Shallow
A Star Is Born rightfully became one of the most hyped movies of 2018 with it’s beautiful modern day story adaption from Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. The films lead single ‘Shallow’ is a country based duet that experiments with rock elements and impresses with incredible vocal runs. Bradley Cooper opens the track with an acoustic guitar and rough live vocals before Lady Gaga comes in with simple piano accompaniment and sweet vocals. With the incorporation of a full band and big drums, Gaga vocally soars and takes this song to a whole new sonical place. The two reflect on the importance of diving into the deep end when falling in love and not just playing it safe and staying in the shallow area like a lot of people do.
Favourite Lyric: “Crash through the surface, where they can’t hurt us, we’re far from the shallow now”.
13. Amy Shark – All Loved Up
Over the last year and a half Amy Shark has had a rapid rise to fame thanks to the release of her breakthrough single ‘Adore’. But her debut album sees her securing herself as not just a one hit wonder with a whole album full of soundtrack worthy hits. And ‘All Loved Up’ is one of those cinematic pop moments that you won’t easily forget. Produced by Jack Antonoff (the producer behind Lorde and Taylor Swift’s recent albums) this track follows suit with sweeping synth production. It’s a cinematic and beautiful track full of confusion and love that hears her tapping into the brain of anyone who has been in love and loves to overthink.
Favourite Lyric: “I’m all loved up in a world I can’t explain”
12. 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”
11. Broods – Peach
Earlier this year both Georgia and Caleb Nott from Broods released a solo project each that saw them going in two completely different directions. It was noted that it was unsure when they would release music again together but when it did happen that it would be excitingly completely different. After a bit of time apart the brother and sister duo returned with an epic comeback track. ‘Peach’ is a vibrant and bold indie-pop affair that hears Broods like you’ve never heard them before. The playful feel-good anthem reflects on feeling unsure about a lot of things happening in your life but celebrating the highs where everything feels amazing. It has a real hopeful sentiment that will have you just wanting to dance and forget your own issues happening in your life.
Favourite Lyric: “I’m high and I’m low, no control. But everything’s looking peach now”.
10. Ariana Grande – Thank U, Next
At first I wasn’t a fan of this song. I thought the timing was a little off but the self-empowerment vibe of ‘Thank U, Next’ quickly grew on me. Sonically the song sits in the same realm as her last album ‘Sweetener’ with a soulful alternative-pop delivery that is a little doo-woopy. This song details the lessons she has learnt, the mistakes she’s made in ex-relationships and explores how she fell in love with herself all over again. Lyrically it has a very empowering sentiment where she wants to take control of her own narrative and that’s a very impressive and exciting thing.
Favourite Lyric: Wish I could say thank you to Malcolm, cause he was an angel”.
9. Cub Sport – Sometimes
Somehow in-between their gruelling schedule, Cub Sport have managed to finish working on their third studio album and ended the year with a glittery new single. ‘Sometimes’ is a disco-influenced upbeat indie-pop track that hears them heading towards a whole new musical direction. Taking the influences they played with on their last record they’ve dived further into the synth-pop world to give you something a little momentous. This is the beginning of something really new and exciting for this band as they really embrace who they are and sound so confident with the delivery. The track reflects on lead singer Tim Nelson’s coming out experience and explores the vulnerability and energy it took to do it in such an open and public forum. Opening with dreamy synths and a breathy vocal delivery they set the scene for this storyline of emotional exhaustion. But with the hopeful delivery comes this explosive burst of synths in the chorus that will have you dancing and throwing your hands in the air.
Favourite Lyric: “Sometimes I feel like my heart has been split open. You see everything I’m hoping, I’m a river running high”.
8. 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”
7. Sasha Sloan – Faking It
It’s official I have fallen in love with Sasha Sloan. Your favourite Californian sad girl has delivered some of the years most emotionally driven and heart breaking indie-pop songs that strangely have a real calming essence to them. ‘Fall’ cracked your heart into two, while ‘Normal’ and Hurt’ had you vibing to the funky production before ‘Only One’ had you taking comfort in your own insecurities. Forever showing a constant growth, the singer-songwriter also dropped one of her catchiest singles yet. ‘Faking It’ is a post-summer anthem that hears her reflecting on her own personality and the way she hides things to try make herself feel better. It’s an honest self-reflection and commentary on how we as a society are obsessed with making our lives look so glamorous to others because we are scared to be real. It will hit you right in the feels and will have you dancing along at the same time to the pulsating synths. The production is ultra groovy and will have you immediately imagining yourself blasting this on an afternoon road trip with the windows down and the volume all the way up.
Favourite Lyric: “I’m way too good at faking it, I’m way too good at making it look like I don’t want nobody else, I even started fooling myself”.
6. 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”
5. 5SOS – 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”.
4. 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”.
3. 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: “No one I know is sticking on my mind when I go, except ya”.
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”.